January 19, 2022

"I had a hunch that old songs were taking over music streaming platforms—but even I was shocked when I saw the most recent numbers."

"According to MRC Data, old songs now represent 70% of the US music market.... The new music market is actually shrinking.... [T]he 200 most popular tracks now account for less than 5% of total streams. It was twice that rate just three years ago.... [T]he current list of most downloaded tracks on iTunes is filled with the names of bands from the last century, such as Creedence Clearwater and The Police. I saw it myself last week at a retail store, where the youngster at the cash register was singing along with Sting on 'Message in a Bottle' (a hit from 1979) as it blasted on the radio. A few days earlier, I had a similar experience at a local diner, where the entire staff was under thirty but every song more than forty years old. I asked my server: 'Why are you playing this old music?'

She looked at me in surprise before answering: 'Oh, I like these songs.'... The people running the music industry have lost confidence in new music. They won’t admit it publicly.... The moguls have lost their faith in the redemptive and life-changing power of new music—how sad is that?... [And yet m]usic company execs in 1955 had no idea that rock ‘n’ roll would soon sweep away everything in its wake. When Elvis took over the culture—coming from the poorest state in the US, lowly Mississippi—they were more shocked than anybody. And it happened again the following decade, with the arrival of the British Invasion from lowly Liverpool (again a working class city, unnoticed by the entertainment industry). And it took place again when hip-hop emerged from the Bronx and South Central and other impoverished neighborhoods, a true grass roots movement...."

From "Is Old Music Killing New Music?/All the growth in the music business now comes from old songs—how did we get here, and is there a way back?" by Ted Gioia (Substack).

I was listening to Bob Dylan's old radio show — "Theme Time" — the other day, and he read what was supposedly a letter from a listener, asking why did he play so much old music when there's new music too. His answer was: He plays old music because there's so much more of it. 

The old should dominate. There's a century and more of old recordings to play on the streaming services. Why should the music of the last few months predominate? Anything new has to compete with everything old. 

I'm old, so I don't expect to like anything new, and I'm delighted to have access to the entire history of recorded music with Spotify. I discover things that are new to me. Some of them are many decades old, sometimes even older than I am, and, as I said, I am old. These are recordings, not live concerts. They're like books. We pick what's best, not what's new. 

But I remember how exciting it was, back in the 1950s and 60s, to hear what was new on the radio, to feel that the culture was alive and inventive and a cool, unfolding surprise. Maybe none of that would have happened if we'd had something like Spotify/Apple Music to allow us to root around endlessly in the past.

118 comments:

Crimso said...

My first thought was to say it was because so much of the new music sucks, but that's not quite right. Probably just as much of the old music sucked (percentage-wise), but the suckitude has largely not persisted over the years because it sucked. The old music that is still frequently played is still frequently played largely because it doesn't suck.

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

I stopped listening to new music around the mid-80s. Occasionally a new song will break through and get my attention, like "I'm a single lady." For the most part, new music is forgettable. And now that I can listen to Sirius-XM on my phone without paying an extra fee, I'll be sticking to 50s/60s/7os and maybe even 80s music.

Paddy O said...

New music isn't allowed to filter out and bring surprising hits and grass roots resonating. It is all so controlled that it has become more and more distant from living tastes. We need massive antitrust work to free music from conglomerate mediocrity

Tom Grey said...

Another sad issue is death - like Mike Nesmith recently of the fun Monkees. Reminding people to listen, again, to the old songs. So often they're a lot better than most "new" stuff, especially rap crap. Bowie died. Old Boomer singing stars are dying out.

There is a lot of good new music. One can look at https://www.jango.com/ or somafm.com for alternative or independent music and hear lots of new stuff (maybe like Cage The Elephant). YouTube like Spotify & Pandora recommends songs based on your likes.

There's also the listening to the song as music, NOT video. Lots of pre-MTV music was NOT based on being photogenic. Better for background while playing some video game.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnpcTsy10dE&list=RDMM&index=27 << my fav Nesmith song was playing in my youtube list as I write, fine 3 min song only worth the 6 min for the very early video and the final joke.

I do think the 60s - 90s hits more often had great music and good words that could be sung along to. I think analysis of the top 1000 songs from each year would show that, but haven't seen, nor looked for, any such analysis.

wild chicken said...

I liked new music circa 2000 which was right before local radio split off into different genres they way they split everywhere else.

Maybe that's it; everyone's stuck in their own niches. I still hear a lot of 30 yr old grunge as if nothing's happened since. At least not anything people can agree on.

tim in vermont said...

Would you rather listen to Grace Slick sing, or some computer repaired track?

Rick Beatto will no doubt come up, but he makes the point that the software makes it possible to make tracks perfect, or, what people used to call "square." Nobody really wants to hear perfect, they want to hear a human being attempt perfection and get as close as possible to it.

Not to mention the themes of recent music, they are so dehumanizing. Who wouldn't rather listen to love songs?

rcocean said...

I'm sure it sort itself out. For most of the 20th century, the record industry wanted you to listen to "new" music because that's how it made the most $$. You'll listen to a 3rd rate band or singer because they are "new" playing a "exciting never done before" kind of music.

Plus, in the 20th century you had technology and black musicians driving the music industry. Blacks were the pioneers of Ragtime, Jazz, Big band, R&B, Rock, Hip hop, and Rap. The white musicians then copied them and added their own riffs.

What new black music genre has come along in the last 30 years?

You also had white musicians in th 50s/60s going back to pre-copyright music and basically stealing it and reworking it. YOu could easily do that in the 60s because it was all hard copy. Not so easy today with the internet and so many people listening to everything and willing to point out that your melody is based on an 1876 hymn or folk song.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

My 24 year old stepdaughter loves 80's music. She says there's nothing coming from her generation that's any good. Mrs. NorthOfTheOneOhOne and I were telling her about how we used to flake out in front of the TV back then and watch MTV when there was nothing else going on. Stepdaughter says she can't imagine how great that must've been.

Wa St Blogger said...

New music should have a positive bias in some ways. I am always looking for new music because I can get weary of even my most favorite old songs. In my formative years of music I was inundated with the Beetles and Beachboys, where on some stations it seemed like every 3rd song was one of theirs. I burned out on them and to this day I will quickly change songs to not hear one of theirs. So, new music is where I prefer to live, to get a steady diet of unfamiliar. Right now I listen to Asian music (introduced by my daughter who is taking Asian studies.) I an enjoying the newness. I am not enjoying much of anything on the American radio stations. That happens sometimes as the current "trend" in music is not always to my liking. In a couple of years it will shift again and I might find songs I like. So maybe the new music is simply not doing it for the audience and they are seeking alternatives. I am enjoying also my kid's discovery of the oldies (for them, that is usually 60s-80s) that they insist on playing for me while we are in the car. Luckily they have not fallen in love with the Beetles or the Beach Boys.

Amexpat said...

Every generation believes that the pop music of their youth was best and music made after they passed their mid-twenties was inferior.

I was born in 1956 and in my case it happens to be true. I started listening to music in the mid-60s. Every month new and exciting music was coming out over the airways. By the mid-70s the amount of new and exciting music had greatly decreased.

Ice Nine said...

Go to the current Billboard "Hot 100" and check out some of this "new music." Amongst other things you'll find there are someone called "Gunna" whose "songs" hold *fifteen* places on that top 100...including, "How You Did That" and "IDK That Bitch." Give a listen to Gunna's rap-crap, autotuned shit -- and then wonder no more why old songs are currently outplaying him and his new music cohort by 3 to 1.

Magson said...

There may be a little bit of something to the idea that "new music sucks."

It's due to the record labels being afraid to take risks, so they only put out music that's produced to largely match past "successful" music that contains familiar chord sequences and hooks and whatnot.

The "Thoughty2" channel put out a 20-ish minute video explaining it in a lot more depth than that a few years back. -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVME_l4IwII

Personally, I rarely listen to western-based pop music anymore, and largely for the reasons outlined in the video. The occasional gem will sneak in, but I tend to listen to smaller, more indie artists and also foreign pop that isn't bound by the "western formula" so much.

That said, most of what I listen to is "epic" music, which fuses the symphony orchestra with rock sounds, synth, sometimes even some EDM, and tends to have a driving bass line and rock beats, while still maintaining the "pretty" of the orchestra over the top of it all. It "sings to my soul" you could say.

Lem said...

My sense is that new music is at best an opening bid. Is it binding, lyrically or emotionally? Maybe...

typingtalker said...

Then there's that other old music called "Classical" ... which came before "Classic (rock)". Way before. And to which many of us listen between Fleetwood Mac and Beatles oldies.

R C Belaire said...

60s, 70s, some 80s. After that it's mostly noise. Even my kids (50ish) listen to the same sounds. And the Dylan quote is spot on.

Menahem Globus said...

Thanks to streaming I started building holiday playlists at the end of 2018. Mardi Gras 2019 introduced me to Rebirth Brass Band which led me to Kermit Ruffins and a lot of the current New Orleans brass bands. They now make up over 90% of my non-audiobook listening content. The only reason I know the names of any current musical acts is that I have to scan through the entertainment and Page Six sections of the Post. There's a horribly obese black lady, a formerly obese British lady, and two retired strippers I can never tell apart. I can't think of anyone beyond those four. Thank you Spotify.

tim in vermont said...

There was a lot of good music made in the ‘90s. As good as any that came before, but it does seem to have fizzled out.

Iman said...

I love good music, whatever the genre, whatever the decade…

Having said that, watching and listening to Sunset Joe Biden… Americans are soooo fucked. This guy is all over the place and struggles to utter a coherent sentence.

tim in vermont said...

Good movies seem to have peaked in the ‘90s too.

Lem said...

This may be part of the explanation for the proliferation of "music reaction videos."

It was interesting to me for like a minute.

I say part of the explanation because, like every other cultural phenomenon, it's complicated.

Howard said...

Good new stuff keeps trickling in. We live in a sea of all our favorite music at hand and for some, that doesn't cut it.

Dude1394 said...

Why would I listen to music without actual instruments. And rap really stinks, is vulgar, violent and sexist. What is not to like?

Joe Smith said...

Old rock 'n' roll is the only rock 'n' roll.

Nobody new seems to play that type of music anymore.

Music peaked in the '70s and has gone downhill ever since.

Don't believe me?

Put on '70s on 7 on SiriusXM on the weekend for the top 40 countdown.

You will hear rock, pop, blues, jazz, instrumental, black, white...you name it.

A huge variety of styles.

Now? Boom boom, ho, b*tch, boom, boom...

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

In the late 80s, the Bathhouse Theater did Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" as a 50s rock musical. They used 50s songs like "I will follow him" and "Going to the Chapel" as the women protagonists were leaving Athens to follow the guys or at the end were they were being married. It was successful and was revived a few years later and then done by Oregon Shakespeare Festival a couple of decades later.

Scot said...

Old songs ... heh.

When I got my ukulele, I learned how to play it from sheet music of the 20s, 30s & 40s. Publishers put on a picture of the chord so anyone could figure out how to play along. Then this fella named Elvis came along. The sheet music publishers changed to printing guitar chords.

Poke around in Gramps' attic, there might be a ukulele up there. Everyone used to have one. Is easy to learn. Play some songs with your kids & nieces & grandkids even if they are from the (19)80s.

True fact: the ukulele is based on an instrument that arrived in Hawaii in 1879 when SS Ravenscrag delivered its Portugese passengers. They went to work on the farms.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Most new music is crap. (not all)

I find myself appreciating music, that at the time - back in the day, I didn't really like, but now I love it. There used to be this old school notion that if you wanted to be successful, you needed a good voice or you needed to have great instrumental talent. I see that now!

Circa today - all ya need is auto-tune, sexy legs, and the ability to repeat over-sexualized or cookie cutter lyrics with the same cookie-cutter boi-band or grrl voice. How many J-Lo's and Biance's (sp?) do we need?

Ficta said...

During the late 90s:
- White rock music largely dropped the Blues from its underpinnings.
- And started being produced by trust fund, ivy league brats.
- Pop music embraced the uncanny perfection of Auto-Tune.
- I got old.
So popular new music generally bores me. But "Americana", which is hard to quantify, but sort-of means: blues based folk/country and actual human voices, is a pretty big business these days.

I'll second Tom Grey on the SOMA-FM recommendation. They're great. But I listen a lot to the 7-Inch Soul station (or, heaven help me, the Lounge station), so that isn't new music, either.

Rollo said...

Young Dylan was listening to music from decades back, but not old commercial music, not Bing Crosby or Fred Astaire. But then, in his day, the authentic folk tradition wasn't dead yet. Funny that Sting is somehow today's equivalent.

madAsHell said...

This is much like the Biden crash.....nobody wants his shit.

There will NEVER be a radio station playing classic rap.

rcocean said...

BTW, why should anyone like "new" music unless it good? "This is my generation's music", always struck me as something the Record industry wanted you believe in order to sell you product.

For a lot of young people, everything old is new again. In ye old times, you had very little chance to listen to "old music" unless you sought it out or you listened to the larry welk show. Now listening to 50 year old music is as easy as listening to new music. There is no "American Bandstand". We're all not listening to the same "Top 40" radio stations.

The oddest thing is go on some Youtube video playing say Elvis or Frank Sinatra, and some one will say "I wish I was alive back then". I sure as hell don't. I can listen to them now and enjoy 21st century technology and medicine.

rhhardin said...

I played Monteverde's Orfeo while doing homework as a kid, so much that I know every note of it, and can instantly hear when some other conductor's version of it differs in any note or tempo today. I grew up on Krebs's version.

Here it is same recording

Click Act II, Act II, Act V for nice instrumental interludes in the minute they give you.

I remember it as a two disc Arkiv or Deutsche Grammophon recording.

I moved on to Julian Bream plays Dowland and learned to play the lute.

Ernest said...

Before we moved to Asia in 1987 I recorded (on C-90 cassettes) a bunch of "oldies" from a Chicago radio station. We played them on long car trips while in Asia. It was fun to hear the song end and the announcer cut in, "Well it's gonna hit minus 5 tonight and even cooler near the lake."

Years later our one daughter took a concert choir course in high school. The instructor prepared a program "Love songs of the 50s." She was the only student who knew all the lyrics.

We trained our children well.

rhhardin said...

Act II Act III and Act V

keyboard omits repeated letters sometimes.

Big Mike said...

What? You mean you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction?

Conrad said...

IMO, the problem is that today's dominant style of pop music -- hip hop -- seems to be stuck in neutral. The practitioners of this form of music changes every couple of years, but the music itself really doesn't. It's not noticeably different today from what it was 20 years ago. By contrast, it was only about ten years that separated Elvis and Chuck Berry from The Doors and Jefferson Airplane; and another ten years that separated those acts from Blondie, to cite just a few examples. Pop music simply isn't evolving fast enough to hold people's attention. That fact, plus Spotify and such, give people both the incentive and the means to explore what is already out there in the form of old music.

Rory said...

Of course new music is doing badly. No one's seen any live music for two years.

Iman said...

“They used 50s songs like "I will follow him" and "Going to the Chapel"…”

Those are 60s songs, Pops of Snoqualmie.

readering said...

Then of course there's what one might call World Music. I live in a Chinese immigrant household, and they listen to Chinese pop, Mandarin and Cantonese. Often same song recorded in both languages. Often hard to tell the new from the old since ballads that don't change their style that much predominate. Huge demand for apps that allow you to record your own covers and get tens of thousands of listeners who show their appreciation with tokens that can be cashed in.

And then there's classical, which I mostly listen to. Hard to get folks to listen to things less than 100 years old. Although here the LA Philharmonic in particular has been innovative.

Static Ping said...

Much of modern music is essentially manufactured: the labels have figured out what makes a "hit" and then just provide all sorts of minor variations on it, preferably sung by someone at least reasonably attractive. They have done studies on this; the diversity of music has narrowed significantly as the music factory pumps out one similar song after another. Perhaps the main exception to this is hip-hop and rap, which are heavily dependent on samples from old songs, and if you like the sample you might as well listen to the original songs. That's not to say that modern music does not produce anything good anymore, but music was always a risky business and trying to make music risk free tends to produce dull music. It does not help that with the music market fractured severely sometime in the 1990s that to get a big hit requires crossover appeal and "generic" is often the best way to do it. It becomes a song that everyone likes and then forgets about a month later.

The music industry is like a lot of other things in America: it has become infested with unqualified "experts" who care very little about the quality of what they are doing. The goal is merely to play it safe and stay employed long enough to cash in, perhaps getting some woke points along the way. See also the movie industry, the comic book industry, the FBI....

Spiros said...

Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for his song lyrics is like Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize. It's bullsh*t. I get it. Bob Dylan is a cool dude. He's anti-establishment. He's provocative. But he doesn't deserve the Nobel. It's sort of like a celebrity getting an honorary degree.

Compare Dylan to great writers who never won (Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell, Jorge Luis Borges, Chekhov, Nabokov, etc.).

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

So sorry. 60s. Still great songs and a great production of Midsummer's Night Dream.

Ice Nine said...

>Spiros said...
Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for his song lyrics is like Henry Kissinger winning the Nobel Peace Prize. It's bullsh*t...
Compare Dylan to great writers who never won (Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell, Jorge Luis Borges, Chekhov, Nabokov, etc.).<

He's also an accomplished poet - widely noted. You don't have to be a novelist to win a Lit Nobel.

Sebastian said...

"The old should dominate."

True. Considering that there's not much good stuff after Mahler--Sibelius 5, 6, and 7, Strauss' Four Last Songs, some Shostakovich, a few others. Still, the old, i.e., pre-1910, should dominate.

Of course, for YoungHegelian that's not saying much, not old-old.

Bender said...

Those Boomers suck so hard. They ruin everything. Even today's crappy music...and the music of the last 20 years.

Wa St Blogger said...

Mike of Snoqualmie said

In the late 80s, the Bathhouse Theater did Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" as a 50s rock musical.

About that same time they also did Cowboy MacBeth. It was not as magical. They used guns in the production but did not change the text which read "swords." There were other difficulties with the production. But the Bathhouse was at least willing to have fun with it.

Also about that time I played a small part in a modern "corporate raider" style of Dream. It adapted well enough. We did not make it a musical.

effinayright said...

Ice Nine said...
Go to the current Billboard "Hot 100" and check out some of this "new music." Amongst other things you'll find there are someone called "Gunna" whose "songs" hold *fifteen* places on that top 100...including, "How You Did That" and "IDK That Bitch." Give a listen to Gunna's rap-crap, autotuned shit -- and then wonder no more why old songs are currently outplaying him and his new music cohort by 3 to 1.
***************
Just today, Wifie tuned in to a very schmaltzy 50's music station my barber plays in his shop.

The first song was "Oh Mein Papa", a sacchairne and lachrymose 1954 hit sung by crooner Eddie Fisher (who was big then, and was married for a nanosecond to Elizabeth Taylor.)

When it ended I said, "And now for a change of pace. Here's a medley by L'il Wayne, beginning with his smash hit, "Back That Azz Up"."

Times change, sometimes unrecognizably.

effinayright said...

Bender said...
Those Boomers suck so hard. They ruin everything. Even today's crappy music...and the music of the last 20 years.
*************

Don't be hard on Bender. His cochleas, stapes and tympanic membranes were all shot off in Vietnam.

Duke Dan said...

A few years back I picked up my kids from middle school dance and they were playing the same Journey tracks that were played at my middle school dances.

Bender said...

Another casualty of the digital age. Without radio predominating, new music can never really take hold on a societal level.

Ficta said...

"Compare Dylan to great writers who never won (Leo Tolstoy, George Orwell, Jorge Luis Borges, Chekhov, Nabokov, etc.)."

Okay, I can see that criticism, even if I don't share it, but compare him to a lot of the knuckleheads who did win. Nearly every Scandinavian winner is way out of his or her weight class, just for starters. Check out this truly wonderful list of Nobel literature prize winners from an alternate universe. The author really is quite clever. Particularly instructive are the winners he didn't replace.

Spiros said...

There is a system for nominating someone for the Nobel Prize. There are, obviously, scholars, critics, members of the Swedish Academy, etc. that can nominate. But so too can previous laureates. I wonder who Bob Dylan is going to nominate? Probably someone who spends most of his time writing about how awful White people are (especially the English).

effinayright said...

Iman said...
I love good music, whatever the genre, whatever the decade…
*****************

So you love music YOU consider "good".

Don't we all?

snort

Bender said...

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret:

The U.S. and Britain are NOT the center of the musical universe, much less are they the only music in town.

Ice Nine said...

> Ficta said...
Check out this truly wonderful list of Nobel literature prize winners from an alternate universe. The author really is quite clever.<

He had me until Ludlum. Good grief.

Ficta said...

"They used guns in the production but did not change the text which read "swords.""

I loved Baz Luhrmann's modern dress Romeo + Juliet (not everyone did). The guns were stamped with the brand name "Sword". So it was like calling your pistol a "Glock". It amused me, anyway.

Maynard said...

Good music captures you in an emotional embrace. A lot of the 60's and 70's music did that for us Boomers, but not everything clicked with everyone at that time or in the next few decades.

I have been recently listening to new old music. That is, music that escaped me back in the 60's and 70's all the way up through the 90's. I never followed Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynnyrd. They were too redneck back in the day. Now they hit that emotional chord for me.

Ficta said...

"He had me until Ludlum. Good grief."

I agree, there are a handful of his winners who seem like obvious trolling. But they're usually still better than the actual winner they're paired with.

mezzrow said...

I've been playing music since 1964, and I don't have a clue why this is taking place.

It is clearly happening, though.

Lem said...

The thing about old music for me is I didn't catch a lot of it when it was new because I was beholden to the radio. I didn't buy that many records. So, when the internet came, I had, and still do, lots of catching up to do.

Clyde said...

At the end of last year, I did a countdown of my 15 favorite new (and new-to-me) songs from last year. I have Amazon Music Unlimited and it's the best money I spend each month, as not only do I have access to a whole lot of music, but they also make recommendations about music I might like based on what I've listened to. Each week, I get a My Discovery playlist of 25 songs, and that often leads me to listen to related artists, as well as the full album that the song came from. Some of the songs are new, many more are not, allowing me to discover artists and albums that I missed the first time around.

Some of my favorite new albums from 2021 were 'Hail Satin' by Dee Gees (The Foo Fighters) with its five Bee Gees/Andy Gibb covers, 'Bright Lights' by Susanna Hoffs, and especially 'The Waylon Sessions' by Shannon McNally. Some of my favorite old album discoveries included 1994's 'Martinis & Bikinis' by Sam Phillips and 'True Colours' by Split Enz from 1980.

Here was my Top 15 song list from 2021:
1. Shannon McNally - "Black Rose," from the album 'The Waylon Sessions' (2021)
2. Tom Petty - "You Saw Me Comin'," ​from the album 'Finding Wildflowers (Alternate Versions)' (2021)
3. Robert Earl Keen - "Corpus Christi Bay," from the album 'A Bigger Piece of Sky' (1993)
4. Chris Shiflett (feat. Elizabeth Cook) - "The One You Go Home To," from the album 'Hard Lessons' (2019)
5. Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall - "Geraldene," from the album 'The Marfa Tapes' (2021)
6. Jason Boland & The Stragglers - "No One Left To Blame," from the album 'High In The Rockies: A Live Album' (2010)
7. Sam Phillips - "I Need Love," from the album 'Martinis & Bikinis' (1994)
8. Susanna Hoffs (feat. Aimee Mann) - "Name of the Game," from the album 'Bright Lights' (2021)
9. Vanessa Peters - "The Band Played On," from the album 'Modern Age' (2021)
10. Palmyra Delran and the Doppel Gang - "I Thought You Said That You Were Gonna Kill Yourself," from the album 'Come Spy With Me' (2018)
11. Dee Gees (Foo Fighters) - "Tragedy," from the album 'Hail Satin' (2021)
12. The Honeycutters - "Hallelujah," from the album 'On the Ropes' (2016)
13. Old 97's & Waylon Jennings - "The Other Shoe," from the EP 'Old 97's & Waylon Jennings' (2013)
14. Split Enz - "I Got You," from the album 'True Colours' (1980)
15. The Bird and The Bee - "Kiss On My List," from the album 'Interpreting The Masters, Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall and John Oates' (2010)

Those are all songs that I discovered in 2021, old or new. I found the Split Enz album because there was a new tribute album called 'True Colours, New Colours' by various artists from Australia and New Zealand, including The Beths, my favorite indie band from New Zealand, so I listened to the tribute album then sought out the original.

Iman said...

“So you love music YOU consider "good".

Don't we all?

snort“

Gee… I suspect there are a lot of people who don’t care for music at all.

and lay off teh yayo, friendo.

Baceseras said...

I mainly listen to jazz and classical; but I don't know how anyone can help having their ears attuned to rock and pop, mine are -- and I hear lots of good new stuff. Nostalgia for my yoof is a tiny part of my whole deal. My favorite new band for the last ten years has been the Lumineers. They don't need a boost from me, but listen to them if you haven't already. George Ezra another one, he'll bowl you over if you care at all. Jeez all this talk about rap and hip-hop -- thank God there's more to the record business than that shi...stuff.

First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DKL4X0PZz7M

Yam Haus - Simplicity
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6a62Kn6KOv4

Aaron Frazer - Girl on the Phone
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KS4of6cLKq4

Etc.

Clyde said...

@ Lem,

Exactly! I didn't own a record store when I was growing up, so I missed a lot of stuff that didn't get played on the radio. Now I rent a room in the record store and can find the cool stuff that I like, old and new, as well as albums from artists that I've never heard of before that I missed the first time around.

Bender said...

I have tickets to go see Postmodern Jukebox, who take songs from one age and perform them in a different age and genre.

Such as an iconic disco song set to 1920s jazz:
https://youtu.be/AaSxhKf5pV0

Or an 80s hit sung as a nightclub version:
https://youtu.be/NTbNCezCJNM

Iman said...

Of the new music, I have to remind myself that I am often pleasantly surprised to watch and hear some very creative, tuneful new music - music that has something to say, even to a child of the 60s/early 70s - when I watch Jools Holland’s showcase shows with 5 or 6 groups performing.

Rosalyn C. said...

I've seen numerous Youtube channels by young people discovering and critiquing "old music" from the 20th century. They are in such awe I think there is something special about some of the classics we experienced as new music.

Shout out to a couple of twins called TwinsthenewTrend -- they are adorable in their First Time Hearing commentary on artists such as Whitney Houston, Joplin, Dolly Parton, Aerosmith, Queen, Michael Jackson, etc. ... Kind of amazing to me that they've never heard this music before., clearly they grew up listening to rap and not much else. From their comments:" I am a 69-year-old grandmother from Canada and I LOVE your channel. When I started watching I did not have a clue what you were saying, but the more I watch, the more I understand. You guys are smart, insightful, joyful, and just such fun to watch. I think my fav reaction to date was Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer 'You got to 'preciate greatness!' "

Pop star Miley Cyrus has for several years been doing older rock covers, introducing her younger fans to older popular music.

The streaming services are not directing the audience, the audiences are directing the streaming services. IMO

Gravel said...

Ficta’s comment about Americana deserves more serious discussion than I’m prepared to give from my mobile device, but in short it’s spot on. Whiskey Myers, Turnpike Troubadours, Damned Quails, Two Tons of Steel, Max Stalling; great music, thoughtful lyrics, and outstanding live performances. And sadly, more of you have heard Whiskey Myers on Yellowstone than have heard the rest of them combined. Also: SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC.

Bender said...

I saw another oldies act a few years ago, Anonymous 4. They were awesome, singing thousand-year-old music:

https://youtu.be/yeTUulF6ba8

https://youtu.be/Rqu5hDM4yWs

Tim said...

Damned little new music worth listening to today. Country is all "bro country" which leaves me cold, Pop is more vapid than ever, no one is recording rock or jazz or blues. Adele is good, but one album every 3 or 4 years is not going to save the music business, my granddaughters like Katy Perry, but I don't remember the last hit she had, I never cared for rap or hiphop, so my playlist has a lot of 60s, 70s, and some 80s greats on it. The grand thing about Amazon Unlimited Music is I have all the old greats on high quality stream now, so I can listen to the greats, and never run out of music.

RMc said...

I'm delighted to have access to the entire history of recorded music with Spotify

A while back, I managed to get ahold of mp3 copies of every hit record ever, going back to 1890. In the spring of 2016, I decided to listen to them all, in my car and riding my bike, starting with 1890. It's been endlessly fascinating, listening to thousands of old songs I'd never heard before, as I made my way through the decades.

Well, now I'm finally up to the 21st century, and...yeesh. (I stopped listening to new music in the mid-90s or so.)

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Tim 5:52 - I agree.

Katy Perry and pop stars like her are for... teens and younger.

Iman said...

Tell ya what… I’d be happy to never hear another Chris Stapleton song for as long as I continue to draw a breath. Nothing against him -seems like a good guy - I just can’t stand his voice.

Wa St Blogger said...

Tim said

Country is all "bro country" which leaves me cold,

I didn't know anyone else called it Bro country but me. I am with you there bud.

who-knew said...

My listening goes all over the place (except for rap and hip=hop) but the problem is finding the new music you like. It's not like it's on the radio anymore. There's a great variety of country and Americana played on The Whip (backlandradio.com) - I know I've pushed the station before but if that kind of music pushes your buttons, it's well worth checking out. Or make the trip to Appleton next August for Mile of Music. Live acts from all over the country playing new, original music, and it's all free. I've got a load of new favorites I heard for the first time at the Mile. India Ramey, Lamont Landers, Daphne Lee Martin, Elliot Blaufuss, Feed the Dog, Wild Adriatic, Kristin Diable, Smooth Hound Smith, Miles Nielsen, the list goes on and on. Most of the stuff has to be searched out on Spotify You Tube, or Bandcamp because they aren't on major, or any labels. And in the years since Mile started the local scene has exploded with great music - Kyle Megna and the Monsoons, Disconapse, Horace Greene. You've got to support it or it will die, thankfully Appleton has been supporting the live music scene.

Clyde said...

Wa St Blogger said...
Tim said

Country is all "bro country" which leaves me cold,

I didn't know anyone else called it Bro country but me. I am with you there bud.


I really, really recommend Shannon McNally's album 'The Waylon Sessions.' I played that one a lot last year. 'The Marfa Tapes' was pretty good also, if you like Miranda Lambert (and I do).

Joe Smith said...

With very few exceptions, modern country music is garbage.

Old-school country (Willie's Roadhouse on SXM) is fantastic.

They are not in the same universe, despite being labeled with the same name.

Yancey Ward said...

I actually got to listen to a lot of contemporary music at the gym up until this past Summer when the new manager switched over to a more heavy metal mixed with some rap from the early to mid 90s, from what used to be 100% hits from the previous year The newer music just sucks- the melodies suck, the beats suck, and the lyrics suck. There are some good songs from recent years that I like, but it is like 1% of the songs I get to hear. The last bit of modern music I liked and thought was good quality was from the late 90s.

Fernandinande said...

[T]he current list of most downloaded tracks on iTunes is filled with the names of bands from the last century, such as Creedence Clearwater and The Police.

Not really; out of the top 100 itunes songs for "today", 15 were released in 2022, 52 were released in 2021, there were 3 Creedence songs from the 1960s (no other songs from the 60s; there were 2 songs from the 1970s, 4 from the 1980s and 8 from the 1990s), and The Police don't appear.

So 17% were "from the last century".

Fernandinande said...

Top 100: USA, Apple Music, The most-played songs in the United States, updated every day. (apple.com)

That page doesn't have release dates, but it also doesn't mention Creedence or The Police; I barely recognize the names of a couple of the performers, so they're probably just about all new(ish).

Yancey Ward said...

"I have been recently listening to new old music. That is, music that escaped me back in the 60's and 70's all the way up through the 90's. I never followed Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Bob Seger and Lynyrd Skynnyrd. They were too redneck back in the day. Now they hit that emotional chord for me."

As a person who first got interested in contemporary music in 1978, I have been doing this my entire life. Still discover music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and now 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s that is new to me and good. However, it really is weighted to music from prior to 2000. The degredation of popular music is real, in my opinion.

zipity said...


It could be, just may be...most of the new music sucks.

Just a thought.

BUMBLE BEE said...

People like to sing along sometimes. I listen to classical %80 of the time. Grew up in a swing band household. Played in a rock band thru High School. Still like to hear Angus rip it up, Buddy Wittington, Mayall is still kicking and Five Finger Death Punch as well. I am still in awe of this record style ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8P_xTBpAcY. Headphones if ya got em.

rhhardin said...

There's bluegrass. Even the people who play bluegrass don't like bluegrass, Imus said.

Wa St Blogger said...

I am anticipating the opportunity to peruse all the myriad music suggestions this thread generated. Hope to find some hidden gems.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

So what's on ye-all's playlist or thumbdrive?

Mason G said...

I listened mostly to rock when I was younger but have gravitated to country as I have gotten older. It seems more oriented towards regular folks who work for a living, not hipster doofuses hanging out in coffee houses debating the meaning of life. I like the positive focus on family and country- a place where, even though life isn't always a picnic, everything doesn't suck.

I listen to the radio a lot and had never heard the term "bro country" until reading the comments here. GGD'd it, listened to a couple of examples and I'm not really impressed. It's just not what I found appealing about country music in the first place. I prefer something more like this- Zac Brown Band- Chicken Fried These sound like the kind of guys I'd like to share a sixpack with.

Lem said...

I'm having issues with iTunes. Back in 2014 I was given an extensive digital collection by somebody who worked for the music industry. I thought, ok I'll integrate it with the iTunes I had at the time, delete the duplicates, and up all of it to the iCloud, as backup, while keeping my hard drive archive. Everything seemed to be running smoothly until I started noticing missing music. iTunes is deleting files. The reason I know is that a lot of the music I uploaded were entire records, 1 thru the last song of the record. And now some records are missing songs. I know they are missing songs because a record would list 1,2,3 and then 4 is missing, 5,6,7 and 8. This has happened a few times, that I noticed. I don't have anything written down so how can I make any claims. It's disappointing to say the least.

Bender said...

Bob Seger redneck? Bob Seger TOO redneck?

Dude, he was from Ann Arbor, not Ypsilanti.

Rollo said...

So it seems like there's not enough new music, but there actually may be too much. It's another case of too much information coming in, artists crowding each other out, voices getting lost in all the noise?

Life was simpler when the gatekeepers regulated the inflow. Also, I guess young White kids don't have much to say, or aren't saying it in music. Another topic in the generational dispute. Did Boomers such all the air out of mainstream youth culture, or are today's youth just not up to achieve much, or is the mainstream just exhausted?

Blair said...

All great music came from poverty and boredom. In America, nobody is poor or bored any more. They all have iPhones, and they're all watching some skateboarder slurp tea to Fleetwood Mac on TicGram, or whatever the newest app is.

Anyone wanting new music won't have to wait long. Biden will ensure a return to poverty and boredom soon enough.

madAsHell said...

From her wiki page....

After Totenberg wrote an Observer profile of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the latter wrote a long letter to the paper's editor demanding she be fired. Instead, the editor printed the letter in the Observer along with a rebuttal of Hoover's complaints regarding the article.

Oh, wow.....can someone remind me what part of the constitution creates the FBI?......None??

Frank said...

Musicians wrote the music and played their instruments in the "old music". My sons, now 31 and 36, much prefer the 70s and 80s music their "old man" enjoyed, played around the house and talked up. The musicians could actually play - some of them were virtuosos - and could sing. A far cry from today's auto-tune voices and sampling bits of "old music" to anchor whatever melody-less song they produce. Today's music ain't got the same soul or musicality. It is, for the most part, boring and immediately forgettable. Of course there are exceptions but far too few.

Iman said...

Speaking of music makers, where the hell is Shouting Thomas?

effinayright said...

Old musician's joke:

"I dreamt I was playing second violin in a Brahms Symphony.

---Then I woke up---and I was!!"

Michael said...

I'm old, so help me here. Was there music after the Eagles?

gspencer said...

'Why are you playing this old music?'

Because it's worth listening to.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ice Nine,

[Dylan]'s also an accomplished poet - widely noted. You don't have to be a novelist to win a Lit Nobel.

Indeed not. But Wanda Szymborska (who won) and Jorge Luis Borges (who didn't) weren't novelists either. I think the point about Dylan was that his was partly a symbolic win. "Accomplished poet" describes a large number of people. But Dylan won because his poems were song lyrics.

tim in vermont said...

"So 17% were 'from the last century.'"

Ever hear of a thing called the "long tail"?

M Jordan said...

For me, music was never meant for simply listening. It was for singing. Singing hymns probably has saved my soul more than any other single thing. We sing along when my wife and I sit down to watch an old ELO performance or whatever. As a teen my only pure listening time was in the car and even there I sang along. I’ve gone to concerts over the years but decided they’re not for me. Two hours of listening to someone else sing and then clapping at them is a kind of hell for me. I have a friend who has all the best equipment for listening and a room dedicated to listening to music. He once forced me to sit and listen to Jimi Hendrix for fifteen minutes. It about killed me.

The old songs are good for singing but every now and then I stumble onto a new song and find it too is good for singing. It must be the Irish in me.

Critter said...

While acknowledging that musical preferences vary a lot by individual, I believe that it is possible to sort through music of all ages to get to a set of songs and covers that represent the best. I had this debate with my son when he was growing up and he was stuck on songs from his generation. Now he listens to a much broader set of music from all recent decades.

In Hollywood, content is king. In music, the song is king. Some songs are best when covered by the singer song-writer. Others are better by a cover which often changes the nature of the song. Best example in rock is All Along the Watchtower covered by Jimi Hendrix. He "owns" that song so much that when I took my son to a Dylan concert he thought it was cool that Dylan would cover a Hendrix song. LOL.

My belief is that the best music in modern times needs to have a melody you want to hear over and over, and lyrics that are pitched to an elevated level (the standard for all art historically). Songs that are a little weak on one aspect can get over my threshold if they are strong on the other criteria. Dylan is the best example of lyrics carrying melodies over the line. Paul McCartney is the best example of melodies carrying lyrics over the line. Of course, there is great music without lyrics. I own more discs of Mozart music than even Dylan, just because Mozart is the sublime GOAT.

For me there are only 2 types of music - good and other. I collect music (typically at the song level) that meet my melody and lyric criteria. Life is too short to listen to crappy music accompanied by lyrics that insult your intelligence. My collection spans all genres but is heavy on the all-time bests - Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Dylan, Van, Beatles, blues greats, etc. Of course, there are many in the next tier who put of very good music that stand the test of time.

BTW, I just listened to samples of Shannon McNally on the Waylon Sessions. First off, the album title is misleading because there are fewer than half of the songs that Waylon wrote or covered. I found her to be weak tea compared to Waylon, who IMHO had the best voice in modern country western music, and a better voice by a long shot of any rock musician unless you count Elvis in the group.

Ice Nine said...

>Michelle Dulak Thomson said...
But Dylan won because his poems were song lyrics.<

I don't know why that would matter and so I don't think that was the least bit important, but your opinion is noted.

Dylan won because he and his work were very well-known...and his poems were exceptional.

Mark Nielsen said...

Mason G @ 6:58 -- good stuff!

William said...

A lot of old music was truly schlocky. My mother used to listen to Make Believe Ballroom when she did household chores. Mitch Miller, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher. Their music was not immortal. Courtesy of Amazon Music, I sometimes listen to schlock. It really brings you back in a way that classic rock doesn't. You encounter Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan in all kinds of settings, but you only find Perry Como if you go looking for him. The nostalgia with Perry Como is fresh.

William said...

There's a lot of old music that I just discovered. Marianne Faithful didn't get much air time with the Broken English album. You needed airtime to break in a song and inspire you to buy the album. You didn't buy albums because you liked the music. You bought albums because you loved the music... The album was over thirty years old when I first heard it in its entirety. I don't actually love the music and would never have bought the album......There's so much music to explore. Twiggy has an uncanny way of delivering a Gershwin ballad. Mary Martin catches the lilt in a Richard Rodgers melody in just the right way.....I wish there were more Mozart operas sung in English translation. I can't find any on Amazon.

Biff said...

"tim in vermont" mentioned him earlier in this comment thread, but Rick Beato's can be very interesting. His YouTube channel ranges from hard core music theory to "pro" level interviews with serious musicians, from detailed song analyses to quick reviews of song lists. From the latter category:

The Grammy Song of the Year List…Are These REALLY The Best? (Rant)

Reacting to the Top 10 Songs on iTunes...BTS WTF?

My 4th Top 10 Spotify Review…What Happened to Ed Sheeran?

etc.

Gerda Sprinchorn said...

Why would you pay someone to write another Beethoven symphony when you don't have enough time to listen to the nine Beethoven symphonies you already have?

Kirk Parker said...

Paddy O,

At the same time, there is a ton of indie stuff out there and "home" studio recording is easier and better than ever. So I don't see "the big bad studios" as the entire answer.

Don't know if their labels count as "major", either, but check out these 2017 releases:

https://youtu.be/OVi0JpvMZtk

https://youtu.be/h2V-mpszu5o

And there's this -- I am actually fairly disgruntled that Sony Pictures didn't actually make the movie that this is a fake trailer for:

https://youtu.be/o4Yzj-m_SBk

Douglas B. Levene said...

I listen to old music sometimes. Lately I’ve been listening to Absolutely Free and We’re Only In It For The Money, 50-year-old albums by the Mother of Invention that are shockingly up to date in some ways. But mostly I prefer to listen to new bands and new music. There’s a lot of great music being made these days.

Clyde said...

@ Critter

Of the 13 songs on the album, Waylon sang 11 of them. The only ones he didn't sing were "You Show Me Yours And I'll Show You Mine" and Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through The Night." I really enjoyed the album, but YMMV.

mezzrow said...

Time for a viola joke:

An American orchestra had just arrived in Europe for a two-week tour. One hour before the first concert, the conductor became very ill and was unable to conduct, and the orchestra suddenly had to find a substitute. The orchestra manager asked everyone in the orchestra whether they could step in and conduct, and the only person who was willing was the last chair violist.

The manager was very nervous about this. "We can't audition you," he said.

"No problem," replied the violist.

"There's no time to rehearse. You'll have to do the concert cold."

"I know. It'll be all right."

The violist conducted the concert and it was a smashing success. Since the conductor remained ill for the duration of the tour, the violist conducted all of the concerts, getting rave reviews and standing ovations at each one.

At the next rehearsal, the conductor had recovered, and the violist took his place at the back of the viola section. As he sat down, his stand partner asked him "Where've you been for the last two weeks?"

RBE said...

Love the reaction videos that are so popular on You Tube...Andy and Alex, Rob and Amber and many more. Then there are the more educational videos that talk about music theory and techniques like Wings of Pegasus and Rick Beato.

mikee said...

If I am on my computer I often open YouTube and play music, picking the next song from the sidebar suggestions of the present song. Even if I consciously try not to, eventually I end up with House of the Rising Sun playing. There is apparently a preference path that leads there hardwired in my brain, or algorithmed into YouTube. Could be worse, could be Bad to the Bone.

Anthony said...

I think it's kind of a long term trend (see here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/science-proves-pop-music-has-actually-gotten-worse-8173368/) but the other culprit is, I think, Autotune. Fascinating thing, there's a (I think) Netflix program on it somewhere, but it was essentially developed by a geo-engineer and when he gave it to a music producer, the latter supposedly told him "Great, now I can just hire attractive people!"

I really really liked grunge, but very little since then. The odd song here and there. There are some really good players (e.g., guitar, e.g., Joe Bonamassa) but they're very few and far between. Nearly all of the singers I've heard sound terrible live.

3john2 said...

I received a playlist from my 27-yo daughter a couple of months ago, featuring folk music from performers I'd never heard of. She put it together to thank me for all the stuff she heard while growing up, without which she never would have been listening to these bands that she likes now. I felt honored, and ancient.

(FYI, the performers in her list were Langhorne Slim, Houndmouth, The Tallest Man on Earth, Grizfolk, Mt. Joy, Sons of the East, Amason, and Alela Diane.)

Gravel said...

"It's all bro country."

No, it's not. Bro country IS garbage, but there are plenty of artists out there that defy that description. I already mentioned Max Stalling; just go listen to Freedom for Mary. Robert Earl Keen is still writing, recording, and performing. Jason Boland - check out Pearl Snaps. I could go on, but if you're unwilling to check out these under appreciated artists while complaining about the state of country music, you have nobody to blame but yourself.

Dan said...

I grew up in the 80s, so I still love listening to all the pop and rock 80s music. I also listen to a lot of 70s yacht-rock type music. I like some new music as well, but there is so much good stuff from the past I mostly listen to that.

Tim said...

@clyde

Listened to the album, after Alexa wouldn't find it and I had to go and manually search for it. Very nice, and the album felt like one of the old LPs, set up to be listened to all at once as a LP, instead of 12 disconnected songs.

@New profile who dis?

How are we supposed to find this new music? You don't hear it on the radio, Amazon does not put it in "My soundtrack" which analyzes my listening habits and drops in new artists and songs to see if I give them a thumbs up, my other listening go to, Pandora, does not put them on my stations like they do other songs. And BOTH those services are very good at picking out songs that I like very much.

Gravel said...

Tim -
I discovered all of those artists (except Keen) on the old iTunes radio and Amazon prime music. Keen was the artist I plugged in initially.