Much has been written about the less-than-stellar quality of today’s music, especially in regards to current pop music (including me). Consensus continues to build, too. Take, for example, this interview at The Ringer with Ted Gioia who believes that old music is killing new music.
Why does it seem like the old is eating the new in pop culture? This year, the song of the summer is arguably Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”—which was released in 1985. It was launched by the most-watched global TV show of the summer, Stranger Things—an homage to the 1980s. In movies, the biggest hit of the season is Top Gun: Maverick—a sequel to the 1986 film. The ’80s was four decades ago!
The triumph of nostalgia and familiarity in culture is deeper than one summer. The five biggest movies of this year are the second Top Gun, the second Doctor Strange, the sixth Jurassic Park, the 14th Batman-related film, and the fifth Despicable Me. Amazing original films, like Everything Everywhere All at Once, show up here and there, but as far as slam-dunk blockbusters go, the last decade has suffered from a new-movie curse.
There’s a new-music curse, too. Total music consumption is rising across album sales, track purchases, and streaming. But consumption of new music is down. The entire growth in music is happening in so-called catalog music, or older songs.
What’s happening here? Today’s guest is Ted Gioia. We talk about his viral essay “Is Old Music Killing New Music?”, the dearth of young stars in Hollywood, and the rise of risk-aversion in American culture and business.