Why modern pop music rapes your ears

Paul Joseph Watson posted a video earlier this year that does a rather good job of explaining precisely why it is that "pop" (((music))) these days is so unbearably stupid, vacuous, tedious, annoying, overly loud, and just plain unlistenable:

You may have gathered from the above that I am not exactly a fan of the autotuned garbage that passes for pop music these days. You would surmise correctly.

Actually, my precise feelings about just how bad pop music is, cannot adequately be expressed in English. For that, we must turn elsewhere.

For instance, a more accurate version of what I think of modern music is that it is an ongepotchket, which I imagine the Yiddish speakers among you will find amusing.

Better yet, I think, is the Russian version: абсолютный мусор. (I honestly believe that the three best languages to use for swearing at someone have got to be, in descending order, Russian, German, and Japanese.)

Anyway, I would imagine by now my feelings about modern pop (((music))), and its ear-raping qualities thereof, are fairly well understood.

(And don't even get me started on rap and hip-hop, otherwise we'll be here clear through to the end of next week.)

Now, one could argue that, as a metalhead who gave up listening to mainstream music about fifteen years ago and has never looked back since, my opinion about what stupid useless vapid (and about another fifteen pejoratives after that) teenyboppers listen to is not worth the paper that it is printed on. And you might have a point.

Except for the fact that, as a fifteen-year-old, before fate mercyfully intervened (you see what I did there?) in the form of a very good friend of mine who introduced me to properly good rock and metal, I did, in fact, listen to mainstream pop music quite a lot.

To whit: I actually liked listening to Bon Jovi, the Backstreet Boys, and a few other bands whose names I shall not now deign to mention, because I'll break out in hives if I do.

(I still do like BON JOVI, just for the record- their older stuff, up to and including Crush. Bounce was merely okay, nothing great. Have a Nice Day was shite. And that's when I stopped paying attention to them.)

So I can say with a considerable degree of confidence that pop music fifteen years ago, while still saccharine and stupid and schmaltzy and ridiculously bad in aesthetic terms, was significantly better than the modern-day garbage that assails your ears every time you turn on your car stereo system.

Music has, in fact, become dumber and more corporate and less useful as an art form, at least in its "mainstream" incarnation, than ever before.

Of course, it's one thing to bitch about how bad modern music is. It's quite another to figure out how to fix it. And to do that, we must first figure out the root causes of the problem.

In his video, PJW identifies three major reasons for this rapid and quite startling decline in musical quality. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that even the most saccharine, over-produced, cheesy teenybopper nonsense actually had some artistic merit to it, however nanoscopic- whereas today's pop music has none whatsoever.

The first reason for this is, of course, the equally rapid decline in the average Western IQ over the last few decades. This is a direct consequence of letting millions of immigrants from less intelligent parts of the world into the country. It should not come as a surprise that a world in which the average IQ has been dramatically lowered, is also a world in which appreciation for the finer forms of music will also rapidly disappear.

I consider Beethoven's 9th Symphony, particularly the final movement, to be perhaps the greatest piece of classical music ever written. It is beautiful beyond words, soaring to magnificent heights of emotion and power; its status as an artistic achievement is made all the more astounding by the fact that it was composed when Beethoven himself was deaf as a stone.

How many people do you know, today, who could name that symphony? Or who know who Paganini was, never mind listened to a rendition of his 24 Caprices? (I highly recommend the Shlomo Mintz recording of the same.) Or who have ever listened to anything written by Mozart, Vivaldi, or Bach?

Most of your acquaintances and friends won't have the first clue about these composers because it takes considerable intelligence, and training of one's ear, to appreciate the sheer melodic and dynamic beauty of classical music. These are things that modern "classical" composers seriously lack; their music is, like virtually all modern art, atonal, jarring, lifeless, and totally devoid of artistic merit.

But perhaps I'm being a bit snobbish by picking classical music. After all, classical music is something of a dead letter these days; there has been little, if any, innovation in the field in fifty years.

Fair enough. So let's turn to some genres of music where there has been tremendous innovation: progressive rock and heavy metal.

Both genres started when the virtuosity and complexity of classical music was combined with the eclecticism, innovation, and time changes of jazz, fused together with electronic amplification. The results were profoundly weird in a lot of ways (I'm talking about really out-there prog-rock, like CAMEL, ELP, and early GENESIS and KING CRIMSON), but it was also astonishingly virtuosic.

Today, rock and metal are more diverse and varied than they have ever been before. People keep coming up with new ideas and blend existing styles together to create new ones all the time (e.g. BABYMETAL, which is balls-out insane to some people and really good music to others).

Even the ancient warhorses of the genre, like IRON MAIDEN and JUDAS PRIEST, have found ways to keep themselves sounding fresh and relevant in the modern age. Producers have to vie for the talent and time of real artists with tremendous skill; you cannot simply take any old guitarist and drop him into DEEP PURPLE to do what Steve Morse does, for instance, and you cannot just take any old producer and have him record, master, and mix an AMON AMARTH album.

And say what you like of wankfest bands like DREAM THEATER- I, for instance, vacillate between loving some of their work and hating almost everything else that they do- but you cannot deny their sheer instrumental and compositional skill.

The reason why these genres are flourishing is simple: they are attracting people who value complexity, intelligence, lyricism, and skill.

I'm not, by the way, arguing for even a moment that your average metal mosher is an Einstein-in-disguise. He isn't. I would know, I've had to deal with more of those numpties jumping on top of me in an idiotic attempt to "crowd-surf" in the last thirteen years than I can count. But, compared with the average teenybopper and soccer mum listening to radio-friendly pop hits, he has an appreciation for tone, melody, and dynamics that the average pop-listener simply will not possess.

The second reason for the disaster that is modern music is a well-documented problem known as "the loudness wars".

This phenomenon was actually quite well elucidated in Fenris Wulf's completely batshit insane book, Loki's Child. (One of my favourite fiction books of the year, by the way.) The author is a veteran of the music business and he knows what he is talking about; as he states multiple times in the book through his characters, analog recording is getting harder to do every year because the equipment isn't really there anymore to do it, but records produced through analog processes simply sound so much better than the overproduced, overdigitised, overcompressed nonsense that hits the shelves and airwaves these days.

This is a serious problem across every genre of music, not just pop. But it is worst in the "mainstream"music genres. Essentially, what has happened is that music has become overly compressed and equalised, in order to make everything as "loud" as possible.

This phenomenon follows on directly from the previous reason for the secular artistic decline of pop music. When you have a dumber population with a smaller attention span, you have to make things as "loud" as possible to differentiate yourself from everyone else- which inevitably means that EVERYONE SOUNDS THE SAME AND EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE SOMEONE IS SHOUTING AT YOU ALL THE TIME.

See all those caps? It's impossible for you to read this for more than a line or two; your brain simply shuts down because it cannot handle what it considers to be a direct visual assault upon your optic nerves.

That is exactly what it feels like to listen to most modern pop music. The closest equivalent I can think of among the music that I listen to is, probably, having to listen all the way through an IMMOLATION album.

Some bands, by the way, can actually make the "wall of sound" thing work well. BRAINSTORM's album, Liquid Monster, is a good example of one that combines intricate melodies, dynamic ranges, and an almost overpowering wall of sound bearing down on the listener like a tsunami, and somehow makes it work.

But most bands cannot do this.

NO genre is guiltless of this problem of overwhelming the listener with mindless sound, by the way. Remember the RUSH album, Vapour Trails, from back in 2002? It is a pretty good album- probably their "worst", but even a bad RUSH album is still pretty good by anyone else's standards.

The remastered version of this album is a thing of beauty. You can actually hear all of the dynamics and you get a real sense for the tremendous musicianship of each of the three members of the world's greatest ever rock trio.

But the original album was absolutely impossible to listen to. It was like listening to the band playing in a garbage can.

And never mind listening to the original master after, say, Moving Pictures or Power Windows. You would have simply smashed your stereo system in disgust.

The reason for this is broken down in a classic article by producer Rip Rowan. As he put it: "this CD sounds like dogshit". And it really does.

Or take IRON MAIDEN's 2004 release, Dance of Death. Now, I love this album, it is a huge favourite of mine. The songwriting is far more diverse and varied than on its predecessor, the monumental Brave New World. The songs are great, the musicianship is superb, the lyrics are terrific, and Bruce "The Voice of the Messiah" Dickinson's pipes are in top form.

But the production is HORRIBLE. It's overly compressed, too loud, and obnoxiously nasty to listen to. Kevin Shirley did an absolutely appalling job mixing it.

(Speculation abounds that the reason he messed up so badly with that album is because Steve Harris, who every MAIDEN fan knows is the actual driving force behind the production of their albums, has become increasingly deaf over the years from standing next to those giant amps on stage. As a result, he insists on albums being mixed and mastered according to his hearing range- so the murky, dense, compressed sound of all MAIDEN albums from like 2003 to 2010 is due entirely to his hearing loss.)

This causes a serious problem when listening to "modern" MAIDEN albums compared to older ones. Listening to the older Martin Birch-produced albums, like Powerslave, you get a real sense of how good the band truly is, their dynamic range, their instrumental skill. Listening to Dance of Death can give you a headache if you're not careful.

The same is true for numerous other contemporary heavy metal albums. I could go on and on and on all bloody day long. I could just point you to any number of CDs in the shelf next to my desk at home to show you just how many albums are affected by this problem, and I could point you to at least three times as many albums that I have in MP3 format on my computer.

The proliferation of digital music is also a very major factor behind this over-compression and limited dynamic range of modern music. If you've ever listened to an old vinyl LP, and then listened to the CD, and then the MP3 version, of any particular album, and you know what to listen for, you will be utterly shocked at how different the three sound.

The first will sound warm and dynamic and wonderful. The second will sound cold and sterile and compressed. The third, by that point, will simply be unbearable. You'll want to pierce both eardrums with a drumstick.

The loudness wars are a direct consequence of the dumbing down of the general population. And with that dumbing down comes the third, and most disastrous, reason for the parlous state of modern "pop" music.

That reason is directly correlated to the decreasing intelligence of the Western world, and is almost certainly also a cause of the same. It has to do with the infiltration of the West by the insidious evil of cultural Marxism.

All of you know just how destructive cultural Marxism has been. Western civilisation has been simply shredded by its influences, and the music of the West is no exception.

Cultural Marxism has made the grotesque seem normal and acceptable- because that is what it does. It tears down all that is aesthetic and pleasing, and replaces it with that which is absurd and disgusting. This has happened to our art, our literature, our films, our theatre, and of course our music- and sometimes all of these things at the same time, as Bill Whittle once pointed out:

The same disease that has destroyed so much of Western culture has most assuredly taken root in its music as well. That is the reason why, back in the day, even the sappiest and schmaltziest songs still retained some charm and adolescent innocence about the world.

These days, though, (((pop))) tarts stars like Katy Perry (I'm just interested in her tits), Iggy Azalea (whoever the hell she is), Ariana Grande (no clue), and Taylor Swift (I think I've heard of her), release singles that would have made our grandparents clutch their rosaries in mortification.

These people are not talented enough to make records that sell on artistic merit, and their audiences tend to be too stupid to buy based on the same. So they are left with two options: make everything sound like everything else, i.e. be as bland as possible, or be as offensive and edgy as possible.

The problem is that if everyone starts being offensive and edgy, nobody is. And that is precisely what has happened in pop music.

A few years ago, Miley Cyrus's onstage antics were outrageous. These days, it's considered normal for female mainstream musicians to release videos that make them look just this side of streetwalkers.

Actually, that's an insult to streetwalkers. At least prostitutes are honest about what they are doing, and don't try to sell you some ridiculous spiel about how "empowered" and "amazing" they are for, basically, selling their bodies for public consumption.

So, does the music industry in the West have any hope? Well, not from where I stand. The good news is that, the worse pop music gets, the better everything else seems to get.

Underground genres like real hard rock and heavy metal are flourishing. The artistry and creativity of my favourite bands is increasing with every year- IRON MAIDEN, the greatest band of all time, who have absolutely nothing left to prove to ANYBODY, released last year their best album in twenty-five years. And younger bands keep entering the scene with energy, enthusiasm, skill, and creativity.

As always, the harder and faster that the social justice types try to converge anything, the more easily the rest of us can get on with setting up alternate outlets and platforms. Music is no exception.


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