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Thread: Pop Music sounding more and more the same

  1. Top | #11
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    Sure, but what rule says that pop can’t be influenced by Javanese Gamelon or traditional North African wind instruments? Because production requires very few people which tends to strengthen producers who tend to be more conservative.

    I’m not saying it’s good or bad, I’m not concerned about pop music. But IMO that’s why it tends to sound alike.

  2. Top | #12
    Veteran Member Ford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horatio Parker View Post
    Sure, but what rule says that pop can’t be influenced by Javanese Gamelon or traditional North African wind instruments? Because production requires very few people which tends to strengthen producers who tend to be more conservative.
    Well continuing the McDonald's analogy, why doesn't the golden arches serve Salvadoran Papusas alongside hamburgers? Because it wouldn't work. Just like people don't want unpredictable things on their fast food menu, they're not amenable to influences in their pop hits that go too far afield. Sure, music nerds might like a jazz drum solo in the middle of a Katy Perry song, but her fans? Not so much.

    As far as producers go, in my experience there's producers who have the "hot hand" and wind up doing a lot of records that sound the same. The one that sticks out in my mind was this singer/songwriter from Australia that had this beautiful ballad, and she mentioned the producer...a guy who had done most of Keith Urban's earlier records. Right then I knew what it would sound like, and when the single came out, it sounded exactly like I'd predicted. An 80's style power ballad from a guy who used to be in an 80's power ballad band.

    The single didn't really go anywhere, but I can understand why the label went that route. You've got a guy who has a track record of success...so...

    And this is one of those things that consumers of pop music don't see. There's this notion floating around among critics that all you need to do is find that "formula" and you've got a guaranteed hit on your hands. That's not true. Truth is that a very small percentage of acts that follow the "formula" actually wind up successful. I spent the last 2 decades in pop/country and top 40 before that, and I've got a stack of autographed 8x11 publicity photos of acts who never went anywhere despite having "the look," good songs, great producers, and major label support. Even with auto-tune and a proven songwriter it's a crap shoot. My favorite recent story is about this artist who was signed to a label my friend works for. I may have told this already, but here goes.

    The artist was already a star in his own right, but he wanted to make a country record. So he gathered the best songwriters, best producers, musicians, video directors, marketing and PR people, etc. The label (who had some success with this artist called Taylor Swift) flew out country radio programmers to take the first few singles for a spin, and everyone was blown away. My boss came back from the trip and said "oh my god, this is going to be huge."

    And yet, Steven Tyler's country debut landed with a relative thud. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. One of the biggest rock stars on the planet. The audience said "meh." At the end of the day, it's up to them.

  3. Top | #13
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    You seem to think I believe pop music should innovate. I don't, or don't care. I like some pop things, but generally the chaff to wheat ratio renders pop not worth the time. For me.

    My point is that years ago, there was far more work for bands. That enabled the ambitious ones to get their sound together and influence the business from the grass roots up. I suspect many had no particular desire to be a pop band, like Yes or Nirvana. But events have their own inertia.

    Now if there was a worldwide gig scene like what once existed in the US, and a pop project could only be accomplished with a group effort, my guess is we would have a more diverse playlist.

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    If you read books on early jazz, blues, or country, a major theme is the homogenization process that came with the 78 record and later, radio. The regional sounds crossbred with each other and everyone borrowed from the outliers. Louis Armstrong's cornet sound and ability to solo were mind-blowing in 1925 -- by 1927 or '28 there were a bunch of cornetists and trumpeters playing in that style. Jimmie Rodgers' 78s led to multiple copycats by the end of his short career. This isn't necessarily bad, and it's certainly not preventable. And for listeners like me, it's still possible to find the early roots music to marvel at. I do think the diva thing in vocals that comes from Whitney and American Idol is a bore. Interesting to see in the OP that someone is quantifying the phenomenon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ideologyhunter View Post
    If you read books on early jazz, blues, or country, a major theme is the homogenization process that came with the 78 record and later, radio. The regional sounds crossbred with each other and everyone borrowed from the outliers. Louis Armstrong's cornet sound and ability to solo were mind-blowing in 1925 -- by 1927 or '28 there were a bunch of cornetists and trumpeters playing in that style. Jimmie Rodgers' 78s led to multiple copycats by the end of his short career. This isn't necessarily bad, and it's certainly not preventable. And for listeners like me, it's still possible to find the early roots music to marvel at. I do think the diva thing in vocals that comes from Whitney and American Idol is a bore. Interesting to see in the OP that someone is quantifying the phenomenon.
    Bach walked 300 miles to hear Buxtehude.

    Rubenstein said when recording came in, he didn't think he could do it, because he never played scores exactly. Classical was influenced, too.

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    Veteran Member Ford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horatio Parker View Post
    You seem to think I believe pop music should innovate. I don't, or don't care. I like some pop things, but generally the chaff to wheat ratio renders pop not worth the time. For me.

    My point is that years ago, there was far more work for bands. That enabled the ambitious ones to get their sound together and influence the business from the grass roots up. I suspect many had no particular desire to be a pop band, like Yes or Nirvana. But events have their own inertia.

    Now if there was a worldwide gig scene like what once existed in the US, and a pop project could only be accomplished with a group effort, my guess is we would have a more diverse playlist.
    Well to paraphrase Dylan, the times they did a-change. Years ago there was more work for bands but if you wanted to rise out of the club scene and get bigger, you usually needed a record deal and a recording studio. The former because the latter was expensive. In order to get more than locally famous, you had to hope that an A&R guy wandered into one of your gigs. And don't get me started on some of those deals.

    Now you can have a multi-track studio on your laptop, put your stuff up on Soundcloud or YouTube, and maybe that label guy in L.A. or New York will "discover" you. Ed Sheeran is a good example. He's a talented musician and songwriter who got his start uploading videos of himself playing. Would we be better off if he'd had to spend years gigging in pubs before hooking up with a group and putting out a record only after being signed by a big label?

    I don't think so. Yes, things are different now, but different isn't necessarily bad.

  7. Top | #17
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    Sure things have changed and sure some have benefited from it, no argument.

    But does pop music sound more alike? I'd say yes. If that's improvement, ok.

  8. Top | #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ford View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Horatio Parker View Post
    I think pop music is more ingrown or incestuous than it used to be. Pop artists largely listen to and emulate each other. When humans were needed to play all the parts, they often came from different backgrounds: country, r&b, blues, folk, whatever. And their sound was influenced by those styles. That seems to be not so much the case any longer. Fewer people determine the sound, and they're influenced, I'd guess more by what's selling than what's interesting.

    In pop music, they always want the same thing - only different.
    It is important to remember that pop music is aimed at general audiences, and to a considerable degree those audiences decide what gets to be a hit. They're going to want something familiar, simple, and catchy. That's why McDonald's is successful. No matter where you are in the country (or around the globe, for that matter) you see the golden aches and know that your Big Mac is going to taste the same in Decatur as in Dubai.

    Record companies have known this for a long time, so when four lads from England make it big, there's going to be a rush to sign other groups like them, and next thing you know there's a glut of bands made up of four lads from England. Or for a modern example, look at K-Pop. Acts that are pumped out by hit factories that make American record companies look like freewheeling creative paradises by comparison. Yet it is huge in Korea and growing in popularity around the world.
    I first heard of K-Pop about 4 years ago, and thought I’d give it a try... I found it boring. Not much better than elevator music. (Perhaps I wasn’t listening to the best K-pop had to offer?).
    Back in the early 1970s, I remember my grandmother referring to Rock music as “that squalling noise”.
    It seemed a bit depressing that I was finding the music kids were now listening to as simply boring.
    What happened to the days when middle aged people could shout at their children, with confidence, to “Turn that racket off!”.

  9. Top | #19
    Veteran Member Ford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by couch_sloth View Post
    What happened to the days when middle aged people could shout at their children, with confidence, to “Turn that racket off!”.
    My dad was that guy. He graduated high school in '55, and absolutely hated rock music. He used to complain that the words were just "baby, baby, baby" over and over again.

    I was playing this song called "Head First" that had a line in it that went "baby, baby, baby take me in your arms and love me."

    He said "that's exactly what I'm talking about! Baby, baby, baby! What's the name of that band?"

    Um...they're called The Baby's, dad.

    He threw up his hands and said "See?!"

    Don't get me wrong. My dad was great in so many ways, but as far as musical taste goes, I tried to be anything like him. Always open to new music. Consciously avoiding becoming the middle-aged guy shouting at kids playing their music.

  10. Top | #20
    Veteran Member blastula's Avatar
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    Those darn kids today.

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