Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Friday, August 30, 2019

A Brief History of the Many Times Baseball Has Died

To read these one after another is to be hit by a dizzying sense of déjà vu. You’ve seen this before. We’ve all seen this before. (And if this line of thinking feels familiar, too, I saw after wrapping my 100-article survey that Bryan Curtis of Grantland took his own journey through the archives with this theme back in 2014.) But the debate is replayed, over and over, with little concession given to the fact that it’s a rerun. Eventually, “baseball is dying” solidified into such a guarantee that rebuttal columns started to pop up without bothering to say who, exactly, they were trying to rebut. “Baseball is dying” was the naturally assumed starting point, because of course it was.

The discussion grew stale so quickly that these rebuttals soon became openly playful. In 1893, a syndicated wire piece jokingly drew a line from these death calls to Edward Gibbon’s six-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: “It was predicted last year that the interest in baseball was dying out, and there were many Gibbons who wrote its ‘decline and fall.’” (Yes, 1893, still before the foundation of the American League.) The Sporting News got sarcastic about the whole deal in 1935: “Baseball falling off, eh? Pittsburgh sets a brand new record for a National League game with close to 41,000. New York establishes a new mark for the entire league, with 64,000… Yep, baseball is dying a miserable death.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 30, 2019 at 06:27 AM | 97 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: baseball is dead

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. My name is RMc and I feel extremely affected Posted: August 30, 2019 at 09:58 AM (#5875524)
Baseball has died even more often than rock and roll.
   2. Esoteric Posted: August 30, 2019 at 10:43 AM (#5875556)
Rock and roll is actually pretty damn dead, alas.

Would that it were not so, but it is.

Baseball lives on.
   3. . Posted: August 30, 2019 at 11:48 AM (#5875596)
The fact that it's been deemed to have died so many times for so long shows that it carries the seeds of its ultimate death within it.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: August 30, 2019 at 01:36 PM (#5875650)
The Kansas City Royals are being sold for $1B, a more than tenfold increase in less than 20 years. Baseball has never been in better shape, even if BBTF has become increasingly curmudgeonly.
   5. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 30, 2019 at 01:49 PM (#5875656)
Great great stuff.

This week's local representation can be seen under the heading "Aristides Aquino sets MLB record for most home runs in first 100 plate appearances".
   6. jmurph Posted: August 30, 2019 at 02:43 PM (#5875675)
Rock and roll is actually pretty damn dead, alas.

I can't imagine what extremely narrow definition of "rock and roll" would be required to make this true, but go nuts I guess.
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 02:54 PM (#5875676)
Well, rock is dead as a "pop" genre among young people. It will probably continue to exist with smaller, dedicated audiences. It probably won't be as successful as jazz at cultivating and maintaining its niche, just because it won't have the cultural and art cred that jazz does. But there will certainly continue to be niche scenes for at least certain subgenres of rock. Punk and metal, for example.
   8. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 02:55 PM (#5875677)
Rock and roll is actually pretty damn dead, alas.


It's been driven underground. I think there are still about a billion good bands out there, but they don't have mainstream appeal, it would seem.

I will say that it sounds like almost everything's been done before. Most of the new bands I like can be handily described by "[60's band] meets [90s band]" or something like that. Not to say that they're all ripoffs or pastiches, but I think it's become very difficult to make authentically creative / unique / sui generis rock n roll sounds.

But the world of rock is so large, maybe I'm just listening to the wrong stuff.

Or maybe it's been like that for decades, and I'm just now realizing it.
   9. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 02:59 PM (#5875679)
I just opened Spotify and there's a playlist on the front page called "All New Rock." I will listen to it.
   10. jmurph Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:04 PM (#5875682)
Well, rock is dead as a "pop" genre among young people. It will probably continue to exist with smaller, dedicated audiences. It probably won't be as successful as jazz at cultivating and maintaining its niche, just because it won't have the cultural and art cred that jazz does. But there will certainly continue to be niche scenes for at least certain subgenres of rock. Punk and metal, for example.

This just strikes me as a commerce/market comment though, not a comment on the genre. There's tons (and tons and tons) of great guitar-based, 4 or 5-piece bands putting out great rock music this year, just like previous years.
   11. Lassus Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:06 PM (#5875683)
The fact that it's been deemed to have died so many times for so long shows that it carries the seeds of its ultimate death within it.

So kids really HAVE been worse than their parents since... the beginning of time.
   12. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:24 PM (#5875694)
This just strikes me as a commerce/market comment though, not a comment on the genre.
Well, it's a comment on the viability ("life") of the genre in the market. So, both.
   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:27 PM (#5875695)
For both baseball and rock, has anything ever become mainly associated with middle-aged (or older) white guys and continued to be cool for young people (unironically, that is)? I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Let's face it, we're a cultural death sentence for the things we love.
   14. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5875696)
It will probably continue to exist with smaller, dedicated audiences. It probably won't be as successful as jazz at cultivating and maintaining its niche, just because it won't have the cultural and art cred that jazz does. But there will certainly continue to be niche scenes for at least certain subgenres of rock. Punk and metal, for example.


I think this is too pessimistic. Parents still play their kids Beatles songs before they're 5 years old. Though there are very few recognizable rock artists in the Billboard Top 40 anymore, the genre still has important broad support. It's still a part of the culture. I think it'll have a comeback.

Jazz's "success" is highly questionable - it's largely seen as a dead art, whose last new high-profile star (Wynton Marsalis) was a shameless revivalist whose prime was decades ago. It's largely a museum piece. (It's not actually dead, of course, because there are many exciting young artists in every genre imaginable these days, but that's the general impression one has.)
   15. jmurph Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:36 PM (#5875698)
I just think 12/13 rely on a very narrow definition of rock music. We've had a related discussion in the pop culture thread and I'm sort of on board with it in the narrow confines of, like, top 40. So sure, on the one hand that's a thing, but on the other hand I don't particularly care about what's happening in top 40/mainstream radio anyway. But exciting, guitar rock is still totally happening and is popular (even among the youngs!).

If you live in any kind of city, the bands that are playing the clubs in your city are rock bands, they're not people trying to be the next Bieber (a hilariously outdated reference but I'm not really up on the latest pop sensation!).

EDIT: PF gets at some of this in the first paragraph in 14, I'd just expand it further.
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:36 PM (#5875699)
the genre still has important broad support.
Not among the mainstream of people under, say, 30. How do you think a comeback would happen? What would be the mechanism(s)?
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:37 PM (#5875700)
I don't think rock is underground. If you look at the concert list at any big mainstream venue, there will be at least a few rock acts. Ain't no jazz ones...
   18. Nasty Nate Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5875702)
Not among the mainstream of people under, say, 30. How do you think a comeback would happen?
People under 30 become people over 30...
   19. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:40 PM (#5875704)
I just think 12/13 rely on a very narrow definition of rock music. We've had a related discussion in the pop culture thread and I'm sort of on board with it in the narrow confines of, like, top 40. So sure, on the one hand that's a thing, but on the other hand I don't particularly care about what's happening in top 40/mainstream radio anyway. But exciting, guitar rock is still totally happening and is popular (even among the youngs!).

If you live in any kind of city, the bands that are playing the clubs in your city are rock bands, they're not people trying to be the next Bieber (a hilariously outdated reference but I'm not really up on the latest pop sensation!).
I disagree that bands playing in small clubs in cities is enough to constitute being "popular" in any meaningful sense of the word, especially when Drake and Taylor Swift and their ilk have gazillions of downloads and whatever other metrics they use these days.
   20. jmurph Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:41 PM (#5875707)
I disagree that bands playing in small clubs in cities is enough to constitute being "popular" in any meaningful sense of the word, especially when Drake and Taylor Swift and their ilk have gazillions of downloads and whatever other metrics they use these days.

I agree that inserting the word "small" before "clubs" would negate the argument, but luckily for me I didn't do that!
   21. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:45 PM (#5875708)
Not among the mainstream of people under, say, 30.

I'm not sure. I don't know enough of these people. But as we've discussed previously, "mainstream" describes an ever-decreasing swath of the population.

How do you think a comeback would happen? What would be the mechanism(s)?

Some new Green Day or Guns n Roses type band makes a lot of hits? Seems pretty easy to imagine. I don't see why DJ Khaled will reign victorious for the rest of time.
   22. jmurph Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:46 PM (#5875709)
Also the ####### Eagles apparently had the 3rd highest grossing North American tour in 2018, if you want to check on the health of arena-sized tours.
   23. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:46 PM (#5875710)
OK, fine, delete "small." I maintain my position.
   24. jmurph Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:52 PM (#5875714)
OK, fine, delete "small." I maintain my position.

But that's where the good stuff has been happening for decades now. Most of the bands selling out arenas in the 90s also sucked (and on that note, I really doubt DJ Khaled is selling out arenas on a yearly basis anyway).
   25. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:55 PM (#5875715)
If you look at Spotify's list of most-played rock artists, there are like 3 of today's bands (like Imagine Dragons) stuck in between the Stones, Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc. Obviously that's not a good argument that rock n roll is in a healthy place, but I'd say that if kids these days are still at least listening to the Stones and such, at least we have a chance. It's not the stuffed and moldy specimen that jazz is, but I agree that it's getting there.

But the indie scene is still totally vibrant.
   26. Sunday silence Posted: August 30, 2019 at 04:52 PM (#5875736)
If this leads to another Pavement thread I swear I'm gonna slit my wrists
   27. Greg Pope Posted: August 30, 2019 at 04:52 PM (#5875737)
Some new Green Day or Guns n Roses type band makes a lot of hits? Seems pretty easy to imagine.

But the new band would never get played on Top 40 radio. So they can't have hits. In the 80's you had Top 40 radio with Madonna right alongside Bon Jovi. There's none of that now. The closest you get is, what, Fall Out Boy?Imagine Dragons? Sure, there are a hundred other musical outlets, but none of them are going to have big hits.

Also the ####### Eagles apparently had the 3rd highest grossing North American tour in 2018, if you want to check on the health of arena-sized tours.

Yes, but it's primarily middle-aged white folks who have money who are going to those. There's no current rock bands doing that.

   28. . Posted: August 30, 2019 at 04:55 PM (#5875739)
And they don't really know even what they're talkin' about
And I can't imagine what empty heads can achieve

Leave me alone, don't want your promises no more
'Cos rock & roll is my religion and my law
Won't ever change, may think it's strange
You can't kill rock & roll, it's here to stay
   29. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 04:57 PM (#5875742)
If this leads to another Pavement thread I swear I'm gonna slit my wrists
Just don't you go and cut your hair.
   30. . Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5875743)
It may lay dormant for awhile, but rock and roll will never be dead. Its example and general quality and high-level performers and material are too powerful an art form to die out forever.
   31. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:02 PM (#5875744)
But the new band would never get played on Top 40 radio. So they can't have hits. In the 80's you had Top 40 radio with Madonna right alongside Bon Jovi. There's none of that now. The closest you get is, what, Fall Out Boy?Imagine Dragons? Sure, there are a hundred other musical outlets, but none of them are going to have big hits.
Exactly. I had thought of Muse as maybe another example, but no, they have had only three songs on the Billboard Hot 100, none since 2013, and none higher than #37.
   32. Nasty Nate Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:02 PM (#5875745)
Some new Green Day or Guns n Roses type band makes a lot of hits? Seems pretty easy to imagine.
But the new band would never get played on Top 40 radio. So they can't have hits.
What? Green Day and GNR weren't played on Top 40 radio, either. And if they were, it was long after they were already superstars.

There are still hits ... whether or not they will be rock hits is the question.
   33. Greg Pope Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:10 PM (#5875749)
What? Green Day and GNR weren't played on Top 40 radio, either. And if they were, it was long after they were already superstars.

Here are GnR top 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles:

Welcome to the Jungle
Sweet Child o Mine
Paradise City
Patience
Don't Cry
November Rain

You don't get on the Billboard charts without being on Top 40 radio.
   34. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:14 PM (#5875751)
But the new band would never get played on Top 40 radio.


Don't you guys see why this is a logic fail?

"If nothing ever changes, then nothing will ever change!"
   35. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:17 PM (#5875752)
The playlists of Top 40 radio stations are more of a symptom anyway - even more so these days, they are focus-grouped, etc. to reflect what the mainstream consumers say they want to hear. The big-picture problem for rock is that there's just not the demand for it or relevance in the broader pop culture. (I'm not one of those people who thinks people just go for whatever the corporate machines give them, and so if the corporate machines suddenly decided to push rock again, it would become popular again.)

So my question is, what sort of cultural shift would happen to create mass popular demand for rock again? Which brings me back to the question of if anything has ever survived being linked to middle-aged white guys.
   36. Nasty Nate Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:25 PM (#5875753)
Which brings me back to the question of if anything has ever survived being linked to middle-aged white guys.
To answer your question: Yes, everything. Golf. The Rolling Stones. Baseball. Star Wars. SUVs. Poker. Etc... They all survive.
   37. . Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:27 PM (#5875756)
What sort of cultural shift took someone like van Gogh from pretty much destitute while living to a guy whose paintings sell for millions? Tastes change, perspectives on history and earlier artistic movements change. Look at something like the critical reception of American Beauty, which went from high to low in like two years.
   38. Nasty Nate Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:28 PM (#5875758)
You don't get on the Billboard charts without being on Top 40 radio.
Wouldn't being extremely popular on Rock radio stations (which frequently outnumbered Top 40 stations ) and on MTV do the trick?
   39. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 30, 2019 at 06:27 PM (#5875769)
To answer your question: Yes, everything. Golf. The Rolling Stones. Baseball. Star Wars. SUVs. Poker. Etc... They all survive.
Sorry, I meant ‘survived’ in the sense of ‘continued to be or again became cool with young people’ (see 13). I think your examples prove my point pretty well. Golf only became cool, to whatever extent it was, with Tiger. Maybe poker, although I don’t know how mainstream cool that is.
   40. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: August 30, 2019 at 06:28 PM (#5875770)
So here's the mind-blowing thing about this: rock is so so so young. Also dead. But very young. Paul McCartney is showing up on late night talk shows. Robert Plant released an album in 2017. These towering figures of the genre are still around. Heck, we only just lost Chuck Berry. When future music historians look back on popular music,* rock and roll will be a tiny blip. Basically, our parents listened to it, and we listened to it, and our kids might grudgingly acknowledge that not all of it is terrible, and then that's that.

*Related note: I wonder how long "popular music" is going to be a thing. MTV hasn't played a video in decades, kids don't hide under the covers listening to walkmen anymore. The traditional means by which music was distributed on a large scale are going away. And what's replacing it (e.g. Pandora) actually encourage fragmentation. It may be that rock is dying, and so, eventually, will everything else. Not in the "all things must pass" way, but in the sense that there may just not be anything musical that carries large-scale cultural cachet eventually.
   41. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 30, 2019 at 08:21 PM (#5875785)
It's hard to contemplate something as "dead" when so much great rock is still being made and distributed. I still search out new music every day, and I hope I will be able to indefinitely. It still has the same importance in my life that it did 40 years ago, and I suspect it will until the day I die - it's just mutated into a different form. But I'm fully aware that I'm no longer in touch with the musical mainstream, and I'm fine with that.
   42. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: August 30, 2019 at 09:32 PM (#5875808)
Didn't Tool just dominate all the Billboard charts? (Yes, I'm aware it's due to how the charts are measured now and because they just released their music to streaming services.)

New CD is great, by the way.
   43. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 30, 2019 at 09:44 PM (#5875811)
"Professional baseball is on the wane. Salaries must come down or the interest of the public must be increased in some way. If one or the other does not happen, bankruptcy stares every team in the face."

-- Albert Spalding, 1881.
   44. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 09:48 PM (#5875812)
So my question is, what sort of cultural shift would happen to create mass popular demand for rock again?


My contention is that rock n roll remains fundamental enough in our culture that it wouldn't require a significant cultural shift. (That true rock n roll bands are absent from the Top 40 doesn't necessarily mean that everyone under 30 finds rock embarrassing, lame and old-fashioned.)

And anyway, unaccountable cultural shifts happen all the time. I can't explain how international EDM came to dominate the pop landscape, can you? But it happened.

Which brings me back to the question of if anything has ever survived being linked to middle-aged white guys.


Well ... how about comic book super heroes?
   45. Greg Pope Posted: August 30, 2019 at 09:56 PM (#5875814)
Wouldn't being extremely popular on Rock radio stations (which frequently outnumbered Top 40 stations ) and on MTV do the trick?

No. They have other charts, like Rock, Alternative, R&B, etc. For example, when Thor: Ragnarok came out, The Immigrant Song shot up to number 1 on the rock charts. Came nowhere near a reappearance on the Hot 100.

I realize in the part you quoted that I said "Billboard Charts", but above that I mentioned the Hot 100. In general when people talk about #1 songs, top 10, top 40, etc., they're referring to the Hot 100. GnR definitely made appearances on the Hot 100. As did Bon Jovi and Van Halen, as well as such bands as Cinderella (2 top 15 songs), Slaughter (1 top 20 song, 1 top 30 song), and Skid Row (2 top 5 songs).

That's hard rock mostly, but that's what someone brought up. You also had Journey, Styx, Bryan Adams, etc. on the charts. Side by side with Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Lionel Richie. You'd be hard pressed to find people who were kids in the 80's who didn't recognize everyone I mentioned here.

Now? Kids know Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Ed Sheeran. They've never heard of Greta van Fleet. There's no variety in top 40 radio. So rock has no avenue to come back. As pointed out, it may still exist, but not really in the public consciousness. What would it take? I don't know. I agree with posts 39-42. To some extent music is fracturing, but there's still Taylor Swift et al. I think that the issue, like a lot of things we discuss on this board, is huge amounts of information and computing power. If the music industry can keep churning out Shawn Mendes, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, etc. then why would they try anything different? They have figured out what works to maximize sales. So there's no need to try a rock band who might get 75% of Bieber's sales when they can just pump out someone new who is indistinguishable from Bieber.

I also wonder how long before they're going to just have computers write the songs. I've seen some interviews with people that say that computers have basically solved pop music. They know exactly what people like and can have a computer spit out a song that will be guaranteed to be a top 10 hit.

That's why I think rock is dead. Yes, middle aged white guys might still be finding new bands. But when Greta van Fleet can't get a real foothold, there's just no place for it to come back. If rock turns into the current version of classical music or jazz, then yes, it's pretty much dead. People may create new rock, and some people may listed to it, but the general public will never even hear of those people.
   46. DJS Thinks Apples and Oranges are Similar Posted: August 30, 2019 at 10:21 PM (#5875819)
I'm with Greg. Rock music, as a cultural force going forwards, is now effectively dead. Could it have a revival someday? Sure, but I don't see it in this generation. There will always be people listening to rock, but it won't have the platform it had 20 years ago.
   47. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 10:27 PM (#5875822)
I've seen some interviews with people that say that computers have basically solved pop music. They know exactly what people like and can have a computer spit out a song that will be guaranteed to be a top 10 hit.


Terrific. I wonder how many Top 10 hits we'll have at a time then? Like 100?

But when Greta van Fleet can't get a real foothold, there's just no place for it to come back.


Greta Van Fleet is a pastiche of classic rock. If you were hoping that the days of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin would continue unabated for eternity, you were always bound to be disappointed.
   48. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 10:44 PM (#5875823)
That came off as really snide. Sorry.
   49. Howie Menckel Posted: August 30, 2019 at 10:51 PM (#5875826)
"Ray.

People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn into your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door, as innocent as children, longing for the past.

“Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,” you’ll say, “It’s only twenty dollars per person.” And they’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it - for it is money they have, and peace they lack.

And they’ll walk off to the bleachers and sit in their short sleeves on a perfect afternoon. And find they have reserved seats somewhere along the baselines where they sat when they were children. And cheer their heroes. And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as they’d dipped themselves in magic waters.

"The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come, Ray. The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball.

"America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.

"Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come."
   50. Dr. Vaux Posted: August 30, 2019 at 10:53 PM (#5875827)
But who cares about the general public when you can get what you want?
   51. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 11:22 PM (#5875833)
Indeed. As long as there's more good new rock music than any one person can listen to, it's difficult to describe it as a dead art form. If it's a niche, it's a very lively one.
   52. PreservedFish Posted: August 30, 2019 at 11:30 PM (#5875839)
   53. QLE Posted: August 31, 2019 at 12:58 AM (#5875847)
In terms of some of the discussion in #45, I'd also argue something else as being highly important:

Perhaps more than any other of the lively arts, there is a sense with popular music that there are limitations to the ways in which the audience can influence the field, in two separate regards:

1) The consolidation of radio stations, and the controls of their playlists by centralized authorities, limits the ability of listener response to influence what is played on the radio- yes, the idea of DJs playing just what they want to play is mythical, but radio playlists tended to be more responsive to audience interests in an era when radio stations were in competition with one another for ratings.

2) The emergence of the idea that music was something one shouldn't pay for, meanwhile, means that sales have had increasingly minimal influence on the singles chart, and, while they have made the album charts more entertaining (Broadway cast recordings appearing on the higher reaches of the charts for the first time since the 1960s, for example), the total sales are much, much smaller than they were 20 years ago, and therefore similarly more limited in broader influence.

In comparison, ticket-buyers still have considerable say with the movies (look at all the franchises that have busted in the last few years), both old-line television ratings and subscriptions to various services have heavy influence with television (particularly in terms of things being made in the first place), and commercial theater relies a lot on it selling tickets.

There are several ways in which 1) and 2) demonstrate themselves on the charts- note that singles chart for far longer now than they did in an era when single sales and variable radio airplay had more influence. More directly related to the issues with rock is the sense that there is ossification in terms of what is played. To a heavy degree, the sound of music on the pop charts (and even the artists in question, to a lesser degree) is still that of the moment in time when this consolidation occurred- and, since it was one where what rock music that made the charts was turgid sludge, that rock music that doesn't sound like that isn't on the programmers' radar.

In any event, these are the issues in terms of rock as a commercial music- I'll leave it to others to comment on artistic matters.
   54. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 31, 2019 at 11:30 AM (#5875892)

I will say that it sounds like almost everything's been done before. Most of the new bands I like can be handily described by "[60's band] meets [90s band]" or something like that. Not to say that they're all ripoffs or pastiches, but I think it's become very difficult to make authentically creative / unique / sui generis rock n roll sounds.


Welcome to the 21st century. The 5th century equivalent of this was people writing Christian stories using snippets of Homer. Eclecticism and pastiche are perfectly legitimate ways of making art.
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: August 31, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5875898)
You don't get on the Billboard charts without being on Top 40 radio.


Wouldn't being extremely popular on Rock radio stations (which frequently outnumbered Top 40 stations ) and on MTV do the trick?


exactly... I don't even know what the top 40 radio station is in St Louis... I just did a google for top rated radio in St Louis... and top station is classic rock, second is alternative, third is country, fourth is classic hits....(that is a station that decided to play Gloria for 24 hours straight when the Blues won any series in the Stanley Cup)


Of course the popular stations are almost always playing older music, so it would require, as pointed out above, that a new artist/release is able to penetrate into these stations, but if they do, they will get repeated play on the most popular stations in the city. So they don't have to be on a top 40 radio station (they might eventually get played there, but it won't be the cause of their popularity)
   56. DJS Thinks Apples and Oranges are Similar Posted: August 31, 2019 at 11:59 AM (#5875899)
But who cares about the general public when you can get what you want?

Well, the more people making the stuff you want, the better stuff you want you can get.
   57. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 31, 2019 at 12:06 PM (#5875900)
while they have made the album charts more entertaining (Broadway cast recordings appearing on the higher reaches of the charts for the first time since the 1960s, for example), the total sales are much, much smaller than they were 20 years ago

Indeed. My favorite band, Tower of Power, scored the first #1 album of their 50-year career last year.

On the Jazz Albums and Contemporary Jazz Albums charts. Personally, I'd argue with those definitions, but whatever....

It sold 3000 copies in its first week.
   58. Lassus Posted: August 31, 2019 at 12:46 PM (#5875912)
I'm with Greg. Rock music, as a cultural force going forwards, is now effectively dead.

The last time, and the time before that, and the time before that they said rock was dead, it wasn't really dead.

Now, however, it really, truly is, because we GET IT. Not like those oldsters. They didn't know anything. We're different from them.

Parents are so lame.
   59. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 31, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5875915)
For both baseball and rock, has anything ever become mainly associated with middle-aged (or older) white guys and continued to be cool for young people (unironically, that is)? I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Let's face it, we're a cultural death sentence for the things we love.

The question for baseball is this: At what point did it stop being the default sporting pastime of small boys and amateur adult athletes? I'd say sometime in the late 1950's for the former, but more like sometime in the 1930's for the latter. From a spectator's standpoint, baseball continues to thrive, if not as much as it used to, but in terms of participation it's barely even a niche sport.

In terms of overall market share of interest, baseball peaked sometime in the late 1940's, when the Majors set attendance figures that in many cases haven't been eclipsed when you adjust for population growth, and when there were SIXTY-FOUR (64) minor leagues.

And then along came TV and home air conditioning, and now you know the rest of the story.

As for rock, it's been re-defined so many times an split off in so many directions that it's almost impossible to say whether it's alive or dead. It all depends on how you look at it.
   60. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: August 31, 2019 at 01:07 PM (#5875918)
My favorite band, Tower of Power, scored the first #1 album of their 50-year career last year.

It shows just how disconnected I am to the contemporary music scene that I associate Tower of Power with this song alone. Back then they were strictly an old school R&B band.
   61. crict Posted: August 31, 2019 at 01:15 PM (#5875922)
Just looked up the Foo Fighters, one of the last rock and roll superstar groups still active, and they haven't had a Hot 100 hit since 2011, none in the top 70 since 2007, and only 2 in top 20 ever (Best of You and Learn to Fly).

A band like Cage the Elephant, who has poppier ballads, has never reached the Hot 100.

I saw both in concerts in the last year. The crowd for the Foo Fighters was old. For CTE it was surprisingly younger.
   62. Sunday silence Posted: August 31, 2019 at 01:38 PM (#5875927)
note that singles chart for far longer now than they did in an era when single sales and variable radio airplay had more influence.


Can you elaborate on this some more? I read your whole post but I dont get the connection about how singles sales and airplay contribute to this phenomenon.
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 31, 2019 at 01:53 PM (#5875932)
Not among the mainstream of people under, say, 30. How do you think a comeback would happen? What would be the mechanism(s)?

Generation A (or whatever it will be called) revolts against the hideous tastes of their Gen Z parents.

Exactly how every change in musical tastes happens.
   64. J in the Slope Posted: August 31, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5875934)
Which brings me back to the question of if anything has ever survived being linked to middle-aged white guys.


Rock did. But not currently. Rock was absolutely the music of my parents (and my in-laws). I recently hit my early-40s and my father-in-law got his first tattoo (the band America's logo) a couple of years ago. He's now in his late 60s. Rock survived being the music of the older generation by creating newer, younger genres - hair metal, grunge, thrash metal, even pop-punk and nu-metal.

But it hasn't survived Millenials as a cultural institution. Part of what makes music special is the shared experience of youth. Rock music used to be part of that (play Paradise City to a group of 40-50-year olds), but it isn't currently. I think the genre has lost the ladies. Women are a key part for crossover to the popular world. The Beatles and Springsteen and Bon Jovi and Green Day and Pearl Jam had them. I think the late-90s hurt with nu-metal and whatever sludge-rock was going on. Pop-punk helped a bit in the early 2000s, but that was it.

I've been a bit bummed out about it for around a decade or so. I don't think rock will go the way of Ragtime, but I can see it becoming Jazz in 30 years. Even movies about rock seem historical. Blinded by the Light is set in 1987 and Yesterday is about music from the 1960s.
   65. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 31, 2019 at 05:06 PM (#5875981)
Could it also be that some of the boundaries of what is thought of as rock and what isn't may have shifted? I'm thinking of artists such as Ed Sheeran and Adele, who by any standard are two of the most prominent popular musicians in the world. They are not generally considered rock, but I think that in an earlier era they would have been. Rock in its heyday had room for artists who were more on the pop side of the genre, and I think both of those artists would have been included. (I'm making no comment here on the quality of their music, although I actually like some of their material, and have a "meh" reaction to others of their songs.)

Ed Sheeran is basically a singer-songwriter with a guitar. His new album is a collaboration with various pop and hip-hop artists, but I haven't heard it, so it doesn't figure into my comments. But songs such as "The A Team" are pure singer-songwriter material, with a folk edge. That song is not that far removed from indie-folk. Back in the 1970s, singer-songwriters such as James Taylor, Cat Stevens, and Jim Croce* sold millions of records, and still fitted under the rock umbrella. They obviously weren't Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, or The Clash, but they definitely were thought of as a sub-genre of rock. Even if you look at something like "Perfect", which was a massive hit for Sheeran, it's still basically singer-songwriter pop-rock, with strings. It's even got an acoustic guitar break.

* Croce had a very strong streak of pre-Beatles rock in his sound.

Adele is basically a singer-songwriter with Dusty Springfield vibes, although she mainly writes her own songs and Dusty didn't. She's covered The Cure and Bonnie Raitt, and done justice to both of them. Is she pop? Absolutely. But if this were the '60s or '70s, she'd be considered a pop-rock singer as Dusty was.
   66. QLE Posted: August 31, 2019 at 05:39 PM (#5875987)
Can you elaborate on this some more? I read your whole post but I dont get the connection about how singles sales and airplay contribute to this phenomenon.


Sure.

In terms of single sales: Traditionally, single sales made up a large chunk of how the Billboard Hot 100 (and similar single charts) were calculated. In the era when people bought physical singles in large numbers, these sales would ebb and flow, as certain recordings gained and lost in popularity. Now, with single sales being basically dead, they don't have that influence in terms of calculating how the Hot 100 is assembled, as it increasingly has become an airplay chart.

This is where the consolidation of music radio matters more. When most media markets had various popular music stations in competition with one another, it encouraged them to break new singles, and to air new music in a way to try to get one up on the competition. With music radio now so heavily consolidated, this competitive aspect isn't present anymore- and, as a result, radio programmers find it easier to play the same songs over and over and over again, in ways they weren't able to get away with in previous times. This means that the combination of singles charts basically becoming airplay charts and the changes in how long songs can stay on the air makes singles last longer on the pop charts- sales surges aren't displacing singles as they used to, and the increased time songs stay on the radio makes them last longer on the charts.

In other words, the two are interconnected with one another- as one collapses in relevance, the flaw with the other one become more apparent.

I hope this is helpful.
   67. Omineca Greg Posted: August 31, 2019 at 10:19 PM (#5876039)
my father-in-law got his first tattoo (the band America's logo)


Like, A Horse With No Name and Sister Golden Hair America?
   68. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: September 01, 2019 at 08:55 AM (#5876074)
With music radio now so heavily consolidated, this competitive aspect isn't present anymore- and, as a result, radio programmers find it easier to play the same songs over and over and over again,

Sort of like the way that for some unexplained reason, the MLB Network, ESPN and all the Extra Innings channels feel compelled to inform us about 1000 times a day that Mike Trout calls his dad before every game. It's like no other sponsors are available.
   69. J in the Slope Posted: September 01, 2019 at 09:48 AM (#5876078)
Like, A Horse With No Name and Sister Golden Hair America?


Yep. Those guys. Ventura Highway, etc.
   70. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 01, 2019 at 11:27 AM (#5876084)
Well, the more people making the stuff you want, the better stuff you want you can get.


This is, of course, true. Luckily, population growth and increased ease of information transmission have so far tended to lead to more raw numbers of individual people making every conceivable kind of stuff regardless of percentages in the broad population. I expect that's true of every kind of music that's ever existed, at least as defined relatively broadly. Since I know you're a fellow aficionado, I'll talk about my particular concerns. Despite near-invisibility in the popular consciousness, I'd be willing to bet that there have been more new pieces of what I like to call "fully-notated music" (since it's the only term I've been able to come up with for what others call "art," "classical," or "serious" music that's descriptive of a factor relevant to defining it) written in the past year than in any previous year, and that that's been the case continuously for at least the last 300 years. Performances of that new music might have decreased in number, but since a single recorded performance can theoretically be heard by every subsequent set of ears that might come into existence, I've tried to avoid falling into depression on that account. Recordings are a more efficient way of leveraging funding money than performances, anyway (and popular music figured that out decades ago).
   71. PreservedFish Posted: September 01, 2019 at 01:09 PM (#5876095)
OG cut off a few words that made this bombshell even more bombtastic:

I recently hit my early-40s and my father-in-law got his first tattoo (the band America's logo) a couple of years ago.


A couple of years ago?? It's one thing to get such a tattoo when you're young and stupid and in the thrall of some heady short-lived phenomenon, like Homer Simpson and his Starland Vocal Band tattoo. But at his age?
   72. Omineca Greg Posted: September 01, 2019 at 02:46 PM (#5876121)
Yeah, I like all that stuff as much as the next guy, in fact maybe even more, but I ain't getting no Dan Fogelberg tattoo. That's a commitment I'm not comfortable with. I sort of feel I've already been bodily violated by walking around with the lyrics to Longer stuck in my brain.

Here, Here, I'll go wake up my wife by singing Longer to her. We'll see what reaction I get...

Longer than there've been fishes in the ocean

[A smile] This is going way better than I thought!

Higher than any bird ever flew

[Batted eyelashes] You know, there's a reason I committed this to memory when I was a much higher T individual than I am today.

Longer than there've been stars up in the heavens

"You are very sweet, but please. Stop it."

[kiss on ear] I've been in love with you...

That actually went pretty well. I'm sad I didn't make it to the cathedral/primeval part, that part's pure class.
   73. Jay Z Posted: September 01, 2019 at 03:28 PM (#5876134)
Here is my experience.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s rock was the music of youth. Nearly every rock band tried to appeal to a general (youth) audience. Even the wimpier bands would still have the occasional harder hitting number. On the other side, the hard bands would have their occasional ballad, country style number, etc. This may have been because most everyone in a band came from a "dance band" culture where bands were a sole source of music for people, and expected to please a lot of different type of folks.

By the 1980s the genres started becoming more prevalent. You also had the "genre" of Classic Rock. James Taylor was probably considered in the rock idiom in the 1970s. By the 1980s James Taylor fans just wanted to hear James Taylor. The fanbase had aged and was no longer interested in hearing music similar to what James Taylor might create, they just wanted James Taylor. So a portion of the marketplace was shut off from new artists.

So by the 1980s, most all new artists were either pop metal or alternative. Nirvana and grunge combined the two, with punk attitude. Punk attitude is I suppose more durable than the original 1950s style rebellion, because punk is not receptive to any outside input. But that also keeps punk from changing and growing. And... attracting women. Most women, anyway. Elvis and the Beatles appealed to many women by playing the pop game with an edge. The grunge/alternative movement was incapable of playing the pop game long term. Kind of hard to play the pop game when you are complaining about "the wrong people" liking your material.

Kurt Cobain killed pop metal, then he killed himself. Rock's never been the same. If I was a new artist, wanted to "make it", I would not want to be called "rock." I'd go another way. Use other influences.

Then there's country, which sucked up a lot of the rock audience, the part that didn't want the punk rebellion and to be sneered at by the performers. With country, all you have to do right now is wear the right clothes, or put in a bit of twang or a lyrical nod, and you've got a lot of creativity. What creativity could a new rock artist display at this point?

Bluegrass is another one where the traditional music I find formalistic and hidebound, but the newer bands will change things up. Gets away from the (by now hidebound itself) rock instrumentation as well. Again, probably a genre that would be more appealing to me as a performer at this point.
   74. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 01, 2019 at 04:06 PM (#5876153)
Well, the "wrong people" that Kurt complained about liking his music was very specific, and hard to disagree with...

“At this point I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us — leave us the #### alone! Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”
   75. Greg Pope Posted: September 01, 2019 at 04:27 PM (#5876166)
Kurt Cobain killed pop metal

I would mostly agree. I’m not a fan of grunge so this is a biased viewpoint. But as you said, grunge took rock in more of a niche direction. And nobody brought it back. A friend of mine actually blames the death of rock on Axl Rose. He claims that GnR was the band that was supposed to steer rock back “on track”. But Axl went nuts, destroyed the band, and didn’t put out another album. I think that’s a bit over the top, but the point is that nobody brought rock back to the mainstream after grunge.

Then there’s country, which sucked up a lot of the rock audience

This is where I went, for sure. When Nirvana and Pearl Jam were being played on the rock stations, I was looking for something else. I found Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt, etc. It wasn’t exactly like rock, but it was guitar based and closer to the music I liked. I got away from it in the 2000’s. It my kids listen to country, and many songs still have guitar solos. You don’t find guitar solos in pop music any more. Even Imagine Dragons or Maroon 5 don’t do guitar solos. That’s probably what I miss most in current pop music, even the songs I like.
   76. J in the Slope Posted: September 01, 2019 at 04:42 PM (#5876173)
A couple of years ago?? It's one thing to get such a tattoo when you're young and stupid and in the thrall of some heady short-lived phenomenon, like Homer Simpson and his Starland Vocal Band tattoo. But at his age?


I think his son marrying a tattoo artist had something to do with it but, yeah, he was in his mid-60s or close to it at the time. Made more sense to me getting some ink at 64 than 19 (but not as much sense as 29), but I don't have and don't want any myself. The dude reportedly lived harder in the 80s than I have in my life, so I'm not terribly surprised.

Then there's country, which sucked up a lot of the rock audience
.

I think this is a key point. I think millions of people who would have listened to Poison or The Eagles or Blink 182 are listening to country for their guitar-based music.

What creativity could a new rock artist display at this point?

I also think clothing styles have mostly stagnated for a decade, which is just bizarre and hasn't happened in a century (1935 doesn't look like 1945. 1955 and 1965? 1975? 1985? 1995? 2005?) 2019 and 2009 look pretty similar to me, but I also am now old.
   77. OsunaSakata Posted: September 01, 2019 at 04:51 PM (#5876175)
Before Soundscan in 1991, the Billboard Hot 100 was based on surveys of airplay and record stores, which was what program directors and record store owners said the hits were. When Soundscan started counting actually singles sales, country, hip-hop, and R&B turned out to be a lot more popular. The current charts are mostly fueled by streaming.

"Old Town Road", a hip-hop/country fusion, was finally knocked off the top of the charts two weeks ago by "Bad Guy", which sounds like Marilyn Manson to me. "Bad Guy" only lasted a week, before being supplanted by "Señorita", which is so conventional, it wouldn't have been weird on the charts 60 years ago.
   78. vortex of dissipation Posted: September 01, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5876179)
So by the 1980s, most all new artists were either pop metal or alternative. Nirvana and grunge combined the two, with punk attitude.


Grunge bands generally disliked pop metal - by this I specifically mean hair bands such as Warrant, Motley Crue, Ratt, etc. Grunge bands were very influenced by metal bands, but bands more in the Black Sabbath mode. Several prominent musicians in the genre, such as Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, have metal backgrounds. But you're absolutely right that Grunge fused elements of punk and metal, which were previously distinct genres.

But as you said, grunge took rock in more of a niche direction.


The grunge/alternative movement was incapable of playing the pop game long term.


Grunge (and I don't care much for the term, but I'll use it) was its own niche, and it had no intention of playing the pop game. Did Kurt Cobain want as many people as possible to hear his music? Certainly, of course he did. But he wanted them to do so on his terms. He had little interest in playing the pop game. And he was critical of Pearl Jam, who certainly were the exception in this regard, for doing so. The very reason that Pearl Jam existed (via Mother Love Bone) was that a schism developed between the members of Green River, one of the original Grunge bands, over this matter, and the band split into what eventually became Pearl Jam and Mudhoney. And even though Pearl Jam always wanted to be a huge act in the vein of The Who, and sold lot of records, they took a very strange route to do so - not releasing singles or videos, and attempting to do nationwide tours that didn't let Ticketmaster handle ticket sales, leading to problems with finding suitable venues.

Grunge happened so quickly that the bands in it were caught up in a whirlwind. They literally went from playing for audiences of 100 people at the Central Tavern on a Wednesday night to stardom in a year or so. It was very disorienting, and many of the musicians involved already had substance abuse problems, which were amplified by access to money. It was a very strange time. Seattle was its own little musical outpost. But whatever you want to say about the music, in its original form, before the record companies saw a trend and tried to cash in, it was a very organic movement in terms of the music being the important thing, and that it wasn't started with the goal of being a massive commercial success.
   79. PreservedFish Posted: September 01, 2019 at 05:22 PM (#5876185)
I think the way that the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Audioslave etc over the years transitioned to a more straight up classic rock sound suggests that grunge was a less radical departure than it may have seemed at the time. Just scrape away the sludge and the flannel and you find a bunch of guys that pretty much grew up on Zeppelin. Of course it could be that the more conventional rockers were the ones that had staying power.

I was 11 years old when Nirvana got big on MTV, and it was a big deal for boys my age. But at the very same time, we were enjoying "November Rain," and the new Aerosmith and Van Halen albums. I imagine that older fans would have found a contradiction there, but I certainly didn't.
   80. Omineca Greg Posted: September 01, 2019 at 05:31 PM (#5876186)
Rock is built on a lie
The lie is that the music you listen to can make you rebellious and dangerous
Growing your hair long or swivelling or hips or adorning an outfit with safety pins or wearing tight trousers with foil wrapped cucumbers stuffed inside
Buying Tiger Beat or Rolling Stone or Trouser Press doesn't make you dangerous
The cucumbers keep your crotch looking big and smelling fresh, but they aren't rebellious
Young people see through the lie, if they want to be dangerous, they don't listen to music
They go online, where everybody can participate
Music is porn social media is an orgy

I just found out Trouser Press is named after a Bonzo Dog Band song. Pretty good song...it uses a trouser press as an instrument (I just hope they remembered to take the cucumber out...)

Trouser Press
   81. . Posted: September 01, 2019 at 07:49 PM (#5876199)
The difference between Seattle grunge and the rock that preceded it is infinitesimal -- the functional equivalent of none. Those bands cover Who songs and the like in concert and it sounds like exactly the same genre.

I've lost a little touch with the mainstream critical narrative and maybe it's not seen quite this way anymore, but the commonly-expressed opinion that Nevermind and In Utero and Smells Like Teen Spirit was some kind of definitive break from the rock that came before it never made a single shred of sense. It was way better than virtually all of it, but that's a different matter entirely.

I also think clothing styles have mostly stagnated for a decade, which is just bizarre and hasn't happened in a century (1935 doesn't look like 1945. 1955 and 1965? 1975? 1985? 1995? 2005?) 2019 and 2009 look pretty similar to me, but I also am now old.


This is entirely right. Walk into a college, post-college bar and the styles and music and general vibe have barely budged since like 1982. A few more tattoos, maybe a tiny bit more facial hair, women a bit more likely to kiss or make out with each other, but other than that, not much. 1982 is now 37 years ago, making the 1982 equivalent ... 1945. If the massive difference between 1945 and 1982 is a 10, the difference between 1982 and 2019 is a 0.2. Or lower. In terms of style and expression the culture is now pretty much all a pastiche of what came before (*) rather than a perpetual change as it was for a long, long time.

(*) Which is why we now have things like all the throwback uniforms in sports.
   82. Omineca Greg Posted: September 01, 2019 at 09:05 PM (#5876225)
Сильнее любого собора в горах
Правда, чем любое дерево когда-либо росло
Глубже, чем во всех первобытных лесах
Детка, мы оба млекопитающие
Итак, давайте сделаем так, как они это делают
на образовательном телевидении
   83. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: September 02, 2019 at 07:55 AM (#5876249)
I think the way that the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Audioslave etc over the years transitioned to a more straight up classic rock sound suggests that grunge was a less radical departure than it may have seemed at the time. Just scrape away the sludge and the flannel and you find a bunch of guys that pretty much grew up on Zeppelin. Of course it could be that the more conventional rockers were the ones that had staying power.
I was a 19-year-old music snob with my own zine and a show on a college radio station when Nevermind came out. For me and my fellow insufferables there was a clear difference between the Melvins/Mudhoney/The Fluid wing of grunge, which we thought of as descended from punk, and the Pearl Jam/Soundgarden wing, which we considered to be just another form of metal. This was undoubtedly the narcissism of small differences, but it felt real at the time.

A friend of mine and I bought a shared copy of Nevermind (on cassette!) the day it came out, and both immediately hated it because there was so much chorus pedal on the album.

This is entirely right. Walk into a college, post-college bar and the styles and music and general vibe have barely budged since like 1982.
I don't think this is right. I spend a reasonable amount of time in what's more or less a college bar, or at least a graduate student bar, because my next door neighbor owns it. It's rock early (when the 35+ age group are more likely to be there), then rap and EDM late. The funny thing is that a lot of the fashions (high-waisted pants, gender fluidity, undercuts on men) wouldn't have looked out of place in 1982, but they would've looked bizarre in 1992 or 2002.
   84. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: September 02, 2019 at 08:35 AM (#5876251)
Even Imagine Dragons or Maroon 5 don’t do guitar solos


It's a while ago now, but only knowing a couple of Maroon 5 songs, I thought Sweetest Goodbye had a pretty lengthy guitar solo. Perhaps an exception.
   85. Lassus Posted: September 02, 2019 at 08:43 AM (#5876252)
PF's #79 makes sense because as he said, he was 11. I couldn't tell you the difference between Madness and the Talking Heads at 11.

In regards to SBB's #81, I was 21 when Use You Illusion(s) and Nevermind came out. The idea that the difference between them was infinitesimal is stupid. You can go on - calling Sweet Oblivion musically indistinguishable from Bed of Roses is equally nonsensical.
   86. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: September 02, 2019 at 09:17 AM (#5876253)
I couldn't tell you the difference between Madness and the Talking Heads at 11.


Burning down our house . . . in the middle of our street?
   87. Greg Pope Posted: September 02, 2019 at 09:17 AM (#5876254)

It's a while ago now, but only knowing a couple of Maroon 5 songs, I thought Sweetest Goodbye had a pretty lengthy guitar solo. Perhaps an exception.


That's possible. I don't know that song, but looking it up, it's on their first album. They were definitely more of a rock band back then.
   88. Greg Pope Posted: September 02, 2019 at 09:34 AM (#5876255)
In regards to SBB's #81, I was 21 when Use You Illusion(s) and Nevermind came out. The idea that the difference between them was infinitesimal is stupid. You can go on - calling Sweet Oblivion musically indistinguishable from Bed of Roses is equally nonsensical.

81 is completely nonsensical, even by SBB's standard.

However, the post he was responding to is somewhat correct. I'll also grant that I'm old, but there just doesn't seem to be much different over the past 20 years or so. Fashion is mostly the same from what I can tell. I mean, there's some retro stuff you see, but if you're not going retro then it pretty much looks the same. For music, is there any distinguishable difference between early 2000's Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake and today's Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga? I can't speak to hip hop or rap, so maybe that's evolved.

However, Lady Gaga does sound a lot like Madonna. And Ed Sheeran and Camila Cabello and Ariana Grande would fit in any time in the last 40 years or so. It seems that the soft pop/dance songs haven't changed much. But up until 2000 there was always something else going on. In the 70's it was what we now call classic rock. In the 80's it was hair metal and arena rock. In the 90's grunge. I get that nowadays there's probably more "something else" than ever before, but you have to search it out on Spotify (or whatever) to find it. So the "something else" is not mainstream in the way that it was before. I think this leads to the sameness of popular music and might be why there seems to be a stagnation.

Could it happen that the next GnR comes along and takes top 40 by storm? And teenagers say "I've never heard anything like this before"? I suppose it could, but I'm skeptical. I've only seen the trailer for Blinded by the Light, but is any new music going to come along that teenagers become obsessed with in that way? As an example, when Fun. broke out with Some Nights, I read a lot of reviews that said that they perfectly captured the writer's late 20's feelings of loneliness, etc. And they won new artist of the year or something at the grammys. But then they broke up, so I guess we'll never know.
   89. Hot Wheeling American Posted: September 02, 2019 at 09:47 AM (#5876256)
81 is completely nonsensical, even by SBB's standard.

Hey...I think we can all believe SBB is creeping around NYU or Columbia bars, buying shots for girls with the condition that they smooch each other.
   90. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: September 02, 2019 at 09:47 AM (#5876257)
I think the reliance, or even flaunting, of auto-tune is probably the biggest difference I see in 20 years. It's not that it didn't exist twenty years ago, but I feel like it was either a novelty to make a song stand out (Cher?) or was used to help tidy up tracks where the raw talent was, um, not the best. Now it seems to be a conscious choice on an awful lot of charting tracks, as a stylistic thing.

I find it quite off-putting, but then using a phrase like 'quite off-putting', and also checking that I've hyphenated it correctly, also indicates that I'm not the target audience any more, if I ever was.
   91. Greg Pope Posted: September 02, 2019 at 09:57 AM (#5876258)
I think the reliance, or even flaunting, of auto-tune is probably the biggest difference I see in 20 years.

I’ve heard the term but I don’t know what it means. What are some examples?
   92. Omineca Greg Posted: September 02, 2019 at 10:02 AM (#5876260)
Pop culture is just more fractured now. If you think fashion hasn't changed over 20 years, you're not paying attention. It's not even subtle. But what's different is that it's hard to get an image in your mind of what people were wearing in any given year, because the movements aren't as coordinated and universal. It's the same with music. I say "1975" you'll envision certain clothes, and you'll think you have a pretty good handle on it. If I say "2010" you won't. Part of that is the way memory works, sanding off the rough edges and inconsistencies so we don't get overwhelmed by detail, but part of it is a long time cultural trend towards diversification and insularity.

And yes, being older has something to do with it. Talk to a 25 year old who listens to a lot of music, and ask them what's changed in the last ten years. You'll have an interesting and enlightening conversation.

It was late in December, the sky turned to snow
All round the day was going down slow
Night like a river beginning to flow
I felt the beat of my mind go
Drifting into time passages
Years go falling in the fading light
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

Well I'm not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on are the things that don't last
Well it's just now and then my line gets cast into these
Time passages

There's something back here that you left behind
Oh time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

Hear the echoes and feel yourself starting to turn
Don't know why you should feel
That there's something to learn
It's just a game that you play

Well the picture is changing
Now you're part of a crowd
They're laughing at something
And the music's loud
A girl comes towards you
You once used to know
You reach out your hand
But you're all alone, in those
Time passages
I know you're in there, you're just out of sight
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

Stewart
   93. PreservedFish Posted: September 02, 2019 at 10:25 AM (#5876263)
The overall sound on the pop charts is dramatically different. Someone that has been paying attention could very easily identify a 2019 song vs a 1999 song.

I mean, in 1999 we still had Pearl Jam, Smashmouth and Sugar Ray on the top 100 list. Goo Goo Dolls. Matchbox 20. A lot of stuff that is recognizably pop-rock.

But speaking only of the pure pop stuff ... simple song structures can be timeless, and so sure, the latest Ed Sheeran might be at heart just another Jim Croce song. But the flourishes and embellishments are pure 2019.

   94. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: September 02, 2019 at 10:26 AM (#5876264)
I think the reliance, or even flaunting, of auto-tune is probably the biggest difference I see in 20 years.

I’ve heard the term but I don’t know what it means. What are some examples?
Auto-tune is an audio processor that was originally intended to tweak slightly off-note sounds (almost always vocals) to get them on-key. People soon learned that if you forced Auto-tune to move a pitch by more than a little bit the result was an oddly robotic-human mashup output. The first mainstream example of this was in the chorus of Cher's late hit "Believe" (though Cher's camp at the time claimed it was a vocoder, because of a stigma about singing off-key). Since then its become an aesthetic, with lots of pop songs using it throughout. T-Pain, for instance.

The finest Auto-tune song is and will always be Carl Sagan's "A Glorious Dawn", with guest vocals by Stephen Hawking.
   95. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: September 02, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5876266)
I’ve heard the term but I don’t know what it means. What are some examples?


Of 'auto-tune'? Cher's "Believe" was pretty omnipresent at the UK student pop/dance nights of 1998, and it was quite a novelty at the time if I recall correctly. (EDIT: Fernigal got there first.) By now, half of the 'Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse' soundtrack seems to feature it, and when I pulled up an Apple Music-curated playlist of current hip-hop, it was hard to get away from.

Electronic tuning of vocal tracks to be precisely on-key has probably been used much more than we realise. The documentary 20 Feet from Stardom has an interesting passage where one producer laments that music production planning now frequently includes a budget for "tuning". The producer recalls asking, "Why don't they just sing on-key?" and getting the response, "They can't" (paraphrasing).

But the last decade or so, it seems that it's quite common for R&B/hip-hop tracks to aggressively seek out the sound effect. Which is weird to me: surely one of the advantages of rapping and similar styles is that it's mostly rhythm, vocabulary, and attitude, not melodic (chorus excepted)? I'm sure all those charting artists will feel quite foolish when the logical flaws of their style are pointed out to them by someone wearing glasses.
   96. PreservedFish Posted: September 02, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5876267)
Which is weird to me: surely one of the advantages of rapping and similar styles is that it's mostly rhythm, vocabulary, and attitude, not melodic (chorus excepted)?


One of the trends of the past two decades is how rap has become more and more intertwined with other styles.

And one of the most obviously influential works of recent times was Kanye's 808's and Heartbreaks. Kanye became a star rapping over lush, soul-inspired backing tracks. But 808's had a really sparse, minimalistic electronic sound, and he did a lot of singing, even though he's a terrible singer. Autotune was already a thing, but he went whole hog with it, which did help a little with the terrible singing, but also was a very prominent bold stylistic choice. This album was a head-scratcher when it was released, but looking back on it, it seems incredibly influential.

That spare electronic sound is still easy to find on the charts, and it's not really similar to what was popular in the 90s.

I assume that autotune will sound terrible to everyone some day, and am surprised at how long it's remained hip.
   97. Omineca Greg Posted: September 02, 2019 at 11:29 AM (#5876272)
This is a good video of an auto-tune tutorial.

I think it's hilarious, but of course, what I find funny might be different than most people.

I also like that these guys are basically Youtube personalities. I'm not usually hip to that scene, so I thought it was funny to have some smart ass kids explain autotune to this old guy. I did have to recalibrate my normal taste in commentary a bit. But the part where they worry about getting too controversial and having Youtube yank their monetisation...that's art in 2019, baby!

Link to smart ass kids who better stay the #### off my lawn

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Darren
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogDavid Freese, 2011 World Series MVP with Cardinals, retires after 11 seasons
(14 - 9:55pm, Oct 13)
Last: Der-K: at 10% emotional investment

NewsblogMLB Rumors: Curt Schilling Interested in Phillies Manager, Red Sox Coaching Job
(13 - 9:47pm, Oct 13)
Last: Nasty Nate

NewsblogMajor League Baseball has an opioid problem. Now what?
(29 - 9:45pm, Oct 13)
Last: Never Give an Inge (Dave)

NewsblogChampionship Series OMNICHATTER!
(309 - 9:42pm, Oct 13)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

Sox TherapyLet’s Get On With It
(14 - 8:29pm, Oct 13)
Last: Jose is an Absurd Time Cube

NewsblogMLB rumors: Giants to interview ex-Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler for open managerial position
(5 - 8:22pm, Oct 13)
Last: .

NewsblogSeveral errors led Phillies to this point, and one excuse Friday doesn't hold up
(15 - 8:06pm, Oct 13)
Last: SoSH U at work

NewsblogCards’ front office says playoff baseballs have lost juice
(11 - 5:28pm, Oct 13)
Last: spycake

NewsblogOT - NBA thread (pre-season)
(441 - 5:19pm, Oct 13)
Last: Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle

NewsblogTyler Skaggs: Fentanyl, oxycodone, alcohol led to death| LA Times
(45 - 5:11pm, Oct 13)
Last: Howie Menckel

Newsblog The Cooperstown Case for Yadier Molina, Russell Martin, and Brian McCann - The Ringer
(102 - 3:11pm, Oct 13)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogBaseball's top salaries are declining, as evidenced by smaller qualifying offer
(15 - 11:48am, Oct 13)
Last: Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant

NewsblogLos Angeles Angels employee details team's knowledge of Tyler Skaggs' drug use to federal DEA investigators -- ESPN
(4 - 10:57am, Oct 13)
Last: pikepredator

NewsblogThe 'purge' Mets' Brodie Van Wagenen, other GMs should fear
(4 - 10:53am, Oct 13)
Last: DL from MN

NewsblogNationals vs. Cardinals: Washington or St. Louis? How each city stacks up
(25 - 11:39pm, Oct 12)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

Page rendered in 0.8286 seconds
46 querie(s) executed