Why does today’s music suck?

Why does today’s music suck?

I was just listening to some old stuff on YouTube. Man, there were some great songs. Pick a decade–’50s, ’60s, ’70s…and that’s just starting with the rock era. There were some amazing songs written and recorded in those days. In comparison, today’s music totally sucks…right?

Well, if you read the comments under some of those old songs, that’s what you’re told. Here are just a few that represent the general theme:

…it DESTROYS all of the rubbish put out today. God I miss this musical era

When music had soul.

thank god we have still got music like this, it blinds the shit they make today.

They Don’t Make Music Like This No More ( SAD )

where did all the talent in the world go?

im [sic] 18 wish they’d bring this old style back…

Now we just have people copying the songwriters of the past.

this is the kind of music that modern artist didn’t have.

I wish I had been alive in those days. I was born in the wrong time.

Honestly, I get so sick of reading ignorant comments like that. Look, I love old music as much as the next guy. Nothing brings me more joy than listening to ’50s rockabilly, classic country from guys like Hank Williams, Beatles tunes from the ’60s, bands like America and Badfinger from the ’70s…all fantastic music, and there are so many other examples.

Here’s Badfinger playing some of that not-sucking old music. What an awesome song.


But anyone who thinks that there’s not great music being made today just isn’t trying very hard to find it. We live right now in a time of unparalleled musical output. Well, I don’t really know that as a true fact or anything, but I think it’s a pretty solid bet. I can never figure out how we don’t run out of songs to write because there is so much music being produced, and that has been produced especially over the past 60 years. And there is really truly great music being made these days, just as there were back in “those days.” It’s easy to get all sappy and nostalgic about those days when music was great, but c’mon, you must remember the really crappy music that came out during all of those wonderful years, right?

I know; “crappy” music is completely a matter of taste, so one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But pick a year–any year from those old days. Listen to, or just read a list of, the top 100 from that year. You’re going to be reminded of songs you thought were amazing, but I’ll bet you’ll encounter a whole lot more songs that you couldn’t stand then (if you’re old enough to have lived through that year), and can’t stand now. It’s just the way it is. It’s the way it has always been. And it’s the way it will always be. If you listen to the top 40 today, there’s a good chance you hate much of it. But let’s be honest; if you listened to the top 40 then, you probably hated much of that too.

And guess what–it’s easier than ever to find great music today. We have access to all of it. Millions upon millions (so it seems, though I didn’t count them) of songs available on the Internet. Back in those glory days, you heard pretty much what was spoon fed to you over the radio. The really adventurous might haunt the record shops and find some obscure stuff, but mostly you got what the Alan Freeds of the world decided you should get. That’s not a knock on Alan Freed, because that guy and guys like him introduced some great music to the world, but the point is, those were the musical gatekeepers. They decided what got heard and what didn’t. Today, there are no gatekeepers. Hell, today there are no gates. You can hear anything you want, all from your easy chair. Some of it sucks, but some of it is amazing. And the cool thing is that different things sound amazing to different people.

Yeah, I can’t deny that songwriters today copy the songwriters of the past. How is that a bad thing? The songwriters of the past copied the songwriters of the further past. The Beatles have influenced everybody. But even they made no secret about how important their influences were to them. Guys like Elvis, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, and others. And read the comments that those rock-and-roll pioneers made back in their day, and they all talk about who influenced them. The old delta blues masters. The gospel singers of their childhoods. The country pickers from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s.

Everyone is influenced by the music that came before them. All songwriters are “copying songwriters of the past.” It’s just the way it is. But most songwriters try to put their own spin on the music. Once in a while someone comes along who really does something different. Hozier seems like a good example. George Watsky has definitely put his own spin on music. Yes, I’m sure many of you hate their music. I’m just as sure that many of you love it. That’s the way art works.

Here’s George Watsky challenging you to listen to modern music that doesn’t suck.

And we haven’t even really talked about genres other than rock-related ones. Country, jazz, blues, classical…pick any genre. I’ll bet someone who really knows those genres can find just as many songs from the “old days” that suck as badly as the modern ones people today love to hate. And just as true, someone who is adventurous enough will find great music being made in those genres today.

Edvard Grieg at the piano
Edvard Grieg at the piano playing some of that old music that doesn’t suck.

In the end, I’d say what it really boils down to is that music is art, and art is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that. There is a whole lot of music being made these days that I really don’t like. But you may have different opinions. Maybe the songs I think suck, you really love. What a miraculous blessing it is that we don’t all have to love the same things. So, if you’ve ever left one of those “I wish music today was great like music of those days” comments on YouTube, or Facebook, or Spotify, or…wherever…maybe think again. Are you sure you’re trying hard enough to find the great music that is being produced today? It’s out there for sure. And we’ve been given an amazing gift of freedom and access to find whatever it is that we do love to listen to. Go ahead, pine for those old days and listen to the music you love from those eras. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I will never stop listening to those old songs. But do yourself a favor: don’t imprison your mind by refusing to let it expand into the music of today that touches greatness. That music is out there. Go find it.

Got a favorite modern artist who you think rivals any music from any era? List it with a comment below. I’d love to listen to him or her!

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