So… I’d been musing on this for a bit as I was going through the Now discography at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Now_That’s_What_I_Call_Music!_discography#Original_series and noting that most years would have at least 10 decent songs that I remembered years later. There were a few quiet years of course, but generally there was always something there that was at least memorable, something that defined that year in the way that Get Lucky, Blurred Lines, Call Me Maybe or All About That Bass could be considered to have done in recent-ish years. And then the BBC published this, which spurred me to create this thread.
Now of course it’s perfectly possible that I’m just getting old, but try looking at the entries for 2016 and the current charts. A hell of a lot of X featuring Y which even back in the day was a sure sign that a given piece of music was going to be shit. That and Ed fucking Sheeran. Basically the charts of late have consisted of:
- Grime (not for me but I get that it’s a thing people like)
- The same fucking dance track by X featuring Y with the exact same synth sounds and the exact same structure and the exact same lift-music dullness.
- Ed Sheeran
- Crappy singer-songwriters who are all incredibly one-paced… like literally the charts have been invaded by James Blunt clones.
It’s 99% fucking background music. Virtually none of it is going to get stuck in your head for days, none of it is going to make anyone passionate about music, it’s just meh. Perhaps it’s a product of streaming? Who knows, but it’s absolute shite. Now the question one must ask is, is the singles chart shit because no good songs are being released, or is it shit because streaming is distorting the numbers in favour of music that people tolerate in the background over music that people listen to and adore?
I suspect that the death of the single is a part of the problem. As such, singles don’t really exist any more so it’s all album tracks, but the problem is that this incentivises creating a whole album of 7/10s where in the past you could make 3 or 4 9/10s and that would get you in the singles charts, people singing your songs at gigs, song stuck in their heads for weeks, and would eventually translate into album sales where the 7/10 shite would reside. The end result seems to me to be a hell of a lot of stuff that’s ok, technically sound, but really isn’t going to ever light anyone’s fire.
I secondly suspect that the ease of use these days of software synthesisers and laptops as home recording studios, in an increasingly #selfie culture, means that kids don’t want to be in bands anymore. After all, it’s messy, you have to work with other people, you need to be in the same physical location and you need guitars, drum kits, etc, which are all expensive and take a lot more work to turn into a decent sound. In town I see so many buskers doing the x-factor thing with an acoustic guitar and they’re clearly very good at what they do (albeit somewhat contrived and generic), but why aren’t any of them in bands? Perhaps the death of music venues is also to blame. Bands don’t busk after all, it’s not profitable.
Excuse my meandering rant, I’m just pissed that I can’t seem to find any good new music at the moment (even radio 6 isn’t turning up anything good right now, where up til 2015 it was delivering the goods, even if those goods weren’t arriving in the charts). If anyone has any suggestions of course on where to find good music (Shankly’s mixtapes back in the day were awesome, sadly no longer with us in the era of streaming) I’d love to hear about them.