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Seek's avatar

Is there any good modern popular music?

Asked by Seek (34739points) August 16th, 2010

I’m trying really hard to not be one of those “In my day we had real music!” people, waving my proverbial cane at the proverbial whippersnappers with their not-so-proverbial iPods.

Today, for the first time in a long time, I turned my radio to the Top-40 station.

I was greeted by drum machine, synthesizer, what I can only assume was a turntable screeching something that sounded like a fire alarm, and such thought-provoking lyrics as “I can hear my heart beating in my skin-tight jeans”. (and all this time I’ve been wearing my jeans on my legs…) being croaked out through an auto-tuner.

That’s not music. That’s karaoke. And not the Arnel Pineda version, either. Hell, it’s not even “Hey, isn’t that drunk dude shouting ‘War’ off-time hilarious?” kind.

I gave it a good 50 minute drive home. More of the same.

So… is there any popular music out today?

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37 Answers

Winters's avatar

It’s all relative, to some of us it is good (sadly), but it seems that with your taste, there really isn’t any good popular music. The one thing that really gets to me is that a lot of songs just sound like a chorus being sung over and over again. However, I’d suggest the band Sherwood, song Alleycat. It’s ok,

john65pennington's avatar

Nope. all the good songwriters either died or retired after the mid 80s. i do not understand the so-called music of today. its way out there and i am not. i will just stick with my music of the 60s, 70s and early 80s.

If you locate a decent song that has words and lyrics that you like, tell me. i know i will also like it and good hunting.

J0E's avatar

Passion Pit!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I enjoy a lot of pop music.
I also admit that most of pop music it is terrible and lacks any real talent. This all depends on your definition of “good.”

Frenchfry's avatar

I like Three Doors down. They are good.

Austinlad's avatar

Well, there’s lots of great music if we don’t limit ourselves to only what’s played on the radio, or to one or two cuts on an album. My brother taught me years ago that some of the best cuts in an album aren’t the ones that get popular on the air.

Here in Austin we’re exposed to all kinds of great stuff in lots of genres all the time, particularly during our annual South x Southwest favestival, Austin City Limits and the local clubs.. And there’s great new classical and jazz coming out all the time. Even some good country.

Plus… I’m still discovering older music I wasn’t interested in when I was younger… like the modern classical music of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Seek's avatar


I’m quite a big fan of the underground Metal scene, so I know there’s a lot of good music still being put out all over the world. I was specifically wondering about the Popular music genres.

I nearly wept with joy the first time I heard that “Hey There, Delilah” song, just because I could tell there was a real guitar being played. But that song came out in 2007.

I can’t help wondering what the Aerosmith of 2010 sounds like.

Austinlad's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr, I’m betting that somewhere in a garage or recording studio there’s an unknown band that’s rehearsing some new pop stuff that’ll knock our socks off. Anyway, we can hope.

wilhel1812's avatar

Well, you allways have the old ones like queen and pink floyd…
As of new music, It’s few, but some.
In electronic music we have Daft Punk and Familjen, Ratatat and Röyksopp
In rock/metal we have The Hives (the older albums), Muse, Queens of the Stone Age.

Sadly I would agree with you on most music, I guess radio stations and MTV decides too much. I also don’t think people have enough time these days to sit down and listen to music without doing other things. This makes people unable to fully concentrate on the music and to enjoy more complex music. For example a lot of metal and rock music will sound noisy.

Winters's avatar

Despite how much I dislike a lot of music produced today, I have to admit, if I want something to get my blood pumping, I gotta go metal.

Steve_A's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I love wolfmother they are considered a modern band fairly new but they have awesome riffs and tone.

Five finger death punch did a cover of Bad company, sounds really good! and Their are also considered modern metal I’m sure…The Bleeding is a heavy song.

DominicX's avatar

Autotune and electronic instruments dominate popular music of today. If you don’t like that kind of thing, you’re not going to find too much in the mainstream area that you like. I happen to like it, so I do find plenty I like, but I also happen to like 17th century music. Just depends.

So yes, there is “good” popular music, but maybe not “good” to you…

Seek's avatar

Hm. Well, I know who I’m hanging out with when the grid collapses. The old guys. They’ll at least be able to whip out some Skynyrd on the acoustic guitar.

tinyfaery's avatar

Anything with Jack White

Popular music is no longer just top 40.

nikipedia's avatar

I agree that it’s a matter of taste. Pop music doesn’t aspire to be soulful, thought-provoking, or profound. It’s intended to be light, fun, catchy, easy to dance to (and I especially like it for exercise purpose). I don’t think that makes it “bad,” just maybe not what you’re looking for.

And there are lots of bands making other kinds of great music today, and I’d go so far as to say that some of them are, in fact, popular! Sounds like you just need to flip over to your rock station rather than pop and you might find something more appealing. Here’s a couple to get you started :)

The Temper Trap, Sweet Disposition
Mumford and Sons, Little Lion Man

deni's avatar

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are fucking awesome as well.

Go ahead, someone, tell me you’re not tapping your foot

cockswain's avatar

The Beastie Boys have stayed mostly cool all these years. Wish I could say the same for the Chili Peppers.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

There is plenty of good modern music, but it is only popular with some groups and never gets radio airplay. Blind Guardian, Epica, Dream Theatre, Sonata Arctica and Trans-Siberian Orchestra all have albums released within the last year or two that are brilliant.

Berserker's avatar

Bah, popular music. Of course if you look there, it will be hard to find much of anything decent, at least when it comes to symphonic artistry. I’m sure some of it is there somewhere, as I also don’t believe in the ’‘the only music that doesn’t suck is what was going on in my generation’’ mindframe.
The problem with a lot of this is that times and cultures change, and so do definitions, and I don’t think it should be dismissed on account of taste only. To me that’s always been like saying that cartoons nowadays suck because you grew up and forgot what it’s like to be a kid.
For example I love Eminem. To me, he’s a philosopher. But I’m pretty sure just about nobody here will agree with me.
Despite that, I usually stick with underground and avantgarde music, especially Industrial. Stuff like VNV Nation or Funker Vogt may not catch your attention if you don’t enjoy bloopy sounds and synthesizers, but it’s a massive genre. Check out things like E Nomine or Blutengel, maybe. I really have no idea what your preferences are, so it’s hard to suggest something.

Whatever the case though, Danny Elfman is always there to save us!

Even if it’s from a movie, but still…

aprilsimnel's avatar

I like Lady Gaga. And I also like this Moto Blanco remix of Without You; the original is by Mary J. Blige, and is slow. Mary don’t need no stinkin’ Autotune!

Arisztid's avatar

I was about to list off bands like Lordi, Turisas, Saltito Mortis, Tanswut and the lot, but that is not “popular music” in America.

Ok, how about Big Bad Voodoo Daddy . I do not know if that is “popular music” because I do not listen to modern radio.

If you like that, there are other modern swing bands kicking around.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I like Regina Spektor, also.

aprilsimnel's avatar

The radio today won’t have the variety it did even when I was a kid in the 80s, and it was pretty fragmented then! The music market’s way too fragmented now.

Try online magazines like Exclaim!, Pitchfork, Dusted, Music Like Dirt, or Idolator, and online stations like BBC6 Music, 3WK or KEXP.

Daytrotter is an online site that gives you free sample EPs from a lot of up-and-coming and more established artists, mostly of the indie variety, but not just indie.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Arisztid Lordi and Turisas are awesome!

Seek's avatar

I’ve been thinking about this, and I think I know what my problem is.

As a music lover, I try my best to find something to admire about all forms of music. For example, I don’t really enjoy bluegrass music, but I can appreciate the skill required to play the banjo or the mandolin. I think of music as a human event – an expression of emotion or thought.

When I look at pop music (your Lady Gagas, for instance), I don’t see anything to respect or admire. The human aspect has been removed. The “instruments” are digitally pre-programmed beats, the vocalist is using a digital voice-correction software, and the lyrics consist of the same vague themes every other popular artist is also singing about. If there is anything that can be considered artistic, it might be the “danceable beat” that so many people claim to enjoy. If the music is about the beat, though, why isn’t the person who programmed the beat the one on the album cover? Instead, it’s a stylised, young sex-symbol. The entire industry has become rampant with Milli Vanillis.

In every other kind of music, there is at least something worth admiring. Sure, Elvis didn’t write every song he sang, but he did sing them. And his voice made him famous.

I have to wonder how these pop stars are “discovered”. Is there a talent scout that just scours headshots?
“Hi, you’re beautiful! I want to sign you to Virgin Atlantic”.
– “But I don’t write music”
“That’s okay, we have lyricists to do that for you”
– “But I don’t play an instrument”
“We have studio musicians.”
– “But I can’t sing”
“That’s perfect! We have auto-tuner”
– “So… why do you want me?”
“Oh, you’ll look great in the music video. Are you opposed to frontal nudity?”

Arisztid's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I wish I could give you more than 1 GA for that ^. Consider it +6’ed

@FireMadeFlesh Indeed. Check out German folk metal too… different than Finnish but still good. If interested, I shall enlinken you.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr GA!!

@Arisztid that’d be great thanks. Almost all my favourite music is Finnish at the moment, the exception being Dream Theatre.

Arisztid's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Excellent… music sharing time. Finnish and German for me. Saltatio Mortis, In Extremo, Tanswut (metal kicks in a bit into the song), are a brief sampling of folk metal out of Germany . There is much more than these. Have you heard of Korpiklaani? It is a Finnish band that I just learned about. This is a relatively new genre outside of oldimers like Skyclad and it is going worldwide. German bands tend to use a lot of the Pipes.

DominicX's avatar


Just so you know, Lady Gaga writes her own songs (along with RedOne), including the music and the lyrics and she does not sing with an AutoTuner.

As a fan of pop, I can say that it definitely is not just about the beat. The beat is important and it is part of what makes a song catchy, but for me at least (and other people I’ve met who like pop), a big part of it is the tune. And it doesn’t matter to me what kind of instrument the tune is played on as long as it sounds good. It still takes people to write the tunes and play them on the electronic instruments.

The funny part is that no one says any of this about dance music (electronica, techno, trance, etc.) which contains beats and tunes repeated ad nauseum, maybe three lines of lyrics, and entirely electronic instruments. The difference of course is that pop is “popular” and mainstream, whereas dance/eletronica is not.

Seek's avatar


I will go on record as saying exactly the same about electronica, techno, trance, etc.

DominicX's avatar


You’re the first non-pop-lover whose ever admitted that, so props to you. It seems to be that most people judge music based on how popular it is and not on the music itself. “Bad music” suddenly becomes good if it’s underground. That’s just been my experience.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@DominicX I don’t know much about electronica, but I find techno and dance just as repulsive as pop. I also cannot stand hip-hop and the majority of rap (the occasional song can be brilliant though). I guess that makes my taste quite narrow, but so be it.

@Arisztid Thanks for the recommendations, I’ll look further into their music. That Saltatio Mortis song is great!

Seek's avatar


I like music as an artistic expression. If there is something being said, I can find a way to enjoy it.

For example – the average “I’m a DJ because I have a turn table and can make noise” bores me to tears. However, I love Enigma. They write songs about the Marquis de Sade, and include Gregorian Chant in their music. That’s really cool. I like Bjork. She has an original voice and knows how to use it. Awesome.

Once upon a time, I was a fan of pop music. Particularly the Backstreet Boys. I was nine years old when I got their German self-entitled album (the one with the red cover, the self-entitled American release and second German album was two years away) and as the hormonal pre-teen I was, I thought Howie was cute and he was singing love songs to me through my radio.

Four albums later, I got sick of the same damned song over and over. How many times can you sing “Oh girl, your boyfriend’s a jerk and I looooooooooooooove youuuuuuuu” ?

jonholmes's avatar

pop isnt about authenticity-its what sells. Thus it can be a babe on the cover who didnt do much on the recording.

Such is the banal downside of rampant capitalism. Khrushchev in the 60s, when he was reforming the Soviet Union (or trying to) only allowed “good” jazz.

If you want real musicianship, listen to “rock” or other kinds of music.

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