In the past, pop music was “terrible” because the curmudgeons complaining about it were old. Today, everybody hates pop music because it is truly terrible.
If the Beatles were indeed the product of a pernicious Tavistockian demoralization campaign, created to mete out the death blow to Western civilization, then what on Earth would that make Justin Bieber?
Young audiences agree that contemporary music is crap and the 2018 Grammys just had the lowest ratings in the Awards’ history. If you were ever in the music business, you know that the industry today is a pale shadow of its former self.
25-year-old YouTuber Thoughty explains the nuts and bolts of why today’s pop music has become a pathetic symptom of our clickbaity, dopamine-driven, digital culture. The pop music we have today is what happens when art is gamed-out by a very small group businessmen using Behaviorist marketing techniques.
He cites a study showing how harmonic complexity and diversity of instruments have plummeted precipitously while the compression of the dynamic range and general loudness has increased oppressively. The melodies, rhythms and the vocals of popular music have become more and more similar to each other since the 1960s, with hundreds of artists using the same sequence of notes. Researcher Patrick Metzger identified a specific shift from the fifth note in a scale to the third note and then back to the fifth, accompanied by a vocal “Wah-oh, wah-oh” as the “Millennial Whoop” because it’s featured in hundreds of chart-topping pop songs created over the past few years.
Thoughty reveals a sneaky fact that I knew 15 years ago but was stunned to learn is STILL true: The vast majority of hit songs in the past 20 years was written by just two people! Yes, what Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Robin Thicke, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Christina Aguilera, Ke$ha and the Backstreet Boys all have in common are the Swedish man, Max Martin, who is single-handedly responsible for over two dozen number-one singles and thousands of songs in the top 100 charts over the past decade. And if Max Martin didn’t write it, then American Dr Luke probably did.
Thoughty says, “You’ve likely never heard of them and that is very intentional. These two men are the hidden pop factories behind virtually every single band that has played on the radio today and probably every musical act you grew up with if you’re under 30 years old…and you wondered why everything sounds the same.”
It gets worse. The average attention span has become so reduced over the past decade, that Max Martin and Dr. Luke have to write their hooks earlier in the songs and to repeat them more often. Thoughty says that the advent of the iPod and millions of songs at our fingertips has caused musicians and record companies to favor punchy bass lines that demand our attention, stuffing each song full of hooks to instantly grab our focus and keep it for as long as possible.
Finally, the cost of breaking a new artist onto the global music scene has become so prohibitive, he says that the industry has reacted by removing the risk. Instead of trying to find genuine musical talent, they simply take a pretty young face, usually from a TV talent show and then simply force the public to like them by brainwashing them with familiar hooks from that Swedish hitmeister and placing the music literally everywhere – in supermarkets, shopping malls, movie soundtracks, online, etc., instead of allowing the public to grow to like an artist.
“[Pop] music, as an art form is dying. It’s being replaced by music which is a disposable product designed to sell, not to inspire.”