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Dr-David-Banner

George Harrison Slammed Modern Pop

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Dr-David-Banner

I had to agree with George. Just it is now much worse than the time when he had a dig. I know it's easy to appear negative or stuck in the past, but modern pop simply all sounds the same. Most of it is dominated by rap where the performers rely on high tech mixing and audio software but can't play a lick. Not even an authentic drum roll. Contrast that with the New Orleans jazz bands even in the fifties who all played great sax, cool guitar and real percussion. What George started to point out was that, even 12 years ago, somehow the public became far less critical, less inclined to see new trends in the pop industry be it punk, flower power or new wave. To put it mildly I find 90 per cent of modern pop and rock boring, repetitive, fake and synthetic. Harrison went further calling modern pop "a pollution". Except to be truthful, modern pop no longer exists and I find DJs keep playing far older bands like The Bee Gees, The Police, M Jackson. Many theories abound and even a book written on the decline of pop. What emerges is (1) Digital I.T. allowed millions of people to produce popular music which sort of drowned out the former elite. You didn't need to be signed by a label and standards fell. Add to that, to the public ear, software streamed digital audio and autotune sounds good enough - no need to learn real lead guitar, piano or bass, sax or percussion. Of course this affected sales and the industry. Bands like Genesis were paid for sales of CD and vinyl but had to compete in terms of quality to sell albums. Now, all you have is free downloads. No paid performances on Top Of The Pops. No all girl dance groups like Pans People. No ranked top 40 topped by talented songwriters like Abba. The huge irony for me is that electronic music peaked and enhanced pop in the 80s with Roland synths being played skillfully. I guess when it finally got to software production, this attracted a larger pool of aspiring musicians who had never been exposed to authentic music. The easy option took over and record labels crashed out, as did the charts and the big rock bands. I wonder if real rock and pop will ever return or are we doomed to mediocrity and conformity for the coming decades. 

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Peridot

I have to say though some people give me the impression they are more interested in the emotions they stir up in themselves when they complain or are nostalgic when it comes to the past which was somehow better than the present. Not that you necessarily give me that impression, Dr-David-Banner. 🙂  It's just an overall impression I get where I see many people who seem to constantly be busy trying to make themselves feel certain ways. 🤔 One filmcritic spoke once of what he referred to as sentimentality porn. 🤨

Anyway, this video might be a fun watch.

 

Edited by Peridot

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Dr-David-Banner

"when they complain or are nostalgic when it comes to the past which was somehow better than the present...."

We have eras in music. The 1940s is a bit distant for me so I don't know much about that period. The 1950s saw the arrival of rock and roll. To be honest, I wasn't keen on Elvis /or even Jerry Lee Lewis but have sometimes seen jazz bands of the 1950s and was impressed. Most were black jazz musicians in the USA. The sixties, I see as the most creative era of all - starting from 1966 perhaps. Pop and rock at that time was huge in cultural terms and this is a point I'd like to stress.  It also went beyond music to the "counter culture" phenomenon. The 1970s to my mind was essentially O.K. but did lack the imagination of the sixties. You had the advent of disco and funk. The 1980s I view as odd somehow since I find the song-writing ability of many groups was really good and there were some great synth sounds that emerged. However, eighties music was just good music with no real cultural message or deeper meaning. There was talent however.

What happened in 2000 and onwards and why single it out as "barren"? Well, as you can see above, my opinion varies from era to era. It is only "this" era that I come down on hard. Plus one big point I'd like to stress is when I try to chat to everyday people on the street about rock or pop, there is no response or interest. It doesn't trigger any reaction. People will talk about DIY or their work but, at least where I live, never music. And that's not the end of it.... Go to any large supermarket and the music being played is just awful in the sense it has no guts or authenticity or anything inspired. Go into the street, and all you get is rap which is all doing the same thing to the same auto drum beat and overkilled bass.

To my mind, pop music when done well includes the following:

(1) Melody, harmony, harmony and melody (I think it was Brian Wilson who stressed that.

(2) Authenticity. The whole magic of pop and rock and roll was that the people who created it were genuinely expressing their own talents. They were never virtuosos or classically trained or brilliantly trained vocalists. They tended to learn various instruments at a basic, but acceptable level. It was grass roots music. Modern pop is not grass roots music but establishment music churned out purely to make a little cash. Purely "commercial".

(3) Message. The very best pop tended to have a social message. In the late sixties, this was the hippy movement where people tried to be more at harmony and think more about deeper issues. Music can be a really powerful cultural force - a far cry from the shallow, synthetic, background mass reproduction of the modern era.

I dislike 90 per cent of modern music so much I just download all much older material.

Below, a band from the eighties I used to go and see perform in a pub full of about 15 spectators. The lead singer was really talented, did the vocals and lead guitar. Fire Clown.
 

 

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Dr-David-Banner

The argument above doesn't explain why people like myself (or George Harrison) may like pop and rock or blues we didn't grow up with. I never grew up with jazz or drive-in sci-fi movies but like both regardless. Let's just look at the music itself on its own merit. Also I think what helps is to bear in mind that too much software and processing or digital enhancement can have a totally opposite effect. It can kill authenticity and inventiveness. Being naturally lazy, we don't learn to play chords when we have arpeggiators. Why struggle to play fast guitar if you can press an auto-rhythm? Why bother to sing when autotune will  do it for you? What you find is all these easy options show. The result is fake music that's no substitute for real instrumentation and actual talent. Fireclown above I saw perform at 6 feet distance in small pubs of my area. The lead vocalist wrote the songs, sang live and did the lead guitar. No autotune or mixing or software. They never made it big but lived around small gigs. As you see they did get vinyl publication which meant a proper analogue studio. Check out the lead guitar. Even George Harrison would have been impressed. I am surprised though. Digital allows us to make and publish music. This is a great opportunity. Despite that real music must start with real keyboard, guitar, bass, organ and real vocals. Synths can add to the product but shouldn't be a crutch. I cringe when super rich stars like Madonna put their kids in a high tech digital studio to do music when they never learn 12 bar blues on a basic guitar!

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Ben

I only really listen to 60's music. I don't care what anyone says, The Beatles, Small Faces, Manfred Mann, Jimi Hendrix and Janis just aren't going to be matched by anything that has been produced since 1975 onwards, besides Paul Weller and Amy - of course. 

John Lennon's voice when The Beatles performed Twist and Shout at the 1963 Royal Variety Performance is without doubt the best voice I'll ever hear. Vocals will NEVER get better than that. 

I wonder what George would make of talent shows and the rubbish on Radio 1? "I paved the way for this load of shite?" 

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Dr-David-Banner
52 minutes ago, Ben said:

I only really listen to 60's music. I don't care what anyone says, The Beatles, Small Faces, Manfred Mann, Jimi Hendrix and Janis just aren't going to be matched by anything that has been produced since 1975 onwards, besides Paul Weller and Amy - of course. 

John Lennon's voice when The Beatles performed Twist and Shout at the 1963 Royal Variety Performance is without doubt the best voice I'll ever hear. Vocals will NEVER get better than that. 

I wonder what George would make of talent shows and the rubbish on Radio 1? "I paved the way for this load of shite?" 

I will touch on this point of talent shows you raised Ben. I read not long ago children are scared to sing  in public for fear of being ridiculed and humiliated.  This is due to shows like X Factor. Kids associate the effort of trying to sing with possible humiliation and so-called experts on X Factor pulling faces. Little wonder! The process of learning to play guitar or do vocals means we "all" will sound like hell sometimes. Dwelling on it will clearly scare kids away from enjoying music and giving time to time. Speaking from experience I have sung tracks I wrote, recorded it and sounded awful (many times). Through further experience I learned to change key altogether or try a whole new approach.  I researched the subject and found a helpful and positive musician on YouTube who explains we can all sing. If you can talk, you can sing. People have been singing for centuries, at schools, funerals and in the bath. So really, X Factor is on a negative agenda because, in truth, lots of successful rock and pop singers would sound pretty basic if you take away the backing music. John Lennon once stated George Harrison was a poor vocalist for some time and worked hard to improve. Pop singers were never expected to be either virtuosos or on a par with Pavorotti. Many times I noticed singers who left something to be desired just "go for it" on Top Of The Pops and nobody cared less - just danced. I would never pull faces or make fun out of someone singing or playing. I would suggest ways to bring out their range and key. I also prefer to hear an authentic voice than autotune which I see as an easy option. On sixties music - agreed. Check out The Californians, Fire and The Flowerpot Men. Great vocals and great sound.

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Dr-David-Banner

Just an anecdote about George Harrison: Late in the sixties he decided to go to San Francisco to meet head on the hippy and flower children who had San Francisco as their capital. George was pretty stoned as he arrived but full of expectation. San Francisco was the base of big psychedelic bands such as Jefferson Airplane or Janis Joplin. George was to be bitterly disappointed. The Beatle fans in S.F. struck Harrison as bums and drug addicts and not particularly inspiring people. Harrison was so disappointed he soon decided to quit LSD and turn to transcendental meditation instead. My bet is George suddenly got a whole new insight into music. Probably he realised a lot of Beatle fans were simply following a trend mainly due to "popularity". When you really do love creativity through music, you follow a band for the way it moves you personally. So often the masses will just follow the herd and want to be seen to be "in" on the fashion. Once The Beatles truly split, it seems both George and John got wiser and more cynical. George did a few solo albums but became very private and quiet. None of The Beatles offspring have really managed to make any impact, except Julian Lennon in the eighties. Sean Lennon did the odd non mainstream album.

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Peridot

I once saw this 16 year old girl dance to this Top 40 type hip-hop "gangsta" or "playa" music as if she was in some ecstatic state. It was like seeing a beautiful girl enjoy a shower while there's toxic sludge coming out of the showerhead.

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Dr-David-Banner
22 hours ago, Peridot said:

I once saw this 16 year old girl dance to this Top 40 type hip-hop "gangsta" or "playa" music as if she was in some ecstatic state. It was like seeing a beautiful girl enjoy a shower while there's toxic sludge coming out of the showerhead.

For quality pop music to even exist there has to be a certain level of culture. The music being "popular" will then reflect that culture. I truly believe pop music is a useful measuring tool of culture as it is. The less advanced it becomes, the more we will hear 85 per cent drum (boom boom, boom boom, and plenty of swearing and lyrics to do with crack cocaine. Nothing new - you hear it all the time. It may possibly vary geographically but in my area there is simply no interest. I meet people all the time in shops or supermarkets and there is no way to discuss music. People are totally fixated on work, family and (very definitely) mobile phone videos and so on. Without a shadow of a doubt, I maintain if I had a time machine and zapped back to 1968, I could chat to lots of people locally about music. In fact, The Rolling Stones did a local gig here in the early sixties to a packed audience. Girls would scream wildly. There were small psychedelic bars where kids just listened to rock bands and toyed with the odd "upper". It went so far that the guys had rock star haircuts or posters on bedroom walls. Most towns had huge record stores and full of people leafing through them. Why then has music today become so unimportant to the population? Part of it is probably economics. Most people are more occupied by work and bogged down in family life. Unemployment is high. I would go so far as to say The Tories have prioritised labour over arts while further education and arts have wilted. Mobile phone and social media is also quite addictive and generally people go out and mix less. And finally this is currently neither a musical or militant population. Not only is music unimportant to them but also militant issues like social justice or even old concerns such as fox hunting. This leaves the would-be rock or pop musician in an awful fix. Like trying to plant a tree in a desert. 

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Ben
On 5/11/2019 at 9:38 PM, Dr-David-Banner said:

I will touch on this point of talent shows you raised Ben. I read not long ago children are scared to sing  in public for fear of being ridiculed and humiliated.  This is due to shows like X Factor. Kids associate the effort of trying to sing with possible humiliation and so-called experts on X Factor pulling faces. Little wonder! The process of learning to play guitar or do vocals means we "all" will sound like hell sometimes. Dwelling on it will clearly scare kids away from enjoying music and giving time to time. Speaking from experience I have sung tracks I wrote, recorded it and sounded awful (many times). Through further experience I learned to change key altogether or try a whole new approach.  I researched the subject and found a helpful and positive musician on YouTube who explains we can all sing. If you can talk, you can sing. People have been singing for centuries, at schools, funerals and in the bath. So really, X Factor is on a negative agenda because, in truth, lots of successful rock and pop singers would sound pretty basic if you take away the backing music. John Lennon once stated George Harrison was a poor vocalist for some time and worked hard to improve. Pop singers were never expected to be either virtuosos or on a par with Pavorotti. Many times I noticed singers who left something to be desired just "go for it" on Top Of The Pops and nobody cared less - just danced. I would never pull faces or make fun out of someone singing or playing. I would suggest ways to bring out their range and key. I also prefer to hear an authentic voice than autotune which I see as an easy option. On sixties music - agreed. Check out The Californians, Fire and The Flowerpot Men. Great vocals and great sound.

Yeah, you've made a brilliant point actually - hadn't thought of it myself until  now. X Factor is oppressive and YET ANOTHER one of life's box ticking exercises - which of course, has absolutely no place within the confines of creativity. I honestly hate what it stands for and promotes, and to be honest, I hate most modern day music. The indies has the odd diamond in the rough, but they'll never be aloud to come to fruition. 

George really came on leaps and bounds by the White Album/Abbey Road era - and I liked this first album even more than John's first in some ways - let's not forget that John IS about as good as they'll ever come, so what I say is a huge credit to George. I actually loved how unassuming and peaceful George was, he was ALL about the craft. He hated fame. 

Cheers for the recommendations 🤙

 

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