If you listen to popular music with even a halfway critical ear, which the men and women of Rocks Off at least try to do (though yes, we know some readers may disagree), this is a very tough time. Both the old-fashioned radio airwaves and newfangled streaming gadgetry are awash in songs that are manufactured to the point of artificiality - Daft Punk aside, robots really could be making a lot of this stuff - and seem to express little in the way of values apart from "YOLO" or lovesick musings of an average 11-year-old. If you're over that age, that knowledge is both distressing and revolting.
In other words, there is a lot of bad, bad music out there right now. Call us old, and you may, but a lot of the music that's currently popular across a variety of genres seems to be experiencing a simultaneous lull in originality and inspiration. The unfortunate, ghastly hybrid of rap and country known as "hick-hop" is actually what inspired this list, but Rocks Off's Angelica Leicht already covered that quite well this past Wednesday, on "Hick-Hop Is Garbage. Jesus. It's Utter Garbage."
Frankly, there is so much to cringe at today that we could hardly stop there. Here are five more pop trends that can't go away soon enough, which means we're probably stuck with them for a while.
5. The Emo-Indie Revival In the long running battle between "real" and "fake," "new" and "old," "original" and "unoriginal" in the world of punk, the latest distinction must be made between the legitimate '90s emo influenced indie rock and the irksome new trend of rehashed emo influenced indie rock hackery that's making the rounds in the blogging community right now.
Take latest contenders for worst band name ever The World is a Beautiful Place, and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, whose new record Whenever, If Ever is making a big splash for playing the same old same old that American Football was playing 14 years ago. Blech. Add A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Tigers Jaw, and most of the rest of the bands on Topshelf Records on the pile too. Come on guys, Sunny Day Real Estate's Diary turns 20 next year. Let's move on. COREY DEITERMAN
4. Songs about Molly This newfound musical obsession with Molly, or MDMA as it's formally known, is bordering on being a desperation tactic. Did your last album not sell? Hey, try this whole Molly shoutout trick; people, and other artists, will be so outraged, it's sure to get you some attention. Nothing, I daresay, is cute about some washed-up artist (I'm looking at you, Madonna/MDNA) trying to stay relevant by giving a shoutout to a drug that is not only potentially dangerous thanks to a lack of quality control on the street market, but is also used to oh, I don't know, rape women while they're unconscious.
Rick Ross is the ultimate offender in this category, with his "U.O.E.N.O." enjoying it while she's passed out on Molly bullshit, but there are plenty of other attention-seekers that are right up there with him, and it seems the list grows by the day. Miley Cyrus has even jumped on this Molly bandwagon. If Miley jumps on your bandwagon, it's time to get the hell off. Can't we all go back to proclaiming our love for the kush, please? ANGELICA LEICHT
3. Disappearing Guitars The most alarming trend in pop right now is within the re-emerging indie/electro-pop genre, and that trend is: the guitar is disappearing again. One thing the '90s did was bring the guitar back into popular music, and even when the '80s came back in a big way in the early-mid 2000s, the guitar stayed put; The Killers, Interpol, Bloc Party and others all sounded like '80s acts with more pronounced guitar.
But the newer wave of '80s revivalists are more accurately echoing some of their inspirations by dispensing with the guitar entirely, and although I don't think it's crucial for every single synth-pop band to feature a guitar player, doing away with it entirely risks running into the same problem '80s electro-pop eventually did: it'll sound too artificial, inorganic and not like something you could relate to.
Then again, the trend in general over the past decade has been to make music with little more than your MacBook, so maybe all real instruments will soon go the way of the banjo and the clarinet: for niche artists only. Sad. You damn kids, stay off my lawn, etc. JOHN SEABORN GRAY
2. Streaming My least favorite pop trend of the moment is streaming services such as Spotify, and not because I don't use them -- because I totally do. It's not because artists large and small are complaining about the pitiful royalty payouts for their songs, either. It's because having a universe of free music at my disposal at all times is changing the way I value music.
Records, CDs and even freaking cassingles used to be valuable, sought-after commodities that warranted intrepid hunting and special care to hear. Even with Napster, there was a certain sense of anticipation. Now, songs are just disposable commodities that take zero effort to listen to once and forget. Convenient, sure, but way less exciting. NATHAN SMITH
1. Stop Trying To Sell Me Stuff At Your Concert I get it: times have changed. Album sales aren't what they used to be, and if you're a pop star you have to have a lavish stage show with dancers and confetti cannons. You gotta make your money somewhere, and you can only raise the ticket prices so high.
When the corporations come knocking, it's easy to say yes. And hey, I'm not going to begrudge anyone for taking a sack full of crash in exchange for plastering some logos around the venue and having a street team on site. I get it.
But this whole thing where pop acts run commercials before their live show... it's just weird. Unpleasant. You've got my money for the tickets, and if you're really good you've got my $40 for a T-shirt. Why do I have to watch you hock some products I'm never going to buy? Why are you ruining the concert experience by reminding us all that this is a business?
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
We go to shows to embrace the music we love, not the business practices that make it possible. I don't care about your perfume, your cola sponsorship, or the fact that you've got merch for sale in the lobby. I just want to hear some tunes. More music, less business, cheaper shirts. Is that so much to ask? CORY GARCIA