Guest Blog: The Sad State of Today’s Music

[Every once in a while, people ask if they can submit a guest blog so they can sound off on a particular music topic that’s near and dear to them.  This feature was written by Phil Capobianco. Feel free to make any comments below.- AC]

What has happened to the state of today’s music?

What ever happened to artists who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments? They are becoming a dying breed.

Today there is a crop of manufactured pop stars that sell out like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Britney Spears.

Back in the day when you went to see a live show, there was no lip syncing or backing tracks. Bands toured and sold albums not single songs. The artists that played on the album were usually the artists you saw on stage.

Songs were timeless and well crafted, it was about the music, not the image which is what it is today. Will they be playing today’s music in 10 years time, I don’t think so.

Where are the next iconic front men like Mick Jagger’s, Robert Plant’s, Bruce Springsteen’s, and Bono’s of the world?

Nowadays record companies want a band or artist to conform to a specific sound or style of music or the current trend or fad, or else they won’t be signed. Bands have lost their creative control!

Ever since the advent of MTV or more recently YouTube music has become a mostly visual medium.

What happened to great classic songs and albums? Not too many because most albums theses days are processed and manufactured by computers (Pro Tools, Auto-Tune).There are fewer real musicians playing real instruments.

Remember concept albums, 10 minute songs by Yes, Rush, Genesis? Now everything has to be 4 minutes or less to suit radio formats

No more bands with longevity like The Rolling Stones, Rush, U2, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc. Today it’s a chew them up spit them out mentality.

In the past a fan of music had their own mental image when listening to a song, now it’s mostly a visual one that they get from a music video, commercial, or movie soundtrack.

Songs from the past still hold up today because they were well written and actual musicians performed on them.

In my opinion most of the best music out there was released pre-1990 with a few exceptions.

Technology has ruined music!

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “Guest Blog: The Sad State of Today’s Music

  • February 3, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I’m guessing he doesn’t listen to Coheed & Cambria? The Mars Volta? A (short) list of bands that buck the trend he seems to be complaining about: The Protomen, Stone Sour (especially House of Gold & Bones), anything involving Josh Homme, Nightwish, and many others. Can’t look to pop music to buck money-making trends like these.

  • February 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    I agree on some levels that music is changing and for the worse but I don’t think you can exclude the 90s. Numerous acts from the 90s put out music that was written and performed by the artist themselves. The music may not have been your cup of tea but bands like pearl jam and nirvana out true emotion and passion into the music they created.

  • February 3, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Apples to Oranges. There have always been “Artists” and “Performers”.You are comparing performers: Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Britney Spears to artists: rock bands who compose and perform their own music. Why not compare artists/bands of today to those of the past. I was a huge U2 fan and while I appreicate the history of some of the other bands you mentioned I think there are great artists around if you look for them. QOTSA, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead ETC… just to name a few. If anything I think this is an exciting time for music. Youtube, music apps, online access etc have given us the ability to discover so many bands and songs we would have never come across in the past.

  • February 3, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    While I certainly can’t disagree that Lady Gaga et al are Certified CRAP they are POP music. And it’s ALWAYS been crap except in some very special circumstances. The early to mid sixties and early 90’s were times when real music crossed over to popular music. But there was a lot of churned out muck then too. And manufactured stars wholly owned by record companies.

    Forget about radio. There are tons of real musicians out there writing and playing great music everyday. Are they playing stadiums? Maybe not as much as was once the norm ( Rush are still out there selling records and selling out arenas BTW) but they are out there in the small venues playing there hearts out.

    Forget the stadium shows go support your local music venue.

  • February 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    While I certainly agree with the general idea of this opinion piece, I sadly have to point out that this complaint is now officially old enough to drive a car.

    I’d pinpoint 1998 as the definitive year that music veered off of the patented Alan Cross 12/13-Year Cycle Of Music. Technology ushered in far too many changes in the way music is made, marketed and consumed to ever realistically expect a new Renaissance like we saw with the Beatles, Punk and Grunge/Indie in their respective cyclical upswings.

    We live in a new reality where there is so much, but there’s really very little. And all one has to do to to predict the next pop sensation in 2 years is to watch whatever Disney show is popular with tweens today.

    The war is over. The industry won. Remember the time when rock stars were unpredictable unfiltered party machines? Who does that now? Only Justin Beiber, sadly.

  • February 3, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Apparently there were no manufactured bands before the 90’s, or songwriters who’s sole occupation was to write hits for other people. Someone forgot to tell Tin Pan Alley and the Monkees this, though.


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