Adding my 2 cents on the topic (which is about what it’s worth), there are studies that show that the music people listen to in adolescence has the strongest pull for them. So it makes sense for us to see these kind of opinions.
I sometimes joke with people there hasn’t been a decent piece of music composed in the last 80 years! ( mostly for their reaction).
But I think the technology of auto tune/midi editing/protools has to be brought into any discussion of the evolution of music.
You literally need no vocal ability or training to sing anymore. The craft of musicianship is no longer required to make “music.” No timing is needed either as you can just snap a performance to the midi grid, or take that one bar performed well and just copied and pasted into the rest of the composition. Perhaps we’re in an era of a new form of art/poetry. It takes the form of musical expression, but it certainly bears little resemblance to the Coltrane I’m currently listening to.
Back in its heyday, I was no fan of disco. I liked dance for sure, funk, a lot of the stuff Talking heads was doing, etc. Today I can appreciate the disco era as it had real musicianship behind it (the session players often having a jazz background).
There are studies that show children growing up listening to complex music have better math and language skills. Of course it could be due to better educated parents exposing kids to more complex music, so who knows.
But I really feel that different minds crave repetitive music or familiar vs. more complex or perhaps unfamiliar music. As I age I definitely can’t listen to much in 4/4 time for long. I crave complexity and challenge, be it some unfamiliar classical or opera while driving, some new avant- gardi-ish jazz (I recently discovered Ben Goldberg) or unearthed Zappa shows.
At Grateful Dead shows, I noticed a similarity to what I hear in Temple. The same songs people hear and sing to over and over again. It’s comforting, it’s a ritual, and I get it.
The human brain developed to rely on echolalia, as a way of learning language, but that same process gets musical patterns stuck in our reverberatory memory. Ever had that crap ad jingle stuck in your head? Well I feel all music works the same way for most. You hear something a bunch of times and it just sticks. Combine that with biological development and peer pressure/preference, and boom, we have our musical tastes formed.
This is probably not the case for many reading this forum. We are the oddballs of society that place a massive premium on making music the focus, not just a narration for our activities. I believe the audiophile brain has its reward system more wired into the auditory center than most, hence our musical appetite will tend to be broader than most.
Finally I like to point out one of favorite newer artists (though not so new anymore) doing exemplary work in the pop arena. Regina Spektor. She grew up listening to classical and jazz in Russia and that’s why her pop music (or at least her early stuff) was so good. What kind of music might one make growing up listening to the likes of a Kanye, the latest corporate rocker or pop songs with the complexity of a nursery rhyme meant for young children?
As far as Prince, I had seen him live a few times and am partial to his album Sign of the Times, which I consider to be a cohesive artistic statement.