FT5: Worst Things in Music

Today marks the beginning of a new feature on Austin Town Hall.  Every Friday we plan to bring you a completely random Top 5 List.  We’ll be bringing in all of our writers for this one, with the goal of creating lists based on what we are most passionate about.

We apologize for starting on a negative note, but today’s topic is “The Top 5 Worst Things In Music”.  We try to focus on the major problems and not just nit picky things like the existence of Scott Stapp.  These are the issues.  These are things that must be changed.  Follow the jump to read the full list.

#5. The Loudness War

This is well documented, but record labels still get away with boosting the mixed song in the mastering process to make songs !!EXPLODE!! out of your speakers, ear buds, and ring tones.  A normal soundscape that would have peaks and valleys like a heartbeat is compressed into a wall of noise, often assaulting the listener from start to finish. Songs that should have nuance, feeling, and interesting interplay between different instruments, turn into a muddy mess of noise just so every fraction of volume in the mix is at the red line just before the track clips and distorts into garbage.  In fact, some producers have been moving even closer to this aural red-line, actually introducing clipping into the track as a result (cough…Ted Jensen….cough….Death Magnetic…cough).

The backlash is building here, and perhaps there is hope.  An in depth Rolling Stone article about this concept is a must read.  It has examples from the main offenders and still others who have resisted the urge to destroy their music. Brett

#4. Decline of Albums

Don’t get me wrong, we here at ATH are avid users of the iTunes music store.  We like being able to drop 99 cents to download our favorite new song onto the iPod.  But what about the rest of that album? How many of you have actually listened to any song by M.I.A. other than “Paper Planes”?  I realize the idea of a one hit wonder has been around for quite some time, but it seems to be getting worse.  With the instant gratification world we live in, few people can remember the last time they paid for a whole album. You remember that cool Blue Album you bought in 7th grade by a band called Weezer? That kind of album.  Several people are to blame for this.  The easiest culprit is corporate greed.  The second has to fall on the artist.  Great albums… truly great albums, are a thing of the past.  Too many artists realize that they can make money selling a couple of good songs to companies willing to pay for them, so they use that as a goal. I applaud the few musicians who refuse to give into this horrible trend and shake my finger at the rest of you. The third reason is the fans. When did we become so lazy with our musical tendencies? I can count on one hand how many people I know that have sat down at home with a record recently and basked in its glory. Music isn’t the same when it’s blaring in your damn headphones on the way to class. Stop being lazy, turn off the TV, grab a beer and enjoy a great album with no distractions. Don’t you feel better now?

#3. RIAA

The Recording Industry Association of America has done all it can over the past decade to make life a total hell for its consumers. By suing everyone from single moms to grandma to your dog, they have decided to wage a war against the very people that pad their pockets. If you don’t listen to music the way they want you to, you better look out. We could go on and on… link to a million articles, point out a bunch of ridiculous lawsuits, cite the rising cost of a CD or show how they’re trying to destroy our beloved Pandora Radio. But in the end, the RIAA has created a public relations nightmare that they might never fully recover from.raygun

#2. Myspace

Myspace is a piece of trash. Sure it has 55 million users that could potentially listen to your indie band’s music, but it’s a piece of trash. For every 1 good band on myspace, I’ll show you 10 NOFX knockoffs. It’s the Ford Taurus of the web. Everyone has one and it’s a piece of trash. You do have to cut them some slack because Myspace has allowed small bands to get some larger exposure… centralizing bulletins, tourdates, and sample mp3s… but overall Rupert Murdoch and his Fox associates had a chance to modernize their site (Lord knows they have the money!), but they didn’t. It’s a dinosaur as far as the web is concerned. It’s Geocities for dummies. So DevilPrncess69, I know it upsets you to hear that MySpace has jumped the shark and no one wants to put up with your “custom” profile in order to listen to your Emo songs, but move on. I suggest Bandcamp. davatron5000

#1. Pop Music

Remember when everyone used to like the same artists? How we all used to scramble to purchase the latest popular album? Well those days are long gone, and I think it can be contributed to two reasons:

First, the current state of popular music might be the worst it’s ever been.. plain and simple. Music is a commodity that is packaged and sold on an assembly line. It’s dictated by the latest Disney Channel superstar, whoever wins American Idol, or the newest album playing at Starbucks. Pop music as it stands today refuses to develop the way it once did, and has slowly devolved into simply repeating itself endlessly.

Secondly, a lot music fans refuse to listen to popular music anymore. It’s not cool. With the accessibility of music today, the second something gets popular they don’t want to listen. It’s not obscure enough. They feel like they’ve lost their identity when it’s something that everyone else listens to.

So it’s really a two-fold demise. And to top it all off, the King of Pop is a bankrupted freak who likes to touch little boys. – raygun

That wraps up our very first Friday Top 5 Feature.  We might have missed some big things in this list (hyped bands, Timbaland, etc.), so sound off in the comments section and let us know what you think.


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