Contemporary popular music

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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 11 May 2012, 20:53

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I neglected to post in this thread the work of Ke$ha, surely a fine example to all empowered young women:



This video has been viewed 93 million times. That's a third more views than there are people in the UK. Ke$ha has more than 3 million followers on Twitter. Recently she made the news with this story, furthering her example to young women:

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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 19 May 2012, 11:07

I just watched the episode of Frasier "Someone to Watch Over Me", which was very funny, as they almost all are! In it, the character Niles says: "Popularity: the hallmark of mediocrity". It reminded me of this video, though while that was true in the early 90s I think "Popularity: the hallmark of vulgarity" is even more apt today.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Damo » 19 May 2012, 11:16

Gavin wrote:I just watched the episode of Frasier "Someone to Watch Over Me", which was very funny, as they almost all are! In it, the character Niles says: "Popularity: the hallmark of mediocrity". It reminded me of this video, though while that was true in the early 90s I think "Popularity: the hallmark of vulgarity" is even more apt today.



Or the modern definition of celebrity: someone you never heard of.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 19 May 2012, 11:24

Yes, Damo, the modern definition of celebrity also seems to be "someone with no particular talent".

At least there is a parody of that Ke$ha video, which shows it up for the rubbish it is!

Contract: "Ke$sha must act like a drunken whore at all times!"


It's times like this that it would be good if the forum supported tagging, so that posts could be "comedy" and "pop music", for example.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 07 Aug 2012, 11:10

I thought I had better listen to this "Lady" GaGa rubbish with its 97 million hits to see if there was any merit in it - Born This Way! There isn't. There is a nonsensical pretentious beginning and then the song becomes an overworked version of Madonna's feminist anthem Express Yourself - it is not original at all. All the while, Ms Germanotta cavorts around in her underwear, not contradicting her feminist message at all, of course. Needless to say she is also covered in tattoos.

Here is a repugnant picture of her pretending to be a man, though the other pictures are equally a mockery of women.

Something else to note about this: of course Ms Germanotta does not produce any of the music, but also what vocals she delivers would take only a few minutes to record and would be barely recognisable in the final mix. They can be stretched, pitch changed and so on, such that the vocal ability of the singer is an irrelevance in much popular music now. Given that the music itself is also a copy (if an inferior one), that leaves nothing but image on sale. It's enough though, clearly, for today's audience.

Ms Gaga has a conversational manner the same as pretty much any other woman in the public eye these days (e.g. Keira Knightly, Adele) - namely that of the gutter. On critics noting near identity of these two "songs" she said:

"If you put the songs next to each other, side by side, the only similarities are the chord progression. It's the same one that has been in disco music for the last 50 years. Just because I'm the first f**king artist in 25 years to think of putting it on Top 40 radio, it doesn't mean I'm a plagiarist, it means I'm f**king smart. Sorry."


It's all in place for maximum appeal: the stupendous arrogance coupled with the lack of talent - a recipe for success which is then seen as the thing to imitate. In her remark, this ridiculous young woman also fails to the see that the chord progression essentially is the melody and the core of the song and not an incidental factor (further she is incorrect that it has been characteristic of disco music for 25 years).

Bring me back Duran Duran and Wham! - they were profound by comparison!
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 31 Aug 2012, 08:28

With 15 million hits and counting here is the latest version of Beyonce, Rihanna, whatever.



Aged 21, there have been numerous videos of her propounding her theories on life. In one remark she said:

"I have nine tattoos. I'm going to get one more soon. And then I'll have ten."


Well, I guess we have to be relieved that she could add one to nine.

The thing is, ever since the mid-nineties it has been interesting to listen to presenters squirm and try to promote this kind of music while it perfectly obviously encourages very harmful values. It's so amusing, but also somewhat disturbing. I was listening to this young girl being interviewed on BBC Radio 1 last night. They blank out the F words in the music and try to stop these people swearing on air, yet they are happy to play the music.

The banter on Radio 1 is entirely superficial and the current trends seem to be an uncomfortable mixture of gangsta rap and overt homosexuality. The wide variety of bands all making their own music with thoughtful lyrics have largely gone now. This contrast showed most obviously when the DJ played a quick sample of REM as "a record everyone should have listened to". It was totally out of place and I expect most of his audience had never heard of REM, even less knew what the acronym stands for!

Apparently it took young Rita Ora three years to make her first album, the magnum opus. I doubt she had the technical skills to actually make any of the music at all herself, and it is very crude in any case. I certainly have nothing against synthesiser based music, as readers of this forum will know, but this is not very sophisticated and it lacks any soul and sensitivity.

This kind of trash dominates the charts and the pubs these days (along with the minimal style "dubstep", which I strongly dislike). I heard her song blaring out of a pub the other night. It is music that children should not listen to and adults should not want to listen to. But of course adults are like children now - children who can do whatever they like. One can only hope that more discerning people are not buying music - but they'll have to contribute money rather than download for free if musicians they like are to continue producing.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Michael » 31 Aug 2012, 14:49

Speaking of REM:



The complete "Life's Rich Pageant" album. I stumbled across this by accident and I love it. I know it probably belongs in the Off-Topic section, but I felt it was appropriate here. You can just listen to the first track and know you will likely never hear anything like it on popular radio.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 26 Sep 2012, 08:38

When I saw television presenter, Classic FM presenter and famous ex-choirboy Aled Jones introducing and praising a studio "performance" by rapper Flo Rida this morning, I knew we'd reached a new cultural low. His co-presenter, middle aged woman Lorraine Kelly, also claimed she thought the music was fantastic, as did the weather girl afterwards. Mr Rida looked like a uncultured thug and the female accompanying him looked like a prostitute. The "music" was both aggressive and shallow.

This is our problem: the powerful media outlets endorse and claim to like this rubbish. I don't think the presenters really do like it - they lie. But as our underclass grows and there's money to be made by peddling low-brow trash, the companies will peddle it. I suppose we are now not far off the point when they actually openly claim it is superior to the work of, say, Mozart of Beethoven.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Charlie » 13 Jan 2013, 21:26

I would just like to start this message by saying hello to everyone - being a fan of Mr Dalrymple and having read several of the threads here, I felt like it was a good time to join a forum to share thoughts and ideas with other like-minded people. I really wanted to comment on this issue first, because I've ruminated on it for long enough. Here are a few things which strike me about a lot of today's contemporary popular music:

There seems to be a real lack of any harmonic or melodic complexity nowadays. It's not that you'd necessarily expect pop music to be full of complex chord changes and the like, but all the examples here have no real hooks to speak of. What we have instead is a kind of shrill, over-compressed, idiotic Homer Simpson pop-chanting or an airbrushed, tattooed version of a Teletubbies soundtrack. And not only is this popular music uniform, predictable, banal and superficial, it's loud. I wasn't exaggerating when I said over-compressed - the volume and lack of dynamic range fatigues the eardrums rather quickly as a result.

Let's take Adele as another example. Although there's no doubt that the lady can sing, where's the material? While it seems that there are never-ending articles about The Beatles in certain British music magazines - a fact which often annoys me - say what you like about The Fab Four, they could at least create beautiful hooks and melodies. However, in the case of Adele, her music utterly lacks hooks. It's lumpy mashed potato music. It's plodding, predictable and stodgy with bellowed platitudes ringing hollow over the top - there's no melodic surprise or delight there. Putting the way she sounds like in interviews to one side, given the right material, I'm sure she could create something of great beauty, but I'm afraid the recent mass championing of this mediocrity does no one any favours.

As a fan of Brazilian music, long before endless horrible covers of "The Girl From Ipanema/A Garota de Ipanema" made it synonymous with music to fill lifts with, I've long loved the fact that Tom Jobim's classic really captured the attention of millions of people around the world. Although lyrically it is nothing more than a guy longing after a girl he just can't have, the sophistication and beauty of the melody made it an international pop hit. Such was the greatness of Jobim's work that the airport in Rio de Janeiro ended up taking his name. How many contemporary pop music figures would stand a chance of being recognised in such a manner for their cultural output today? Furthermore, how many pop figures today could straddle with ease the divide the gap between popular and erudite culture like some names from the past could?

Ok, on the one hand, criticising modern pop music is like shooting fish in a barrel, but over the years, rhythm has come to supersede melody in terms of importance. If that's the case, maybe it explains how we've gone from Stevie Wonder to The Black Eyed Peas in a relatively short space of time. There may be no way back.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Mike » 14 Jan 2013, 07:34

Welcome to the forum Charlie!

I'm delighted to have found another person in the English-speaking world who's a big fan of Tom Jobim. He's always been one of my great heroes, and not just for his beautiful music. Your comments on the contemporary music scene are spot on in my view (particularly in regard to the Beatles). There appears to be a genuine self-conscious avoidance of not just complexity but beauty in the vast majority of the music that makes it to the radio these days, which is disappointing (to say the least). Of course music is not all about unselfconscious beauty, but there's surely a place for it.

As for Jobim, he could make beauty sound effortless:

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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Charlie » 14 Jan 2013, 12:09

Mike wrote:Welcome to the forum Charlie!

I'm delighted to have found another person in the English-speaking world who's a big fan of Tom Jobim. He's always been one of my great heroes, and not just for his beautiful music. Your comments on the contemporary music scene are spot on in my view (particularly in regard to the Beatles). There appears to be a genuine self-conscious avoidance of not just complexity but beauty in the vast majority of the music that makes it to the radio these days, which is disappointing (to say the least). Of course music is not all about unselfconscious beauty, but there's surely a place for it.



Thanks Mike, that's very kind of you!
It's good to meet another Tom Jobim fan too - a lot of Brazil's greatest popular music has a sophistication to it that is not found so easily in the English speaking world. It's just a shame that pretty much anything that's not sung in English gets labelled as "world music" immediately.

However for all talk of sophistication, a lot of the popular music made in Brazil today is so crass and vulgar that it would make some of our youtube examples here blush!
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 30 Jan 2013, 18:32

Ed West comments on the pornification of pop music.

Frank Fisher comments underneath that it is women who make the many superficial magazines which women buy. I think it's true to say that most men find the average fashion model to appear anorexic, boyish and not very attractive at all (that's just the appearance, not even getting to the attitude).
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 26 Mar 2013, 18:08

At lunchtime I tuned into BBC Radio 1 in the car today for about 30 seconds. Back in the Eighties you'd probably have heard some Phil Collins, maybe The Bangles, something like that.

Here are the opening lyrics to the "song" they were playing:

Some delinquent idiot wrote:I said it must be cause a nigga got dough
Extraordinary swag and a mouth full of gold
Hoes at my shows they be strippin' off they clothes
And them college girls write a nigga name on they toes
Niggas talk shit 'til they get lockjaw
Chrome to ya dome 'til ya get glockjaw
Party like a cowboy or a rockstar
Everybody play the tough guy 'til shit pop off


Here's the video:



The female presenter credited the track as if it were laudable and like any other (it probably is on Radio 1) then went on to ridicule knowledgeable people.

In any civilised country the entire station would be taken off the air for this and the controller (somebody called Ben Cooper) sacked and fined.

How much worse can things get? I suppose it can be worse. We get this kind of thing on daytime TV now. Perhaps when it is more often acclaimed and played on Radio 4 we'll have reached the cultural nadir, the bottom. Then we will face either oblivion or recovery.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Andreas » 26 Mar 2013, 21:28

That the BBC could endorse this as "music" is disappointing. It's hard to imagine things getting much worse. Seeing this makes me wonder: are we witnessing the end of a long, slow decline that began after the end of World War I? Or is it the Sixties that made this possible?

A hundred years ago people were shocked by The Rite of Spring or The Afternoon of a Faun or cubism. Now that all seems so innocent and genteel.
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Re: Contemporary popular music

Postby Gavin » 26 Mar 2013, 21:42

Indeed. I should add that I think they blanked out a lot of words (probably about half the words) but I don't think that makes any difference. That they needed to do so shows they shouldn't be endorsing such trash.

Radio 1 is targeted at the youth of today. Only a total barbarian or a self-seeking bureaucrat such as a BBC executive could not be concerned about this, I think. This gansta rap thing now dominates youth culture, helped by the likes of the BBC. It'll destroy our culture unless people start calling it for what it is.
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