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Opinion: Modern mainstream music doesn’t compare to decades-old mainstream music

Opinion%3A+Modern+mainstream+music+doesn%E2%80%99t+compare+to+decades-old+mainstream+music
Olivia Sassek

What happened to the four-piece band in mainstream music? What happened to guitars, bass guitars, and drums? The lack of actual instruments and instrument-driven music in the last decade’s mainstream is becoming apparent, with electronic-made music dominating the charts for years now. In fact, you have to go all the way to spot 85 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart to find a band with a song on the list: Good Neighbors. In my opinion, music without several instruments sounds repetitive, monotonous, and frankly, boring. Not to say that all music without a whole band is bad, it’s just not impressive after a while. Despite the extreme lack of mainstream popularity, rock, and similar genres haven’t disappeared. It is safe to say that every big city in America has its own rock and live music scene.
Rock ‘n’ Roll – a genre entirely made up of live guitars, drums, and bass – emerged in America in the 1950s from artists such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley. At that point, the genre was nothing like it is known today. It exploded in both the US and the UK in the ‘60s, and bands such as The Beatles, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath emerged. All of those are regarded as “the classics,” and their popularity and influence reigned into the next decades. These are the bands that changed music as a whole forever. In the 1970s, rock got even bigger. It was the mainstream genre. At this point, it started splitting off into many subgenres, and bands such as Kiss, Van Halen, Judas Priest, and Ramones appeared and opened the doors to new subgenres like glam rock, hard rock, heavy metal, and punk rock. Once the 80s came around, rock expanded further into the metal territory. Glam metal, characterized by bands like Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Twisted Sister, was the largest and most commercially successful brand of music worldwide according to Wikipedia. The rock train kept rolling into the 90s, and there was a massive switch in popularity from glam metal to grunge rock. Bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam killed out glam metal for the most part, but a few glam bands stayed on the charts until 1994. This was also the time that Rap, Hip Hop, and R&B were hugely popular and dominated the Billboard charts. Rap and Hip Hop maintained its popularity into the 2000s and 2010s, and rock became less and less popular, though it was still out there. Bands that had already established themselves carried over into the next genres, with fewer and fewer new bands emerging and gaining commercial success. So what about the transition from the 2010s to the 20s? Who are our decade’s biggest rock bands so far? A Google search will show that there are currently no rock bands trending that haven’t already been trending in the past three decades.
Music without instruments has slowly phased out of the mainstream, and most new music that still uses them isn’t very good in my opinion, except for country and folk music, which has actually made an appearance on 2024 music charts. My problem comes from music that uses guitar, but barely. I’m referring to artists who loop the same three chords over the whole song and don’t play anything with interesting chord progressions, tempo changes, etc. One example of this is Ed Sheeran’s music. It ultimately comes down to preference, and I know millions of people enjoy that kind of guitar music, but to me, that is just as boring as music with no instruments at all. I love music driven by the instruments – it shows that a few talented like-minded people were able to come together and make something great. Another observation I’ve made is that the deeper I dive into old music and find songs completely new to me, whether it be pop, rock, blues, etc., it sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before, even if it has been around for 60 years. There are bands that get virtually no major recognition today that sound completely original and haven’t been ripped off by anyone. I hope one day, brand new skilled instrumentalists and bands with a talent for writing original music will return to the Hot 100. Until then I’ll just hope that other people will realize that there is a massive lack of actual instruments and originality in mainstream music and get inspired to bring it back.

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