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Author: Subject: modern mainstream music sucks

Peach Bud





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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 04:03 AM
WARNING: MAJORLY LONG BUT HOPEFULLY COHERENT RANT INCOMING

I used to not care anything about music at all. For the first years of my life that I remember, whenever anybody asked me what kind of music I liked or who my favorite band was, I never had an answer for them. Music was just something that didn't matter to me. Flash forward to the present and it seems like music is an integral part of my life. I play music for anyone who'll listen two or three nights a week on average and I listen to music all the time, whether it's in the car, while eating a meal, at work, when going to sleep or any other time I have a half-decent chance of getting away with it.

When I first started paying attention to any sort of music at all, it was the music that was already around me: the contemporary country hits on the radio when my parents were driving me somewhere, the somewhat cliche classic rock standbys that most middle school boys end up (to the discomfort of most people around them who aren't also male seventh-graders) scratching out of their brand-new starter pack electric guitars, and the occasional newest rap hit that you heard every chance there was no one around to yell at you for listening to the uncensored version. We're talking a steady diet of Alan Jackson and ACDC, with a sprinkling of Ludacris to taste.

What really woke me up to the huge variety of music and the choices out there for what somebody can pick to feed into their ears was hearing Jimi Hendrix. Are You Experienced was the first flash of lightning before the thunder hits. It lit up an entire world of music I had never thought about. Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton and Cream is only a small step, and from there it isn't very far to Robert Johnson. Clapton has been quoted as saying that Johnson had "the most powerful cry that I think you can find in the human voice."

Here I have to thank a neighbor of mine for giving a CD of Johnson's songs and telling me that I really ought to hear this guy. Most kids that age aren't going around listening to old black guys from the 30s singing about having hellhounds on their trails. If Experienced was the initial spark of a lightning strike, Robert Johnson hit me like the inevitable thunder. Now I find myself listening to almost any kind of music in which I can find a certain amount of authenticity, or soul, or whatever you call that quality of certain music that tells you when the performer is reaching through all barriers, whether temporal, mental, or otherwise, to share a feeling with whoever is listening.

So where am I going with all of this talk about myself and my musical tastes? It's pretty simple: the general trend of mainstream music is going downhill, and it reflects a general trend in our society as a whole. I'll take a moment to go ahead and address the things I'm willing to bet most people are thinking as they read that last sentence. First of all, I'm sure at least one person out there is thinking that I'm just a musical snob who perceives any music that more than 3 people in one room have liked at the same time is complete crap. I'll admit it, I sometimes fall into the pit of quicksand that is bashing music simply because it happens to be popular. Then someone like Cee Lo Green comes along with a song like **** You and pulls me out of that trap. (And yes, I'm using the uncensored name of the song. My apologies if it offends you, but I'm not big on censorship when the target is use of strong language that can be considered at least somewhat non-gratuitous. Sometimes there's a better way to communicate a certain thought, but sometimes there just isn't.) Popular music can be good. There are plenty of songs that were popular music when they were released that I think are fantastic. But the problem is when suddenly that popularity translates into dollar signs and a great, fresh song like **** You gets endlessly copied, ripped-off, and unintentionally parodied and becomes the parent of dozens of sub-par songs that do nothing but attempt to cash in on the current trend. Kyle Coroneos is a country music writer/internet personality who likes to claim "that 75% of what you hear on mainstream country radio today can be traced back to a small handful of songs by Bob Seger and The Black Crowes. Darn near 1/3 of them can be traced back to Seger’s “Night Moves” alone." Maybe that's going a little far, but when you consider that Gretchen WIlson chose to concede that she ripped off the Crowes' Jealous Again with her song "Work Hard, Play Harder" and agree to list the Robinson Brothers as songwriters on the track it starts to make me wonder. There's no impetus for bettering the original idea in pop music because when the average listener simply doesn't care enough to tell the difference between an originator and a coattail rider, or an artist who is trying to say something through their work and one who just likes the sound a cash register makes.

Secondly, I imagine someone else is going to come along and let me know that not all modern music sucks, you just have to look for the good stuff. You're preaching to the choir in this case. There's plenty of modern artists and songs I love who are out there making fantastic, inspired songs. But I'm willing to say that around 70-80 percent of the modern music I would name would get only a puzzled look from most people who fall into that average listener statistic that radio loves. Don't get me wrong here, it's not that I want these bands to stay under the radar and keep playing small clubs to two digit crowds for barely enough money to enjoy a dollar menu meal. I'd love it if somebody like Jason Isbell or Black Joe Lewis started selling out stadiums and getting paychecks as fat as the tabloids claim Oprah was before she found her dieting secrets. But the average record buying public hasn't ever even heard of these guys, and they probably never will, simply because they just don't give a damn. Notice the theme here?

"If you want to measure the spiritual depth of society, make sure to mark its music." That's a quote from Plato, who lived a few thousand years ago. But it turns out he wasn't too far off here. Let's pick on country music a little bit more, and talk about Jason Aldean's newest hit, Dirt Road Anthem. I've been hearing this during set breaks on almost every bar I've played guitar in over the past few months. It's a marvel of a country-rap song, featuring such inspired lyrics as "King in the can and the Marlboro man/Jack 'n' Jim were a few good men/Where you learned how to kiss and cuss, and fight too/Better watch out for the boys in blue" and "You better mind your business man, watch your mouth/Before I have to knock that loud mouth out/I'm tired of talking, man, y'all ain't listening/Them ol' dirt roads is what y'all missing." If we apply Plato's theory here, we end up with a society that holds these spiritual values at its core: partying, making sure you don't get caught partying hard, and punching out a few teeth while you're at it. Great stuff. Not too far off from what most mainstream music is about these days either, whether you're talking hip-hop, country, rock, etc. Country music used to mean something, and it wasn't fighting for fighting's sake or reliving some high school glory days while "chilling on a dirt road/Laid back swerving like I'm George Jones." And hey, it turns out that when hip-hop got started, it wasn't all gangsta rap themed either.

Let's get back to the main point here, which is that the sorry state of mainstream modern music mirrors the state of society. These days it seems like it's more important to let everyone know that you're from the country, where we punch people in the mouth when they don't agree with us, or the hood, where we just shoot them. Same thing. My question is, when did it become cooler to be relatively poor, ignorant, and to take out your dissatisfaction with those circumstances on other people to prove the value of your life's condition than to do something to better yourself?





[Edited on 8/22/2011 by gobble]

[Edited on 8/22/2011 by gobble]

 
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Universal Peach



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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 06:54 AM
Interesting post. A few quick comments...

--Be careful how you title your threads. I was expecting this to be an anti-Allman rant from somebody who found the whole idea of an ABB website objectionable. "Modern mainstream music sucks" would have been more accurate and to the point.

--I'm going out on a limb and guessing you live in the South

--Hendrix was the gateway drug to music for me too, so I feel you there. My name is Robert Johnson, so I also share your love of the King of the Delta Blues Singers.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

 
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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 08:14 AM
Read your ramble. Seems awful wordy if in fact your main point is: "Let's get back to the main point here, which is that the sorry state of mainstream modern music mirrors the state of society." To which I'd concur. However, the reasoning behind the whole thing would be IMO the pursuit of the fast buck by the mega corporations that control not only the radio stations but the concert venues as well. The majority of the listening public has three choices where I live - Classic Rock, Top 40 Country, Top 40 R&B(rap included). Which one is worse???

Also I'm with Rob. Horrible title for your post. Nothing to do with your ramble.


[Edited on 8/22/2011 by Charlesinator]

 

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Peach Bud



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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 10:11 AM
Title fixed. Thanks for the comments, and thanks for taking the time to read, both of you. And Rob, good call on me being from the South. Charles, now that I read the whole thing at a more reasonable hour, maybe I was trying to say too many things in one ramble....ramble is indeed the right word. Interesting point about the concert venues too, I never even touched on the live music side of things here.





 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 10:26 AM
quote:
Title fixed. Thanks for the comments, and thanks for taking the time to read, both of you. And Rob, good call on me being from the South. Charles, now that I read the whole thing at a more reasonable hour, maybe I was trying to say too many things in one ramble....ramble is indeed the right word. Interesting point about the concert venues too, I never even touched on the live music side of things here.

I liked the old title better. More provocative. Gets people to click on it.

You make some good points.

 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 11:17 AM
quote:
Title fixed. Thanks for the comments, and thanks for taking the time to read, both of you. And Rob, good call on me being from the South. Charles, now that I read the whole thing at a more reasonable hour, maybe I was trying to say too many things in one ramble....ramble is indeed the right word. Interesting point about the concert venues too, I never even touched on the live music side of things here.



No problem. And I hope I wasn't being too snotty with my response. I do dig it when folks especially young people get passionate about music. I couldn't imagine my life without music. It's great that you care so strongly about music. Just my advice to you (and trust me I have a HUGE problem with it myself) is to not turn off folks when making your point or you'll be like those so called Christians who claim, "You're going to Hell if you don't join our side." Trust me you are preaching to the choir here with your many valid points. You'll find may kindred spirits here and welcome.

 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 12:49 PM
modern mainstream music sucks


Agreed. It certainly does.

 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 12:59 PM
It does and that's why I listen to podcasts to findout about new artists and music I might like. On the blues/rock side I listen to Bandana Blues, BluzNDaBlood, Friday Night Blues, Mark Kerr's Blues Nation, Murphy's Saloon, Kool Breeze, Texas Blues Cafe, Roots Rock Radio, and Americana Rock Mix. I load up my ipod and they become my radio stations. Before I had a car with an ipod connection I burned the shows to a CD-RW and played them in my car's CD player which supported mp3s.
 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 02:59 PM
Modern mainstream music does mostly suck, but here is some recent music that I've spinning a lot around our house:

Amos Lee - Mission Bell
Ray Lamontagne - God Willin & The Creek Don't Rise
Widespread Panic - Dirty Side Down
Black Crowes - Before the Frost
REM - Live at the Olympia (contains alot of recent REM)
Avett Brothers - I and Love and You
Black Keys - Brothers
Tedeschi Trucks Band - Revelator

Good stuff out there that isn't mainstream. Satellite radio and youtube surely help in my desire to locate new music. We do have one channel in Atlanta that helps with the cause (DaveFM 92.9).

It is a shame that great music is harder to find. Mainstream rock is really a small percentage of the market compared to when I was getting into music as a 10 year old in the late 70s. It's almost hard to believe.

Oh yeah....give me classic rock 100X over the country pop and rap choices.

[Edited on 8/22/2011 by hotlantatim]

 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 03:14 PM
Love Ray Lamontagne.
 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 03:35 PM
This is just a normal generational thing. When my parents were young their parents complained about what music they listened to. Then in turn my parents complained about the music I listened to saying it was crap compared to what they had. Now I look and listen to a lot of what's out there and also complain about it and call it crap. Music is subjective and generational and that is what makes it so special. It changes and evolves and there is something for everyone in every generation. Us old fogies who complain about modern music are no different than our parents who complained about our music or their parents who complained about their music. Just my two cents.


[Edited on 8/22/2011 by sixty8]

[Edited on 8/22/2011 by sixty8]

 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 04:08 PM
I think there is more to it than just the generational thing. Some of it is that for sure. Many people who post here do search out and find modern music by younger artists, so we aren't the from the camp of "everything today is noise" like middle aged people were accusing rock music of being in the 60s and 70s.

There are threads here every week about new acts and giving props when we see quality vocals, musicianship and song writing. Various types of music are talked about here, not just blues rock.

The download & portability of music has been both an enhancement and the problem with modern music. It's great on one hand but it has ended a good bit of the relationship people had with artists during the LP and CD eras.

 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 04:16 PM
But I will give props to Cee Lo Green, Avett Brothers, and Adele for hitting the mainstream with music that definitely not crap. There are others.

 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 04:55 PM
Avett Bros. and Adele are both OK. My wife actually turned me on to Adele after hearing her on the radio...she initially thought it was Susan T. and asked me where Derek was?

 

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  posted on 8/22/2011 at 09:54 PM
Hey, even in the glory days of the 70s, there was a ton of crap on mainstream radio. The Archies outsold Ten Years After, etc.

Right now, we have more access to more music than anyone ever has. It just takes some work to get to the good stuff. It's fun work. And when I don't feel like doing that work, I can kick back with the ridiculous amount of Miles Davis or live ABB at our fingertips.

 
 


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