Is today’s contemporary music lacking?


I listen to various genres of music, and I am a big fan of rock/pop from the 1950s to today.

When I turn in the radio to hear new pop/rock songs, I often hear “monotonous” verses with minimal melody repeated again and again (4x) then the chorus not quite matching the music of the verses. The artist seems to try using a good voice trying to make the song sound good but these songs seem to lack a good “melody”. Anybody else notice this?

Also, because pop/rock music is well established, is it more difficult nowadays to create new good melodies - are artists running out of creative ideas?  This thought has often crossed my mind whenever I hear another song remake.
kennyc
Good songwriting (chord progressions, melodies and harmonies, and lyrics) may be found in the Americana genre. Americana is basically Pop music performed in "roots" style. A number of the songwriters responsible for your favorite songs from the 60’s and 70’s now live and work in Nashville.

Don’t look to most new/young artists for classic Pop songwriting. It is a craft rewiring too much hard work ;-) . However, there are exceptions. The problem is the good stuff isn’t usually offered on radio or TV, though I saw Billie Eilish on Jimmy Fallon Live last and dug the hell out of her.
I know exactly what you mean.  Its like the people that make movies are the ones that are making music.  Its pure overproduced crap.  I had given up for many years that all good music to be done had already been done.  Then, in the 90's when my son was in High School, he suggested some bands.  He then went onto college and did a talk show that talked about different bands.  Some of the ones that he turned me onto are Radiohead, Noah and the Whale, Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend, Avett Brothers, and so forth.  Noah and the Whale album, The First Day of Spring, was the first album I could recall sitting and listening to non-stop in long time.  Before that I believe Pink Floyd The Wall.  Its out there but you aren't going to find it on the radio. 
If by contemporary you mean what you hear on the radio or see on the television, the answer is an emphatic yes.

However, if one diligently seeks out lesser known artists, there is a wealth of good musicians/songwriters to be found. And I consider it a positive thing that they haven't been "discovered".

Just one example. Google The Cordovas. Take a listen to them and you will hear exactly what I'm talking about.  And I would bet dollars to donuts that you've never heard of them.

Oz


Is today's music lacking?

Depends on your personal taste and your sources for music.

I've viewed/read a good many interviews where songwriters point out the difficulty of coming up something that sounds fresh, at this point in history. This suggests that the task is indeed growing more challenging. 

I agree with bdp24-- I've encountered many highly-talented younger musicians and songwriters in the catch-all genre known as Americana. 
There are bountiful riches to be discovered in this genre, if you care to explore it. 


I agree with bdp24-- I've encountered many highly-talented younger musicians and songwriters in the catch-all genre known as Americana.


Most of them are story tellers which goes well in some genre but  is   mostly wasted in R&R. A case in point is Led Zeppelin. I was a fan, a devotee, a protege of sorts of Zep from the the 1st day I heard it. First time is needed to invert your mind to decipher.  Anyway , even though I learned every song drums & vocals, I never understood the lyrics fully. Even though I sang it, I just filled in the parts I didn't know. The crowd didn't notice cause they understood them no better than I did. FWIW, a local radio station did a segment called "Plant or Animal?" Then they would play a scream from a jungle animal and then Robt. Plant. You had to guess...Plant or animal?
I've long thought pop music on long term decline, gave it up a long time ago. Popular, commercial radio has long been pretty much dreck for me, didn't get into audio to listen to that.

I've often thought about how difficult writing music would be, how many ways can one string together a limited number of musical notes and still create something novel and fresh. Will every combination or progression of notes be exhausted at some point? I could easily imagine writing a song and at least parts of it would be an exact duplication of some song that came before.
Still, I very much enjoy much contemporary music, virtually none of it being what one would hear on radio. Many contemporary artists producing novel and fresh music, haven't reached any theoretical limit on songwriting yet.

My take is music genres are ever expanding and evolving. Pop music conformity doesn't allow much evolution, one genre dominates for years until another comes along, and the cycle repeats. Pop music NOT WHERE ITS AT.  Estimations of the general quality of music for any particular era should not use pop music as their reference, I see far too much of this. I thought we were audiophiles, how many of us listen to the pop music I hear so many complaints about.
If a contemporary pop artist/group gains notoriety or acclaim, I'll ring 'em up on Qobuz, YouTube, etc. Sorry to say, I haven't yet found one that makes me yell yes, but I'm not going to stop trying.  It'd be totally cool if one of them knocked me over.
@artemus5:

  "Most of them are story tellers which goes well in some genre but is  mostly wasted in R&R. A case in point is Led Zeppelin".

There are plenty of  R&R vocalists whose lyrics can be easily understood, and there are R&R vocalists whose lyrics definitely tell a "story" so I'm confused as to what point you're trying to make-- that only Led Zeppelin is worth listening to? 

BTW-- the line between more rockin' Americana bands and R&R can be  practically non-existent--  Americana is not necessarily a lone singer with an acoustic guitar!  
I find a lot  of the new pop music today is boring and  I don't think most younger people learned to use their imaginations the way older generations did, and it affects creativity. It's a different world full of technology doing everything for you and limiting your abstract thinking. Beck is one example of an artist that has imagination, and can do different things that are more original, and creative. I know it's not easy, because as someone else posted, so much has been done it's hard to be original. I do think there is a lot of good contemporary jazz though.
I’ve yet to hear any music where technology did everything. The dirt of comment which is itself just lazy stereotyping. This thread is just the sound of old people discovering that every genre has its limitations. That music you think classic was the unimaginative racket made by untalented, lazy people etc. your parents struggled with. People who claimed the 60s were brilliant and opened their minds in a way young people don’t nowadays. People who have effectively shut their ears down about 3 or 4 decades ago. 

There is a huge amount of music easily available nowadays. That volume is more of an issue than the quality. The quality is often very good indeed and often classic.
"That music you think classic was the unimaginative racket made by untalented, lazy people etc. your parents struggled with."

I recall my parents bringing home a newly-released, early Beatles record
and after lowering the needle, declared that the record must be defective!

Needless to say, there was nothing wrong with the record. They simply weren't able to conect with the music.

I had a similar experience in a workplace where most of my co-workers were considerable younger. They'd praise bands like Primus and Sonic Youth.  I was mostly listening to Jazz at the time, which included some fairly outside stuff, but still, I couldn't hang with what they enjoyed.    
   "The artist seems to try using a good voice trying to make the song sound good but these songs seem to lack a good “melody."

Rick Beato's recently-posted interview with Pat Metheny includes a very  interesting discussion of melody. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEgalcH_-b4


@stuartk:  Beato's videos are fantastic! I watch at least one a day, often learning a lot.
Yeah. I was first drawn to the channel because I play guitar but quickly realized his channel had as much to offer me as a music-lover.  I haven't come across anyone who's doing what he does. 
"...if one diligently seeks out lesser known artists, there is a wealth of good musicians/songwriters to be found".

So true.  And in fact, this was the case in the 60's and 70's as well !  

This opinion probably won't be welcomed but I believe my fellow Boomers who never look beyond radio play and then complain that "there's no good music" are just being lazy.

Especially given that now there are so many more resources for seeking out music. Way back when, you had to actually know somebody who knew about the good stuff that wasn't on the radio and was willing to teach you.

At this point, there's no excuse. 

@bdp24:

You know about the "No Depression" magazine site, right? 
I think any comment about “the music of today” being somehow inferior or lacking is lazy, complacent and phenomenally ignorant. This from the generation which prided itself on its open mindedness.
"I think any comment about “the music of today” being somehow inferior or lacking is lazy, complacent and phenomenally ignorant. This from the generation which prided itself on its open mindedness"

Yes, and. . .  each generation has its strengths and weaknesses and has a tendency to be blind to varying degrees to seeing the strengths of other generations. 
@stuartk: Oh yeah, I get No Depression emails several times a week. I also have a complete collection of the printed version of the mag, which I have been reading since it's inception in the 1990's. That title is taken from Uncle Tupelo's debut album. UT was of course Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy's first band, the two eventually going their separate ways and starting Son Volt and Wilco. Wilco has enjoyed greater success, but I prefer Son Volt.
This opinion probably won't be welcomed but I believe my fellow Boomers who never look beyond radio play and then complain that "there's no good music" are just being lazy.
Ha, I think I'm busted.  I'm a 61 boomer who hasn't gotten beyond the radio to stumble upon the latest hits.  Besides some audio forums, I do not participate in social media.  I have no clue how to find the latest good contemporary pop/rock music.  I do know my 19yr old son doesn't like some of the latest music and uses Spotify.  Guess I'll Google how to find good contemporary music.  Any suggestions welcome. 
Guess I'll Google how to find good contemporary music. Any suggestions welcome.

Streaming is the way to find good new and old music.  You want a controller app or software that makes suggestions for music that you may like based on the music you listen to. Roon and Innuos are good at this from what I've read.
The same three guys write all the songs. Do a search you will see. Do another, find the same few chords used over and over again. Don't even get me going on the lyrics.  

Then go find Sinatra-Basie. Listen to the whole album. There's a reason why a whole room of audiophiles sat spellbound through a whole side of this, and could talk of little but their amazement for a good while after. 

"Music" today is big business, and the music industry has settled on the business model of McDonald's. Stream. Sheesh. You want fries with that?
@kennyc:

On other threads, bdp24 and I have suggested Americana as a genre that features many highly talented musicians and singer-songwriters.

PM me and I will do my best to point you in some directions to explore. 

@millercarbon:

You are correct, in terms of major record labels that were long ago taken over by bean-counters. The fast-food analogy is spot on. 

However, if you are suggesting that this has resulted in the eradication of worthwhile music, I'd strenuously disagree. 


Hopefully this doesn't cross a line but here goes.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/female-vocals-stunning-recordings-you-lov...

There is almost 60 pages of female artists new and old and most have a YouTube video associated so you can get a taste what then performer sounds like.  I spent weeks here and discovered quite a few new favorites.  I was so enthralled with the site I spent almost a whole day cataloging the artists and the page they're found on (page 50)

While Pop may be awful there is still a lot of good music being produced today.

Long live steaming :)

@danager:

Thanks for posting that link.

I will definitely check it out and hopefully, others will as well. 
@kennyc:

Tools for exploring music: 

A Spotify membership. It's free, if you can tolerate the ads.

Also, check out the All Music site and the No Depression site. 

Finally, there's a ton of music on YouTube.

Other forum participants may have additional suggestions. 

Hope this is helpful. 



@bdp24  -  
Wilco has enjoyed greater success, but I prefer Son Volt.

Thank you for that. This has been a long standing debate between a small group of friends. I'm squarely on the side of Son Volt. All of the others prefer Wilco.

BTW, I'm holding tickets to see Son Volt next month at The Ludlow Garage. First time. Also have tickets to see Shovels and Rope again. Great Americana duo, and one of the best live shows I've seen in the last several years.

%90 of modern music is tripe, %90 rap-Ish  garbage, 
 plus singers can’t hold a. Note,..One at all, they use the computer,Mauro tune, etc.

 50’s-early 90s’ most vocalists actually sang....and could do so with natural voice and great range. 
 2000 til now, music is trash, all garbage. Few exceptions of course,
most is trash
A lot more than a few. 

By simply opening your mind to different styles of music the last 20 years has produced an incredible amount music that rivals the favorites you cling to.  
Yeah if you listen to pop  not a heck of lot of stuff produced is ground breaking over the last 20 years but what do expect it's pop.
Every generation says this about the next generations music. Some genres are worse and some are better. The music industry is just that… an industry. They produce formula driven music to make money/profit. It’s been that way since the music industry started. Hell, musicians were writing and performing music directly for their wealthy benefactors long before there was an industry. So they wrote and performed music only for the wealthy. 
There is still fantastic new music being produced every year. Just stop expecting everything to sound like the cliched overplayed crap from the previous decades. 
Also, Bob Dylan sounds like absolute a**. Talk about someone that could have used autotune if it was available. 
Cheers.

"The music industry is just that… an industry. They produce formula driven music to make money/profit. It’s been that way since the music industry started"

Of course, AND, the industry used to be run by people who actually cared about music and were willing to take chances on artists who were not formulaic! Consider the remarkable variety of music on major labels in the 60's for example.  

Now, the bean-counters are thoroughly in charge. Their sole focus is  producing predictably rising profits. There is plenty of good music now but you won't find it on major labels. 


@articdeth:

" 2000 til now, music is trash, all garbage"

I disagree.

There is still a lot of excellent music being made but don't expect to hear it on the radio. 

You have to look for it.

If you don't bother to look, how can you justifiably complain? 


I would say just sucks 
Yeah, all modern music is terrible - I've listened to all the many thousands and thousands of albums of all varieties of pop and rock, and yep, all bad. They should have stopped making new music back in the 70's. Please note irony content. 
Evidently you have not combined psychedelics with Spotify yet.
True , but we turnout few excellent people  .
I get so frustrated every time I see this subject come up on music forums. 

Listen, I am in my 60's, but the main problem I have with new music, is keeping up with all the great new stuff coming out, in several genres, from all over the world.

I there have been quite a few studies done, that show, that most people's musical tastes stop evolving at the age of 30. For most people, their favorite music is the music that was the "soundtrack of their youth", and once they settle into their lives at the age of 30, music no longer servers that purpose.

As long as one avoids the mainstream, has an open mind, an inquisitive attitude, and is not trying to relive their youth, there is so much great music out there.


For those who don’t believe that pre-year 2000 popular music represents the pinnacle of the genre and that nothing of value has been produced since, here are just a few of the great and unsurpassed chart toppers from the 60’s-90’s:

https://youtu.be/VECljlG--gE

https://youtu.be/r3BWaRkJ58M

https://youtu.be/C7T4aQMxTTM

https://youtu.be/zfLU3Mv_O9w

https://youtu.be/asQxeXYFYgg

https://youtu.be/S3Oyipl36YQ

https://youtu.be/by6xt5NX4ZM

and, of course, who can forget this gem? :

https://youtu.be/KYgK97aioNA

Hell, let’s go back a little further:

#1 on the Billboard pop chart in 1956:

https://youtu.be/-OHYREiQzK4

Simonmoon +1. For many music is about nostalgia, music can make one feel young again, I get it. On the other hand,  optimizing my streaming setup has reinvigorated my love of so many more genres of music than previous listening limited to my collection of 2500 or so cd's and same amount of vinyl allowed. There is so much great music out there from all eras, 30's-present!  And even for any specific era and genre, so much that was previously undiscovered!
There has always been good, great, bad and indifferent music from every genre and era, and it will remain that way into the future.
Don’t blame the artists, blame the public. Popular music is a money making venture that churns out more of whatever sells. Not sure exactly where the shift happened. There are still outliers though. It could be a lack of music education. Some of it might be tied to the increasing importance of appearance since the dawn of the video age. If the song is mediocre, but has a great video it will still get play. Find music you enjoy and support it rather than complain about what just falls in your lap.

There are a lot of YouTube videos analyzing music that touch on this. Some of my favorites are by Rick Beato or Adam Neely. 

For those who don’t believe that pre-year 2000 popular music represents the pinnacle of the genre and that nothing of value has been produced since, here are just a few of the great and unsurpassed chart toppers from the 60’s-90’s:

 

Yes, but this thread is not specifically about popular music. The thread is about contemporary music. If the thread was about pop music, then I would agree with you.

There are many creative genres of contemporary music, that are just as good as ever.

I listen to contemporary: jazz, classical, and progressive music, including most of the subgenres of these, and I can't keep up with all the great music coming out.

I can list page after page of incredible jazz musicians, classical composers, and prog bands, most forging new territory, fresh and creative.