Has the quality of music declined over the past century?

3 emeralds 15 replies 274 views | started 12/21/2017 8:13 pm by lovehermadly
Just to be clear, I am playing devil's advocate with this thread, and I will not openly defend or criticize anybody unless they are insolent to other posters.

A lot of people nowadays claim that popular music has degenerated into glorifying sex and gang-banging rather than meaningful issues. They preach that records like The Dark Side Of The Moon and A Night At The Opera have been replaced with DAMN. and Gucci Gang. They feel that modern musicians are talent-less and rely too much on computers and generic backing tracks to garner millions of dollars from their fans, while they simultaneously could give less of a crap about their artistic integrity.

Yet many of their opponents promote the idea that popular music (especially psychedelic rock) since the mid-Sixties has been about sex and drug use. They also counter their detractors' beliefs by saying that modern musicians simply express their talents in different ways than the bands of old. Some also subscribe to the fact that many modern musicians contribute to contemporary social justice groups by writing "progressive" or "feminist" songs.

What are your thoughts? All and any ideas are welcome (given that they follow PMC's stringent forum rules).
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Level 29 : Expert Scribe

15 replies

01/22/2018 11:16 pm
Level 21 Expert Architect
I agree that yes, music is pretty bad with it's messages. But in sound, it definitely hasn't. Its style has changed, but there are still plenty of great songs that can match up to the great songs of the past. Also, I'm guessing people who say music in the past was better are also ignoring the many bad/unpopular songs that weren't as good, so if you compared the popular songs of the past to the ones of the present, I think they're both good.

Just my opinion, but I really don't know much about music, so my opinion might not be too solid.
01/22/2018 2:30 am
Level 1 New Crafter
Regarding the pelvis of Elvis

The erosion of traditional values has always been the cry of conservatism.

In my opinion, the quality of music doesn't correlate with the values it espouses, so the notion that "glorifying sex" or "gang banging" degrades the quality of a song is suspect.

Before the advent of mass-media, record companies tightly controlled the distribution of music. They had to answer to the moral or legal authorities (with a ton of overlap) of the day, and that means consequences for sales should they cause problems.

Now we all have a voice, and with more voices comes a distribution of creators that reflects the whole range of personalities. Yes, we have needlessly violent or sexually aggressive songs, but we also have needlessly violent or sexually aggressive people.

TL;DR: The quality of music hasn't gone down, there's just more of it.
01/20/2018 7:33 am
Level 11 Journeyman Dragon
The FaiyaBLAST
There is some good music today, but a lot of it is dirty or contains other mature content. However, there is always music with no lyrics (like VGM remixes), those are probably getting better. And I like that.
01/20/2018 12:37 am
Level 10 Journeyman Taco
As someone who mostly listens to J-Pop, I feel like I’m not affected by this a lot, but I think I should put my opinion out there:
Most Pop music is about love. Seriously! Listen to the radio for a reasonable amount of time and tally up how many songs use the word ‘love’ or imply that they feel love!
It’s a lot. I’m not saying that this has declined the actual quality of music, as many of these songs still are very well made. I feel like when someone who says that music is declining, they are talking about the outliers, Gucci Gang and the like. Those songs make up around (don’t quote me on this) 15% - 25% of songs that are popular. That’s not a lot. I feel like this is like when people say Minecraft or Undertale are cringy, just because they are focusing on the 10% of people who make ‘cringy’ MC ‘let’s plays’ (we’ve all seen at least one) or ship themselves with Sans/Papyrus and the like. This doesn’t mean that these games are terrible. People just like to focus on the one bad thing about something, whether it be SoundCloud rappers or 10 year olds who ship themselves with a fictional skeleton.

I’m really tired, sorry if there are any mistakes
01/13/2018 5:05 pm
Level 1 New Miner
The quality of music follows the quality of people in a region to appeal to them, so I believe the real question is, has the quality of people declined?

Saying this, I don't mean just the mainstream things. Other music types have also evolved (or devolved, to each their own.) to better gain a profit, and to do so, it has to appeal to people. Usually, anyways. There's always the few people who go their own way in a certain genre.
01/13/2018 3:51 pm
Level 1 New Miner
DAMN. was an amazing album and should NOT be compared to the likes of 'gucci gang' and other soundcloud rappers. I'm not trying to be rude, but you should actually listen to Kendrick Lamar before judging his music.
01/13/2018 2:43 am
Level 12 Journeyman Botanist
You have to understand that nowadays that pop and alternative rock/pop are on the rise and are getting more popular away from all the rap and hard metal and into more uplifting and bass filled music which is most popular with our generation (I say our as I mean the youth of this generation I'm 15) so no music is not yet showing a decline in mass proportions but may do in the near future when artists run out of ideas or inspiration
01/13/2018 1:54 am
Level 5 Apprentice Narwhal
Nowadays most songs are about smexual things
01/20/2018 6:49 pm
Level 4 Apprentice Ranger
Yeah, pretty much every song on pop radio stations is about that.
12/23/2017 10:54 pm
Level 35 Artisan Architect
I came here intending only to read the comments, but I do want to say that I agree the most with what Punkamoar has to say. What we consider popular music is only a function of what many people listen to. The music industry simply caters to people's tastes, and so if anything we have ourselves to blame for this perceived decline in quality.

There's plenty of really good stuff out there if those who complain about it can take the time to go and find it. It's easy to miss good music if you spend all your time complaining about new music and exclusively listening to old music.
12/21/2017 11:56 pm
Level 49 Master Gent
I wouldn't say that the quality has gone down, I'd say the standards of the listener have gone down. But that is my personal opinion. The fact of the matter is, there are still bands and acts rivalling those mentioned in the original post. But they aren't as prevalent, because the majority of people would rather listen to something easy, vapid, and catchy.

I could go into how modern pop music is garbage copy/paste 1-4-5-1 chord scheme cookie-cutter nonsense, but that's beside the point. Music is what you want to listen to, and no one should make you feel about that. I'll listen to a Taylor Swift song before diving into Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. Music is music, listen to what you want.

So, to answer your question, music is not any different now than it was 50 years ago (music has changed at lot over the last century, and you mentioned nothing in your post before 1970, so I moved the timescale up), but people's tastes and preferences are different, hence the surge of modern pop music.
12/21/2017 11:24 pm
Level 44 Master Cowboy
Mmkay I'm not even a fan of Kendrick Lamar but to write him off as talent-less is really, really closed-minded and objectively false. That man can tell a powerful story in a really unique way.

Besides that, there's three real answers to this conundrum:

1. Capitalism. As industries develop, producers begin searching for the least common denominator for selling and producing their product. What's the easiest way to make the most amount of money? Use simple, repetitive styles of music production that makes things sound the same so that people are more likely to listen to it, due to it being familiar. This is a fairly cynical, yet realistic, view that explains a slight bit of change in the industry.

2. As people grow older, they become more resistant to change. This is pretty obvious and exists in many areas of our lives. As an American culture, I feel like so many people latched onto these older musical ideals because nostalgia is trendy and "we'll never have another Queen, another Beatles, another Pink Floyd, another [some old, dead band that was generally well-accepted in their time but not overblown to the state they are today after their death because of nostalgia]." Sure, a lot of people love these old artists legitimately. They're mostly quite talented and capable. But we've still got amazing artists producing content. If you want stuff that sounds like the "oldies", you're gonna have to turn off the radio and go digging for it. I'm sorry, but tastes change. So it seems that a lot of people, young and old, have latched onto these idealistic artists. So be it, but don't write everything else off because you don't think they're as good.

3. I already kinda mentioned it, but tastes change. Who knows who's going to be popular in fifty years? Artists of today, like [I'm hesitant to name names here but I also don't care] Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, Alessia Cara, Ellie Goulding, Zedd, Eminem, Childish Gambino, Ed Sheeran, Kesha (fight me), and so many more, could be immortalized with the same kind of blind nostalgia that's been given to artists of our past. We're just too busy living in the moment to appreciate it, and in many subcultures it's trendy to hate on whatever's popular just because it's popular right now (that's immensely stupid, as is most counterculture movement, but whatever).

And yes, there are so many artists that really don't have much in the way of musical talent. But if they've become popular enough to be criticized on such a global scale, they've gotta be talented at something. Let them drift by the wayside after their big hit and they'll be gone in a few years. Whining about them just make them stronger, at least in this industry.

There's probably more to it than this, but that's all I wanted to say on it for now. I've never been a fan of nostalgia, especially when it's used to blindly hate on the here and now. So give newer music a chance through a neutral lens. Get the hell off the radio and do some digging before writing off an entire generation of talented creators.
12/21/2017 8:38 pm
Level 33 Artisan Vampire
I'm almost positive that there are still artists that make music like/inspired by older stuff. It's not that music changes, trends change. If you don't like...Justin Bieber (i literally can't name a popular artist from this year oops) that's great. Not all artists are Justin Bieber. If you don't like John Lennon, that's great. Not all artists are John Lennon. Other options are available. Trends shouldn't be held accountable for the overall quality of music.

I'm not really good at explaining things, so I probably shouldn't have left a comment, but. there's my messy opinion.
12/21/2017 8:34 pm
Level 15 Journeyman Pig
Tossed you the bread
I totally agree with you!

I have been hearing some stupid songs that are much more populat, than good, soothing and old music.
12/23/2017 10:34 pm
Level 46 Master Botanist
Ah yes, because nothing made in the last decade is either good nor soothing. And there are absolutely no old songs that could be considered stupid. Of course.




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