Quite often you see a thread on social media about how much pop modern music is, especially in ‘the charts’… Granted, the charts as we remember them (if you are as old as me) are gone, with streaming, YouTube and everything else, it doesn’t represent how music is consumed these days – long gone are the days of saving up and going into town on a Saturday to buy a Single, or listening to the latest chart update on radio etc, but the US Billboard charts now does take into consideration modern ways of consuming music, so theoretically, it’s still the same thing in terms of consumption, just calculated differently.
Music these days is ‘ranked’ for the charts the old fashioned way, by good ol’ fashioned sales, but also streams… Paid streams from the subscriptions platforms are now put in alongside radio air play… to quote Billboard themselves…
“Billboard will have multiple weighted tiers of streaming plays for the Hot 100, which take into account paid subscription streams (representing a full point value per play), ad-supported streams (representing a 2/3-point value per play) and programmed streams (representing a 1/2-point value per play). Those values are then applied to the chart’s formula alongside all-genre radio airplay and digital song sales data. Streaming remains the most dominant factor on the chart, followed by radio airplay and digital sales in descending order of significance.
So, does music suck these days, or has it that the way we consume it changed so much it just doesn’t happen like we remember it? If you think for a minute that popular music, as we know it, started to explode in the mid 50’s, reached epic levels in the 60’s and then grew from there, everything has changed. Popular music has always been, generally, the domain of the younger audience so right now, the younger audience that was there at the start is now the older generation, and they still listen to the music they listened to back then, as well as modern music. The previous generation that classed Rock and Roll, pop music, and all that as being ‘unsuitable’ are now gone… so, popular music has expanded geometrically in that times, especially the genres. In the 50’s (and this is off the top of my head and not meant to be exhaustive) you had rock and roll, doo-wop, pop, swing, rhythm and blues, blues, Country music, rockabilly, and jazz… 60’s bought a new level to all that including original R&B, British invasion, Surf and Psychedelic, Folk and Protest… the 70’s gave us Heavier Rock, Prog Rock, Southern Rock, Punk, Disco, Funk… the 80’s brought about Electro and the more modern side of Dance, Ska, New Romantics, Gangsta Rap, Thrash… the 90’s saw Grunge, BritPop, Boy and Girl Bands, Modern R&B, Dance music split up into so many sub genre’s etc etc… That’s the key, music has massively diversified over the last 70 years, but we are still judging everything on the same format… and generally, as we get older, we tend to be retrospective about our music habits. With the world’s population (from 4B in 1960 to 7B now) growing and ageing, music has been spread so thin, it’s impossible to classify music these days as ‘sucking’, it’s just different.
However, let’s look at the US charts for this week over the last 60 years. And then you can make your own mind up…
For those who can’t zoom in, here is the top 5 breakdown
2: Sleep Walk, Santo and Johhny. 3: Sea of Love, Phil Phillips and the Twilights. 4: I’m Gonna Get Married, Lloyd Price. 5: Red River Rock, Johnny And The Hurricanes.
2: A Boy Named Sue, Johnny Cash. 3: Sugar, Sugar. The Archies. 4: Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival. 5: Get Together, The Youngbloods.
2: Good Times, Chic. 3: After The Love Has Gone. Earth, Wind & Fire. 4: Don’t Bring Me Down, Electric Light Orchestra. 5: The Devil Went Down To Georgia. The Charlie Daniels Band
2: Cold Hearted. Paula Abdul. 3: Don’t Wanna Lose You. Gloria Estefan. 4: Heaven, Warrant. 5: Right Here Waiting. Richard Marx
2: Unpretty, TLC. 3: Summer Girls. LFO. 4: Genie In A Bottle, Christina Aguilera. 5: Lost In You. Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines
2: Down. Jay Sean Featuring Lil Wayne. 3: Party In The U.S.A. Miley Cyrus. 4: Use Somebody. Kings Of Leon. 5: You Belong With Me. Taylor Swift
2: Senorita, Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello. 3: Bad Guy, Billie Eilish. 4: You Need To Calm Down, Taylor Swift. 5: Old Town Road. Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.
Now, let’s look at it again. You know what, although a lot of the bands/songs in the top ten this week decades ago have some amazing songs, can you remember all of them? There are some there that I’d not forgotten, just never heard of… and also an awful lot of utter crap in there as well (in my opinion).
So, does modern music suck, no it doesn’t. I think a lot of us just looking back fondly and love what we grew up with and let’s be honest, a lot of music has been, you know, sucky since day 1!