A long vacation can expose you to many things — sun, surf, expensive fuel prices and lots of music on Ye Olde Car Radio.
Maybe I’m getting old, but modern music no longer rocks my world.
Back in the day, I remember waiting outside Adam’s Music City in Valdosta for an album — what my little brother called “giant black CDs” after he found a trove of them in the attic — for a copy of R.E.M.’s “Fables of the Reconstruction.”
Now, there’s very few record stores left, my phonograph has needed a new needle for a decade, and I’m not sure there’s much new music worth waiting in line for.
Science, it seems, agrees with my assessment.
Researchers in Spain broke down the musical and lyrical content of a million songs released between 1955 and 2010 and came to what my ears believe is a non-startling conclusion: recent music is “too loud and all sounds the same.”
Reuters reports “songs have become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used.”
Scientists offered some lame advice for bands looking to sound “new and fashionable” — re-record classic songs with louder volumes and simpler chord progressions.
Whatever happened to being original and using dynamics to create rock-n-roll fury?
Computers, that’s what.
Modern musicians overuse what is known as a compressor, which makes soft musical parts louder and louder parts softer. I’ve dabbled a bit in home recording, and it is instructive to look at the volume graph of a modern pop tune (say Green Day) with a classic (like The Beatles).
Strangely, consumers seem to be getting used to mediocrity. Nielsen reports music sales are up 6% this year.
But it’s not just new music people are buying. For the first time, older music now outsells new music.
Seattle Weekly says vintage rock is selling so well because it is cheaper, as little as $5.99 for a CD.
And maybe, just maybe, the old stuff just sounds better?