Why Pop Music sounds bad

I’m always looking at YouTube. Like a lot of millennials, I don’t have cable, too expensive and it’s redundant. Bruce Springsteen said it well, “There’s 57 channels and nothin’ on.” Or more like “In the future there will be 500 TV channels… but nothing to watch!” as said by Timmy Turner in Fairly Odd Parents.

The rare moments when I do have cable, I’m usually at my Baby Boomer parents’ place or at my early Generation X in-laws’ place. Honestly, I don’t even really watch TV there. My phone has everything I need.

Back to the story about YouTube, so I was suggested this video called “Why pop music sounds bad.” Being a music blogger and fan, I had to watch this and give my reaction.

The thumbnail reads, “Your tastes are stuck at age 14.” Well, I can’t say that’s entirely wrong. That’s the age I was when I started falling in love with the classic rock era and wishing I lived in it. A decade later, I still love classic rock, but I’m a bit more mature and not so much teenage fangirl about it, thank goodness. I’ve also learnt a lot about it and listened to hundreds of amazing albums, often coming back to my familiar favourites. I still strive to listen to new stuff all the time and keep my mind open.

My love of classic rock didn’t take place in a vacuum. It wasn’t like I had no exposure to the era or the music of the time. When I was a preteen, my parents would put on the oldies station in the car, and at the time you’d hear songs from the 50s and 60s mostly, with a bit of 70s thrown in once in a while.

Other than that, my parents would play a Motown and disco music in the car sometimes, but mostly stuff in Spanish, my mum is Venezuelan and my dad, while he isn’t Hispanic, he has a love for the cultures of Latin America and speaks Spanish perfectly.

When I was about 11 or 12, I started watching VH1 Classic and loved listening to hard rock from the 70s.

Enough story time, let’s react to the video.

Reacting to the video

“So you ever notice how music was just better in the past? Culture writers try to remind you of this fact by comparing the modern drivel that is pop music these days to the great songwriters of the past like for example, The Beatles.”

Yup! That’s what I write all about, but I’m striving to include more stuff on rock bands of today that keep that classic rock spirit alive. It’s the new bands’ time to shine.

I agree that (specifically, mainstream) music today is drivel compared to great songwriters of the past. There isn’t as much risk taking and creativity today and music seems to be formulaic. I love how music back then was a lot more poetic, with quite a few singer/songwriters of the time being published poets.

“The Beatles in their day were absolutely panned by the cultural elite.”

No surprise. The “cultural elite” are largely older and kind of stuck in their ways (what this video’s about and is getting at). It’s a pattern you see all the time. The older generations look down on the current generation’s pop culture, calling it deviant or noise.

Time changes. I’m sure we’ll have people in 50 years decrying the new music and wishing they were back in the days of vaporwave and anime intro music.

If you look at the Grammys, it took decades to get a rock category – so this means if classic rock bands were being recognised, it wasn’t for their best work. Take a look at the Rock Hall and how they ignore progressive rock bands, and generally any band that didn’t have fame in America.

It’s a good thing that we have the internet now. It’s much more democratic now and you can hear from people with many different points of view.

“Jazz music, the music that was popular with the youth of that era, received an even more punishing appraisal”

Besides critics being closed minded and stuck in their ways, I think a large reason was because of racism. I’m not going to write a long history of jazz music, but in a nutshell, it was invented by black musicians in New Orleans in the 1890s, and spread from there. In the mid-20th century, the music evolved and then came free jazz, which was a big influence on prog rock with its complex time signatures and improvisation.

“It turns out that your taste in music as an adult is not fully governed by objective qualities in the music itself, rather it’s heavily governed by your biographic information. Who you are, where you were born, and most interestingly, when in your life you first heard the music that you now like.”

Well, that’s me to a T. I first started really absorbing classic rock info when I was a teenager, but I know a lot of people who are my age who have listened to classic rock since they were teenagers whose music tastes have evolved and changed and they listen to other stuff more often, nothing wrong with that. I have definitely met older people who are really open minded and enjoy newer stuff. My dad’s twin brother really likes Pitbull for some reason, but he also really loves “Roundabout” by Yes – totally different stuff.

I think a bit of why that is because people start to like something the more they hear it and get familiar with it. I am not really into modern poppy dance sort of stuff, but when I started watching Drag Race, I started thinking “hey, this music isn’t terrible” after a while and then, “Wow this is catchy, I’m going to listen to all the Drag Race music on repeat… And now I’m shouting ‘Miss Vanjie’ over and over again.”

Music Taste Peak Influence Age Chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So these chart pops up and it’s explained that childhood influences are stronger for women than for men. I can’t say that’s true for me. I wasn’t even a thought in my parents’ brains when my favourite music came out.

I usually find that with these studies, I relate more to men than to women, I wonder if it’s because I’m on the spectrum. Whenever I take those gender tests or whatever, they usually think I’m a man or that I’m masculine. What is a masculine personality or brain? I’m just me.

Let’s take a look at what was popular when I was in middle school, so ages 11-13.

2005:

2005 Billboard Year End Chart - Top 20

I can’t say I listen to any of these songs on a regular basis. Then again, I wouldn’t say I’m conventional at all, I just do what I want. Punk rock! You know my feelings about most modern music, if you read my post reacting to Rolling Stone’s 100 best songs of the century.

I remember a lot of these songs, but there are a few that I don’t remember like “Disco Inferno” by 50 Cent, sorry I only know The Trammps’ one. Now that I listened to 50 Cent’s song, I remember it now – it was crap. Where’s the disco? I feel lied to.

Personally, I’d rather listen to Rainbow’s “Since You Been Gone” from 1979 than Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”. I like early metal and hard rock a lot. Kelly Clarkson’s a bit too poppy for me. She’s not talentless, but meh, this song bores me. I didn’t forget this song.

My favourite on the list is “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day. American Idiot is one of the best albums of the noughties for sure. At #39, I saw “Holiday”, another great song.

I also love the classic, Mr Brightside, which is still on the charts, 13 years later. I admit, I’ve definitely listened to this in the past couple of days. If the oldies stations still continue to be rock-centred, I can see this on the classic rock station, but I don’t think I want to hear it on there anytime soon because I’ll start to feel old.

Looking through the rest of the Hot 100, there are a couple guilty pleasures like Sean Paul’s “We Be Burning” – but I only listen to those songs once in a while. They’re definitely not the first thing I’d put on at a party.

I was unlucky enough to have been a pre-teen in the ringtone rap era. I’d rather have been this age in the late 50s or early 60s, music wise. Seriously though, what happened to a lot of these musicians? I don’t hear about them anymore.

Then again, I’ve definitely seen names that have been forgotten about in Billboard Charts of the 60s and 70s. I have to be careful not to look through decades I didn’t live through with rose tinted glasses.

At the same time, even the dumbest music of the 60s and 70s doesn’t come close to how dumb the music sounds today. I’d rather listen to “Disco Duck” than “Gucci Gang”.

2006:

2006 Year End Billboard Chart - Top 20

Of all these songs, I think the only one I’ve listened to lately was “Temperature” by Sean Paul. Other than that, I don’t really like any of the other songs. Again, I remember most of them, but I don’t care about them.

I think by this point, I was starting to get tired of chart music because it gave me headaches and it sounded meaningless. When I was 13, I started listening to indie music instead and felt a bit relieved, but that phase didn’t last long. Like a Pokemon, I evolved into my final form, “Classic Rock Angie Moon”. And like that acronym, CRAM, I crammed a lot of classic rock knowledge into my head over that decade.

Now let’s go back to 2007… Clock all the references in this Bojack Horseman clip. Certainly takes me back to that time. A time right before the recession; when the Wii was a cutting edge console; when the only cool phone was a flip phone; mp3 nearly killed vinyl, CDs, and cassettes; and when the memes were viral videos on YouTube.

2007:

2007 Year End Billboard Chart - Top 20

Finally, we get to 2007, the last year I’m analysing. Don’t like any of the top 20. I especially hated the music that year and I remember all my classmates in grade 8 listening to obnoxious music like “Soulja Boy” that gave me headaches.

The only good songs on the Hot 100 I see were at #74 and #91, “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse and “Snow (Hey Oh)” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I really like Amy Winehouse and she was a real standout artist of the 2000s. I loved that song when it came out and I still love it today.

To be honest, I wasn’t paying much attention to the top 40 from this point on, so I don’t remember a lot of these songs. I do a lot better with music that came out decades before I was born. Moving on…

Generally, if I’m going to listen to any music released in the time I’ve been on this planet, I’d prefer the late 90s and early 2000s. Here are some songs I’ve been enjoying from that time period:

“Neuroscience has confirmed what data analysis has found. The music we like in our youth, we like for life.”

Daniel Levitin wrote in This is Your Brain on Music, “Fourteen is sort of a magic age for the development of musical tastes.”

I guess teenage me had some great taste… In music, not in clothes. I wouldn’t say I truly found myself until I was 20. These findings make sense though, your teens and young adult years are about finding yourself and figuring out what you want in life.

It takes me a bit longer to get into new music and for it to grow on me, unless the band really reminds me of classic rock bands of the past. So I guess this video’s right. I can’t be a contrarian and say “wrong.”

Teenage me wanted a life that is as close to the 60s as possible and one where I see the world. Ten years later, I think that teenage self would be proud. I have a nice wardrobe full of clothing that makes me look like I came out of a time machine. I can do the makeup styles of the 60s. I have some of my favourite records. I am gaining respect as a classic rock blogger. I am familiar with almost every subgenre of the 60s and 70s.

As for the hormones running wild… Yes, I did have crushes on all these old and dead rock stars and it definitely affected what I found attractive in men. I still love these rock stars’ style and aesthetic and it still inspires me.

I didn’t like today’s masculinity, I liked the more feminine masculinity that the rock stars had in the 60s and 70s – not being afraid to be in touch with their feminine side. I like skinny men with long hair or a giant afro. I like when men wear mod, hippie, punk, and glam rock inspired clothing.

Emotionally, I was a rebellious teenager who wanted to leave home and the music of the classic rock era definitely spoke to me. I was far left, while everyone around me was right wing. I was an atheist around a lot of religious nuts. Rock and roll values to me are freedom and individuality. I just wanted to be free from living in the conformist and restrictive small town I went to secondary school in.

“All music is for 13 year old morons”

I’m laughing, but I think the guy has a point. It makes sense to market music to teenagers. A lot of them have part time jobs or an allowance and live with their parents, so they have money to spend on stuff or parents to beg to buy stuff for them or take them to concerts. There is sentimental value put on the past (although I don’t look at my teen years fondly, they were depressing). I don’t think 14 year old me would have fully understood everything in the music I listen to.

In the video, a comparison is made between listening to music and taking drugs. Is classic rock my drug? I guess so. I can’t forget my headphones when I leave the house, but that’s more because I have anxiety and don’t want to talk to anyone. Good music helps too.

“Also, the music that we connect to in our teenage years doesn’t actually have to be popular at the time.”

Welp, I’ve been busted. The majority of people my age listen to what’s current, so that’s why a lot of examples used are more modern. I know a lot of people in the classic rock fandom and they got interested in classic rock either as children or in their early teens.

All of us teenage classic rock fans wanted to learn everything we can. We are like little sponges. It’s very annoying when some older fans condescend and put young fans on the spot or act like we can’t possibly know obscure information. I’ve had way more positive experiences though with people in their 50s and 60s saying that they learned something new from me.

I haven’t seen a lot of people in the fandom who got into classic rock in their late teens or 20s, but it’s still possible. According to my Facebook page demographics, ~2% of fans are 13-17, 35% are 18-24, 32% are 25-34, 18% are 35-54, 10% are over 55. Overall, a young bunch, but diverse.

The video also talks about how nursing home patients feel better when they listen to music they grew up with. Makes sense, it brings back good memories.

What are the memories though for young people who primarily listen to classic rock? Mine aren’t exactly the most exciting. I was just bored and wanted an escape from my humdrum life. I wasn’t listening to this music with friends the first time I listened to it. I was lucky enough to see some musicians I like in concert, which was a real treat.

I remember walking down the street in a vintage looking outfit and someone in their 60s stopped me and said that I reminded them of a friend back in the day. Not music related, but wouldn’t surprise me if this person and their friend went to concerts together.

“So the next time you read a think piece complaining about how kids these days listen to terrible music and how it’s corrupting the youth, try contextualising that language with the language that other writers have written about other styles of music in the past.”

Good point. Who am I to tell someone that the music that makes them happy shouldn’t make them happy? I can still think that it gives me a headache or it makes no sense to me, but it’s important to keep in mind that there’s more to music than what’s on the radio. I’ve listened to some great music made today. Why dismiss it because the year it was made in begins in 20 and not 19?

I can imagine it now… Me in the nursing home listening to music that’s over a century old. Alexa, don’t play “Despacito,” play more Zeppelin.Hyde Play More Zeppelin

Shout out to my good friend and Topaz level Patron, Patrick.

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