Do we automatically prefer the music that was dominant when we were teenagers?
Or, is the music of the mid 60s to the mid 70s truly the Golden Age of Rock Music?
This ongoing section will attempt to address this contentious area of popular culture.
“There are only two kinds of music, good and bad.” — Duke Ellington
I’ll start things off with a rant I originally wrote right after the whole “Janet Jackson Boob Flash at the Super Bowl” mini-crisis a few years back. It started a lot of conversation at the time, and could serve to set the tone of this section.
Introduction – The State of Things, 2004
It’s not the boob that was the problem with the halftime, it was the entire halftime.
Popular music has been on the decline for quite some time, as “art” has been overwhelmed by the combination of lowest common denominator economics and the inability (or, in many cases, unwillingness) of parents to be able to guide their children towards some semblance of judgment and discretion. The consolidation of corporate ownership of music distribution has, for all practical purposes, dried up the investment in new artists that don’t fit the mold of either empty “American Idol” bombast or disposable ‘hip-hop’ sewage. Exceptions (such as Radiohead, for example) are few and far between.
What used to be a lively, passionate medium of expression and artistry has been reduced to a mediocre sludge of mass-produced ‘beats’ (often not actually played but ‘sampled’ from the creative work of others) and semi-literate mumbling with no vision, creativity or relevance beyond the tip of one’s nose (or other extremity).
“Performance”, previously requiring musical ability and craft, is now replaced by the playback of this studio-manufactured effluent, with lip-synching instead of singing, and the hiring of (usually scantily clad) ‘dancers’ performing the artistic equivalent of aerobic exercise at the local “Curves” salon providing what passes for spectacle.
Video did, indeed, kill the radio star.