For my Dad’s 40th birthday, my Mum bought him a Beatles Box Set. I’ve never really known my dad to be hugely into music, whenever we were in the car with him he either had the radio off or on a talk-back channel. Yet I think he has a bit of a weakness for The Beatles. As I became more musically aware, I’ve listened to this collection a number of times, and I think it is one of the coolest things in our house. Even more-so than my antique stereo system. Being a child born in the early 90s, I grew up in what is quite possibly the worst ever period for pop music. The airwaves were dominated by Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys and Vengaboys. I was too late for Grunge, and too early for Garage rock. But being the naive young boy I was, I used to enjoy these trashy pop songs. In fact, 5ive’s self-titled debut is the first album I ever bought (how embarrassing!)
Of the albums released in the last year, how many do you think will be remembered as classic albums in 25 years time? What albums will you play to your children? Or Grandchildren? If you’re like me, you would have answered none. If I’m playing one album to my children it’s going to be Dark Side of the Moon. And that was released in 1973. I think there’s a number of reasons for the lack of quality albums these days.
Firstly, it is so easy to create music. With the way computers can be used to generate sounds, it is possible to make music without any real talent. Just look at the modern dub-step genre.. When I was little, we used to have this music software on the computers at school. You could do a whole lot of stuff with them, but at our young age we didn’t know where to begin with such a large range of options. This is how I imagine dub-step is created, a small kid hitting away at a keyboard making any sort of sound completely unrelated to the previous note. These days, it’s reached the point that any monkey with a computer can write a chart-topping single. They could create an album from scratch in a week. No need for years of piano lessons. Of course, this affects the standard of the album. Less effort = lower quality. But more importantly, this drastically expands the amount of music available. How can you make yourself stand-out?
Secondly, I’m a part of the A.D.D Generation. We have fast food so we don’t have to wait for lunch, we have smart phones so we can talk to anyone anyway anytime, and we get have the internet for instantaneous information. There’s pressure on artists from record companies to push out the next single, to keep the money flowing in, to stop the masses getting bored. The people aren’t as interested in albums anymore. We need something new, every second of the day. When you add these first two points together, there is access to MORE music, MORE often.
Finally, the Internet. We now have the ability to download music without leaving our homes and some people even acquire music for free. In the last week or so, I’ve bought a few different albums and am finding it difficult to give them all a fair go. And I’m actually TRYING to. No matter how good an album is, it takes time to absorb yourself and truly appreciate how good it is. Which brings me back to the A.D.D Generation, who won’t bother doing such a thing.
We have more music (of arguably lesser quality), coming more often, and coming straight to us. As a commerce student, at one point we were taught; “If some is good, more must be better.” While this works well in economic modelling, it doesn’t always hold up here.
The worst part is, I can’t see any possible solution. A lot of the problem lies in the opinions of the public, who ignorantly listen to what they’re told to listen to. To be completely honest, this has happened throughout time, but it is more prevalent these days because there are more alternatives to the mainstream. All we can do is hope that the more (less?) sane members of the public can attempt to control the majority. Unlikely, but there is hope.