Popular music usually reflects the mood of the era. By that barometer, our age is colorless and dreary. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:
When I was a boy, my grandfather would tool around in his car listening to big band music or classical. The former was the music of his youth, while the latter was what he thought sophisticated people liked. He was not wrong about that. In his youth, the kind of music you could dance to was for proles, while the sophisticated people appreciated classical and opera. It was not as clear cut as that, but the early 20th century was a time when people still looked up for guidance and inspiration. That included entertainments.
The thing I always hated hearing from my grandfather was how modern music was terrible and not fit for civilized people. He was a man of his age and class, so he used colorful euphemisms to describe popular music. Even as a kid, I understood that every generation has their soundtrack. Maybe never having known anything but a world where pop culture dominated, this came naturally to me, while my grandfather still recalled an age before everyone had a radio and television. Maybe he knew things I couldn’t know.
Either way, I’ve always just assumed that once I passed my mid-20’s, pop music was no longer for me. Some stuff would be appealing, but most would be aimed at kids and strike me as simplistic and repetitive. There were some good bands in the 90’s that I liked, but most of it was not my thing. By the 2000’s, I was unable to name popular groups or the songs at the top of the charts. Today, I have not heard a single note from any song on the current top-40. On the other hand, I’m sure I’ve heard some version of all of it.
That may be why music sales have collapsed. A 15-year old can go on YouTube or Spotify and find fifty versions of the current pop hits, gong back before their parents were born. They can also find stuff from previous eras that was remarkably well done and performed by people with real talent. Justin Timberlake may be very talented as a singer, but no one is confusing him with Frank Sinatra. It’s simply a lot easier for young people to see that pop music is just manufactured pap from Acme Global Corp.
To continue reading: The Soundtrack Of This Age