Question: “Why does new music suck?”

[Radio consultant Fred Jacobs turns out several great blogs per week. Today’s (March 5) has the provocative title “Why Does New Music Suck?” Here’s an excerpt. – AC]

It’s hard to imagine an interview with say, John Lennon, Prince, or Jack White where these guys came up empty when asked about new music or new bands they enjoy. While all three are/were especially discriminating writers and performers, none would have been stumped by the age-old question, “Heard any great new music lately?” or “Any new bands you’ve been listening to?”

But that’s the world in which we live. And if you’ve been tasked with putting together great clusters of new/recurrent music for testing these past couple years, chances are you’ve struggled as much as Corey Taylor and Adam Levine.

So, what’s the problem? Why does music seem to be in a trough, and with it, radio formats that depend on what’s new?

I’ve talked about radio’s systemic issues, exacerbated by a rating methodology that seems to conspire against stations that focus on the new and unfamiliar.

And music is discovery is fragmented across hundreds of different platforms.  Everyone’s making their own playlists, and we’re all listening to different things.

And let’s not forget the confluence of an economic recession, a global pandemic, and a tepid music environment all of which set up this perfect storm of conditions that are good for the Eagles, Queen, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, and not so good for those kids practicing their craft in their garage or bands building fans by playing small clubs.

The headwinds for great new music finding its audience are stiff, despite the fact there are myriad more distribution outlets now. 

I urge you to read the whole thing. Thoughts?

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.

Alan Cross has 38553 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

8 thoughts on “Question: “Why does new music suck?”

  • Can guitar, piano, keyboard rock evolve into something fun and danceable with relatable, relevant, meaningful lyrics, that doesn’t just appeal to traditional rock fans? What band from the last 10 years do you love?

  • Why does new music suck? Maybe because there aren’t many people wanting to pick up an instrument and learn how to play it and learn about it’s history and significance.People are so into technology, which isn’t a bad thing but yeah I don’t know. Back in the day you would listen to bands and say to yourself wow that’s interesting I want to learn how to play that instrument. I just don’t think there’s that appeal right now. Hopefully we get back to those days though.

  • All new music whether its country, hip hop, whatever, is appealing to the lowest common denominator…an uneducated American public with no background in true music appreciation. This is where we are. Our society is gone. It’s once great intelligence is gone. It’s all GONE. It’s not coming back. Music all sounds the same. No soul, talentless hacks. Cookie cutter shit made on an assembly line of crap scraped off the slaughterhouse floor.

    • This is the exact same argument given by old farts about new music since at least the 50s, be it rock, alternative, pop. I would guess it had been going on for decades prior too.

  • It is not the same argument. I’m not talking about Elvis Presley’s gyrations on Ed Sullivan here. I’m talking about the quality of the product, the talent or lack thereof that creates it and the target audience. Let’s touch for a minute on Country Music. New Country Music sucks so bad I can’t see how anyone with more than 2 braincells to rub together can come to the defense of it. It all sounds exactly the same, with the EXACT same subject matter over and over again. Subject matter of new country music is as follows: whores with painted on jeans, beer, trucks, bare feet, being shitfaced. Thats it….. Over and over and over again. It all started with the song Achy Breaky Heart and it’s been going down the shitter ever since. Country music stars of the past came from the pits of hell and struggled their way out of it and in turn it reflected in their music. That was once almost a requirement back in the day to be a Country Music star. I’ll put anything by Cash or Haggard up against ANYTHING by Kenny Chesney or any other talentless hack that can’t make up their minds as to whether they want to be a Country Music artist or a gangster rapper any day of the year. Singing about whores and beer to a background of snap tracks will never hold a candle to Sunday Morning Coming Down or Mama Tried.

  • If you think new music sucks, then you are becoming your dad. Or you are stuck in your own rut of listening to the same artists/genres. Try listening to something older but new for you. Try different genres. Listen to the music that has inspired your favorite artists. For example, the Beastie Boys Book is packed full of unique music references from many genres that they were influenced by and sampled. Give some of it a listen.

  • Ah yes the Beasties! Loved em in the 80’s. Country was but one example in my previous post. I don’t have an issue with new and different sounds. If you could see the music on my phone, the genres are many and from every spectrum. My wife and I (both American Idol watchers, her more so than me) have been watching the latest rounds of auditions that we record to ff thru the commercials. These contestants are HORRIBLE. I mean absolutely HORRIBLE!!! Furthermore, the panel has been giving away their “golden tickets” to Hollywood like candy to performers who in NO WAY POSSIBLE deserve to move on to the next round. American Idol, a reality show that has actually given birth in the past to some really great talent has cheapened itself to the point where anyone still taking this show seriously is in the deepest states of denial. Needless to say, we’ve pretty much stopped watching…for now. BTW. I’m 54 and love music. I’ve seen many, many concerts from Kid Rock to Elton John to Ozzy Osbourne to Bruce Springsteen and the list goes on. Todays music reminds me of cars from the 1980’s. There was actually a time in this country when you couldn’t tell a Cavalier from a Cadillac. Listen to new country. You’ll plainly hear what I’m talking about. Same subject matter over and over, sung with a background of those UBER OBNOXIOUS snap tracks and beats that sound more like hip hop than country. Nashville has gone strait to hell. It’s undeniable and painfully obvious. They (the producers and record labels) are now all in it for nothing other than the money and seeing how many albums some talentless hack can crank out before he/she loses their luster and gets tossed aside with yesterday’s garbage. Other genres are following the same path. Don’t just hear music…listen to it. I mean really listen to it. Trust me…if you listen the way I do, it should take you no more than 5 minutes tops to hear what I’m talking about. 😊

  • “When you take the Blues out of Rock ‘N Roll, you’ve taken its soul.”
    –Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones.

    That’s why new music sucks along with computerized ‘pitch control’ forcing the lip-sync to survive live performances, it’s corporatism in short.


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