Tabloids love to write articles about most popular name for newborn kids in each country. And in countries with non-negligible Muslim minorities that name is often Muhammad (or some variation of it), because Muslims names have higher peak.
So there might be 50 times as much kids with non-Muslim names, but they have roughly even spread between names and don't show up in that statistic.
Then people freak out they are taken over by imigrants :)
Statistics are such a big part of information these days (eg covid), and the poor intuitions people have about statistics are getting to be impactful.
> It is thought to be the most popular name in the world, being given to an estimated 150 million men and boys.
One of my teammates recently gave birth to a boy, she talked a little about figuring out whether to name the kid Mohammed or not, with the major downside being that yeah, it's insanely common, especially among her nationality.
What's even the upside?
When people name their kids things like John or Mohammed, I just think of this comic: https://webcomicname.com/post/617835911135330304
Actually it seems to have started as Yohanan, Yo coming from Yahweh (god in Hebrew), and hanan (gracious).
I'm finding that even major movie studios have a hard time generating buzz and leveraging their assets to get a prominent spot in media. There are a lot of movies with A-list actors that are falling completely under the radar on release, only to show up on Netflix months later. It takes everything a studio or record label can do to push a release into the mainstream consciousness now, because we all have so many different ways we're ingesting culture now.
In your example, if the number one song is classical and made up 0.1% of listening time, would you conclude that classical music is not popular?
It's like saying water isn't a popular drink because only 0.1% of people buy water in the form of 20 fl oz Dasani bottles.
Embarrassing how old I am when pretty much ALL of these songs sound like absolute trash to me. Repetitive auto-tuned, formulaic, mysoginistic, materialistic, mundane, simple-minded steam pile of fermenting dog poo.
That’s why every top song is just a person talking over a beat, usually with the same kind of vocal style, usually the same kind of beat.
It’s really hard to sing the word “Lamborghini” and have that fit into the lyrics and be heard clearly and have the brand image positioned correctly.
It’s also a waste of advertising space to have any duration of a song not include clearly spoken lyrics.
Taking this example, DaBaby’s “Rockstar” sounds basically identical to hundreds of other recent songs that follow the same format of a person talking repetitively over a simple beat (every Drake song for example). Five possible instances of integrated advertising in the lyrics: Lamborghini, Chevrolet Suburban, Maybach, Glock, and Apple FaceTime. 2 of them in the chorus.
So what kind of music will people accept, that maximizes spoken word duration, speaks those words clearly, provides brand image maneuverability within the lyrics, doesn’t distract from the lyrics, and won’t have a fatal loss of integrity as a result of obvious product placements?
That list of requirements leaves us with basically one style of one genre, and it’s this style of rap / hip hop. To any extent that a song deviates, it becomes less effective as a channel for advertising.
I think the most convincing piece of evidence in support of this is this lack of differentiation among artists, even in terms of vocal style. In ‘90s hip hop every artist had a completely unique style, all present-day hip hop fans love all of those legendary artists... and yet, every modern artist is just mimicking the exact same cadence as Drake or Kendrick Lamar.
None of this can be reconciled with the notion that songs becomes popular purely because people like them.
In hip hop, we have a genre which strips away almost everything except the vocalist's accent. What you really have is an audio sample of the interesting way a person pronounces words.
I believe the benefits of this are two-fold. First, I believe listeners from the same region subconsciously identify with certain key signifiers in the vocalist's pronouncation, providing a core fanbase. Second, I think other listeners who are high in openness are intrigued by the new way of talking.
I think this model works for both hip hop and country music. Other types of pop and indie music also seem to feature bizarre forms of singing. For instance, that dance monkey song that was #1 for a while. Contemporary indie-rock and new-folk musics seem to focus on sounding like an alien.
Run DMC never got paid for my adidas.
And these aren’t impulse purchases. Nobody buys a Lamborghini the same week that they’re playing with Hot Wheels, but many will a few decades later.
There’s also indirect demand through rentals. Anyone with a credit card can rent a Lamborghini for a weekend. Most of the luxury cars you see on the roads in Miami are rentals, for example.
Top40 is already pablum, but it still has some tiny amount of curation (and therefore elitist dictation of taste) driving it. This chart, meanwhile, represents pure populist sentiment—it's "what the people want to hear." And populist sentiment has always been pretty much all of those things you said.
Kids that are into hip-hop still listen to 90s hip-hop, now called golden era.
On the other side 90s electronic music has great stuff, but the field has much advanced in quality and depth.
It reminds me of the opening scene in Office Space where a white man listens to rap during traffic on his way to a typical 9-to-5.
Universally auto-tuned and synthesized, short, overly repetitive, mumbling/distorted, and whatever backing track they do have could barely be called musical by any objective standard (i.e. a measure of complexity/interrelated instruments/harmonies/themes/tracks). It doesn't matter whether its an african-american mumbling about being a gansta or a breathy-autotuned tween girl, its the same issue.
Listening around the world, it seems to be universal with slight variations here and there.
It's genuinely depressing...
I really like the website. It is interesting how popular music in the US appeared in other countries, for instance Bulgaria, and how other countries most popular song I'd never even heard of the artist.
In searching for hip-hop without braggadocio etc., I have repeatedly been told by hip-hop aficionados that these tropes are inherent to the genre and it would be unreasonable to seek hip-hop without them, just like oldies rock was inherently about dancing or sweethearts, and country music about personal woes and drink.
It is a shame, because the genre seems to have the potential for more lyrically. Hip hop is now a global phenomenon with innumerable performers. Is there really no hip-hop out there with a more abstract lyrical approach, like for example Climate of Hunter-era Scott Walker?
Not on that soundtrack, but Mind Playing Tricks On Me is another a really good song by them and not at all formulaic, misogynistic, etc. Not saying that anyone attacked the Geto Boys.
I’d say the quality of “most listened to” music peaked in the 80’s, with each decade that followed being the worst ever.
Most of my favorite artists are from the 90’s-2010’s, with a few exceptions scattered in the 40’s, 70’s and 80’s.
It could be that music got more diverse in the 90’s, and the billboard chart stopped being broadly relevant.
To focus on only the recent past: we only know about radio plays (determined by cronyist industry dealings) and about record/8track/cassette/CD/iTunes sales (where a record sale could represent a purchase due to virality—i.e. a purchase for status-signalling/watercooler-conversation/joining-a-subculture reasons, but where nobody actually listens to their purchase more than a few times; or it could represent a song everyone loves and puts on repeat all day every day. And a purchase could represent a fad that fizzles out; or a classic in the making.)
We can talk about what the top40 billboard charts were doing back then, but what people were “most listening to” is very likely a wholly different list with little intersection to the billboard chart. Just like this Spotify most-played list is actually an almost-entirely-distinct list from the current radio top40!
1) Chart toppers from previous eras are still listenable. Almost nothing on the charts today will be listenable in 2 years. Out-of-touch grandparents in the 1960s could have been convinced to listen to the Beatles. Nobody of a certain age will put up with Top 40 today.
2) It's not quite as democratic as you'd imagine. There are promotions, placements, trends, people sucking kids into clicks in big herds.
A major issue is that today music is more global, and there is a much wider, much lower common denominator.
It used to be 200M Americans, now it's 4B global listeners, Americans are a tiny fraction of that.
16 out of the top 20 songs were from Ed when he released his 2017 album ÷.
That feels like being quite selective. The Beatles were not the only band existing in the 60s, and a lot of stuff that did top the charts in the 60s was entirely ephemeral.
Source: Mother-in-law who was a young parent outside Liverpool in the mid 60s, relaying the reactions of her parents' generation to the Beatles and "beat/rock" music of the 60s.
That said, the amount of actually good music being made in the world right now is unprecedented if you're willing to look a little. No matter what genre you're into, one look at the Bandcamp homepage will reveal something that catches your attention. Then you have music blogs like Pitchfork, YouTube music reviewers, niche (and not so niche) subreddits, RYM, and Spotify's own discovery algorithms.
Most weeks I have far too much good music to listen to, and it's very hard to decide what to put on. If anything, I want an algorithm that can help me pick one out of 10 good albums.
It's so cheap to learn, make, and distribute music these days that there's something for you out there no matter what your tastes. This is truly a golden age.
"No no, the previous generation before me was unreasonable and condescending for no reason, but THIS time the music really does suck! Really!!"
No, it's the same as it ever was: like each generation before you, you're frowning on the darned inexplicable habits of the rising generation.
You're just noticing the mediocre but popular songs of today, while forgetting all the mediocre but then-popular songs of your own heyday that have since faded from memory (because they were mediocre).
I see the same thing sometimes in the gaming community when people try to laud old retro games. There were plenty of awful or completely forgettable games from the NES and SNES era, people just forget about them while remembering the standouts like Mario, Contra, Megaman, etc. Same thing with music, or TV, or movies, or books.
And for what's its worth, background listening music doesn't have to be particularly great.
Or in other words, I'm not going to bother curating a collection of Wagner pieces for listening while cooking dinner.
When I hear new music I try to understand what's good about it, in the end if younger people enjoys it there's a reason. Doing so helps me to stay connected with where new trends are going, which is kinda useful.
Chart music isn't created by individuals or bands, , it's created by an army of creative workers in the background. There's an entire industry that is dedicated to creating bland, mass marketable songs. It's the musical equivalent of McDonalds, technically good (i.e. well produced to a specification), consistent, and popular within the largest demographic possible. It's the lowest common denominator, music for people who don't like music.
It's all formulaic garbage, and it doesn't pretend to be anything but. Most pop songs are written by the same handful of songwriters, Max Martin has written 23 Billboard chart topping songs for other artists. You don't even get bands any more, solo singers are easier to work with, and the backing track can be created entirely with DAW software by a team of professionals, no need to deal with fickle band members and a recording studio, the singer barely even sings, we've got autotune for that. Pop music is created by an army of faceless creatives with the pop star nothing more than a figurehead.
That said, I have nothing against pop music, it fits a purpose and most people enjoy it. Nobody forces me to listen to it, so I don't. Just like I don't criticise McDonalds burgers for being tasteless and bland compared to the non-franchise, locally owned burger bar down the road.
I look back at what I listened to then and maybe a handful of those groups were actually anything good. The rest was appealing to an unrefined 13 year old, which really says a lot about how shitty that music is.
I listen to a lot of stuff from the late 60's and early 70's now, as well as newer stuff full of band names that would never end up in the top 500 lists.
My parents generation of music was undoubtedly more wholesome and serious than my own, and its not even a comparison to now.
If music is supposed to be a reflection of society, it's no wonder as society is such trash now.
*Technically the data is copyrighted, so sadly I can't share.
We only remember the interesting and original songs, we don't remember the bland and forgettable songs from previous years. People compare the songs we remember with the generic chart topper du jour and complain that all music these days is bland and forgettable.
People remember Michael Jackson's music not just because it was incredibly popular, but because it was unique. People don't remember that during the same time, songs such as Chuck Berry - My Ding-A-Ling  also grabbed the number 1 spot.
"Every charting hit" is also a comprehensive list involving no creativity. Order them chronologically and call it a day.
I haven't heard of it for phone books, but it could be true.
Edit: by the way, you realise that your grandparents were probably moaning about the music your parents listened to? And their parents ditto, and so on. Nothing new about it.
Extremely serious and wholesome hit from 1960
Nope, you're just getting older and more out of touch, and your own out of touched-ness stops you from recognizing it as such. It's kind of like the Dunning-Kruger effect that way.
There's a ton of variety and good music out there if you bother to look. If you can't find any, that says something.
I think part of it is that people become more calcified in interests and habits as they get older. For example, when I worked at Costco I noticed how much more stubborn older customers were -- contrary to stereotype, younger customers were generally far nicer and more flexible. In high school, people my age were open to all sorts of things; now that I'm in my 30's, people have more established interests. My own wife has pointed out that I'm fairly particular about friends now sharing similar interests.
to give you a weird example, some girl on youtube decided to cover knight rider's theme with violin's only, you can see how this simple tv show got very interesting harmonics and melodic emotional structure.
The late '90s were especially big here because computers and tools were getting so cheap. The same tech that let big space battles happen in Deep Space 9 and Babylon 5 also made stuff that...did not age so well.
I wonder why that is. Maybe 2020 Indonesian music is similar to the music I heard as a teen?
EDIT: Malaysia (Stuck with U by Ariana Grande) is an option too. Thailand (คิด(แต่ไม่)ถึง by Tilly Birds) also and Japan (夜に駆ける by YOASOBI) never lets you down, of course.
> NPC - Modern (2018): A term now used to describe a 'Social Justice Warrior' or SJW, as their behavior mirrors that of traditional in game NPCs, in that their thoughts and actions are limited to their programming (programming being mainstream media in this case) and lacking any critical and independent thought process.
Many years ago, before the word NPC had even been invented and when the political battle lines were drawn differently I passed by a small demonstration. I walked up to them and asked what they were demonstrating about and got a short reply. I asked a natural follow up question and got the response that I "should talk with that guy over there, he's the one in the know".
If we were in a videogame, you would be an NPC: you don't have a person controlling you and don't know anything about the world outside the world.
Ironically exactly the people who would be considered "squares"
Then I recalled my youth. I was an angry teenager in the early to mid 1990s. My parents hated the grunge and punk music I listened to. Now to be fair, that music has held up pretty good. But if you look at the top 40 music from that era... not so much. Trashy euro-pop dominated the charts.
I guess we'll have to wait for a decade or two to see what holds up and what don't.
Music on the charts is absolutely getting worse due to globalization, attention span, production, competitive marketing, margins, video/image/brand before song, definitely removal of the 'gatekeepers', lower barriers to entry, mass-market/direct audience.
Yes, yes, a lot of pop music has always been crap, but 'this time it's different'. Truly. It's more derivative, fewer chords, lyrics that don't make sense or inspire, overproduced, repetitive.
'Popular Music' is dead - it's just memes.
Think of these artists as just people 'wanting to be famous' and doing image, memes, publicity, fake celeb fights, TV show appearances - it's all the same thing. Some of it might have a song.
You know the 'processed food magicians' who manipulate ingredients to find the 'sweet spot' of sweetness/bitterness whatever ... that drives a lot of food to taste bland? Same thing. You have mega producers behind most artists' hits. The artist is a brand, the label does the marketing. That's it.
There is quite a bit of good stuff but it just doesn't get much publicity.
Also - one big difference - most 'good music' today is not very 'up' or 'hit' oriented.
Think of Van Halen 'Jump' - big, loud, stadium 'rock' sound, but also very accessible. Huge energy. Alpha chords! Most good music these days is much more subtle, it doesn't 'grab you' - which is totally fine, but it means maybe it's not as radio playable.
There's a lot of really interesting and weird artifacts of pop culture music, but most of it is totally unlistenable.
Tons of kids these days don't listen to Hot 100 either.
+1. Pop music is just a genre. There is plenty of other new stuff out there. Just gotta put in the effort to find it and enjoy it.
- With the sole exceptions of Brazil and Argentina literally all of the "green" countries in Latin America have top songs with the Same. Exact. Beat. "One and-Three Four, One and-Three Four..." all throughout. And interestingly Spain, Italy, France, and Turkey have a very similar feel, albeit with some deviation. Not that I mind that beat (it's perfect for the club), but it's still interesting how little deviation there is.
- On that note, Brazil's top song is delightfully weird. Not a single drum except for a ludicrously-overdriven kick. I hate it but love it at the same time.
- Literally every predominantly-English-speaking country has the same exact top song. I would expect at least some variety, but nope, America's got their musical tastes by the balls, apparently.
- A surprisingly large amount of Europe has generally embraced American-style rap, though there are some exceptions (e.g. Spain, Italy, France, most of Eastern Europe).
- Poland's, on that note, has got a neat vaporwave/seapunk vibe to it that's pretty cool. Probably my favorite of the bunch.
- Japan's top song is exactly what I would expect Japan's top song to sound like, lol
- Indonesia's top song fuckin' slaps. Very close second-favorite.
- India managed to introduce me to Melanie Martinez, and I gotta say I'm a fan; very similar in theme, style, and catchiness to Lily Allen's "Not Fair", which is another favorite of mine.
But turns out it was a funk. And the title "Na raba toma tapão" in Portuguese is hilarious, something like "Slap that arse"?
Nothing like the old style funk, but a style that mixes other styles and very popular in the outskirts of Rio and Sao Paulo, and also in the favelas - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funk_carioca
I mean, most popular music is in 4/4 time, some of it is in 3/4 time. You have some oddball songs like "Solsbury Hill" is 7/4 time.
Reggae is an interesting one: it's four beats to a bar like 4/4 time but often they don't play the one beat at all. It comes out like: _ 2 3' 4 _2 3' 4
This is called the one drop rhythm. I'm glad most of reggae is one drop, it gives it a laid back 'cut time' sort of feel.
I guess your biases depend on what you base yourself on.
NPR Tiny Desk concerts are one of my favourite ways to discover new music. Their audio team is so great the recording often sound better than the studio versions:
Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals:
KEXP has an amazing YouTube channel where they post full performances of an amazingly diverse array of artists.
Discovered my currently favourite artist ADHD via them:
Public Service Broadcasting:
Paste Magazine also has some really great sets:
There is so much going on that doesn't involve Spotify at all, for example funk band Vulfpeck sold out Madison Square Garden without any charting songs, manager or big label, just by having a passionate internet fandom. They recorded it on like a gimballed iphone, It's glorious:
Is there some other more-popular music-streaming service in these other markets, that's keeping Spotify out? What do they use in China? In Russia?
Or is music-streaming as a whole, just not popular in some markets? (I guess that could make sense for sub-Saharan Africa, given low Internet connectivity; but it's surprising that it also holds for the northern parts.)
Yandex seems to provide every service a Russian needs, from email, finding apartments, to taxis. Yandex Music seems to be the preferred streaming app.
As of the top songs, I checked the top songs of Japan, Sweden and English speaking countries. And I see a funny pattern: Both English speaking and Sweden have black/ghetto song as top song, while Japan top song sounds like something I would hear while walking in a shop in Shibuya. (J-Pop for youngsters)
I've had Spotify since closed beta, and in Sweden it was "the cheap option for young folks" (instead of just pirating it), and I assume it was marketed the same in the English countries (since I got my closed beta ticket through a UK site, using VPN)
Now, Spotify is not that popular yet in Japan. It's quite new here but the marketing is heavily focused on young people, meaning places such as Shibuya and Harajuku are filled with ads and commercial for it. Hell, the Japanese commercial about Spotify on spotify is about a young couple trying to have sex and the mood being ruined by surrounding noise (mom downstairs).
See link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/03057356177482...
"As in 1960, the predominant topic of pop music remains romantic and sexual relationships. However, whereas the proportion of lyrics referring to relationships in romantic terms remained stable, the proportion including reference to sex-related aspects of relationships increased sharply.
"References to lifestyle issues such as dancing, alcohol and drugs, and status/wealth increased substantially, particularly in the 2000s. Other themes were far less frequent: Social/political issues, religion/God, race/ethnicity, personal identity, family, friends showed a modest occurrence in top-40 music throughout the studied period and showed no dramatic changes.
"Violence and death occurred in a small number of songs, and both increased, particularly since the 1990s. References to hate/hostility, suicide, and occult matters were very rare. Results are examined in the context of cultural changes in the social position of adolescents, and more specifically in light of the increased popularity of rap/hip-hop music, which may explain the increases in references to sex, partying, dancing, drug use, and wealth.
All I'm getting now are items curated by my own tastes (and to some degree the whims of spotify), and I'm happier for it. I still discover new bands and keep track of new releases, but it's all within my own favourite genres.
The Top 50 lists at Spotify all suffer from what I assume are cross-cultural advertising campaigns.
So if you hear "Rockstar" a bit more than the other songs, then you start to prefer it. It's like the olds saying in radio: If they don't like a song now, just keep playing it till they love it.
Could you add past history too (e.g. charts from days/weeks/months ago)? I'm happy to help build a quick CRUD API if you need to store the data. (email@example.com)
The OP submission just renders it on a map.
On the flip side, it's fantastic to see so many countries not doing so.
These countries are in a common cultural and linguistic sphere.
Funny enough, I used to be saddened by the fact most of my country's people basically only listen to local music instead of "good stuff" from the world (to be fair, the language/culture barrier is higher in my case).
It's also sad because the three most common word of the song in question ( Dababy - Rockstar ) are: "Yeah" (21 occurences), "Woo" (15 occurences) and "nigga" (13 occurences). The next one in line are "cop", "pull" and "glock" (6 each). This is probably not the culture the US hopes to export.
"My daughter a G, she saw me kill a nigga in front of her before the age of two"
Which to me don't really sound so happy. So if that is really what moves most of the world today, yeah I am a bit sad.
Makes the lyric you quote seem fairly innocent, really.
It's the cultural equivalent of a species making it into a new biome and wiping every species with the same niche.
Americans find it flattering and even positive (because how couldn't be positive it the rest of the world becomes more like yourself ?) but it's really quite dramatic.
I do wonder if expanding the site to show, say, the top 5 instead of just the absolute top song would be a better indicator; as it stands, it feels like Rammstein was right: "We're all living in Amerika".
Adam Neely had a really good video showcasing newspapers and editorials denouncing the Jazz genre when it appeared. It seems to have been taken down, unfortunately.
Basically, as you get older, selection bias regarding music becomes more prevalent, and you forget the bad music you liked and end up only remembering “the classics”. Just because a song charts doesn’t mean it’ll last.
I get what you're saying about becoming older and selection bias, but many of the contemporary criticisms of jazz were rooted in racism.
I agree that is some selection bias at play when we think of popular music now vs. popluar music in the 80's. But jazz exists in a whole different dimension from Top 40 music from the last 50 years.
The hatred towards modern pop is the same thing. It’s just a fad. In 20 or so years, the younger people who like it will hate the pop of the 2040s or 2050s.
No, this is not true at all.
"People hated Jazz" - agreed.
"People hate pop music now" - agreed.
'Change is generational thing', ok, yes.
But what you're missing is that 2020 pop music doesn't require any skill, at all.
Jazz - to any musical observer - requires an immense amount of skill.
However much anyone 'hated Jazz' - if they understood music in the slightest, they had to respect it. This is a big difference.
The proof is the fact that Jazz is still alive and thriving.
Whatever is on the Hot100 right now will be dead next year and never heard from again.
Edit: I should be more specific - pop music doesn't require a lot of skill, because most acts aren't doing anything, they're generally not even behind their music - the producers are behind it. That said - it's definitely hard to be famous. Being a trend on YouTube is a kind of a skill, it just may not be musical.
I keep hearing this, but I never see any of its arguers actually attempt to make a pop song. If it’s so easy, why do only some people have the knack for pulling it off (not the artist/singer; the composer (the person you never hear of))
> Jazz - to any musical observer - requires an immense amount of skill.
I really wish I could show you the video as Neely argues it better than I could, but basically, at the time, the features of Jazz were what was hated, not the genre.
According to Wikipedia, Jazz is characterized by a heavy emphasis on improvisation. In the 1920s (when Jazz became a thing), the detractors argued that (I’m paraphrasing) improv “lacked musical talent” and that “anyone could throw notes together to make music”. I’m not making this up. Those are really the arguments they made. People would argue that the absence of counterpoint meant it was an abomination.
Sure, racism played a part, but for the most part, Jazz was hated for the same reason people hate pop today: “it’s easy to make”. Which is just not true.
Because it is so easy to make, they are making massive numbers of garbage tracks - and it just so happens that some garbage tracks are popular. You need 'garage band' and possibly microphone - that's it. Have a look at how 'Chief Keef' had his music produced by 'Little Chop'. Most top tracks are of course somewhat professional produced.
But consider that 'music' is not the name of the game, it's 'video' (i.e. video killed the radio start), Instagram, twitter, Tumblr and highly visual content. You can see this with Lady Gaga (talented) and SixNine (well, creative, but garbage) - they're at least as visual as they are audial, as are most artists these days.
It's about the brand/image/meme. Someone in their basement, with very little skill, can make a loop, mumble over it, and this 'meme' can catch on. With a very little bit of production effort by a nominally professional engineer, it can sound 'produced'. At least as much of their effort goes into the look, the brand, the relationships, the Instagram, the video etc..
And it's worth adding, the 'talent' that is sometimes evident in this kind of production, may have little to do with the music, and more to do with anything else.
I actually respect the 'marketing' ability, if you want to call it that, of many of these acts. Post Malone has somehow worked his way into having his own festival with his 'Posties' followers. Genius marketing.
When P. Diddy started his label, he would ask his talent scouts "How did they look" - not "How did they sound". Somewhat cynically, P. Diddy was smart enough to know that pop acts are a lot (and ever more) about appearance. A pop artist is like a living brand.
Another feature of 'how modern music is made' is that the producer is now in the creative/driver seat - not the artists. Consider 'TheWeeknd' - his big hit, 'Can't feel my face' was by Max Martin, famous songmaker for Britney Spears and so many others. Without that hit, TheWeeknd would be nobody - we'd have never heard of him. But once his meme/brand was established, he has a 'following' and can churn out a lot of mediocre stuff.
This has always been the case to some extent: Michael Jackson was backed by Quincey Jones - who was Frank Sinatra's arranger. But Michael Jackson is a genius entertainer and true 'pop artists', and of course Quincey Jones is an off-the-hook musical genius producer.
This evident in 'live' music. I've been to countless shows where their music is just some canned track, the artist comes out and mumbles over it? Seriously? In most cases, this is not impressive.
Anecdote: I went to a show recently, bulleted as Brasilian/French/American rap thing in Montreal, I was so excited. The 'warmup' DJ played ... then the 'act DJ' played, a guy with huge fuzzy hair came out, jumped around like a hype man say 'boyeah' 'oi' and whatever into the mike, getting everyone excited ... we were ... anticipating the main act. But that was it!!! No kidding. Some idiot with a microphone, saying a word or two like 'yeah' 'oh yea' 'go go go' into the microphone not rapping or anything. He was passing himself off as an act! The crowd seemed to appreciate it. I thought I was in the Twilight Zone, it was absurd. To me, it signaled literally the end of music: loud, barely audible weird sounds coming out of a speaker, with a fuzzy-haired Brazillian dude sputtering occasional nonsense into a microphone and waving his hands. It's not even Kareoke. It was just noise and hand-waving. This to me is he audial version of the 'pet rock' or the $1M painting that's just a black dot - people can be induced to like anything.
So there are obviously talented pop artists. Ed Sheerhan, a legit musician who purposely writes for the radio. Bruno Mars & Co, are total geniuses. Lady Gaga. Kenrdick Lamar. Ariana Grande has wicked chops, she's obviously a talented singer/dancer/entertainer. Obviously many others, but the charts are otherwise polluted with irrelevant, unlistenable tracks.
Surely some people thought Jazz was easy to make, but I suspect that many were just jealous because they obviously knew they couldn't do it. Jazz is objectively not easy to make. Literally anyone who has tried knows how hard it is. Also, FYI, there's no counterpoint ... but the chord combinations, the speed of the changes, the variety ... is far more than in most forms of classical music.
Most pop music is very easy to make, and there are mountains of gibberish there for anyone to sort through. Fewer and fewer gems.
> But what you're missing is that 2020 pop music doesn't require any skill, at all.
I think it's much harder to write a hit pop song than you are making it sound. I don't think that I could do it. Do you think that you could?
This is a misunderstanding.
'Hit songs' are like 'viral videos'.
Could you create a video, that by accident, went viral? Possibly. If you set your mind to it, there would be a better chance, but still no guaranteed.
Nobody writes what they think will be guaranteed to be a hit song except for Max Martin. People 'make songs' and then hustle and market - some go viral, some require more support.
The 'barrier to making a song' is considerably lower than it was 20 years ago, and much lower than 40 years ago.
Making an album in 1985:
- Spend years learning to play an instrument
- Learn to write music, lyrics that are least on some level passable.
- Find other musicians
- Practice for a while
- Rent a major studio, producers, engineers
- Market etc..
The barrier to entry was high, the people pulling the strings generally wanted to see 'talent' in some form: entertainment, musicianship, popularity.
Many acts were manufactured, but that process still had to be followed:
Making music in 2020:
- Some music (Ariana Grande) is made roughly the same way (though with more people, different release cycles, margins etc) but it's comparable.
- A lot of music is made in tiny little studios. Mac Miller was always a tiny production, he made and produced stuff often in his basement, due to the power of tech and simplicity ultimately of what he was making.
Mac, and many other small artists are talented, so in some ways the 'low barrier' is good - but - for every Mac Miller there are 1000x fools.
>>>> It is as easy to make a song as it is to make a little video animation. Some of those video animations will go viral and get big.
- This 'basic approach' can be made by people with big creative talent, I guess Drake would be an example. Drake doesn't make his music or write his lyrics. Think of Drake as the 'head of a fashion label' but this label is not clothes, it's music. What Drake obviously has is 'really good taste'. Drake, is the 'art Director' of Drake Inc.. What is required to make a Drake track is very minimal, but there's creative talent ... much like making a marketing video.
- In the middle, and even with some of the more 'respectable pop artist names' like Ariana Grande, Dua Lipo ... you still have quite a lot of production and commodification, which turns out really generic, boring, derivative, music.
'Jazz', however popular, nor not, or controversial it was - is going to be around for hundreds of years, because there's an intense amount of creative legitimacy in it. Jazz musicians love Jazz for the sake of Jazz, they are amazing. It's very pure in that sense.
The origins of Hip Hop are really authentic, which helped it rise to the fore. Some aspects of HipHop are going to be around for a while.
The flavour of 2020 will not be around in 2 years.
Some other people might get lucky and manage to write a song that millions of people listen to without really knowing what they are doing. I think this is actually relatively rare, and even if it does happen I certainly don't begrudge their success. They still set out with the intention to write a song and by luck or intuition or whatever other means managed to produce something that millions of people enjoyed.
> 'Jazz', however popular, nor not, or controversial it was - is going to be around for hundreds of years, because there's an intense amount of creative legitimacy in it. Jazz musicians love Jazz for the sake of Jazz, they are amazing. It's very pure in that sense.
> The flavour of 2020 will not be around in 2 years.
I think it's unfair to compare the entire genre of "jazz" which has spanned more than 100 years now to a particular flavor of hip hop in 2020. Jazz has changed a lot over the years - just as much if not more than "pop" music has. There are jazz musicians who were commercially successful in decades past who I am sure nobody listens to any more. And not all jazz musicians are amazing... jazz musicians are just as capable of being derivative and uninspiring as any other type of music.
And it's hard to predict what musical trends will endure. A lot of people had written off 80s music as being fake and cheesy. But recently there has been a resurgence of classic synth sounds in popular music, and songs like Toto's "Africa" have found widespread appeal with new audiences.
But people, by and large, didn't like it because it was mechanically difficult to make.
I've always hoped https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wm-oBpLZ0WY was genuine, someone listening to Led Zeppelin for the first time. There is a lot of good music out there, including current releases, but Spotify doesn't seem to be how to learn about it. So many with their tastes still set on 'default'.
The skill required to recreate a song have no relevance to the quality of the song, and as a corollary the ability to play an instrument is orthogonal to compositional ability. Anyone with the most basic guitar knowledge can play Wonderwall, yet it's still an iconic song, and just because a pianist can play Chopin doesn't necessarily mean they can compose a work as great as Chopin's.