A Regrettable Decade in Music

Ten Unfortunate Developments of the '00s

A Regrettable Decade in Music

Robert Ullman

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1. "Hater"

Hands down, end of discussion, no contest, the single shittiest phrase of the '00s—even over "webinar." "Hater" emerged in the '90s, but it seeped its way into pop music's bloodstream during this decade and shows no signs of going away. It's the ultimate cop-out, equally applicable, and specious, whether you're a megastar or a wannabe. Don't want to own up to your own bullshit? Call everyone a hater! No one knows about your piddling little rap career yet? Bitch about all your haters! Selling millions of albums (despite the fact that "albums" are fast going the way of the dodo) and impressing critics all over the damn place? Goddamn world's still full of haters! Somebody disagrees with you about—oh—anything, and you don't have a cogent response? Haterhaterhater! Keep hiding behind your mediocrity by using this stupid term and you'll deserve as many of them as you can get. (And no, "Stop hatin'!" or some variation thereof is not a clever response.)

2. The death of browsing culture

Then: You went to the record store, you looked around, you heard something new, something new caught your eye, you took a chance, you ran into a friend, you sneered back at the clerk, you had an experience. No more—or, at least, a great deal less. Obviously there are still record stores, and hopefully there always will be. But the downsizing of the social aspect of music (and no, slogging through endless "Firsties!" and "Fuck you, asshole" blog comments is not "social") has made the whole thing seem less urgent, interesting, and relevant than ever, even as the sheer amount of good, readily available music has increased beyond measure—and that's bad for the fans, the music, and the ecosystem that nurtures both.

3. Simon Cowell, Inc.

Pop culture slips into slush easily enough without this professional British villain building a new, improved waterslide. Cowell transformed the music business as surely as the iPod this decade by literally remaking the pop process as a game show. Yes, we owe him for a handful of great '00 music: American Idol alums Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats," and, by proxy—they're based on Cowell's template, though not produced by him—"Cheater, Cheater" by Can You Duet's Joey + Rory and, from Nashville Star, Miranda Lambert's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

But not only did Cowell re-foist Paula Abdul on an innocent public (most prominent airhead of the decade? Discuss), not to mention the term "pitchy," he's responsible for more garbage than actual musicians of the '00s. Unless you have a speed-dialing soft spot for corn dogs, ham bones, and bland media pros along the lines of Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, Bo Bice, Elliott Yamin, Justin Guarini, Fantasia, Clay Aiken, CHRIS! FUCKING! DAUGHTRY!, Sanjaya "Vote for the Worst" Malakar, Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks (in particular "No Air," a duet with Chris Brown, the most reprehensible man in show business), Adam Lambert (queer chic, go for it, but he makes Eddie Money sound like Al Green), and, now, Susan Boyle, the middle-aged English­woman from Cowell's UK program Britain's Got Talent, who just had the biggest opening sales week of the year with her slow, sentimental versions of Monkees, Stones, and Madonna songs. And that's not even to bring in Daniel Powter's "Bad Day," the worst single of the decade in heavy traffic, which rocketed to number one on AI's back. Which just proves that Simon really is a jerk.

4. The Loudness Wars

The real reason music sounds worse than ever? Because much of it is mastered so loudly that it distorts, or "clips," and winds up becoming physically uncomfortable to listen to. If you want to know why most major-label rock records sound so god-awful—aside from their being by terrible bands, I mean—this is your answer. Sadly, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, either. (Lots of people have written about this: Start with Nick Southall's 2006 online essay "Imperfect Sound Forever" and Greg Milner's 2009 book Perfecting Sound Forever.)

5. The knee-slapping hilarity of white people with acoustic guitars covering rap songs

Dynamite Hack's "Boyz-n-the-Hood," ex–Veruca Salt frontwoman Nina Gordon's "Straight Outta Compton," Ben Folds's "Bitches Ain't Shit," and Milow's "Ayo Technology" all have a special place in hell awaiting them. Oh wait—the hell belongs to anyone who heard, snickered, and forwarded the YouTube links for them in the first place.

6. The knee-slapping hilarity ­of white R. Kelly "fans"

I fully accept that he's plausibly insane. I also fully accept that plenty of people are made uncomfortable by the fact that this supple R&B singer-arranger was also possibly responsible for some foul shit, even if a jury found him not guilty. And yes, Trapped in the Closet and its videos are ridiculous and entertaining in ways that flummox people. But the tittering around him by white bohos really did work the nerves, especially once his music took a nosedive in the middle of the decade. Writer-musician John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats referred to it as "critical Buckwheatification," and really, there isn't a better way of putting it.

7. The recording career of DJ Khaled

It may have been P. Diddy who rapped, "Don't worry if I don't write rhymes/I write checks," on 2001's "Bad Boy for Life," but it was DJ Khaled who turned it into a working philosophy with no upside whatsoever. At least Puff produced a couple of great Notorious B.I.G. records; all Khaled's autopilot beats (which he didn't produce) have gotten us on his records (on which he doesn't rhyme) was one great Lil Wayne verse on "We Takin' Over." Khaled screams hoarse taunts at the audience, puts his name on ever more worthless product, and cashes checks when not writing them. Aren't you glad you live in America?

8. People taking Green Day's "political" lyrics seriously

If you're not in 8th grade, you should know better. The end.

9. Everyone's a critic/­remixer/musician/tastemaker

The sheer glut of available music online has been remarked upon too much to go over again here, but the plethora of available tracks and remixes by every Joe, Jack, and Jill with a laptop, plug-ins, and time to kill are, together, as good an argument about the gross democratization of the Web as anything this side of the Sarah Palin base. What may be worse are the stupid number of "voices" out there discussing it all. The comments box isn't the worst development of the '00s, but it certainly isn't anything like the best, either. It's helped burn people out on music that hasn't even been released, and it helps people—myself certainly included—to lose all sense of proportion in terms of what music actually means in the real world. Perfect example: I recently encountered a guy who said, "Kids in dorms listen to Animal Collective and the Dirty Projectors, right?" "Not really," I said, "mostly they seem to be listening, as ever, to Dave Matthews." The guy literally spluttered, "What?! Still??!!" The world is not like the message boards, alas. Or maybe that should be "Thank god." (Not that I prefer Matthews to the Dirty Projectors, but you know what I mean.)

10. The Kid Rock–Scott Stapp groupie sex tape

No, I haven't seen it. Just knowing it exists is punishment enough. recommended


Comments (74) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
gawd,i hate snarky know-it-alls who are lucky to have a soap box and waste it. In Seattle, there are about a thousand people who could do your job. so do it better! Haters? Greenday politics? your only point that was worth writing about was the loudness wars. It is true. opinions are like assholes. everyone's got one, and everyone thinks theirs doesn't stink. I got news for you, yours stinks too. Stop writing about your self-loathing and write about something that matters. good day.
Posted by Arnica Montana on December 30, 2009 at 11:47 AM · Report this
the quintessential formula for stranger pieces: lame writing augmented with lame(r) comments.
Posted by 69 on December 30, 2009 at 12:08 PM · Report this
Fenrox 3
Damn, I still REALLY want to see that tape. Thats a big FAIL to the internet that it isnt out there.
Posted by Fenrox on December 30, 2009 at 12:08 PM · Report this
Posted by unregisteredman on December 30, 2009 at 12:10 PM · Report this
The Amazing Jim 5
You forgot to add Disney Radio to the list.
Posted by The Amazing Jim on December 30, 2009 at 12:54 PM · Report this
I agree about the "hater" thing to some extent, but the advent of the internet has really developed a legitimate "hater" culture which consists of people who stand for very little and tear down just about everything else, brutally. The object of derision can be anywhere on a range of terrible-to-mediocre-to-pretty-good-actually but the hater culture usually has no real ability or desire to discern that. If only both sides of that nonsense could be left in the '00s.
Posted by Anonnymouse on December 30, 2009 at 1:00 PM · Report this
While I agree that it's a shame our browsing culture has declined, I have to say that I get turned on to a lot more music online than I ever did in a music store. I still go the store, but my emusic membership just keeps on giving. The End.
Posted by Gordian on December 30, 2009 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Then: You went to the record store, you looked around, you heard something new, something new caught your eye, you took a chance, you ran into a friend, you sneered back at the clerk, you had an experience.

I don't get the record store thing because it was never a part of my growing up. They've almost always been a place I go when I have something in mind and it becomes a kind of surgical strike. I want [disc x] by [artist y] so it's off to the local shop. Experience didn't enter into it.

If anything, the advent of MP3s and online shopping makes me more inclined to browse and to try and explore than ever I did (or do) when I go to a record store.
Posted by Chris B on December 30, 2009 at 1:15 PM · Report this
Sat'n 9
MP3s sound like shit. Isn't THAT the most regrettable development in music?

It is unfortunate that (presumably) young people like Chris B here have no idea why going out to a record store is a good thing. And, of course, that goes along with one of the most regrettable developments in general: young people whose social skills and life perspective have been entirely shaped by tapping away on god-damned plastic keyboards.

But really: MP3s sound like shit,and Ipods are overpriced junk that don't fucking work. Those are the real shitty developments.
Posted by Sat'n on December 30, 2009 at 1:30 PM · Report this
Posted by jns on December 30, 2009 at 1:54 PM · Report this
11. autotune
Posted by jns on December 30, 2009 at 1:56 PM · Report this
Posted by jns on December 30, 2009 at 1:57 PM · Report this
@9: You sound like a grouchy old man who has no idea what it is like to embrace change. When the CD was introduced, did you resist it because you didn't like music being digitized and you thought it would lose fidelity?

I went to plenty of record stores when I was younger, they were generally a waste of time and money - walking away with mediocre albums I had only heard portions of in friends' cars or on the radio. In the last 10-15 years, I have discovered an unbelievable amount of new music, artists and genres that I never knew existed; all thanks to the internet.

Granted, mp3s do sound like shit when encoded at anything less than 256kbps, but the vast majority of listeners wouldn't be able to tell you or notice the difference between a compressed 128kbps mp3 vs a FLAC file.

So, in conclusion, "bah humbugging" any new developments in technology and culture is merely from a fear of change. Instead of rejecting technology and the internet, why not find out how to make it work for you?
Posted by unsalted on December 30, 2009 at 2:20 PM · Report this
lunch break 14
woke up quick, at about noon
jus' thought that i had to be in compton soon
i gotta get drunk before the day begins
before my mother starts bitchin about ma friends
Posted by lunch break on December 30, 2009 at 2:22 PM · Report this
I'm 85 Years Old 15
@ 1 I think this asshole smells nice. I enjoy reading this.
Posted by I'm 85 Years Old on December 30, 2009 at 2:25 PM · Report this
Sat'n 16
Hey unsalted: In case you didn't notice, I was posting a comment on the internet. Your defense of MP3s is touching, especially your use of technical jargon to bolster your opinion. They still sound like shit. The fact that you went to record stores a lot when you were younger and didn't get anything out of them just shows you wasted a valuable experience. And what is wrong with being a grouchy old man when the alternative is being a fool who buys into every technological ripoff that is dangled over his crib?
Posted by Sat'n on December 30, 2009 at 2:55 PM · Report this
Sat'n 17
Also, unsalter, as for your invitation to make technology work for me, instead of buying a bunch of shit to make shitty MP3s sound slightly less shitty, maybe I will just wait until the next thing makes Ipods and MP3s obsolete. I'll just skip MP3s and go to the next thing. Save a little money. Or maybe just make my own damn music.

You condescending idiot.
Posted by Sat'n on December 30, 2009 at 3:10 PM · Report this
So... this is why people in Seattle are afraid to speak and/or meet new people.

Posted by karasu on December 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM · Report this
UGH. If Michaelangelo Fatos isn't shooting fish in a barrel with this hackneyed article, he's using it to cry about being made obsolete since everybody's a critic and he's no longer "important". Fatos, you pompous ass! As you like to say, somebody call the waaahhhhhhmbulance. It's not like anybody outside of your tiny rockcrit circle has ever liked you or respected your opinion anyways. I'm sure it sucks to be overweight and bald and broke and a miserable self-loathing human being in general but how about yelling at a wall or crying into your pillow next time instead of subjecting us to this kind of smug, angry, ranty crap? Actually can you just go away? YOU and your writing are among the most regrettable things of the '00s.
Posted by mememe on December 30, 2009 at 3:31 PM · Report this
Breklor 20
Mememe: You kind of smell like a yam. You need to do a different thing.

Arnica Montana: Crawl out of the corpse of the wildebeest you've been using as a shelter to keep out the world. When the flies are this thick even in winter, you should recognise your foul folly.
Posted by Breklor on December 30, 2009 at 3:49 PM · Report this
Mr. Matos,

I don't get it, is hating "haters" atop a list about things you hate the ultimate work of ironic hipster genius? Or did you not catch that? Please clarify. Seriously, I couldn't tell if you were being sarcastic.
Posted by steve dedalus on December 30, 2009 at 4:01 PM · Report this
mackro 22
this comment box you're reading right now is sponsored by happiness and hot sex
Posted by mackro on December 30, 2009 at 5:32 PM · Report this

Radioheads "In Rainbows"- not because of it's distribution, but because of mumble and whine take on "music."

Vampire Weekend.

Posted by dwight moody on December 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM · Report this
All these people w/ opinions, they think they're so smart, but they're really just pooper-heads. And people who like stuff that I think is dumb? Well, I've got so many reasons of why they're dumb, but they're too dumb to understand. And those haters? I hate 'em! The worst folks of all are all those shit for brains fuck-ups who have nothing better to do than write stupid stuff in comments' sections online. How I hate 'em!
Posted by all extremists should die on December 30, 2009 at 7:25 PM · Report this
25 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
What about the Death Cab? I've taken craps more musical than that.
Posted by the shirtcocker on December 30, 2009 at 9:12 PM · Report this
I'd say 90% of comments on this article are written by your typical Seattle Indie Elitist FASCISTS, just like the article itself. You are all a bunch of pretentious assholes arguing over meaningless shit. Just go listen to the music you like and shut the fuck up, whiney ass bitches.
Posted by the_hod on December 30, 2009 at 9:47 PM · Report this
Matos & his "writing" are the worst developments. Totally boring. Totally uninspired. A total waste of time, every time.
Posted by Glenn on December 30, 2009 at 9:56 PM · Report this
How in the WORLD did this list neglect AUTO-TUNE?!
Posted by TP123 on December 30, 2009 at 10:32 PM · Report this
Knat 30
Honestly, how did you not include auto-tune, but feel it necessary to make any reference at all to Green Day? Who cares what they have to say about anything?

Also, since when was going to the record store to browse the collection "urgent"? Honestly, I'm all for cutting out the pretentious assholes like record store clerks (and yourself; you're calling bohemians "bohos", for chrissake) out of the experience. I don't need some condescending prick looking down his nose at me because my choice of listening pleasure isn't his.
Posted by Knat on December 31, 2009 at 1:01 AM · Report this
good god, i just read this spam comment above -- "hermes and jimmy choo balenciaga handbag" -- and given the context, my first thought was that it was a collabo between jimmy choo and will hermes. need more coffee.
Posted by garnix on December 31, 2009 at 2:37 AM · Report this
Erm, Susan Boyle is Scottish, not English.
Posted by Big difference on December 31, 2009 at 4:33 AM · Report this
MythicFox 33
Regarding number 2: The reason why "the sheer amount of good, readily available music has increased beyond measure" is because people are able to bypass record stores now. There are three types of record stores:
1. The corporate record stores that exist to sell what's being played on the radio
2. The indy stores that exist to push the clerk's collection and tastes on the customers
3. Used music stores that are basically pawnshops for old CDs where taste-wise you're pretty much at the whim of what everyone else wants to get rid of or has inherited from exes.

The amount of material available to music listeners has increased because the internet has made it possible to get around monopolies on what people are allowed to buy. A lot of stuff that would never be heard or carried in stores because a band didn't have the right agent or because the CEO's kid isn't a personal fan of theirs is now available.

And maybe it's just possible that the social aspect of music stores is being lost because less and less stores encourage people to hang out there and socialize.
Posted by MythicFox on December 31, 2009 at 4:34 AM · Report this
"Everyone's a critic" -- spot-on, and I'll go a step further: the idea that everyone's opinion is equally valid, and related to that the marginalization of real criticism. I don't share Matos' opinion all the time, but damn right his judgment is more valid than mine: He knows more about music, he's listened to more music, he's thought about it more than I have and he's far, far better at articulating his feelings. Believing otherwise -- acting as if "opinions are like assholes" -- only coarsens the dialogue.

(This isn't a new trend of course, and it applies to all the arts, maybe even more so in movies where the absence of strong critical voices has become truly alarming. Now James Cameron can be discussed as if he were Fritz Lang come back from the dead, and no one gags.)
Posted by eggheadridesagain on December 31, 2009 at 9:28 AM · Report this
#34 is probably Matos himself. It wouldn't surprise me one bit. But if not, #34, you are selling yourself short. His opinion is *not* more valid than yours. Trust your own ears and instincts! Not saying that critics aren't worthwhile. Some are great at what they do and really make you think. Matos isn't one of them.
Posted by jamessays on December 31, 2009 at 9:53 AM · Report this
blip 36
i agree #4 more than anything else on the list. this is part of the much larger problem of mp3s becoming the staple of the music market. producers are compensating for the shitty quality of compressed audio files by maxing everything out. yes, audio files are cheap and convenient, but that's about the only thing they've got going for them.

also... not only should auto-tune be on the list, it should be #1.
Posted by blip on December 31, 2009 at 11:44 AM · Report this
lol @ sat'n. who complains that MP3's sound like shit, then whines that he doesn't want to put the money into getting good sound out of his music.

l2logic. If you want good sounding music you need good source AND equipment. MP3's sound like shit, I don't want to buy a good hifi set, INCONGRUITY.

tech haters basically just don't want to change. cry some more plz.
Posted by tehinternetzohnoes on December 31, 2009 at 1:55 PM · Report this
"The comments box isn't the worst development of the '00s, but it certainly isn't anything like the best, either."

Irony fail, hater.
Posted by Trix on December 31, 2009 at 6:26 PM · Report this
A few points I would like to make:

MP3s do not sound like "shit". Those of you who still collect vinyl records and fetishize them to death are simply acting oout a kind of snobbery and elitism that ignores the fact that a good high-fi system is expensive and out of the question for most musicians and fans alike. Let's not forget that the greatest musical developments in history have come from the underclass who cannot afford high end stereo equipment. MP3/download culture (and the internet in general) have helped to expand my musical taste more than any record store ever. My iPod is an amazing, brilliant and innovative device that never fails me and with quality headphones it is sublime to experience my music on. And I can't listen to a goddamned vynil record walking down the street. Fact is, IT'S THE IPOD THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MUSIC CULTURE INNOVATION OF THE DECADE!

Regarding the "loudness wars" I would simply like to point out that "rock" does indeed belong to the stone age. Your guitar/bass/drum anti-technological music belongs in the 20th century; rock culture has not had a truly new idea in three decades. Electronica and hip-hop have incorporated ideas from the underground and avant-garde while maintaining an open relationship with technological innovation and a progressive attitude towards new ideas and forms. Rock has generally stood still for thirty goddamn years! So screw your guitars, I'll stick with the computers and synths cos I am a 21st century man.

Lastly, this is a comment to rock culture in general and Seattle culture specifically: You have been putting image over content for far, far too long. Its one thing to puke up cheap beer in a shitty bathroom while some guy on stage blasts power chords at an unappealing volume. Its one thing to dye your hair platinum blonde and wear too-tight pants that show off your stick-thin legs. Its one thing to grow out your hair and act dumber than (I hope) you really are. I'll tell you what that one thing is: cowardly. The opposie of brave. The brave, 21st century thing to do would be this: shirk off these aging conventions of youth and "rock". Instead, make content the priority. It's time to advance ideas and create new formats. We need a new music or the whole music culture is stagnant and a facade. Instead of recycling Iggy Pop and Nirvana we should give them their due and politely tell them to fuck off. End of rant.

Sincerely Yours -

Michael Aranda
Posted by Michaelaranda on December 31, 2009 at 8:15 PM · Report this
Go OKC Potatoes!!!
Posted by Ed Whitson on December 31, 2009 at 9:10 PM · Report this
Michaelaranda, you have a point -- fortunately your hat hides it.
Posted by I Told Her on December 31, 2009 at 9:13 PM · Report this
#20: Be advised that I'll be stealing "You kind of smell like a yam. You need to do a different thing." Thank you.

I agree with all but #2, because thanks to Seattle record-store culture I'd given up on record-store browsing by 2001. Hype Machine and the blogs to which it's led me provide the chaotic joy of browsing without the fucking attitude, and thanks to them I'm buying more music now than I did with the same general percentage of disposable income a decade ago.

Yeah, I think you meant to write up Autotune in that space, plsfixkthx. But otherwise, consider this another vote for #34, whoever the fuck wrote it; I've learned a lot from listening through your ears over the past decade.
Posted by Acoustic on January 1, 2010 at 12:50 AM · Report this
I sure enjoyed "makes Eddie Money sound like Al Green." Happy new year, phrasemaker.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 1, 2010 at 12:02 PM · Report this
Brian Cook 44
@39 "Let's not forget that the greatest musical developments in history have come from the underclass who cannot afford high end stereo equipment."

i don't really see that as an endorsement of the mp3 player. i've had the same stereo/turntable system for 15 years. it was, and continues to be, a far cheaper option than buying a computer, iPod, and paying for internet just to listen to an mp3. i mean, there's a reason that cassette tapes still sell really well in South America and Eastern Europe.
Posted by Brian Cook on January 1, 2010 at 3:26 PM · Report this
@44 15 years ago I was 12. You can get a labtop computer for as little as $200 bucks and a shuffle for $50. How much does it cost to put together a good hi-fi? A ...friend.... of mine hasn't paid for any music in about 8 years... so that doesn't cost anything...
Posted by Michaelaranda on January 1, 2010 at 7:40 PM · Report this
Were you less of an asshole back then? Clearly there's no posturing in hip hop, right? And clearly, the stereotypes you present apply to all rock bands. And surely there aren't any stereotypes about the hip hop and electronica communities to which you'd no doubt respond with another rant. I didn't read any ringing endorsements of rock music in this article, and in fact the only observations he makes about it are, essentially: one of the biggest rock bands in the world is basically a joke; modern major label production generally sounds like shit, and when that production is applied to a lackluster band the combination makes for bad music. Regardless, the fact that an arrogant, tasteless, obtuse pseudo-intellectual like you has some deep-seated hatred for rock isn't in any way going to make it go away or convince anyone else not to listen to it. Therefore, your bark has very little bite to it.
Posted by Kilbeggan on January 1, 2010 at 11:17 PM · Report this
Of course, the fact that I pointed out that you're an asshole isn't going to make you away or convince you to stop being one, either.
Posted by Kilbeggan on January 1, 2010 at 11:19 PM · Report this
I've survived a lot of format changes, Lp-Cassette, Cassette-CD, CD-MP3. Each one has brought simplicity at the expense of sound quality (well, cassette to CD was a pretty good deal, but it cost me a lot of money).

MP3 seems to be a step too far, at least for serious listening. I also worry about not owning a physical item. Everyone I know has had either their computer or ipod shit the bed and had to go through a lot of hassle to recover whatever it was they had. I also worry about buying a bottom of the barrel format, as there is no way to improve a shit sounding MP3 when the next thing comes around.

Also, as someone who records music, it breaks my heart to listen to it on MP3, so much work is lost, so much expense to buy or use quality gear, and it may as well be recorded on an imac using $100 guitar center mics.
Posted by Chris Jury on January 2, 2010 at 12:24 PM · Report this
@16 sat'n, mp3s don't sound like shit. mp3's sound great if they're encoded at or above 256kbps.

There isn't a single person out there who can tell the difference between 256kbps and lossless. Even 'golden eared' people have trouble at 192kbps. If it's encoded right, it sounds perfect. Go ahead, look it up. I'll wait.

You condescending dick, research a little before you go yammering.
Posted by palpon on January 2, 2010 at 12:45 PM · Report this
@39, um. What? Boy are you way, way off. All you're really saying is that you have no capacity to discern the differences between modern rock and rock from years ago.

Christ what an ignorant comment. You just went off basically arguing that 2+2=5 and hoped you could justify it later with a half-baked argument.

Look, just because you don't understand guitar doesn't make it 'stone aged'. You just have a little insecurity about the fact that music still requires talent, and the music you like doesn't have any demonstrable talent involved.

I can guarantee you I'd plop together a better track than you ever could (in an hour with an old version of fruity loops and a 1999 Dell).

As a matter of fact, here's an addendum to the list... #11, the availability of pirated music software that lets jokes like you pretend you're musicians. You're not. You suck. And you always will.
Posted by asteep on January 2, 2010 at 1:01 PM · Report this
@24 best comment on this page

@26 second best comment

@39 You see, the thing is, music doesn't mean the same thing to everybody. I don't want to listen to music when I'm walking down the street. I want to hear people talking and sirens and cars and snow crunching under my boots and maybe a friend yelling at me from across the street. I don't want to live in some sort of perpetual soundtrack to my movie life where I no longer know when to have a real experience or have emotions that are uncued by the music in my headphones.

When I get on the subway anywhere to 25-75% of the people have a thread snaking from their ear to a pocket and aren't talking or engaging or even looking around. They're comatose, parylyzed. And it's depressing for me to see that.

Of course I enjoy the experience of finding any type of music I want - instantly. But the feeling afterwards, ugh. I get burnt out.

Only 100+ years ago you had to see someone live or make your own music to hear it. Now it's devalued. Too much of it.

This is more then just about music. It's any type of pleasure or entertainment or distraction, really. When you restrict access to something, it becomes more precious and enjoyed. When you get something by paying or working for it, you value it more! Unfortunately, we seem to be heading into a world where any pleasure will be instantly available and our need for gratification will increase and our impatience will become unbearable.

Watching Television makes me sick. All those flying graphics and non-stop images bursting on the screen. Even worse: watching everyone's heads snapping towards the TV when it turns on and staying glued to it through the commericals. And worst of all, when my own head snaps towards the TV! I know, it's an addiction isn't it?

Ugh. Not the life for me. I'll go live in the woods in a treehouse.

Posted by Martin Hickman on January 2, 2010 at 5:27 PM · Report this
There's something surprisingly-depressing about the picture accompanying this article.
Posted by Chill on January 2, 2010 at 6:13 PM · Report this
Yeah, #39, your first paragraph is great, and I agree, but I don't agree with the rest of your post. As a matter of fact, I began wondering if I was full of shit about the sound quality of lossless mp3s based on your comments on rock music. (Thank God for posts 49 & 50.)

Have you listened to rock music much since the 80s? Because the 80s--for the most part--wasn't really a "rock" decade, at least for the first half.
Posted by jade on January 2, 2010 at 6:51 PM · Report this

When I get on the subway anywhere to 25-75% of the people have a thread snaking from their ear to a pocket and aren't talking or engaging or even looking around. They're comatose, parylyzed. And it's depressing for me to see that.

That's not really fair. I don't carry an iPod with me when I ride the bus either, but it's because that 45 minutes I spend riding the bus to and from work is my reading time. I read for almost two hours a day on the bus. Actual books. And I don't want to be interrupted by someone I don't know or trust.

I'm not talking or engaging with the people on the bus because they're strangers. Odds are if I did begin talking with them, I wouldn't like them anyway (and vice versa).

Hell, he or she might be a republican! And then there I am, stuck, talking to a republican!

When I'm riding the bus, I'm neither comatose nor paralyzed. I'm taking advantage of the precious free time in my day to read. And I imagine that everyone else on the bus is taking advantage of their precious free time to do whatever it is they do in their free time: read, listen to their favorite music, or simply sit and think. And they probably don't want me interrupting to "engage" them in fake conversation like, "Nice day! Think it'll rain?"

What's wrong with that?
Posted by jade on January 2, 2010 at 7:01 PM · Report this
Thank you Michaelangelo for mentioning "pitchy" under Simon Cowell. That shit drives me nuts. A singer isn't pitchy - they are sharp, flat or just off key!!
Posted by behavin on January 2, 2010 at 8:09 PM · Report this
Aww man. I'm sorry, everybody, for taking the conversation in a completely different direction.

For the record, I too, think that Autotuning should be on the list.
Posted by jade on January 2, 2010 at 8:31 PM · Report this
dotSpec 57
The move to the majority of electronic music releases has been the best, and worst development to the entire meta-genre in the past 10 years bar non.
Posted by dotSpec on January 2, 2010 at 9:42 PM · Report this
MP3s, autotunung and vocoders are a fucking locust plague eating up teh internets. As William S. Burroughs said:
"Nobody has done anything interesting with vocoders since Laurie Anderson. Abuse of vocoders leads to escalating doses of heroin and wars in Afghanistan"

stop hatin on da talent-hater haters!
Posted by Hehateme on January 2, 2010 at 10:20 PM · Report this
Donolectic 59
#51 - I personally think that the move of music out of the domain of the upper castes is a good thing. I'm sorry for you as a person that giving many more more people access to a wider variety of something that brings them enjoyment without any real negative side effects (except for ear damage if you listen to loudly) is considered "devaluing."


What a horribly repressed life you must lead and what a pretentious fucktard to think that we should all share in your misguided misery.

#54 - Your reply rocked. Thank you.

Posted by Donolectic on January 3, 2010 at 11:03 AM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 60
Yeah, @54 basically said exactly what was running through my head when I read @51. It's ridiculous that you're depressed by the fact that people want to listen to music, relax, think, read, whatever, when they're on the train. When I lived in Chicago, I spent all day talking to people (at work, at home, out with friends). The commute was one of the only regular times I had to myself, and I sure as hell didn't want to spend it making "friends" or "engaging" with other people. I was engaging with me.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on January 3, 2010 at 12:38 PM · Report this
I seem to have pressed one or two buttons here...good. A negative reaction at least gets a discussion going.

Yes, I am arrogant. A total music snob. But I know a great deal about the subject and I'd be happy to debate you all day and well into the night.

Now, I realize that electronica and hip-hop have their fair share of untalented hacks. I merely present the argument that these genres have stolen rock's creative fire. The guitar has been explored to death and there is only so much you can do with one instrument. I think it's unfortunate that rock groups stick to this basic instrumentation when there are so many other insruments in the world. It would be interesting to hear, say, a bass clarinet or maracas in the mix.

Asteep, do you honestly think that electronic forms of music don't require any talent? It's called imagination. The very fact that most bands stick to the aforementioned line-up of gits/bass/drums shows a lack of imaginative thinking. A sythesizer or computer is really an bottomless trunk of possibilities. The sound library is only as limited as the mind of the person using it. Sure, you have to learn to play a guitar (which is pretty easy. I'm a lefty and I learned to play with the git upside-down, the strings backwards.) but computers, synths, drum machines... these things require knowledge, too. You're only showing your own ignorance with comments like this.
Posted by Michaelaranda on January 3, 2010 at 1:11 PM · Report this
Brian Cook 62
@61 - what i'm gathering from your post, michael, is that an instrument's limited tonal range and the ease with which someone can master it's basics (as you've apparently mastered the guitar) inevitably renders the music it yields inferior to whatever the latest hip hop producer or electronic musician has going. by this line of reasoning, the saxophone, which many junior high school students learn to play in the 7th grade, with it's limited tonal range (you can't even play chords on it!), is inferior to your computer. And Ornette Coleman and Charlie Parker are less imaginative, skilled, innovative, and ultimately less-knowledgeable than someone with a working comprehension of the synthesizer.

I've gotta bring up one of your earlier points again: "Let's not forget that the greatest musical developments in history have come from the underclass who cannot afford high end stereo equipment." This is not a ringing endorsement for electronic music. The latest computer, synthesizer, and software is not as cheap as a pawn shop guitar. I'm not trying to devalue electronic music or hip hop, i'm just saying that it's a pretty gross generalization to say that the standard guitar/bass/drums formula hasn't yielded anything new in 30 years. Ever heard Battles? Khanate? Caspar Brotzmann Massaker? Trans Am? Deerhoof?

I'm all for the Tim Heckers and Fenneszs of the music world, but i can also see the beauty in Woody Guthrie's mantra of "all you need is two chords and the rest is just showin' off."
Posted by Brian Cook on January 4, 2010 at 11:33 AM · Report this
Your on, Michaelaranda! I'll debate you any day of the week and into the night. Meet me this Saturday at 8 PM at the Croc. Be there or you must respect my greatness.
Posted by I should be working but I like baiting douchebags on January 4, 2010 at 12:51 PM · Report this
1. Anyone who claims that "MP3s sound like shit" is, themselves, full of shit. As others have said, time and time again people with highly-trained ears can't tell the difference between lossless and a well-encoded, high-rate MP3. It's nothing more than self-satisfied snobbery not based in reality. The loudness wars are the problem, not MP3s.

2. #61: MARACAS? Really? Go put on an old Yo La Tengo album (CD, download, whatever) and try to find a track WITHOUT maracas. And shakers. Etc. Ditto for any not-really-loud indie rock right up to the present. Obviously, the maracas have been explored as far as they can, and your call for them to be included on contemporary musical recordings reveals your out-of-touch nature. Like the guitar and human voice, they are tired and should be abandoned as elements of human expression. Actually, let's carry this beyond music. I say: abolish the sentence. And the color red. All trite and predictable. Let's move forward, people.

But seriously, rejecting all guitar/bass/drums music as unimaginative because those instruments have been used previously is just completely inane. By your way of thinking, no one after Bach should have composed music for the keyboard or orchestra. And rock music is unchanged from 1979? Really? What do you listen to?

And what does the supposed irrelevance of the guitar have to do with the loudness wars, anyway? We're talking about overly-compressed and limited audio masters, not guitars turned up to 11. Wrong "loudness," maybe?
Posted by g on January 4, 2010 at 6:06 PM · Report this
ViennaSt 65
There are a couple of things I hate about this last decade of music.

1. The over-consumption, "Ballin" culture. I remember the year of '99-00 and Korn made a comeback. And what were they sporting in their freak on a leash video? Gold chains, expensive clothes, expensive cars. It seems this last decade there was so much "look at how many expensive commodities I can acquire" in the music scene. MTV cribs did not help. All the glitz just takes away from the music, and all that bragging in the lyrics about what the musician has at their disposal is a waste of what could be something meaningful.

2. Backstage celebrity gossip. The trend grew and grew until I started hearing about Mariah Carey's crazy woes on the nightly news. And Benifer would never end! It's a distraction that again takes away from the music.

3. Our music television goes Reality! MTV in the 90's use to have entire shows dedicated to showing music videos. Not TRL. But shows just for the Hip Hop scene, or just for Rock. Now it's all reality tv. I suppose the internet and super satellite with 10 MTV channels might have remedied this, but it was sad to my old go to for music destroyed.

4. Marketing's good 'ol saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" really rang true this last decade. To me, and maybe because I'm just getting old, the music today doesn't sound a whole lot different then the 90s and the marketing certainly hasn't changed that much. A glamorized album cover photo of today's "diva" doesn't look that much different then those 10-15 years back. And yes, that is essentially the same choreography in her music video that I saw emerge in the mid 90s. Any new trends are simply throwbacks to another era. "Hey kids, if you love Gwen Stephani, then you'll love the new Gwen Stephani cause now she comes with a new silver hat and stretch pants!"

But with all that said, just about the best thing to ever happen to music was the internet. Over this decade it has truly democratized, personalized, streamlined music for any taste.
Posted by ViennaSt on January 5, 2010 at 11:27 AM · Report this
Brian, I think the sax is a great instrument. Ornette Coleman is AMAZING. But where is rock's modern-day Ornette Coleman? And hey, there ARE plently of ways to get instruments and equipment of any kind on the cheap.

I don't think you really want me to write a whole manifesto here. Besides I'm saving that for my book. Seriously, name one artist or group that is doing something in ANY genre that isn't tethered to the past.

To the guy who invited me to the Croc: I'd love to but I'm moving into a new apartment this saturday. I guess I'll just have to bow to your greatness :]

Incidently, I have recently found that I like LCD Soundsystem quite a bit. It's nothing terribly groundbreaking... I'm not the prick some of you seem to think I am.

I'd love to put together a more coherent post, but I have a life to attend to.

Posted by Michaelaranda on January 5, 2010 at 11:28 PM · Report this
I'd like to quickly state that I am against human expression, especially in music. Emotion is the most contrived thing ever...
Posted by Michaelaranda on January 5, 2010 at 11:31 PM · Report this
hehe....its like engaging a teenager in a philosophical debate about LIFE...maaan.
Posted by fortune on January 6, 2010 at 12:03 AM · Report this

I'd be happy to debate you all day and well into the night.

I'd love to put together a more coherent post, but I have a life to attend to. Later!


Posted by jade on January 6, 2010 at 4:11 AM · Report this
Is that a Mighty Mighty Bosstones poster in the illustration? Eep!
Posted by paulus on January 6, 2010 at 3:45 PM · Report this
"Coming in here swinging my dick around, screaming like a crazy person, spouting a bunch of platitudes to illustrate my non-nuanced views sure gets the conversation rolling! I'll debate any one of you anytime! Oh, um, I can't do it tonight...yeah, tomorrow doesn't really work for me, either. Actually, the, um, publishers- see, they don't really want me to unleash my revolutionary ideas just yet is the thing. Um, I gotta go. Bye, suckers!"
Posted by Kilbeggan on January 7, 2010 at 9:40 AM · Report this
dan10things 72
For fans of underground music, browsing for music in record stores has never been that great. For me since I was a kid in the '80s, my idea of browsing for music has mostly been the same, only the technology has changed it a bit. As a kid I bought shitloads of magazines and music fanzines from all over the world, read the interviews, reviews and recommendations, browsed the classifieds and ads, then mailordered my music. In the '90s for a brief period a few indie/punk record stores (Fallout, Singles) carried maybe 25-50% of what I was interested in, but still by far the vast of my browsing wasn't in record stores, it was in zines, and my buying was through mailorder. The only major change is now alot of the browsing is done online through music blogs and forums, band pages on MySpace and websites, and even the tiniest mailorders have their stock online or send it out to select music forums and list-serves and you can pay with Paypal. The only thing that's really changed in the past 20 years the internet has made it a lot faster. I envy those of you that like more mainstream music and have always had the option of browsing it in the record store. For me browsing at the record store always meant flipping through a shitload of crap, being disappointed that most of the bands I was looking for weren't stocked, and maybe getting lucky in finding a gem or two in the used bin. New stuff I've always bought more of by mailorder.
Posted by dan10things on January 7, 2010 at 10:13 AM · Report this
Wow, @39 and 67: Michaelarandra, I agree with YOU. Even though everyone disagreeing with you is the real expert in what music really is and what music really means, for some reason what you are saying sounds the most spot on and relevant.

Posted by meowsitgoin on January 7, 2010 at 7:33 PM · Report this
You are just mad because nobody likes you enough to tell you the truth, and that the Stranger is for old people who don't like change.

Posted by Stranger is for old people on January 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM · Report this

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