Opinion: Music has gotten progressively worse.
Specifically, the music we get exposed to has gotten worse. From the mid 80’s – mid 90’s some of the rawest and most interesting music was not only created, but played on radio. With hip-hop, early grunge, punk, metal all finding their footing in the music industry and becoming mainstream genres which were widely listened to. It was an interesting time musically, which dealt with a lot of genuine issues from crazy songs like “Killing in The Name of” pushing anti-establishment messages, Nirvana’s opus Smells Like Teen Spirit becoming an unofficial anthem of teenage, and completely different experimental music such as Massive Attack – Teardrop all being somewhat staple radio play despite their originality and nonconformity. So why is it, that I sit here in 2017 and almost every major radio station plays the exact same catchy major chord pop tunes with some slight variation? It all started with a little act called the 1996 Telecommunications act.
“The goal of this new law is to let anyone enter any communications business — to let any communications business compete in any market against any other” Sounds great right. The freer the market the freer the people? Maybe not in this case. What this lead to was the forming of some serious communications giants, such as Clear Channel & Cumulus – who collectively own more than 15,000 radio stations world wide. Now why is this a bad thing?
In 2011 a study was done using MRI machines to monitor how the brain reacted to music. The study found that people responded most positively to music they had heard before, even though it may not have been in the genre or style which they themselves had claimed to enjoy. Interesting. What this basically boils down to is that if Radios continually play the same schedule of songs, people will become accustomed to them and start enjoying them. Trust me, I moved to the southern United States and now listen to country music by choice. Which in all honesty is some embarrassing anecdotal evidence.
If you think about the majority of music played on public radio it is generally individual pop-stars or small commercially manufactured pop groups or otherwise “easy to control” targets for media companies. The idea of starting a band in your garage with your friends, slowly growing, and then one day getting “scouted” and winding up on radio, is almost completely dead. Now days, large media companies simply pick someone good looking, with a small amount of talent, pair them up with a mass pop writer (possibly Max Martin), and play the shit out of it on the stations they own until you start liking it, and in turn buying it, and going to their concerts (where you also get screwed by automated ticket bidding – but that’s another story). Almost all music-celebrites (I won’t call them musicians) portray an “image” that lines up with what is easy to market – which has possibly in turn lead to the huge over sexualizing of women in music & the “extreme” masculinity and charisma portrayed amongst male pop stars.
Rap & Pop are now the two most played radio genres, I believe this is largely because it is easier to control an individual than it is to deal with a band of friends. Individual, conformity, and lack of talent put all the cards in the hands of the media giants, and they know it.
You may say that there are still good bands coming out, and to some extent I agree, but people who are into music, or passionate about a specific genre are less likely to find new music by listening to the radio, and more likely to find niche artists on free platforms such as soundcloud & youtube. It’s amazing how such a core part of our generations “art” as been force fed to us, and most have eaten it up & said thank you.
Rant over – kinda economicy?