View Poll Results: How Grumpy of a Music "Fan" am I?

1. You may not vote on this poll
  • Woke up and discovered there was no coffee grumpy.

    1 100.00%
  • Woke up next to Rosie O'Donnell grumpy.

    0 0%
  • Had to ride the Tour-de-France on a bicycle without a seat grumpy.

    0 0%
  • Music collection taken away by the IRS grumpy.

    0 0%
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: High School ('04) Essay on Why Modern Music Sucks

  1. #1

    Post High School ('04) Essay on Why Modern Music Sucks

    I originally wrote this essay in 2004, my senior year in high school (and got a 90 for it). I've updated it with recent examples. Anyway, enjoy (or don't).

    "They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To"

    Most people who know me are aware of the fact that I don’t listen to newer musical artists, with very few exceptions. I do listen to new music, when it’s made by an old artist (Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, and Steely Dan are a few of my favorites that released new material this decade). People always pester me with questions asking why I only listen to dinosaur rock, and accuse me of being closed-minded. So now I’m going to answer the question “Why don’t you step out of 1975 and listen to modern music?”

    Because it sucks.

    It’s not really anybody’s fault that it sucks; most of the good ideas have simply been used up. As big an ocean as music is, it’s also an ocean that "ends at the shore," as Bob Dylan once sang (decades ago of course). There are only so many melodies, harmonies, chord structures, chord progressions, riffs, hooks, etc. that can be used before they become recycled. In other words, nothing is catchy anymore, unless it’s strangely reminiscent of an old hit.

    AC/DC was always great at coming up with new riffs and lyrics to make a good rock song. But last October, I bought their newest album Black Ice and was disappointed. The intro to the first track was a big indicator that guitarists Angus & Malcolm Young are scraping the bottom of the barrel. The opening of “Rock and Roll Train” sounds like a collage of random notes, stuck together in the hopes of finding something remotely catchy. The lyrics throughout the album aren’t anything stunning either; the words of “Rock and Roll Train” are vague and aimless, with lead vocalist Brian Johnson harping about giving it up and giving it what you got, whatever that means. To be fair to Brian Johnson, the lyrics aren’t his (he stopped writing them at the beginning of the 90s, handing lyrical reigns over to the Young brothers). AC/DC’s lyrics used to be clever and raunchy, whether they were about the problems of having a prostitute for a girlfriend (“What Do You Do For Money Honey”) catching VD (“The Jack”) or those pesky critters that dwell in pubic hair (“Crabsody in Blue”). But the song “Rock and Roll Train” is still the best on the "Black Ice" album, and is also one of at least three songs on the disc that contain the word “rock” or a variation of it in the title.

    But back to crabs and prostitutes and stuff, a lot of performers these days are filling their lyrics, videos, album covers, etc. with attempts at shocking the parents of their fans. The thing is, nobody is shocked anymore. We’ve seen it all. Alice Cooper was among the originators of shock-rock, but had strong music to back it up. However, along came pud-pullers like Marilyn Manson, whose only aim was to create controversy in the media to boost the sales of music that otherwise would have just blended into the scene.

    The parents nowadays grew up being shocked, so it's not an easy task to stun them anymore.

    Heavy metal has been going downhill recently anyway. Today, the bands sing through a distortion box and scream bloody murder, spewing out lyrics that cry melodrama. I could write any given modern metal band’s lyrics right now. I mean it. For instance, you go...
    “I’m drowning in a world of lies/I hear the silence broken by angry cries/I’m seeking the answer filled with burning hate/No one can save me for it’s much too late” and so on. Perfect dribble for some teenager to put on his MySpace page headline.

    But, at least they’re trying to write their own stuff. Of course now I’m leading into those who use “sampling” to pass for songwriting. Mostly rap artists do this, but it’s found its way into the pop scene as well. Sampling used to mean covering another musician’s work in the middle of your own song, i.e. singing and playing it yourself. But people like Eminem have become too lazy or uninspired to do so, therefore Aerosmith’s “Dream On” winds up in a rap song. Some other putz recently inserted Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” into their work (I use the term “work” loosely). I don’t have anything against covers; but I don’t think you should draw a check for re-releasing someone else’s recording and putting your name on it.

    This year, I've noticed many of the biggest hits use repetition as their hook. Ahem:
    "Gives you hell gives you hell gives you hell..."
    "Do you know the enemy do you know the enemy well gotta know the enemy..."
    "Po-po-po-po-po-po-po-po-poker face po-po-po-po-po-po-po-po-poker face..."
    "Blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-alcohol"

    (Weak point of my argument, I admit, but I wanted an excuse to rant about that.)

    I suspect that in a decade or two, maybe sooner, there will be a slight renaissance in popular music. Someone will discover a batch of unclaimed melodies and lyrics that don’t sound like anything else before it. But when it’s over, music will be dominated by random noise and sampling.

    I have become an old man - modern music is now “noise.” It’s official.

  2. #2
    Band Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    eugene, oregon, usa


    i don't think you're too grumpy. just simply pissed about the truth. i'm not too far away from it either. and how do i vote? which is worst? i would say waking up to rossie in my bed is worst but it's in the middle of the poll. lol. i hope you're right about the whole music renniassance thing.... otherwise we've got a long, dumb-ass, ****tarded, road ahead of us.
    men wear boots

  3. #3
    Roadie Paddis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Stockholm, Sweden


    It’s not really anybody’s fault that it sucks; most of the good ideas have simply been used up. As big an ocean as music is, it’s also an ocean that "ends at the shore," as Bob Dylan once sang (decades ago of course).
    Well, Bob Dylan also sang (decades ago) that the times are changing, and they are. What's popular today will not be popular tomorrow. So, for example, if popular music today uses too much technology to replace instruments and don't have meaningful lyrics, then that will be outdated and replaced in the future and perhaps it will go back to the way it was before.

    I'm not a big fan of the music that was created through the 1980s, I think it was mostly dominated by synthesized music, a bit like todays music. I do however like the music that came out in the 1970s and the 1990s. I'm not a big fan of classical music, but I do like rock and blues, even though I'm not a huge fan of disco-type music.

    I suppose you could say that music goes up and down like a rollercoaster and new kinds of music become popular all the time. Some like it, some don't. Who knows what the future holds? Perhaps the music that was popular in the 1950s or 1960s will be revived, or perhaps music becomes completly digitalized. One thing I do know is that the music we're listening to today will not be popular in 10-20 years but until then I suppose you'll have to listen to older records, or start playing an instrument and create your own music.
    "All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie."
    -Bob Dylan

  4. #4
    Band Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Trenton, US


    Your essay is pretty spot-on and well written. If this is a high-school essay, you seem to have a knowledge and understanding of music way beyond your years. Unfortunately, as you've admitted, that also means you're a jaded, cynical, cranky old dinosaur before your time. That wasn't supposed to happen until you're my age. :-)

    I agree with your main theory about the music business in general: It's become tired, spent, uninspired, cliche...

    If it helps, I think maybe the period from @1965-75 was more the exception than the rule. So, in a sense, a lot of today's manufactured teenybopper crap, older artists repeating themselves, cheesy dance music, etc. is basically the same as what was happening, or not happening, in the early 60s. Who would've thought in 1963 that the Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, etc. were going to turn it all around in such a big way?

    But even in 1963, there was still the folk underground, including Dylan, as well as some really good jazz and blues stuff. I think the key to getting through the dry spells is to stick with underground and traditional forms of music. None of todays great blues-rock or stoner rock bands are the next Beatles, but I think I'm glad they're not...Just so long as they help me through "Boom Boom Pow" and "Put a Ring On It".

  5. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by kvincent5555 View Post
    Your essay is pretty spot-on and well written. If this is a high-school essay, you seem to have a knowledge and understanding of music way beyond your years. Unfortunately, as you've admitted, that also means you're a jaded, cynical, cranky old dinosaur before your time. That wasn't supposed to happen until you're my age. :-)
    Oh...thanks. I just vaguely remember being cranky as heck the day I wrote it and had procrastinated doing so for a couple days. Guess it worked in my favor.

  6. #6
    a restless spirit Jerome's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    From Cape Town, South Africa


    Brilliant article and 100% true. As MH says 'Preach it Brother!'
    'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Grand Rapids, Mi, USA


    Do you still agree with the content of this. I hate a lot of new music, but there has always been bad music. It is harder to find good stuff now that the dominant music is crap, but there will always be good stuff out there. Some of my favorite newer stuff includes; Broken Bells, Matthew Sweet, The New Pornographers, The Avett Brothers, The Decemberists, Teddy Thompson, Vampire Weekend, First Aid Kit, The Old 97's, Derek Trucks, Fountains of Wayne, Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Smith Westerns,The Shins and Alabama Shakes. have you listened to any of these? Let me know what you think about them.

  8. #8
    Record Label Executive SteveO's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Dartmouth, Canada


    Yes I have listened to most of them...Avett Brothers and Arcade Fire are the standouts !...I prefer LIVE albums ....that way all the crappy studio album fillers are gone !


  9. #9


    there is a lot of good new music out there if youre prepared to shovel your way through the crap to find it,that is!?!

    back to the original, since when did they ever write anything intelligent anyway?,they always wrote childish schoolboy lyrics from day one!

    as for the 'shock value' comments...i agree with you....thats all the newer artists seem to want to do now, take a look at the majority of female artists and which ones have the biggest hits, its the ones who wear less clothes and gyrate like the highest paid hookers!, so its always good to see artists like Adele,Gin Wigmore,Amy Winehouse, Laura Marling,Taylor Swift and Pink do what they do as they rely on their skills 100% of the time!

    but please dont go on about simplistic hooks like the ones you mentioned above...The Beatles and McCartney inparticular were masters at simplistic repeatative hooks, take "love me do","she loves you"(with the 'yeh yeh yeh' hook), etc etc...and the "ba-ba-ba-barbera anne" hooks also, its always been there in music and always will, im not saying im a fan of all that simplistic stuff, as i do like my music to be intelligent or thoughtprovoking most of the time....

    other than that your essay was quite intelligent to say the least and it is generally how i percieve music most of the time.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts