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  #41  
Old 07-10-2015, 06:09 AM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

I play pop in a covers band and I notice how everyone in the crowd know the lyrics to the same songs, they've reached anthem status... I can't see that happening with future generations, at least not as much because there is so much more music, so many genres, so many mediums and more anti-pop/alternative people around.

I don't know if pop has gotten worse but I think there are a couple of great songs coming out, the sad thing is that they're marginalizing real instruments and if a band attempts to cover some of this stuff, people are going to think "that sounds like shit".

A 3 piece can cover ACDC convincingly but for alot of the new shit you would at least need a backing track.

As a side note, I have learned how great Australian rock music was and I wish more people could see that.
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  #42  
Old 07-10-2015, 06:11 AM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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I read somewhere that if Kings of Leon were around in the 60s, they'd be mentioned in the same breath as the Stones. I agree, and don't think they are the only new band that would kill in the old days.
I completely get what you're saying, but the problem with taking that leap is the Kings of Leon got to listen to the Rolling Stones and every other band that has come and gone for the last 50 years. Artists have to be taken in the context of their times. It's a lot easier in hindsight.

But no doubt, there is outstanding music now, some of it as good as ever. I'm not convinced it's the most popular stuff, but it's out there for sure.
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  #43  
Old 07-10-2015, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

It's just taste. In the Latin charts Banda el Recodo has a number one hit right now.
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  #44  
Old 07-10-2015, 02:02 PM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
When this conversation comes up I always think of Mason Williams's Classical Gas, which I always loved. I can't imagine such an "arty" piece of music hitting the top 40 today.
Or Stangers on the Shore by Acker Bilt, or I got my Mojo Workin' by Jimmy Smith.
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  #45  
Old 07-10-2015, 02:09 PM
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Or Stangers on the Shore by Acker Bilt, or I got my Mojo Workin' by Jimmy Smith.
Cast Your Fate To The Wind - Vince Guaraldi, Theme from A Summer Place - Percy Faith

Louis Armstrong's Hello Dolly...

and what about all those Movie Themes....

Thunderball, Goldfinger, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, The Way We Were, What's New Pussycat, The Summer of '42, The Pink Panther, Baby Elephant Walk, Theme from Romero and Juliet (A Time For Us) ... et al

And anything by Bacharach/Hal David...What about the Bossa Nova!

Those days are gone but the music live on.
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  #46  
Old 07-10-2015, 05:32 PM
tcspears tcspears is offline
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Default Re: The state of pop music

There's a really great book that came out recently on the state of American songwriting, and how it pretty much dried up around 1950, and was replaced by novelty songs (Mabo Italiano, How Much is that Doggie in the Window, et cetera). The book is "The B Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the American Song" by Ben Yagoda. The book is written in a very analytical way and helps explain the state of popular music today as well.

I know most of us have read all of the Ted Gioia and Alec Wilder books, that really get into song analysis; this one is more of an analysis of what makes popular music.
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  #47  
Old 07-10-2015, 06:03 PM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
But no doubt, there is outstanding music now, some of it as good as ever. I'm not convinced it's the most popular stuff, but it's out there for sure.
This is true for most, if not all forms of music, even when you break down specific genres and subgenres.

You'd hear people say Metal, for instance, is in both a second/third/fourth? golden age and a creative famine at the same time. There are quite a few acts making albums that could easily sit on playlists beside Master of Puppets, Paranoid, and Individual Thought Patterns in 15 years time. These are bands of people that wouldn't have even been allowed near a record label office in the late 90s, yet are going on 30-40 date European and US tours now.

In the same breath, the sheer amount of fashion conscious, auto-tuned and EZdrummer'd metalcore acts holding their hands out to the ladies in the crowd and getting a million listens a week rivals the days of LA glam rock.

I think you just have periods where the lows are lowest while the highs are highest, then someone like Nirvana comes along and puts most people's minds on the same middling page.
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  #48  
Old 07-10-2015, 08:41 PM
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As a side note, I have learned how great Australian rock music was and I wish more people could see that.
Familiar with the Cosmic Psychos? Saw them play a club in Florida back in the late 90's and they were one of the most kick-ass rock bands I've ever seen live.
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  #49  
Old 07-11-2015, 08:23 AM
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Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4
Bohemian Rhapsody
Macarthur Park (laugh all you like - awesome arrangement)
Good Vibrations
Strawberry Fields, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby
All Along the Watchtower
Stairway to Heaven
Big Yellow Taxi
Light My Fire
Season of the Witch
Fame
Nothing Compares to You
Hotel California
Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It
Another Brick in the Wall
California Dreaming
Sitting on the Dock etc
Creep
Georgia
Respect
Walking on the Moon, Roxanne
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Rehab
Superstition, Master Blaster
When Doves Cry, Sign o the Times, 1999
The Logical Song
Tusk, Rhiannon
Candle in the Wind, Bennie and the Jets
Spinning Wheel
Love Cats, A Forest
Loser
Art for Art's Sake
Rock Lobster
Zanzibar
I Shot the Sheriff
Wicked Game
Psycho Killer, Burning Down the House
Would I Lie to You
Broadway
Nutbush City Limits
Wuthering heights
Julia (Pavlov's Dog)
In the Air Tonight
Shock the Monkey

I could go on forever but you get the point. All of these tunes were hits (?) and IMO have way better melodies, harmonies and arrangements and more variation than most modern hits. I can only think of a handful of modern hits I've heard this millennium that hit the spot for me.

Dynamic subtlety seems to have been compressed out of existence in the battle to be the loudest and clearest on radios playing in cars and in workplaces. A bit of compression can add impact, but so much compression just sounds ugly to my ears.

There's plenty of good music but you have to search for it - and today searching for new music is easy. That's the good bit.

The bad part is that the most visible layers of western music scenes are filled with hyper-compressed blah for drivers, workers, dancers and other people who need to interact with music without really listening. The tripe is freely available but you have to work a little to get to the good stuff - but at least it's there to be found.
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  #50  
Old 07-11-2015, 09:16 AM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
Dynamic subtlety seems to have been compressed out of existence in the battle to be the loudest and clearest on radios playing in cars and in workplaces. A bit of compression can add impact, but so much compression just sounds ugly to my ears.
Absolutely Grea. Commercial recordings frequently have "target" volumes, but also upper limits imposed by some media (the BBC for example). Over compression used in mastering "optimisation", by virtue of it's nature, crushes wide dynamics captured when recording acoustic instruments. This "narrows" the sonic landscape & removes all that lovely breadth & layering we so much value in the best recordings.

On a related subject, here's a tune I've had some minor consultative involvement with to date (although not this recording).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1j3IGAol7I

It's a bedroom demo recording, & using programmed drums, so very one dimensional, but in relation to the context of this thread, I think this is a great example of quality modern pop composition. So much so in fact, there's a chance I'll be very much involved in taking this to another level by re-recording / reworking it using real drums in a great natural recording setting & with help from some stellar players. If it comes off, I'm so much looking forward to composing the drum tracks & injecting some serious wide open Guru muscle into the landscape.

To me, this is modern & exciting - partially because it's outside of my playing comfort zone, but also because of the recording approach & composition quality (IMHO). I very much believe in Ria as an emerging talent :)
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  #51  
Old 07-11-2015, 10:08 AM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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Originally Posted by 8Mile View Post
I completely get what you're saying, but the problem with taking that leap is the Kings of Leon got to listen to the Rolling Stones and every other band that has come and gone for the last 50 years. Artists have to be taken in the context of their times. It's a lot easier in hindsight.

But no doubt, there is outstanding music now, some of it as good as ever. I'm not convinced it's the most popular stuff, but it's out there for sure.
That's my point exactly - the Rolling Stones sat on shoulders themselves and music progresses. Honestly, I wouldn't put them in the same breath myself, but I've never seen the Kings live - I'm just ripping off Rolling Stone magazine.

More new acts; Bruno Mars is killing it, as is Beyonce, John Mayer, Kendrick Lamarr, and Macklemore's smashing the industry model deserves a spot just for his business acumen. Those are just off the top of my head and mostly just hip hop.
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  #52  
Old 07-11-2015, 02:58 PM
SmoothOperator SmoothOperator is offline
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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Originally Posted by keep it simple View Post
Absolutely Grea. Commercial recordings frequently have "target" volumes, but also upper limits imposed by some media (the BBC for example). Over compression used in mastering "optimisation", by virtue of it's nature, crushes wide dynamics captured when recording acoustic instruments. This "narrows" the sonic landscape & removes all that lovely breadth & layering we so much value in the best recordings.

On a related subject, here's a tune I've had some minor consultative involvement with to date (although not this recording).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1j3IGAol7I

It's a bedroom demo recording, & using programmed drums, so very one dimensional, but in relation to the context of this thread, I think this is a great example of quality modern pop composition. So much so in fact, there's a chance I'll be very much involved in taking this to another level by re-recording / reworking it using real drums in a great natural recording setting & with help from some stellar players. If it comes off, I'm so much looking forward to composing the drum tracks & injecting some serious wide open Guru muscle into the landscape.

To me, this is modern & exciting - partially because it's outside of my playing comfort zone, but also because of the recording approach & composition quality (IMHO). I very much believe in Ria as an emerging talent :)
The compression problem is very real. This is one of these reasons you see the movement to cymbals. Also, in my opinion it's key to tune the drums to pitches and not muffle them much, a dull thud is just a mastering liability, by the time it gets converted to MP3 and streamed over the Internet, you might as well not even bother.
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  #53  
Old 07-11-2015, 04:47 PM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

Pop music today is no worse than the last 60 years. Some examples of Billboard number 1 hits from the past:

How much is that doggie in the window? (1953)
Purple People Eater (1958)
Monster Mash (1962)
Wild Thing (1966)
Kung Fu Fighting (1974)
Funky Town (1980)
Mickey (1982)
Macarena (1996)

There will always be good and bad pop songs, with some that stand the test of time. The goes for movies, novels, paintings, etc. The industry appeals to teenagers. As we get older our tastes change, and we think the current pop music is poor. The music isn't worse - we've just out of fashion.
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  #54  
Old 07-11-2015, 05:07 PM
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Following from my previous post - something that really does concern me these days is the lack of gigs for live bands. The gig guide for Adelaide on any given weekend is 50% DJ's, then karaoke, acoustic guitar/singers, comedians, 80's cover bands, and a tiny number of original bands, jazz, blues, etc.

Venues that used to host live bands mostly have a DJ, or series of DJ's as their 'live music' on weekends. These are often creative DJ's who mix tracks with other sounds and loops, etc, and sometimes its someone who's mixed it at home and literally presses play on their laptop. There is less and less paid work for actual bands. I know there are many reasons for this, but it still worries me.
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  #55  
Old 07-11-2015, 07:27 PM
SmoothOperator SmoothOperator is offline
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Originally Posted by Morrisman View Post
Following from my previous post - something that really does concern me these days is the lack of gigs for live bands. The gig guide for Adelaide on any given weekend is 50% DJ's, then ...
Then, bands still don't play dance tunes. In my college town, the Latin DJ always took back seat to the live salsa band, only playing on off nights, and when the band had a better paying gig. Musicians seem to think people go out to watch the DJ, then watch intently as he wows the ladies with his verbal singing ability, HA!
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  #56  
Old 07-11-2015, 08:40 PM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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Not to knock any of the old masters - a lot of that stuff is timeless - but some of the new folks are standing on their shoulders and getting just as high.
Err...humm...no, they're not.
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  #57  
Old 07-11-2015, 09:12 PM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4
Bohemian Rhapsody
Macarthur Park (laugh all you like - awesome arrangement)
Good Vibrations
Strawberry Fields, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby
All Along the Watchtower
Stairway to Heaven
Big Yellow Taxi
Light My Fire
Season of the Witch
Fame
Nothing Compares to You
Hotel California
Thriller, Billie Jean, Beat It
Another Brick in the Wall
California Dreaming
Sitting on the Dock etc
Creep
Georgia
Respect
Walking on the Moon, Roxanne
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Rehab
Superstition, Master Blaster
When Doves Cry, Sign o the Times, 1999
The Logical Song
Tusk, Rhiannon
Candle in the Wind, Bennie and the Jets
Spinning Wheel
Love Cats, A Forest
Loser
Art for Art's Sake
Rock Lobster
Zanzibar
I Shot the Sheriff
Wicked Game
Psycho Killer, Burning Down the House
Would I Lie to You
Broadway
Nutbush City Limits
Wuthering heights
Julia (Pavlov's Dog)
In the Air Tonight
Shock the Monkey

I could go on forever but you get the point. All of these tunes were hits (?) and IMO have way better melodies, harmonies and arrangements and more variation than most modern hits. I can only think of a handful of modern hits I've heard this millennium that hit the spot for me.

Dynamic subtlety seems to have been compressed out of existence in the battle to be the loudest and clearest on radios playing in cars and in workplaces. A bit of compression can add impact, but so much compression just sounds ugly to my ears.

There's plenty of good music but you have to search for it - and today searching for new music is easy. That's the good bit.

The bad part is that the most visible layers of western music scenes are filled with hyper-compressed blah for drivers, workers, dancers and other people who need to interact with music without really listening. The tripe is freely available but you have to work a little to get to the good stuff - but at least it's there to be found.
My two cents, not necesserally hits but good music anyway:

White room/Tales of brave Ulysses/Dance the night away
Breakfast in America/School/Give a little bit
Sweet Baby James/Carolina in my mind/Fire and rain
Won't get fooled again/Who are you?/I can see for miles
Father and son/Peace train/Morning has broken
Yellow/Speed of sound/Fix you
Who'll stop the rain/Proud Mary/Green river
I know what I like/The carpet crawlers/Firth of fifth
Evil ways/Oye como va/Soul sacrifice
Band on the run/Big barn bed/Hi, hi, hi

That's all, keep doing what you were doing before I chip in...
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  #58  
Old 07-13-2015, 07:51 AM
sage32 sage32 is offline
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Default Re: The state of pop music

Pop music is like Bud Light and McDonald's. What was once a genuine quality product full of substance got watered down over the decades as companies sacrificed quality for quantity. Pop music these days is mass produced artificial garbage that will give you cancer if you ingest too much of it ;-)
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  #59  
Old 07-13-2015, 01:38 PM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

I think another issue around compression is that producers are mixing things for itunes and the very poor quality ear plugs and even worse things like beats.

When you listen to heavily compressed music through good audio equipment it really sticks out.

The crazy thing is it's not limited to teeny bopper stuff. I think Maiden have just remixed their entire back catalogue for itunes.

One of the worst examples I can think of is the new edition of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds which compared to the 1978 original is very poorly produced.

The jury is still out on the new Toto album, I have the LP and it sounds like they're cramming too much volume into it which should happen on vinyl because it's uncompressed analogue, which is a shame because I've seen them on tour a couple of months back and it sounded amazing!
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  #60  
Old 07-14-2015, 01:13 AM
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Default Re: The state of pop music

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I think another issue around compression is that producers are mixing things for itunes and the very poor quality ear plugs and even worse things like beats.
It could be argued to have started decades earlier, as in the mobile device of choice from the 50s to the 70s, the transistor radio.

https://zmeza.wordpress.com/the-birt...nsistor-radio/
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  #61  
Old 07-14-2015, 08:06 AM
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The jury is still out on the new Toto album, I have the LP and it sounds like they're cramming too much volume into it which should happen on vinyl because it's uncompressed analogue, which is a shame because I've seen them on tour a couple of months back and it sounded amazing!
I imagine Simon's no longer in the producer chair. I admired his ability to keep a wide landscape on the last few Toto albums - especially Tambu :)
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  #62  
Old 07-14-2015, 02:01 PM
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It could be argued to have started decades earlier, as in the mobile device of choice from the 50s to the 70s, the transistor radio.

https://zmeza.wordpress.com/the-birt...nsistor-radio/
I agreee to a certain extent especially with cassette tapes and 8 track because you get natural compression.

But studio technology was nowhere near as advanced as it is now. Plus transistor radio is still anologue. Now you're talking cramming everything into a couple of MB of mp3

Check Sun studios out, everything was recorded pretty much live on very basic equipment and engineers were in uncharted territory in the 50s in terms of pop. But Jazz recordings of the late 50s are very well produced.
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  #63  
Old 07-14-2015, 02:09 PM
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I imagine Simon's no longer in the producer chair. I admired his ability to keep a wide landscape on the last few Toto albums - especially Tambu :)
Tambu was a great album, really underrated. Bit like Farenheit which is my personal favourite just for Jeff.

Even in the live DVDs he mixed everything had it's own space and room to move in it which the new album hasn't, shame because Keith Carlock's playing is brilliant and I feel there's things that are getting lost in the mix. He grooves like Jeff but has the precision of Simon.
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  #64  
Old 07-14-2015, 03:41 PM
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I think another issue around compression is that producers are mixing things for itunes and the very poor quality ear plugs and even worse things like beats.

When you listen to heavily compressed music through good audio equipment it really sticks out.

The crazy thing is it's not limited to teeny bopper stuff. I think Maiden have just remixed their entire back catalogue for itunes.

One of the worst examples I can think of is the new edition of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds which compared to the 1978 original is very poorly produced.

The jury is still out on the new Toto album, I have the LP and it sounds like they're cramming too much volume into it which should happen on vinyl because it's uncompressed analogue, which is a shame because I've seen them on tour a couple of months back and it sounded amazing!
Nothing new there though. Back in the day a mix would often be taken to an in car casette player to make sure it sounded good on poor equipment.
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  #65  
Old 07-14-2015, 03:48 PM
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I get the comparison between the two songs, & I get the differences in approach / feel too. I completely agree re: state of most pop music, but I think generally, Ed Sheeran is one of the better ones in the current crop. I also think this particular song is quite well constructed, produced, & performed. It's not great - far from it - but it is good IMHO.

Another aspect is exposure. There are some stunningly good modern pop artists, but quality mostly sits off the radar, leaving the safe "generic fad" stuff to dominate.
I agree with Andy, there is much worse out there today! Much, much worse.
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  #66  
Old 07-14-2015, 04:35 PM
tcspears tcspears is offline
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I agree with Andy, there is much worse out there today! Much, much worse.
This has been happening since at least the 1950s! All of these novelty (fad) songs like How Much is that Doggie in the Window are the same as the pop songs of today. They might not use studio musicians, but rather a producer with a keyboard, but that doesn't make it any less viable. Many times the musicians playing on the rock and roll and pop records were jazz guys, just going through the motions to get some studio pay. They are just as disconnected from the song as a digital track would be.

Many of the recordings form the 1950s and 60s were edited heavily as well (they didn't have autotune, but it's the same principle). Listen to Del Shannon's Runaway, a song that has stood the test of time. Listen to the recording, they've sped up the tapes to raise it to a higher key. It was originally recorded in A minor, and the increased speed puts it around a B Flat minor. Is that any different than a producer using autotune?
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  #67  
Old 07-14-2015, 04:58 PM
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This has been happening since at least the 1950s! All of these novelty (fad) songs like How Much is that Doggie in the Window are the same as the pop songs of today. They might not use studio musicians, but rather a producer with a keyboard, but that doesn't make it any less viable. Many times the musicians playing on the rock and roll and pop records were jazz guys, just going through the motions to get some studio pay. They are just as disconnected from the song as a digital track would be.

Many of the recordings form the 1950s and 60s were edited heavily as well (they didn't have autotune, but it's the same principle). Listen to Del Shannon's Runaway, a song that has stood the test of time. Listen to the recording, they've sped up the tapes to raise it to a higher key. It was originally recorded in A minor, and the increased speed puts it around a B Flat minor. Is that any different than a producer using autotune?
Totally agree with the first bit, good musicians have traditionally been behind bad pop. For instance Congratulations by Cliff Richard had Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones backing it.

Adjusting tape speed isn't as bad as auto tune. Most films have sped up music if you've ever noticed. Zappa used it a lot in the 70's. I'd say it's studio tool rather than blatant cheating which autotune is. Plus Del Shannon still had to sing in tune to A minor.

My guitarist has an auto tune pedal. It's great he can't really sing but this pedal is linked to his guitar so he is pitch perfect through the P.A. and nobody knows it's impossible to sing out of tune.

The other trick is multi layering a vocal track so a singer with a really weak voice i.e. Ellie Goulding sounds really powerful compared to the weak voiced woman with an acoustic guitar that pronounces the words in an overtly English way on youtube that got her noticed.
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  #68  
Old 12-24-2018, 07:42 PM
Macarina Macarina is offline
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Default Re: The state of pop music

In my mind, pop of today (last 10-15 years) has severely been stuck in a rut. True, it the most popular, because apparently that's what people want and folks tune into. Like my wife.

I just think it's lazy listening. Yep, it's the same snap, clap and tick electronic sounds that dominate the beat. Just different wording and phrasing.

It's mind numbing I tell ya.

I don't listen to country, but it appears this pop sound has infiltrated Country Music.

This Beat is Killing Country Music
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Old 12-24-2018, 09:20 PM
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Posts: 366
Default Re: The state of pop music

I did my best to read as much of the thread. . .First off I'll say, I've always used the analogy that music is like food. We eat what tastes good to us, may not make a bit of sense to another. With that said, bad music is bad music, no matter who is listening.

I was a DJ/MC in a topless bar in Indy for over 18 years, 3 years in my home town prior to that. I purchased thousands of songs that I never listened to on my own time, except to see if they were worthy of purchase. Music isn't written, and rehearsed anymore. It's constructed like software. I watched Sound City last week or so about the recording studio in SOCAL. What was the dang program, PRO SOUND?????? It was released, and studios started losing business everywhere. It gave idiots the ability to "produce" music right on their PC. It's horrendous. It's one thing to write a song on guitar, and then use a drum machine to lay down a beat, etc etc. . .But to simply sing over sounds you dragged and clicked from a list in a program, I really don't know if I consider it music, to start with.

Being a talented entertainer isn't the same as being a talented musician either.

I am a huge jam band fan. I can hardly listen to the radio these days at all. And having been a DJ for about 25 years, I have plenty of great music to get me by 'til the day I die.
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