Popular music is popular often for reasons of the music industry having the access to the money to market a record or cd enough to make it extremely well known in the umbrella group of markets and people. This of course means that the music has to pander to a generic commonality that will sell to the maximum number of people. (Hence the music you hear in TV advertisements). People who support this kind of music are in fact sheep, since they refuse to take their eyes off the uni-directional force that music downward spirals into when trying to pleasure en masse.

I agree that not all popular music is bad, and it is possible to miss good music by being a commercial music hater. I missed out on some of Daft Punks music because i refused to listen after being marketed to. Personally, I'd prefer to not see myself being mindless about something i love. Of course some people can get evangelical about rare music, and it can be a bit tough to relate to someone in a totally different scene, however they have passion & interest. The intellectual snob, spewing for the sake of spewing information, is an easy stereotype to make yet untrue to the majority. Good music is always good music, and rare good music deserves to be discovered and shared.

If someone invests the time and energy to learn about music that most people might miss otherwise, they deserve the opportunity to share their discoveries and not be dismissed because they aren't a major multi-national corporation. Egotistical information snobs can be annoying, however other peoples refusal to try something new.. or to understand that which is different discomforts them to confront such a person in the first place. A Dj is someone that searches for the rarest music and present it in their own styles in a fun manner, otherwise every DJ would have the same music and they would all be generic juke boxes.

This is why I would never hire a 'commercial DJ' to do a wedding for me, and is also why i hate wedding receptions. I want to hear good music i do not know, and in that sense it is good music.. imho better music than hearing Huey Lewis & The News or Metallica. Complacency in music culture shows that said person is complacent about their own identity and courage to explore and expand as a human being.





Good music is good music, regardless if it becomes multi-platinum or not. I am not ashamed to have liked The Prodigy when they first came out. Their 12 inch singles were and are still spectacular, and i'll recommend them to anyone, however for me.. the newer and largely pimped material does not have the same effect on me.. and it's not just that they've been marketed to death. I have listened to my share of commercial music before i woke up out of complacency, and i find i can hear honesty and originality/spirit in music. Puff Daddy is a retard while KRS1 has managed to hold onto (mostly) his true identity (his cover of Rapture was nice the first listen.. after that nuh uh).

If you are looking at MP3.Com and calling most of it crap.. you fail to see who those people are on MP3.Com. They are new musicians trying to find a voice. If you've ever tried to play a violin or a trumpet or the drums.. you'll know it doesn't sound great right away. I go to MP3.Com to listen to ideas.. not a polished perfect song. Noted there are a lot of bad ideas.. or ideas over-cooked and overdone, but the sense of adventure and finding someone that might speak to you, speak to your soul.. I think is very important.

That's my point in regards to non-commercial music, if you learn and understand yourself better.. you can find music that much more effectively speaks to you, gives you what you need to go on each day, and isn't necessarily a multi-platinum machine.

I would just like to add that just because music is not popular does not make it good, either. I know you are probably thinking that this is obvious...but hear me out. I know quite a few people who love just being into bands that no one else has heard of so they end up listening to horrible music that they would never listen to if it was popular. I'm not quite explaining myself correctly...Okay. I love finding odd music and getting my friends all hooked on it. I think most people do. I was very proud of myself when I came back from France with a whole bunch of kick-ass music no one in the States has heard of...BUT I will not listen to crappy music just because no one else has heard of it. Just the same, I will not disregard a group just because they are popular because then one is faced with the problem: what happens if when I discovered them when no one knew them and now they're mutli-platinum (with me, this was Garbage-do you remember when Vow was their single? Fiona Apple, etc)? Quite a dilema. Also, there are the people who are very much into classic bands. Although I aggree that time is the true test, just because it is old and still popular, does not mean you have to like it (I admit, I don't like the The Grateful Dead or The Beatles. Music becomes so entangled with image and so many other factors, it becomes so altered that I understand one's interest in finding underground bands and such, but when it comes down to it: Listen to what you like, just everything a try.

In response to Ater (bear in mind that I rarely ever post responses. I chose to use my earned bullshit for this.)

Popularity is only an attestment to the lowest-common-denominator property of music - Pop music is music that every member of the populace can understand, hence it can never reach too high a level of complexity (or degree of displayed skill.)

By saying that "If more people like something, it is essentially superior overall" you assume that every person is a viable judge of musical talent/skill... therefore it would follow that 3 Doors Down has more musical merit than Richard D. James (Aphex twin). Allow me to draw on this tangent for a bit:

3 Doors Down, founded in 1997 is a stereotypical late 1990s college-rock band. Their single Kryptonite made the band a household name, and the followup "Loser" stayed number one in the billboard charts for 21 weeks.
While their music is very melodic and listenable, it lacks in variation what it carries in blandness. Certainly they are not a band anyone would dislike, but this is mainly because of the fact that there is very little to form an opinion about. Looking past the mastered vocals (which sound half as impressive live, IMHO) the song structure varies little from song to song. The drum work is repetitive, the lack of variation in guitar riffs allow for the songs to play out as quickly as they catch on and the lack of any 'unusual' tracks on the album leave little doubt what the next one will sound like.

Aphex Twin, on the other hand, built his first synthesizer when he was twelve. Producing music practically all of his life, he has worked with artists such as Beck (Devil's haircut (Richard's hairpiece)), Philip Glass (Icct Heddral) and Squarepusher (who is unarguably the best Drum'n'bass artist alive.) His music ranges from String arrangements (Icct Heddral, Polynomial - C) to bouncy/popsy beats (Flim) to nightmarish fast breaks (Come to Daddy / We are reasonable people). His latest release (Windowlicker) was a smashing underground success although no one could quite place the genre. This, however, did not stop Madonna from stealing samples and effects for her Music single. On a technical level, Richard D. James has shown a mastery of arrangement in terms of integrating several layers of original breakbeats without clashing bass frequencies (We are reasonable people) - complex changing melodies (often interacting with other parts of the music) are common also (On). Today he writes his own software to aid him in music creation.

Regardless of his status as a Drum'n'bass icon, he doesn't take himself as serious as many of these new bands ("Milkman", "Hot buttered popcorn")


Undoubtledly Aphex Twin is the 'better' musician by nearly anyone's opinion. The reason he isn't (and probably doesn't care to be) as popular as today's number one bands is that joe sixpack and his tween daughter don't want no complex music. An army of them chosing Creed and Britney Spears (no offense, accipiter) over Aphex Twin or Gorecki does not make the previous musically superior...

"The simple fact is to the average person, music is just a form of entertainment, not a lifestyle."
To some of us, it is a lifestyle - and it's a pain to have to import our more complex music or spend hours on irc looking for obscure artists. Fuck the unsuspecting public.

People who think music has to be popular to be good automatically close themselves off from any raw and independent talent, any band or artists who makes music for the beauty of it and not to sell records. (I realize some artists are exceptions to this, but we're talking about the majority of label-composed bands.)

To those who are open to new and good music, check out the following and compare them to the listed artist. Which one is better?

H-blockx - Little Girl -> anything by creed
CIV - So far, so good... so what? -> any new 'punk' band
Nofx - The Cause -> any new melodic punk band
Oysetin Sevag - Cahuita (acoustic) -> New Santana
DJ Hell - Copa -> Jamiroquai
Pavement -> Pretty college-rock bands
Regurgitator - Modern life -> Pretty college-rock boybands.

YMMNV - Sources: www.billboard.com, 3 Doors down, personal knowledge, aphextwin.org

Obviously the concept of 'good' music is totally subjective, but there are a few factors that people commonly cite along with an artist generally considered to get high marks for it:

Technical Skill is almost a non-factor in pop music today, and modern technology reduces the importance of even knowing how to play an instrument anyway.

Production quality on the other hand is critical. Modern pop music is considered by many to be overproduced, but the fact is that underproduced music simply won't sell.

Grooviness and originality are critical factors which are not so easily analyzed. By grooviness, I mean the general appeal or 'catchiness' of the music to a mass audience. Although some popular music is very original, music that consistently makes the Billboard Charts seems to usually follow the formula of the day.

I view the popularity of music as a bell curve. On the leading edge you have the less-popular, very experimental and original music of which music snobs are notorious for liking. On the trailing edge you have played out music which happens after a big music fad hits and all of a sudden everybody wants to play that kind of music (but are too late). In the middle, you have whatever is playing on MTV right now.

Well duh, but what's the significance of that? My own theory is that the human ear in general is tuned to things it recognizes. For music to be considered good it must appeal to something the listener already knows. People say that want something original, but if it doesn't have influences from past music they recognize, they won't like it. It will just sound like random noise. At the same time, people get sick of hearing the same old stuff.

For a contemporary band to be considered 'good' requires a delicate balance between musical creativity and a firm grounding in established tradition. Of course, there are those musicians who only care about their creative vision, and not the appeal of the final product. Many of these musicians go on to be recognized as geniuses once their music has enough time to absorb into society (ie. once the word spreads and new musicians become influenced by it).

See also: Frank Zappa

Wick suggests that my use of Grooviness actually reflects two ideas: Persistence of Vision (meaning capturing the essence of the sound in a focused manner) and Catchiness. It is an interesting thought, but I maintain that Persistance of Vision is something that only a music expert can judge whereas the general concept of Grooviness I layed out is something most people use regularly. Persistence of Vision is quite important to the quality of music, but I don't think it's necessary in the discussion of popular music (or at least, I'm not qualified to say much about it since I am not trained in Music Theory).

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