by Owen Stevens
At the moment, popular music can certainly be classified as low quality, especially when compared to what was allowed to rise to the top of the charts in earlier decades. Pop currently suffers from several underlying problems, the two most notable being an obsession with perfection and overly simple rhythms and melodies.
The most obvious difference between current pop and successful music from just five years earlier is the lack of more complex melodies with today’s songs. This is a trait that can be traced back to Hip-Hop, which generally does not rely on employing the use of melody and is a primarily rhythm-based style of music. However, pop music has created a watered-down and simplified version of Hip-Hop, which lacks many of the most important characteristics of the genre. For example, popular music often abstains from the art of sampling, which is where small measures of music are extracted from other songs and sewn together. Sampling creates unique sounds and beats that define individual Hip-Hop songs. Although, in pop music an automatic drum machine is often used instead, making dull and uninteresting beat tracks that are usually secondary to the singing. Due to this, most songs are generally just a singer performing a simple melody with a quiet beat track playing in the background.
The second main problem is that expectations for perfection have grown much too high. Real instruments are not perfect, nor are real singers. Music has become continually more refined over the past few years, so much at this point, that the sound of a real human voice is considered unacceptable. If a pop song doesn’t use an autotune effect, the singer has to hit every note without error. Real instruments don’t often appear in songs either and if they do, a single measure has been heavily edited and then copied and pasted throughout the song.
This certainly doesn’t mean all pop music is low quality, but the majority of it suffers from the problems I stated. Similar trends have plagued pop music before. In the late ’80s music was becoming increasingly electronic and losing its integrity with the rise of digital equipment [and slick production. Nevertheless, these ideals were abolished with the rise of grunge bands such as Nirvana. The current state of popular music will also pass as people begin to tire of dull, overproduced, and oversimplified songs.