Opinion: The decline of pop music – it’s science!

anonLurking among us are Beliebers, Little Monsters and pop music fanatics. And while they may look like everyday people, it’s unsettling to know these characters are blending in with the rest of us. What’s so unacceptable about these individuals that it shouldn’t go unnoticed? They all have terrible taste in music.

I can’t blame them for their lapses in judgment. No one’s perfect. But I’m irked with modern pop music as a whole. From the overproduced, cookie-cutter musicians to the generic four-chord tracks that are forever on radio repeat, I loathe it all. What happened to the days when being a musician required more than a douchey outfit and a choreographed routine? Those days seem long gone as modern pop music continually gets worse.

It was reported, in a July 2012 edition of The Vancouver Sun,  that a group of Spanish scientists has confirmed that modern pop music is not only louder, but songs sounds the same. After collecting data from pop songs released between 1955 and 2010, scientists at the Spanish National Research Council concluded that “pop songs have become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used.” Can we really call these people musicians when the definition of the word is to be “talented or skilled in music?” Where’s the skill in cranking the volume to 11 and copying what’s been done?

I don’t have a problem with the history of pop music in general. Some of the most influential musicians have come from the Top 20 genre. Look at the “Greatest Artists of All Time” list from VH1, and it will come as no surprise to see the likes of The Beatles, Madonna and Queen on the list. And much to my delight, it’s not until spot 47 that modern pop star Jay-Z make an appearance, with his wife, Beyonce, closely behind at #52.

So how come there’s such a gap on the charts between the pop stars of yesteryear and today? When Freddie Mercury wrote “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he had the aid of one music producer. Fast forward nearly 40 years and we’re plagued with Beyonce’s track “Run the World.” There were six writers and four producers involved. And to add salt to the wound, the instrumentals weren’t Beyonce’s but an original track from a popular Danish DJ.“Bohemian Rhapsody” peaked at #9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 while “Run the World” reached #29. From a novice’s standpoint, this shows that ingenuity pays off and that too many cooks spoil the broth.

In the end, the pop stars of today are nothing more than glorified puppets. They’re powered by money, and skill is being traded for fame. All of them are doing the same song and dance while diluting the magic of music with things like auto-tune and distortion. As long as music productions rely on pushing buttons rather than pushing for something fresh and new, I’ll keep pushing search on my radio.

Kait Huziak

Meet Kait! She is trapped in a student's body as a third year Journalism student and she perpetually finds herself referring to third person context when it comes to bios. When Kait isn't menacing the streets of Vancouver, hopping from show to show, you can also find her scouring the web for sources of inspiration to facilitate her obsessive compulsive baking needs.


  • Avatar
    Reply October 2, 2013

    Aasim Raza

    Modern day music can be summed up in one word, clamour.

  • Kier Junos
    Reply October 3, 2013

    Kier Junos

    Yeesh – Pop music. What a plague.

    Though, I still see merit in the production value in the usual blandness of the Top 40’s, at the very least. Audio engineering is still an art, and I can appreciate the sound of a well-mixed drum track.

    Nevertheless, I still wish Top 40’s listeners would enjoy the greatness beyond and behind their peripheral vision.

    Good article Kait!

    • Chris Yee
      Reply October 5, 2013

      Chris Yee

      And great comment, Kier, though I’ll add one more point to it: uncritical nostalgia can be just as much of a blandifying force as hamfisted production trickery can ever be. Ultimately, a good artist can make good art out of anything – it just takes inspiration!

  • Avatar
    Reply October 5, 2013

    Alexandra Hawley

    This piece is great! I really enjoyed reading the findings of the Spanish study in conjunction with an, in my opinion, accurate opinion of today’s pop music. I can’t stand listening to music that, to me, doesn’t merit praise when its mostly computers doing the work.

  • Shea Thomson
    Reply October 7, 2013

    Shea Thomson

    I really enjoyed reading your piece, and I have to say that I completely agree! I especially loved when you used the example of “Bohemian Rhapsody” in comparison to “Run The World”. I always say that music of this day and age will not be remembered decades from now in the same way that we remember historic musicians from decades ago. Awesome article!

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