Just this morning I was listening to some dance song with maximum synth-saturation and whiney vocals that was playing on the local pop music station and said to my girlfriend, “Pop music just keeps getting worse and worse, doesn’t it? I swear it’s not my age. I know enough about music to know that it’s just gotten way more boring. Right? Or am I just being a snob?”
[Note: I know that plenty of great new music is being made-- even great new dance songs with maximum synth-saturation and whiney vocals (though that song wasn't one of them)-- it's just not played on the radio].
What does Science have to say about Sound?
Then mere hours later, I saw this article on Reuters that, sadly, proved me right. It’s true: music really IS getting more boring by the year. Scientists have crunched the numbers, funneled 60 years of pop music through a bunch of fancy algorithms, and found that:
Pop songs have become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used.
Or, as one of the lead researchers puts it, “We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse.”
Less dynamics? Check. Less diversity in terms of harmonic and melodic movement? Check. Increasingly limited use of differing timbres? Check.
The only thing we’ve gained— VOLUME!!!
… and that’s not change we can believe in.
I realize I’m getting bent out of shape about “the crap they play on the radio.” And they’ve always played crap on the radio. But here’s the problem: the crap all smells the same now– and it’s stinkier. And that’s not just my opinion– it’s science, fool!
If music truly is the world’s most popular artform, why don’t we ask more and more of our popular artists (even the ones who are played on the radio), instead of less and less?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.