Monday, December 31, 2007

Is This Why Modern Music Sounds So Lame?

In a recent article titled "The Death of High Fidelity," Rolling Stone hypothesizes that some of the blame for current popular music's apparent lack of punch and pizzazz might be more properly assigned to the recording industry's questionable decisions regarding the CD mastering process. I've never been in too much sympathy with audiophiles (who rail about their obsessions in the highly entertaining comments section of this article), mostly because I believe the most important aspect of popular music is the content and not the sound quality. I mean, you can spend all the time in the world trying to make your music sound technically perfect, but if you totally neglect the emotional side of the performance, then all your technical know-how is in vain as far as I'm concerned. Hell, I spent years listening to my favorite music on cassette. Not even commercial cassettes, mind you. I'm talking third-generation, cut-off-in-the-middle-of-the-song-because-the-tape- ran-out-on-you cassettes. But I didn't care because the feeling of the music was there, damn it. Of course, if you can afford options, then by all means, you go for it. I just don't know if it should be the highest priority.

However, I have noticed that albums in the past ten years have mostly come on like a big gloppy pile of armadillo saliva. But is this because of the "loudness war" or just because of bad production to begin with? Or, hell, even just bad songwriting and performing? Is what we have on our hands...the perfect storm...of musical lameness?

I tremble at the possible answer.

1 comment:

yoggoth said...

To my ears, music sounds best when you can hear every instrument clearly and the vocals are louder than the music. This hypothesis seems to overlook crappy 70's AM production and the entire decade of the 80's. I also think there is something of feedback loop going on. The worse music gets the worse the production gets to compensate. Contemporary production may be bad but no amount even Donald Fagen isn't going to make Fall Out Boy worth listening to.