The State of “Popular” Music

Posted by Jakub

I know i’m not the person that should be writing this since some of you who follow the blog sometimes have to snowshoe/pull your hair/wade through my odd writing style, but I just need to get all this off my chest. It started off with this Facebook post I wrote because I was just so bothered after putting on MTV for the first time in I don’t know how long:

Took a peek at the MTV’s music video awards tonight to see if pop music has stepped it up but still no luck at all especially instrumentally, christ! What do they do with their money? Big time creativity/musicianship/entertainment fail. Let’s just hope people like Fever Ray, Matthew Dear, Atlas Sound, SVIIB, Erlend Oye, and Benoit Pioulard keep pushing forward because that was embarrassing to watch.

To be honest I’m just waiting to be proved wrong and I don’t mind being in awe of a skilled individual. I even feel comfortable with the fact that a superstar with loads of money and talent is making music and everyone is in love with it. There’s no jealously here, just frustration that so many people are missing the mark and they all gathered tonight in one building to be loved. In the 50s to mid-90’s I would have never had to think this way or even opened my mouth but I mean how long can this crap drag on? it’s at an offensive level and to just watch these dumb 16 to 40 somethings in the crowd cheering looking clueless and dancing and smiling to something that I honestly think they have been:

1. Tricked to like
2. The flashy lights make it feel like everyone is partying so they should party too
3. They think it sounds like something that was good that they know and now regurgitated in a way people respond not to what is being played but remembering how much they like that old song that sounds like what’s in front of them

I’m not saying the instrumental music I like should be stepping forward and taking its place, thats not the answer and its not instrumental music’s job to do this, I like my independent electronically made music just the way it is. I know its not fair to think that’s the answer to this mess but I mean…COME ON! what was that Eminem video and song? how embarrassing was that host? no one looked classic, all just rip offs, Pink and Lady Gaga at least did something slightly entertaining but the music just fell flat on its face.

These people are afraid to fail I think, to experiment, to try to change gears, they have the power, Outkast did it slightly perfect for a second.

What do people want from new music? to party? to feel or remember a sad/happy moment in life? have a story told to them? a passionate epic breakdown?

I didn’t want this to be an essay with examples of pop songs that I think are amazing and what are bad and blah blah blah but something has to give and flip this world upside down so we can be proud of the popular music, what do you think is in store for us in 10 years? same sounds? will a Flying Lotus and Bibio showcase ever have a draw to a stadium in the US? The UK I’m sure is close. Will Grizzly Bear and Bat For Lashes take over as king of the hill? I want to know.

48 Comments Leave A Comment


Mark C. says:

September 14, 2009 at 5:33 am

I couldn’t agree more! Profit motive has eroded the creativity over time. To me, the 1970’s were the best 10 years in music. But things have gotten progressively worse with each subsequent generation.

Today’s young consumer doesn’t even know to demand more from recording “artists”; I mean, they genuinely don’t know any better! And record execs have no interest in art what so ever.

In order to change the current state of pop it’s gonna take an underground, grass roots effort on the part of those recording artists who are genuinely passionate about their own points of view. They’re gonna have to band together and gain leverage over major labels, and force them to play by new standards.

I’ll be 39 on September 23rd. And I enjoy my generation’s music so, personally, I don’t really care if a change occurs–I’m pretty much done with current pop culture. However, I do agree that the lack of creativity is very irritating; frustrating even!


Joshua Vaughan says:

September 14, 2009 at 5:54 am

Sigh, sigh, and double sigh. Let’s face it, MTV is a great way to encapsulate and capture what was wrong with what’s left of the music industry. The fact is it just seems like the statute of limitations on being original ended at the turn of the century, just fierce rehashing ever since. There have been a few bright spots but not much in the way of iconic, amazing work. Let’s face it, Kanye and Beyonce own there considerable chunks of the brainshare while much more talented artists get forgotten every day. Sadly almost any album that hit the top 50-100 in the 70’s is probably a vastly superior listen than of the current crops top ten.


marqmoz says:

September 14, 2009 at 5:56 am

It is very frustrating. As a musician, I think current artists are supposed to inspire their listeners, but there really is nothing out there. It’s like people have been putting up with crappier and crappier music, gradually lowering their standards. And now when crap is the only thing on the tv and radio, we’re just comparing crap to crap…
“Well this piece of crap sounds slightly better than that piece of crap”…
I must say that besides Outkast (The Love Below/Stankonia/ATAliens…) Everything else is copycat music. People are being safe, and no one is stretching out… which is why the music industry is not growing.


Simon says:

September 14, 2009 at 7:09 am

Its sad to see something as powerful and loved as MTV (which made us all stand up and notice talents like Beck (and Beavis and Butthead)) just crumbling under the pressure of trying to produce the next “sing-along” “hit”. My generation, which in itself is scary to say, grew up with Beck, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam, which may not be everyones cup of tea, but it really is wholesome heartfelt music with feeling, with substance which MTV helped develop and move along.

NOTHING MTV produces anymore has substance…NOTHING! But saying that, it appeals to the clean cut digital download age, where its a new hit song every day, where SONGS are loved instead of ALBUMS. Whereas all these bands I mentioned before suited the rough cassette driven medium. I say just let MTV do what they do, just enjoy what you enjoy and let them rot away. They will make there millions, but will they ever experience the joy of Boards of Canada??NEVER!!! they may listen to it, but they will never enjoy it, they won’t get it, and that makes me slightly more content with coping with this shambles.


Jason at FlyCasual says:

September 14, 2009 at 8:11 am

The entire popular music industry has been hijacked by Disney and the like. It’s being run by 50-somethings that are desperate to appear “with it” – therefore everything they churn out caters to the largest music-buying demographic: tweens.

The sad part for me is that the record execs appear to have forgotten that tweens will listen to whatever you give them. There’s no reason to dumb down their music. But instead of being proactive and giving tweens music that will truly inspire them, the record industry is overtly reactive, giving tweens what the industry THINKS they want. And when it comes down to it, tweens have no effing clue what they want. Hip hop? Sure! Lady GaGa? Why not!

Thankfully, the flip side to all of this is the internet and alternative methods of discovering new music. Yes, MTV and radio are absolutely terrible, but at the same time those mediums are no longer the powerful forces they once were. Now any kid with a computer can discover, listen to and immediately purchase an album from a band with no marketing push, no label and no fan base. That in itself is pretty amazing.


Chris says:

September 14, 2009 at 8:25 am

I agree with this to an extent and that’s because I share similar taste in music as most do here. However, music is and art and all of the arts are subject to individual taste. I am positive that every generation has had this very discussion and it will continue to happen with every future generation to come.

I would encourage everyone to just respect everyone’s taste and opinions of music and let it go. If the music that is shared on this site and loved by the readers was as mutually favored by the masses, MTV would be playing it.

I struggle with this all the time with my wife who really just likes catchy songs she can sing to and can’t stand half of the music I listen too. I’m not going to fool myself in thinking I can change her tastes and I shouldn’t have too.

So as much disdain for MTV and the Pop music scene as I share with everyone here… I think we should just let them have their scene and we can have ours. Keep making the music you love and be happy if even one person likes it.


Josh Korwin says:

September 14, 2009 at 8:30 am

Here here.

I think about this stuff a lot, and I try to force myself into a devil’s advocate position of “would we think this if we were living in a previous decade, just to be contrarian?” But I can’t sustain the thought. Something has definitely changed for the worse, probably due to the economy of the music industry as a few folks have said. But what I find a bit uplifting is that, as Jason at FlyCasual just said, while the major channels of distribution descend into creative wastelands (i.e. MTV, radio, and the musical equivalent of “product placement”), there’s more and more opportunity for exposure to good music on the interwebs (this blog being one great source). So yes, mainstream music has become a travesty—but maybe it just means that all of the talent has moved elsewhere.


Harley Turan says:

September 14, 2009 at 9:07 am

I’m currently 17, and it’s just something I’ve learned to put up with. I’m fine with people liking whatever they want to like, but it’s the constant ‘other music is crap’ attitude that gets me. When people ask to borrow my iPod and then hand it back wondering where all the ‘good’ music is, stuff like that. Another byproduct of this is the cacophony of cellphones blaring chart music at full volume, so annoying.

You raise an interesting point about the UK having stadium sized gigs for the artists you mention. It definitely seems more likely to happen, mainly because of the popularity of Warp artists. I could see a band like Grizzly Bear or perhaps FlyLo performing a huge gig, but they will never be popular on a nation-wide scale. The nation at large (or at least in my age range) are still dead set on a mixture of auto-tuned Hip-Pop. A transition has to happen soon though, so who knows.

Again, I’m fine with people listening to whatever they want to, just don’t bother me. I’m happiest in my room listening to Osborne/Matthew Dear/Lusine on my (Dad’s) Sennheisers, working on things I love. That’s who I am, and no amount of advertising is going to change that. To me, the only thing MTV music is good for is cultural entertainment, such as with the recent Kanye West debacle. Watching people go up in arms about that is just goddam hilarious.


Tardlovski says:

September 14, 2009 at 9:41 am

jah wobble once said something to the effect that people listen to music that comports with their life and world view. so, if people like fluffy bullshit, then they probably live a fluffy bullshit existence. it’s been a long ass time since i heard that quote, so i might be completely off the mark with that one…


mpb says:

September 14, 2009 at 9:46 am

I strongly disagree with the premise that “beauty exists in the eye of the beholder”. Especially when taken to the extreme. There is such a thing as aesthetics, and disregard for aesthetics. There are bad photographs, there are bad paintings, there are bad novels, there is bad poetry, and yes, there is bad music…and much of it exists in the realm of popular music.

Taking a critical “live and let live” approach to aesthetics comes off as intellectually lazy and only helps perpetuate the proliferation of really bad art.


KillaBeez says:

September 14, 2009 at 11:18 am

After last night, I actually kind of like Lady Gaga a bit. She took HUGE chances in what she wore, her performance “bit” off of musical theatre (something it seems she is a fan of after seeing her in the gold plated Phantom mask) and her performance actually had a point (the song being Paparazzi and her “death” at the end) and was done live (not shot like a music video).

That being said, there are tons of things wrong with the state of music as it currently sits… As shown in a lot of these comments and in Jakub’s post as well, there is a TON of criticism where music is involved. EVERYONE thinks that their idea of “good” music should be everyone else’s idea of “good” music, and when it isn’t… oooooh, look out, cause you are going to hear about it. Remember the 90’s and how everyone was an elitist on their music taste (how can you like Pearl Jam, Nirvana are the shit… No, I like Veruca Salt… what, are you crazy?)…? Is it possible we made the rest of the world just take in whatever was spoonfed to them since it was so difficult to like something different?

Last point… We live in a world were major labels are having a really hard time, indie artists don’t want to sign to them and music as a whole is suffering. You have to think, if the people with all the money and power can’t get good acts on their label (because they are too “cool” to sign, or they don’t want to change for a major [makes sense]) what are they left to push? These 30-40 year olds who are trying to stay 19 and these lame College Dorm Frat-Poppers who make crappy tracks to over-use their 00’s slang and talk about how much they love chicks. Indie’s don’t have the cash to put it in front of enough people and major’s don’t have the class to take a chance.

Thanks for my time.

PS- Muse kinda rocked it still, nod to MTV for finding them like… 5 years later.


Jakub says:

September 14, 2009 at 11:26 am

Rudolph Pokorny –

I had to atleast give someone some credit, the lady wore a red mask for a second, kinda rocked a f*** you and pushed peoples buttons


jheftmann says:

September 14, 2009 at 11:26 am

@mpb I’ve never heard anyone else agree with me on this, but you’re absolutely correct. The illusion of subjectivism makes an excuse for the preponderance of – well, crap. Cheers to you for your insight.


When people call Lady Gaga ‘edgy’ or whatever it really frustrates me. She’s a total phony, a product of commercialization. And even if she weren’t, her persona is built around really shallow goals rather than a kind of self-expression (if you don’t believe me, read an interview with her).

That’s why I think Kanye saying F U to the whole institution is, in my opinion, pretty good (sure he’s a product of the same system but I would say he’s a whole lot more creative than most and got there by just making beats). Big music is a sham – even more now than before – and it’s tricked 99% of the population into listening to it to the exclusion of anything legitimate. Fortunately(!!!) there’s a lot of great music by lesser-known artists coming out now too.

Great article, Jakub. Thanks for the read.


Joel Nealy says:

September 14, 2009 at 11:51 am

Im just saying…Its an award show and if you are talking about it the next day they win. Period.

Youre concern and disgruntled hasbeen gripes are proof that they win.

If you cant join em, beat em.

If this blog cares so much about honest to goodness art and talent then why dont you do an awards blog for your readers.

Then you can have an impact instead of being impacted.

I am Joel Nealy and I am the Creative Director of gdmworldwide

Designer and Musician.



Stop complaining, it satisfies them.


Langel says:

September 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I often feel the 20th century was explosion on musical style. By the time this millennium came around music had already been pushed to it’s limits of compression, distortion, and the granularity of little sounds. I get the feeling there is less and less musical boundaries to pioneer as each decade passes. The only thing really left for an artist is their own personality.

Personality is a great thing but it’s very difficult to unify a tribe of individuals with their own tastes. The internet has given birth to an age of niche markets. A ‘new sound’ comes from a strong subculture like psychedelic, punk & hip hop. Well, if everyone downloads mp3s and builds a very refined package of what they are looking for, how will anyone be open to something that doesn’t sound like what they want?

So I’ll take Dubstep as an example. The only time I really enjoy it is when I’m working at the computer. It’s more a method to subdue my tinnitus than anything and it doesn’t distract me from my work. But when I really give it a listen, I find myself wanting to hear actual Dub tracks or if the beat starts showing some energy it feels like played-down Dirty South beats so I’d rather hear that. I’m not from the UK, I hardly understand the appeal of going to a Dubstep show so you can just stand there and nod your head. But I do greatly appreciate that there is some kind of musical movement somewhere.

I’ll always be a fan of grunge probably because I was a tween in the era of the Seattle boom. But I don’t really spend time listening to it anymore because I’ve heard those early 90’s albums so many times already. And I only bring this up because I compare the hard rock of today to that of then and I feel like something is missing. Is the chord structure and rhythm that bad or am I just looking for a certain place and time in my past?

I guess my grander point is that we are at an odd spot culturally. Because so many extremes have been explored we are in this weird tide of re-exploration. There is this seemingly return to modernism in both music and visual design. Modernity is simple, clean and, most importantly, accessible. So, although independent instrumentalists’ work may be rejected by tweens as enjoyable listening pleasure it may be because that independent work reminds them of what gets played under a narrator in a television commercial.

You know all those 50’s film scores that sound the same and rather cliche? That was ground breaking stuff at the time but now it’s kitsch. I’m trying to think of pop music that wasn’t kitsch. “My Only Sunshine” was released when? The 20’s or 30’s and popularized by a politician running for office. I’ll never forget seeing Aphex Twin on Mtv and “Yes We Can.”

I’ve typed too much already.. got work to do. But I just wanted to thank you for all your posts. You’ve turned me on to some great work music and stimulated my eyeballs as well.


Timmy says:

September 14, 2009 at 1:05 pm

You can’t project your idea of good music onto the public. People like what they like. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Kanye West… All were met with people who claimed it wasn’t music. But guaranteed we’ll all be 60 soon enough and we’re going to love it when Love Lockdown comes on the… futuristic radio of sorts.
MTV is terrible, but who watches MTV?
The artists you listed really work against you I think. They’re very nichey, and we know that they won’t top charts or fill stadiums. But who cares? If everyone listened to electronic shoe-gaze or what-have-you, populations of “real musicians” or “real artists” would be huffin and guffin that “Damn, where’s the real edge? I want some electric guitar and acousitc drum sets. This stuff is so ethereal-phony.”
Anyway, to simply aesthetics into “the eye of the beholder” or” NOT the eye of the beholder” is to simplify an entire field of philosophy into a phrase.
At the end of the day, I realize that music will always let me down, but I will always grab hold of what I am captivated by—what moves me. And I tell you what, that includes Kanye West, Coldplay, and others. But Karen Carpenter pierces my soul, and shoot, I can listen to electronic instrumental music for long periods of time.
My grandma whines about the state of music today. But she did that during some of these golden era’s other people wrote about above.
And not trying new things? We have today the broadest range of popular music in history. And Kanye pulled out an album fully in auto-tune. Lil Wayne is busting out electric guitar? Can’t say that either of those choices were great ones, but I would say that fear of innovation is not a problem in popular music. Gears are definitely being shifted often.


NAVIS says:

September 14, 2009 at 1:23 pm

If my kids in the future ever ask me if I listened to Taylor Swift and the likes, I will disown them on the spot.

What’s scary is that I was taking a taxi in Ulanbataar, Mongolia and the driver was humming to Vanessa Carlton. If that isn’t viral like, I don’t know what is.

And Joel, this blog has a huge impact already and doesn’t need awards.


Michael says:

September 14, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I agree with pretty much all that’s been said here, but can I just say that I live in the UK, and it isn’t really any better here, it’s identical in fact, the exact same artists in the chart, the exact same artists on MTV. I’m lucky enough to live in London, and I can see good shows any day of the week, but by no stretch of the imagination are Warp artists performing stadium shows.


Dave says:

September 14, 2009 at 3:22 pm

The internet has given way more people access to more obscure music than the days you had to go crate digging in the vinyl store to find something new…or trading tapes with that weird kid down the street.

I think this phenomenon has defined past decades for younger generations in a way that isn’t as accurate as the generation that lived in them. My father doesn’t know who the f*** Joy Division is, but he certainly knows the words to “If You Like Pina Coladas”.

It doesn’t matter, though. The 70s to me are different than the 70s to you…or to your dads…

So when I think of the state of “popular” music at the moment, I think of the huge success of bands like Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective and the rising popularity of vinyl among younger kids…it’s an exciting time! You can hear anything you want online. At any time. Then, you can make a f-ing album in your room with some software that you stole from a torrent site. 2009 is, and has been, a great year, and MTV cannot change that, because MTV does not represent music. They represent music as commerce, sure, but that is, as you know…a fleeting wind.
Music has now been passed on to the world wide web, comrades, and that belongs to us.
It’s all ours, Charlie.

“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Wanna change the world? There’s nothing to it.”


jonathan says:

September 14, 2009 at 5:00 pm

did anyone ever watch the music channel IMF (international music feed)? It only aired for three years (2005-2008),but it played music videos from all across the globe. The best part of IMF was that it played artists from all labels. its funny that you mention Bat for Lashes, Jakub, because IMF introduced her to me. “What’s A Girl To Do?” is one of my fav videos. IMF was a brief dream come true, they would gave the rundown of popular music around the world and gave indie artists the opportunity to be discovered. Oh, and Brand New School did an amazing job on the network packaging, loved the visuals. Its very sad that Universal Music Group sold the channel. Anyhow, I’m thankful for all you guys on ISO50. You guys feed me the best tracks. I always say that we creative people need creative music.


Austin says:

September 14, 2009 at 5:37 pm

I must say that for once on this blog I would like to argue a post. I want to preface it with saying that I am not a “slave to the mainstream music stream. In fact my favorite and most recognized artists would be among the Thom Yorke and Bjork breed, so this is coming not as a completely biased statement.

I am a firm believer that ALL music is subjective. If one person hates it, another may love it. It appears rather pretentious and “snobby” to gripe about the Top 40 Music, judging it as “poor music.” Music truly soothes the soul and for one to tell another how their soul should be soothed is merely attempting to argue your superiority against another persons. Music makes people genuinely want “to party? to feel or remember a sad/happy moment in life? have a story told to them? a passionate epic breakdown?” In other art forms, I think that Scott is a great graphic artist and with that thought in mind, I still can look through his portfolio and find a piece that I hate, regardless of how he personally felt about the work. However, I will recognize that, this piece of work can be amazing to another person and accept the piece for what it is to others and not that of myself.

If we believe in art as an expression form then we artists are not to judge the “worth” of another artists work, unless we intend on accepting poor judgment of our own work.


mpb says:

September 14, 2009 at 7:41 pm

@Austin-is all art subjective, or do you limit that incredible statement to music? Is the latest cliched romantic comedy high cinema as long as a few people “like” it? Is high school emo poetry good because it is good at least to the kid who wrote it? Isn’t there a difference between that poem and something by Byron or Milton or Virgil or Frost? If there is a difference, how do you say that art is subjective and maintain a straight face?

Or if you limit the subjectivity of art to music, why? What makes music such a different form of expression that it is exempt from aesthetic evaluation?


Schlafende says:

September 14, 2009 at 7:46 pm

I see where you’re coming from Jakub. I watched some of it lastnight, and I feel alot of the same things you mentioned in your post. I see decline, I see trash for the most part, and I can’t abide by the “subjectivity” plea here because I don’t consider this to be an area that simply lacks subjectivity and that’s all.

I hope we can smell when there’s something rotten in the next room, and see how it seeks to infiltrate our mind and our life, how it manipulates and degrades.


Pierre-Yves St-Onge says:

September 14, 2009 at 8:11 pm

3. They think it sounds like something that was good that they know and now regurgitated in a way people respond not to what is being played but remembering how much they like that old song that sounds like what’s in front of them

That’s why I hated so much all these remix of old tunes with a benassy sound (from a few years ago). Sad with all those amazing tracks coming out each week on Beatport…


Tardlovski says:

September 14, 2009 at 9:05 pm

hold on, does anyone not agree that pop/top 40 music is just a whole lot of empty gestures at this point?

if it makes me a pretentious snob to think that much of today’s top 40 is surplus culture, then so be it.


jefta says:

September 15, 2009 at 5:18 am

in total agreement with Chris Says:
September 14th, 2009 at 8:25 am
I agree with this to an extent and that’s because I share similar taste in music as most do here. However, music is and art and all of the arts are subject to individual taste. I am positive that every generation has had this very discussion and it will continue to happen with every future generation to come.

I would encourage everyone to just respect everyone’s taste and opinions of music and let it go. If the music that is shared on this site and loved by the readers was as mutually favored by the masses, MTV would be playing it.

I struggle with this all the time with my wife who really just likes catchy songs she can sing to and can’t stand half of the music I listen too. I’m not going to fool myself in thinking I can change her tastes and I shouldn’t have too.

So as much disdain for MTV and the Pop music scene as I share with everyone here… I think we should just let them have their scene and we can have ours. Keep making the music you love and be happy if even one person likes it.


Eric says:

September 15, 2009 at 11:29 am

I really enjoyed the VMAs….I cant believe you guys didnt. If you met me you would see that my interests are probably not all that different from alot of people that frequent this site. I havent watched MTV in about 15 years, I’m not into liking pop music because its pop music, I’m a professional artist and designer, I pretty much grew up hating MTV and the mainstream, I grew up mixing music and going to alot of shows, and I agree with and enjoy most everything that this blog is about. I felt the need to give that background because I seem to be the only one who was really impressed with the 2009 VMAs. There were some things I didnt like… Green Day’s and Pink’s performance…..but there were so many great moments. For instance, everything about Lady Gaga is amazing and badass. She seems to be unleashing her true artistry now. When she first came out it was like she had to be more mainstream to get her foot in the door. Now that she is in however she is proving to be a super talented and super crazy artist. I enjoyed Madonna’s speech and I enjoyed Taylor Swift and I absolutely never listen to that kind of music… was just fun. I’m also glad that Kanye did what he did. We as individuals all put our foot in our mouths at some point….because he did it when he did we all get to learn another lesson about the matter and Taylor and Beyonce got to have a unique moment with greater ups and downs than ever could have been if they would have simply gone on stage and accepted their award. Anyways, there is so much more that I could say but I will stop. I just enjoyed it. When I review some piece of entertainment that I’ve experienced I usually try to first comment on the raw emotional feeling that I had when I experienced it….then get analytical. In this case, I can’t deny how I felt. I just feel like so many people love to hate things for the sake of hating them. I hope thats not what is happening here. It doesn’t seem to be that simple…..I just don’t know why so many people who for so long have had very similar opinions to mine are all in such disagreement.


Jakub says:

September 15, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Eric –

“I just feel like so many people love to hate things for the sake of hating them. I hope thats not what is happening here.”

that’s definitely not what is happening here, mine is purely running on frustration of musicians being able to do anything they want and all I got was below average, I mean these people have the world in their hands, hey Pink you want to hang from the ceiling? DONE. I mean blow me away, they are on the center stage on MTV in 2009, we have freakin’ holograms for god sake

Thanks for everyone’s comments, this became a great discussion without the message forum feeling and craziness

What did Taylor Swift do for you?


Scott says:

September 16, 2009 at 11:06 am

I had hope rekindled in the state of music last week when I looked at the Billboard album chart and Imogen Heap new album Ellipse debuted at number 5! I only thought things like that where possible in the UK.


Austin says:

September 16, 2009 at 4:47 pm

@mpb I still stand by my statement (including music) that ALL art is subjective. One person gets more recognition than another, that I understand but an emo kids poetry can equal that of Frost’s. One should be able to appreciate an artist who develops there own work, regardless of whether or not it receives “grand” attention.


marisa says:

September 18, 2009 at 3:06 pm

I was 13 (I’m 24 now) when I stopped listening to the radio and THANK GOD I did. Since then, I have found so much more out there. People like what they like. Just like everyone is different, their taste in music is different and there are heaps of genres out there for everyone. Most people I know don’t stick to only one genre. I wish we could all respect each other’s taste. Sure, I wish popular music had more substance like it did back in the day. But there’s lots of music out there with substance, you don’t have to look very hard.


PWeekly says:

September 22, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Artistically Lady GaGa has been nothing if not interesting. While it doesn’t always translate into “genius music” her sheer spectacle is truly somehting to appreciate.

Likewise, as far as pop grandure goes – You’re hard pressed to find an album better than Phoenixs’ Wolfgang Amadeus.

I’d also argue that despite their electronic influence, Bloc Party is sheer pop bliss executed to perfection.

And any decade that has given us Kelly Clrakson’s Since You Been Gone can’t be that bad.


JCar says:

October 1, 2009 at 12:10 pm

I completely agree with you.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole instrumental scene got a push in the near future. Over the last few years it seems to become a piece of pop cultural to be “indie” and you see all kinds of *said in a maching voice* “quirky”, “Edgy”, maybe even a little “free spirited?”. Companies are starting to see a whole new field for them to exploit, and they’ve already begun. American Apparel…ahem….Urban Outfitters….ahemm…..blockbusters like Juno, Nick and Norah’s Playlist, etc…you know…shit that’s advertised as being “so free spirited and individual” but it’s really just as contrived as a Gilmore Girls episode.

So with all that said I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere down the line this whole “quirky indie” trend turns into a huge conglomerate that will become the new “popular” music. Now I doubt (and severly hope) Boards of Canada, Autechre, Vitalic, etc. will be the new Lady Gagas, or Mileys, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see some names we feel are underground move on up the popularity scale.


Simon Matthews says:

October 23, 2009 at 2:01 am


I think generally what’s happened to the music industry is that their not investing in new music…and when i say this i mean that they’re not putting money into the marketing and finding of new music…i have read recently that the big record companies are looking to their back catalog (60’s and 70’s) to re-issue stuff to the ‘youngsters’ because of the current trend in ‘retro’ stuff and the fact that new music doesn’t pull in the money…by this they mean immediate profits.
I don’t disagree with this but i’m sure if they put the effort into promoting new acts over a period of time and investing in the band as they evolve rather than looking for good looking acts they can make a quick buck from, in the long run the industry will become healthier….there is so much good new music out there that isn’t being looked after and invested in because its seen as not being commercial enough…what happened to the days of making mixtapes of the fabulous new bands you’ve found and getting your friends to listen to it. its hard to believe that at one time albums like Dark Side of the Moon were at the top of the album charts for any number of years…are you telling me that LadtGaGa’s album is going to do the same?…no…because there is nothing emotionally to invest in…there is nothing new that she is doing that Madonna hasn’t already done…there is no journey for the listener.
I run a website called in england and we are about promoting good new music from whatever genre, so long as it is good…which is subjective i know…but i love music and there is enough out there for music to begin to thrive again like it did in the 60’s and 70’s…maybe not to the same degree but certainly in the experimental and honest execution of it by artists who desire to create…so please…visit the site and if you know of any good music that you think deserves to be heard (we’re up for all kinds of stuff as long as it’s good and comes from talented people) by people who may not have had the chance to hear it because they’re only subjected to the mainstream then please send a link to us and we will put it on the show.

Please don’t think i’m just here to promote my site that is not the case…i am a huge fan of this blog and of scott’s work…and it certainly one of the best resource sites around for designer’s like me who love great design and culture.
Cheers guys


Mark says:

October 26, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Its all about taste, isn’t it? Well, actually, no, it isn’t, its about profit, wrapped up in the ole discussion about taste. Fooled myself for a bit there, but sitting behind the keyboard an actually trying to type what you think gets the juices flowing, sort of. Back to the subject, taste/profit: making what everyone likes makes you rich, but it doesn’t have to be good. Expression and success are related but not equal. If art would equal democracy, bob ross would be the president of the us …


Moka says:

November 4, 2009 at 9:27 pm

A bit late on the conversation but here’s my contribution:

Pop music has indeed become alarmingly disposable. I think it might have happened around 1999 when the major labels started realizing how profitable it is not to actually sell the music but the personality. Now they plug you in to reality shows and all sorts of inane gossip about these ‘artists’ so you grow familiarized with them. Of course, gossiping isn’t anything new but the media has finally learnt how to manipulate them with real expertise. Thing is, nobody really cares about the music anymore, these disposable idols are part of our culture and not knowing about them makes you an outsider. If you want your sense of belonging intact you’ve got to play by their rules.

But to be honest, I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world being born in another time, musically-wise. I mean what are you guys upthread talking about? The 90’s were also pretty awful for the mainstream, probably even much worse than we are right now. Sure there were some genuine pop gems but your options were pretty limited then. Nowadays with the internet if anything we’ve got way more options than we could ever need. How can you accuse the mainstream of being lazy? They’re just giving our generation the pop icons they deserve. There’s some really great music being done nowadays, you just have to dig. And even then, there’s some fun songs every now and then hitting the mainstream, you just have to switch off and enjoy them in their context. Think of them as one-night stands.

PS: Who’s that gal up there?