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Standard of Songwriting


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Hi all... a quick question.

 

Do you fear for the standard of songwriting, both in music and lyrics for the coming years. It is well known that the next generation are influenced by those gone before and generally, the artists they listened to as they were growing up.

 

For me the standard has gone down hill so much, that we are accepting such poor music as being the norm now.

 

I heard a song by Meghan Traynor on the radio and the lyrics were absolutely woeful (including the phrase 'blah blah blah'). The music was derivative and bland and the singing, well that is better left unsaid!!!

 

That song isn't alone, there are so many songs now written by committee and there is no passion anymore. 

 

I hope that that this will be a fad, a bad fad, that will die out and we can get back to listening to decent music again.

Edited by Richard Tracey
Trying to type on a phone - bloody spelling goes to pot...
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I just got back from a trip to Memphis with a bunch of boy scouts ranging 12-17. The 5 in my car and quite a few others don't really like the pop music of today. One was even into death metal. I think it will die out eventually, music is always changing. But we have been in this American Idol-esque lull for quite some time.

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There has always been good music (i.e. what I like) and bad music (i.e. what the other guy likes) :lol:. There has been good music written by committee (Holland/Dozier/Holland) and bad music written by committee (too many to mention). The more some writers are original, the harder it is for other writers to be original.

 

There are undoubtedly more bad songs than ever but because there is so much more music than there ever was. So perhaps the problem is more that there is too much music, and therefore the good songs are harder to find, so it seems that poor songs are the norm?

 

I will grant you Meghan Traynor, though. And Death Metal. Nearly all death metal sucks. But that is kind of the point of it.

 

And I wish music wasn't so damn easy to make and share these days so that people like me couldn't share our abysmal songwriting skills with the world :rolleyes:

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I don't fear for it. Music has fads and trends. At points deep and meaningful lyrics dominated. At others melody trumped to the point words were sometimes not used during significant parts of the song (BebopaLula). Other trends have been beat based. There have always been creative people in the mix, and factory music has often dominated. Have a listen to the likes of Sia and you get immense talent vocally, melodically and the lyrics aren't too shabby.

 

The trouble is all the people who have sought to bypass hard work learning anything, lyrical or musical. They rely on loop libraries to produce combinations... quickly. Give it a few years and people will be flooding music sites with crap a Microsoft algorithm wrote for them. Few people will know how to play instruments to a good standard, at least as we currently know them, because they are not instant enough.

 

This is tied up in the millennial generation obsession for instant, but shallow, gratification. Fame based on little talent and the grand celebration of mediocrity. Like all fashions it will come around. People will get bored into looking for something more challenging... and that will spark a drive for quality and a depth of meaning

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I think there's always been awful popular music, so I don't feel that standards have declined. Also, that Meghan Traynor's song No might not be to your tastes, but in my opinion it's a poor example of declining standards. The production is excellent, she's got a killer soulful bluesy singing voice, and her rapping isn't bad either. It's also got a pretty great hook.

 

These songs aren't written by committee, they're often written by hit record producers. In this case I imagine the bulk of the song was written by her producer, Ricky Reed, who has had 3 platinum singles and a Billboard #1 hit in the past 5 years. You'd be surprised how many pop hits these days are written by middle aged Swedish dudes like Max Martin or Dr. Luke. Not to my tastes either, but that's the music biz.

 

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Thanks guys.

 

Justin - it's good to know that not all kids are listening or want to listen to what is force fed to them.

 

Alistair - I don't think of Holland/Dozier/Holland as a committe, to me they were a writing partnership. What I mean by committee is, a record company wanting to push a possible teen idol to make a quick buck, so they enlist a handful of writers or producers to make an album, using all the known aspects of a song that will grab people's attention and then put it out there, paying radio and TV to push it, as they want to make money. There are a lot of really good artists out there who will never get heard to that level. I feel as the music industry has changed over the years, it has become worse as the record companies are desperate for the cash. And I agree Death Metal is terrible, but it has a lot of fans for some reason. If I wanted someone screaming in my ear all day, I would just listen to the wife ;)

 

John - you are right, the advent of the computer has made it so easy for people to make music (thankfully in my case - or not), but I try not to use loops at all and play almost everything by hand (it's how you learn). Music has always ran in fads, but we seem to be in a bloody long run of this one, with no end in sight. I watch all the ToTP's from 1980, 1981, 1982 on TV and you forget how much crap was released back then, but there was so much good stuff to counteract that. Now all the good stuff is locked away behind tons of searching or word of mouth, coming across it, we are bombarded with bland, more than ever before. I try to get my girls to listen to decent, real music, but they would rather listen to the Pineapple Song!!!!!! and muppets with a mop of hair and auto-tuned out of their arse. Thankfully they detest Beiber, so they have something going for them.

 

Until there is a change in the way Record Companies make money, I feel we will have to put up with this trash for a while. Oh, and I just don't find Sia interesting, her new song grates on my nerves. She has a good voice, I just wish she would stop making that stupid bloody noise, that Adele is prone to do as well. 

 

Tom - you are right, there has always been songs like that throughout the years, but there was always more to turn to, to make our ears sing with delight.

 

Chumpy- to me the hit record producers are what is wrong with the industry, they sit with all their loops and beats in front of them and churn out the same bloody tune for lots of artists and the record companies want it because it is a hit!!!! That is why I believe it is by committee, it is someone sitting in an office thinking how to they can use some new boy or girl to make them money and getting these producers to write a song like such and such as it was a hit.

 

 

I personally feel there is no end in sight, we have people making the decisions who aren't really interested in the music, they just want to make as much money as they can. That is fine, but give other artists the same chance. It can't be good for the kids who get the chance at becoming a singer and then getting dropped the minute they didn't make as much money as the company hoped. It cannot be good for their confidence or their mental health in general. Just look at how they abuse them to the point they get burned out within a year. They haven't risen through the ranks, learning their trade, playing to 10, 20 people in a pub/club and touring round the country, so they haven't been used to that lifestyle. Most of them leave mummy and daddy and get thrust into a life they can't handle.

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19 minutes ago, tunesmithth said:

One more thing to remember...the folks who buy & listen-to this questionable music do so because they like it & wish to support it.

Unlike us, they don't see it as a problem!

 

I always try to remember what I used to tell my dad...the older we get, the less our likes & dislikes matter to anyone but ourselves.

Product designers, marketing companies & creators of future content aren't concerned about our tastes. Younger demographics are the focus.

 

Tom

 

'That is partly true - without knowing there is anything else out there which could be better, they are brainwashed to like this music. It is everywhere, I hear the same songs about 10 times in an hour on the UK radio shows. Every so often you'll hear something else, but even then it is something that a record company are pushing. Years ago you could listen to the radio and discover new songs, new acts, those days are gone. You'll hear that now on podcasts and internet radio shows. Even watching YouTube and VEVO, you are pushed towards certain videos and music because it has the most hits, it has the most hits because they are pushing it. Radio in America is probably different than over here, but my god, the stations over here have gone down hill badly.

 

If all you can hear is trash, you will listen to trash.

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34 minutes ago, Richard Tracey said:

If all you can hear is trash, you will listen to trash.

 

Trash or not trash, it's true that the people hear what they want us to hear. It's always been that way. And, just like forever, until the money can be seen in it, they'll push what's working. I do believe at any day the switch can be flipped for different music. But it will take labels/producers with the cajones to do it, and they won't until they are certain it's a money making venture. Being an old guy, I don't get out to bars and clubs often at all. I don't know what's going on out there really in any "new kind of music" sense. Every time I am able to go to a bar, I don't hear bands playing Adele or Traynor, it's always rock. 

 

As I stated I went to Memphis this weekend. I heard a lot of music coming from the bars on Beale street. I didn't hear one song anywhere where I thought, "Hmmm, what are THEY doing." And, being that close to a real music scene which I never get to do, my ears were on for something different and/or exciting. It was all covers of familiar tunes. But I did hear some really good bands playing.

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as someone with know musical skills and hardly a great deal of words .PO  music died a long time ago when it became a money spinner . probably around the time of Elvis . they started looking for another Elvis ? then the next Beatles . the next Adele  now I know the three I mentioned are great talents . but the people who want only to make money don't care do they ? anyone will do as long as the bottom line is there 

 just my opinion 

 

john

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33 minutes ago, Just1L said:

 

Trash or not trash, it's true that the people hear what they want us to hear. It's always been that way. And, just like forever, until the money can be seen in it, they'll push what's working. I do believe at any day the switch can be flipped for different music. But it will take labels/producers with the cajones to do it, and they won't until they are certain it's a money making venture. Being an old guy, I don't get out to bars and clubs often at all. I don't know what's going on out there really in any "new kind of music" sense. Every time I am able to go to a bar, I don't hear bands playing Adele or Traynor, it's always rock. 

 

As I stated I went to Memphis this weekend. I heard a lot of music coming from the bars on Beale street. I didn't hear one song anywhere where I thought, "Hmmm, what are THEY doing." And, being that close to a real music scene which I never get to do, my ears were on for something different and/or exciting. It was all covers of familiar tunes. But I did hear some really good bands playing.

 

'I know what you're saying Justin - I think I'm just fed up with it all. I champion artists and music that are original, doing something out with the norm, but it makes no difference, it is a drop in a bloody big ocean.

 

I listen to a lot of people who have been in the music industry for years and they express their fears about what is happening and where it is going. You have so many people who don't want to pay for music, or stream it (I'm guilty of this now as I pay for a family subscription to iTunes music), that the whole way musicians and bands make money now is from touring. Again, this is a slow process for a lot of bands to get recognised and a lot give up as it is not worth their while financially. Yet, a record company can put a group of 5 boys or girls together, produce an album and send them on tours and make a killing on the back of the teeny-bop coin. You have each member of One Direction supposedly worth £25 million each - how on earth can these guys feel like they have justified that. You have some bands who have been going for 30/40 years, produced critically acclaimed album after album aren't worth that. If they are each worth that, then how much is the record company making!!!!! It is easy money, so they won't want to change it. Look at how many boy and girl bands are formed each year... they are looking for the next one to hit it big, so they fire out lots of them, all looking the same and sounding the same - it's a conveyor belt of mediocrity.

 

I've just realised I have had a massive rant on here today about this subject - can't believe one song would anger me so much (well not since Shaddupa ya face kept Vienna from the no.1 spot in 1981!!).

 

I love music, I'm passionate about music, different styles of music, I listen to music all the time, always have done. That is why I fear for where we are going.

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23 minutes ago, HoboSage said:

Of course I have my personal opinions about this.  We all do.  But, without judgment of anyone else, my personal philosophy is that there are enough music critics who aren't musicians publicly trashing creative works that artists really don't have to be trashing each other publicly.  Do you hear me Kanye? :)  Anyway, I applaud anyone who makes the creative effort to make music, even music I think is trash, and I begrudge no one for making music, even music I personally think is trash.  And if I do think their music is trash, I won't publicly share that opinion, unless they come here asking for a critique.  Then, I might be a little tough on them.   ;)

 

P.S.  And, I think we should be a little extra circumspect in expressing such negative opinions about music here on this songwriter forum.  The music and artists we openly trash here, may not only be the music and artist another member here likes, but may even be the kind of music another member here is doing themselves.  Imagine how they would feel. :)

 

 

 

Yeah, I get your point David and maybe I should temper my frustration a bit. The only good thing about this site is, everyone seems to be enthused about songwriting and making music and I haven't heard anything bordering on the music I am talking about. Likewise I don't have a problem anyone making music that's not to my taste, my concern is more what we are forced to listen to and it is getting worse every day. Again, I don't know what it is like in the US, but in the UK we hear the same music repeated over and over again on every channel, you can almost tell what song is going to come on it has got that bad.

 

I used to watch the music video channels on SKY and would normally find songs I liked to listen to. Now it is feels like every channel has the same video and song and they repeat them over and over as well. There is no change, nothing original. I once spent 2 hours when I was off my work after an operation, bored out of my skull and doped up on medication. Turned onto MTV, which no longer plays music!!!!, but then went through about 20 channels, backwards and forwards and didn't find one song that I wanted to listen to. There was at one point on 4 channels, the same song/video playing almost at the exact same point.

 

I hate being so critical as I do love music so much, but when you have Music Legends decrying the state the industry is in, someone should be waking up and smelling the coffee.

 

And as for Kanye - I liked his earlier stuff, before his head got so big, he started walking at a slant.....

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18 minutes ago, scotsman89 said:

as someone with know musical skills and hardly a great deal of words .PO  music died a long time ago when it became a money spinner . probably around the time of Elvis . they started looking for another Elvis ? then the next Beatles . the next Adele  now I know the three I mentioned are great talents . but the people who want only to make money don't care do they ? anyone will do as long as the bottom line is there 

 just my opinion 

 

john

 

John, that has always been there to an extent, but years ago, record companies would speculate and sign a lot of bands knowing that not all of them would make it, but they gave them a chance. The state of the industry now is that they want to go for the guarantee, instead of nurturing a rising band and letting them become as good as they can. Not everyone can make it as big as Elvis, or the Beatles, The Stones or Adele, but there are a lot of artists out there that probably could if they were given the chance. Some artists may take a couple of albums before they hit their stride and make that seminal album that changes people's minds. Will they get then chance to do that in this climate? That album is probably locked away now for ever more as the person/persons who would write and record it have packed it in as they no longer fighting against a juggernaut that lost control a while back.

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I listen to the public radio station, NPR when I can.  Up here in Iowa, they play a lot of lesser known music. http://iowapublicradio.org/#stream/0.

 

I don't listen on line so I've never tried the web page out.  Studio One I think it's called, but I listen to classical as well. 

 

The rest of radio is uninteresting, I don't even like the old classics as much anymore after a lifetime of listening to the same thing.  I like some indie stuff, the melodies are fresh to me. 

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We now have people hunting down imaginary pokemon. If they are the ones buying music, what chance is there?

 

Personally, I think there is some great music out there! If you start looking for it on mainstream radio, you'll never find it! Get out and see some bands. That's where the music is. In the pubs and clubs. The way we get music has changed. I don't see there being a return to the days when bands like the Beatles , the Stones, The Kinks etc were the norm. The industry has been by passed to a large extent! Now we see bands promoting themselves via live gigs and merch stands at those gigs! It's only TV 'Talent' shows  that try to perpetuate the past! And it's only the likes of Simon Cowel that reap the rewards for this instant gratification! Real music lovers still buy the music they love, whatever that might be? (Including death metal) It will always be there. AS stated above, stop looking for it on mainstream radio and hunt it down yourself! 

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37 minutes ago, Steve said:

We now have people hunting down imaginary pokemon. If they are the ones buying music, what chance is there?

 

Personally, I think there is some great music out there! If you start looking for it on mainstream radio, you'll never find it! Get out and see some bands. That's where the music is. In the pubs and clubs. The way we get music has changed. I don't see there being a return to the days when bands like the Beatles , the Stones, The Kinks etc were the norm. The industry has been by passed to a large extent! Now we see bands promoting themselves via live gigs and merch stands at those gigs! It's only TV 'Talent' shows  that try to perpetuate the past! And it's only the likes of Simon Cowel that reap the rewards for this instant gratification! Real music lovers still buy the music they love, whatever that might be? (Including death metal) It will always be there. AS stated above, stop looking for it on mainstream radio and hunt it down yourself! 

 

Steve - I do hunt down music, all the time - I love discovering new groups or albums that aren't getting the mainstream press. But not everyone does that. It is only a small percentage of people that go to clubs and listen to new emerging bands. A small percentage of people that scour the internet looking for new bands and music. The vast majority of people hear music on radio/tv and the video channels. That is what I'm decrying. People re being deprived of finding something new due to a monopoly and that is one of the biggest crimes to hit the music industry. Apparently most labels are owned by 3 record companies, that is sad. No more Factory Records, 4AD and Mute and all the others that were producing great music. 

 

The so called Talent Shows have been the kiss of death for the music lover.

 

Just so everyone knows... I don't listen to the radio very often for music. One of the guys in my office puts it on and the rest of us sound like grumpy old men moaning about the music that is played.

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I think 'pop' has gone down hill because of what becomes 'pop' rather than the standard of songs generally, and maybe outside of pop there's nothing quite so good as the old greats.... but I don't think we should take what's on typical radio as the standard. Still great music being made, just a bit harder to find. Although I think there are still great pop songs being written to be honest... a lot of crap but still good ones... And the charts have always had something crappy in them, Black Lace sold a shed load of records! It's a matter of taste too eh...we're not all alike :)

 

There's been some fantastic new music made over the last few years. 

Edited by MonoStone
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  • 3 years later...
6 hours ago, Patchez said:



    ~~~~ No, music is not doomed, we all are here now. ~~~~

 

So, get out of the way :dancingstick:

 

yes, yes, yes!

 

Oh NO! the end is nigh.......I heard a song I didn't like ;) 

 

any closure? haha

 

 

On 1/17/2017 at 10:45 AM, john said:

 Give it a few years and people will be flooding music sites with crap a Microsoft algorithm wrote for them.

 

 

Where do I get me one of them? My fingers are a little sore and nobody has paid me my millions I "deserve" yet :) 

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14 hours ago, Cody said:

yes, yes, yes!

 

Oh NO! the end is nigh.......I heard a song I didn't like ;) 

 

any closure? haha

 

 

 

 

Where do I get me one of them? My fingers are a little sore and nobody has paid me my millions I "deserve" yet :) 

 

A little sore? I think I see the problem... Bud, they need to be through to the bone! lol

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4 hours ago, john said:

 

A little sore? I think I see the problem... Bud, they need to be through to the bone! lol

One of the few people I've taken the time to "teach" guitar to, heh as if I know......was a friends kid....pretty high on the autistic spectrum....loved music, was one of the few things other than cbd that actually helped her.  Once she realized (took awhile) that her hand was going to hurt if she wanted to play, the "right" way  how she'd seen others do and wanted to...... our wrists/fingers aren't really meant to do such things ;), she really took to it and plays a pretty mean slide :) 

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