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Old 08-12-2006, 04:38 PM   #1
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Overall Comparison Of The Quality Of Popular Music, 1991-2006

I am curious as to how you all think the overall quality of popular music today compares to what it has been over the last fifteen years. Has it declined, has it gotten better, or has it stayed the same?

Note that this comparison should pretain to the overall quality of POPULAR music - NOT music in general - over the last fifteen years. I'm defining popular as music of ANY genre that has gotten heavy airplay on radio or mtv/vh1/etc over the last fifteen years. So there may be records that you love, that you consider classic, but that weren't big hits, and so they wouldn't factor into this discussion.

This discussion is as much about the music as it as about how the general music-listening public's perception of 'quality music' has changed(or not) over the last fifteen years.

To refresh your memory, I've compiled a year-by-year list of the most 'popular' and 'successful' records of the last fifteen years. Note that 'popular' does not equal 'best'. I don't claim that this list is 100% complete - I'm sure there are very 'popular' records I've not included(and I know my 2005 and 2006 lists are shabby but you all probably don't need your memory refreshed about what JUST happened anyway), but this is just to get your jusices flowing.

Year-By-Year Popular Music List

1991

Nirvana - Nevermind
Pearl Jam - Ten
Guns'N'Roses - Use Your Illusions I&II
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Metallica - The Black Album
Michael Jackson - Dangerous
R.E.M. - Out Of Time
U2 - Achtung Baby
Queen - Innuendo
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Into The Great Wide Open

1992

Alice In Chains - Dirt
Alice In Chains - SAP EP
Nirvana - Incesticide
R.E.M. - Automatic For The People
Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
Eric Clapton - Unplugged

1993

Aerosmith - Get A Grip
Billy Joel - River Of Dreams
Nirvana - In Utero
Pet Shop Boys - Very
Radiohead - Pablo Honey
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
U2 - Zooropa
Counting Crows - August And Everything After
Depeche Mode - Songs Of Faith And Devotion
Pearl Jam - Vs

1994

Green Day - Dookie
Nine Inch Nails - Downward Spiral
Nirvana - Unplugged In New York
Pearl Jam - Vitalogy
Alice In Chains - Jar Of Flies EP
Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Seal - Seal(II)
Soundgarden - Superunknown
Weezer - Weezer(Blue)
Tori Amos - Under The Pink
Oasis - Definitely Maybe
Jeff Buckley - Grace

1995

Alanis Morrissete - Jagged Little Pill
Alice In Chains - Alice In Chains
No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom
Radiohead - The Bends
Red Hot Chili Peppers - One Hot Minute
Oasis - What's The Story(Morning Glory)
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters

1996

Weezer - Pinkerton
Fiona Apple - Tidal
Beck - Odelay
Sublime - Sublime
Wallflowers - Bringing Down The Horse
Matchbox 20 - Yourself Or Someone Like You
Alice In Chains - MTV Unplugged
Counting Crows - Recovering The Satellites
Metallica - Load

1997

Aerosmith - Nine Lives
Radiohead - OK Computer
Sarah McLachlan - Surfacing
U2 - Pop
The Verve - Urban Hyms
Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape
Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
Backstreet Boys - Backstreet Boys
Metallica - ReLoad
Smashmouth - Fush Yu Mang

1998

Alanis Morrissete - Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie
Goo Goo Dolls - Dizzy Up The Girl
Smashing Pumpkins - Adore
Marilyn Manson - Mechanical Animals
Madonna - Ray Of Light
Garbage - Version 2.0
NSync - NSync

1999

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication
Santana - Supernatural
Fionna Apple - When The Pawn
Eminem - Slim Shady LP
Moby - Play
Creed - Human Clay
Stone Temple Pilots - No.4
Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile
Third Eye Blind - Blue
Backstreet Boys - Millenium
Smashmouth - Astrolounge

2000

Coldplay - Parachutes
Eminem - Marshall Mathers LP
Green Day - Warning
Radiohead - Kid A
Sting - Brand New Day
U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind
Pearl Jam - Binural
Matchbox 20 - Mad Season
Smashing Pumpkins - Machina/The Machines Of God
Backstreet Boys - Black And Blue
NSync - No Strings Attatched

2001

Radiohead - Amnesiac
Muse - Origin Of Symmetry
Weezer - Weezer(Green)
Bjork - Vespertine
White Stripes - White Blood Cells
Creed - Weathered
NSync - Celebrity

2002

Alanis Morrissete - Under Rug Swept
Audioslave - Audioslave
Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head
Eminem - The Eminem Show
Norah Jones - Come Away With Me
Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way

2003

Jane's Addiction - Strays
Muse - Absolution
Radiohead - Hail To The Thief
Sting - Sacred Love
Third Eye Blind - Out Of The Vein
Matchbox 20 - More Than You Think You Are
White Stripes - Elephant
Coldplay - Live 2003
Metallica - St. Anger

2004

Arcade Fire - Funeral
Green Day - American Idiot
Keane - Hopes And Fears
The Killers - Hot Fuss
U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
Brian Wilson - Smile
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
Kanye West - The College Dropout

2005

Coldplay - X&Y
Kanye West - Late Registration
Bruce Springsteen - Devils & Dust
White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan

2006

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
Thom Yorke - The Eraser
The Muse - Black Holes And Revelations
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Old 08-13-2006, 12:22 AM   #2
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Well, I'd have so day, going by your lists that it definitely declined continuously after 1991, until it began to pick up again around 2003/2004.
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Old 08-13-2006, 12:33 AM   #3
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you forgot Pearl Jam for '06 man

But yes, popular music has been in a decline over the years. Most of the albums you mentioned in the 2000s have gotten little to no airplay over the Pop/Rap nonsense on the radio.
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Old 08-13-2006, 12:52 AM   #4
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It's amazing how many of the artists listed have fallen off the map and how few newer artists there are to replace them. Also, alot of the albums in the past few years aren't classic albums, in the sense that they won't be on greatest albums lists in the future.

On a side note, I really miss The Smashing Pumpkins.
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Old 08-13-2006, 04:11 AM   #5
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todays music is all bullshit rappers who talk shit about how life is so frickin hard, where did they write that music, oh thats right IN THEIR GODDAM MANSION, with mexicans holding their chairs up and fanning them with palm leaves!
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Old 08-13-2006, 06:03 AM   #6
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I also think that music has been kind of lacking lately. As one persob already said, there don't seem to be any "classic" albums nowadays. I would say that Stadium Arcadium is a great album, but other than that the last few years have been kind of disappointing. However, with Radiohead, Counting Crows, and JET all set to release new albums within the next year, and U2 most likely within the next 2 years, I'd say the future is looking pretty good as of now.
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Old 08-13-2006, 06:09 AM   #7
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Popular music hit its all-time peak in 1992 when Dream Theater's Pull Me Under hit #10 on the US Modern Rock chart, and ever since then, popular music has been getting progressively more and more shit with the entry into the charts by every new two-bit rock band, half-arsed "punk" bands, divas, boy "bands", gangsta rap, bubblegum pop, et al.
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Old 08-13-2006, 06:11 AM   #8
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I disagree.

Popular music hit it's peak in 1967 when See Emily Play hit #5 on the UK chart. Since then, it's sharply declined, and has had various peaks and valleys until 1991, when Nevermind came out, and then popular music was thereforth known as the music of the devil. Except Dream Theater, they're cool.
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Old 08-13-2006, 06:13 AM   #9
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it comes and goes

I actually think the album charts (well, over here at least) don't differ that much in quality over the years compared to the single charts
which get more sad by the week almost
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Old 08-13-2006, 06:33 AM   #10
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It's definitely declined. Your list tends to focus mainly on "rock" or "alternative" artists who recieved radioplay, which is a fair way of looking at it. I'm just curious as to why Spice doesn't feature yet an NSync album does. Spice, the most popular and arguably the masterpiece of the genre probably should deserve inclusion, because it was unquestionably influential and recieved massive commerical success and mass radioplay.

Even so, I think that the period of about 87-92 was one of the greatest eras in popular music and some of the albums that were released will be remembered with extreme fondness by many a music fan. Up there with the masterpieces of the mid to late 60's

I feel that genres other than rock or alternative were probably experiencing a heyday of sorts from about 98-2002, and in about 2002-2005 some rock and alternative albums were somewhat rejuvenating rock and alternative music a little bit.

I think the eurodance, power pop, disco music during the 90s has a pretty special place in popular music history. It was high quality, and although there were many one hit wonders, albums such as La Bouche's Sweet Dreams should probably be looked upon as being not only culturally significant, but also as the epitome and highest quality of that popular music genre.

Good question though, but I feel popular music, (or music which charts and has radio play, has been in serious decline since the beginning of the 21st century).



It's difficult to think about, all this charting of the quality of popular music over time, but I think we really need another 1991 very soon and some albums that will really shake up popular rock and alternative as we know it, while simultaneously reaping commerical success.
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Old 08-13-2006, 10:57 AM   #11
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Overall, I think that music might be getting better, but it's also getting harder to find for the person who just listens to the radio--a place that is still the ultimate proving ground for 'popular' music. Commercial radio can be a paralyzingly frightful experience, with its quest for sameness. Maybe I'm just jaded, but it seems to be getting crappier by the minute.

In terms of 'landmark' albums, I think we're in a bit of a dry spell. However, with so many high-quality bands around, the potential is there for a great act to break out at any moment and create something timeless. For example, I'm really looking forward to seeing what The Arcade Fire do on their second album.
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Old 08-13-2006, 03:07 PM   #12
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I wouldn't call some of the stuff on your list "popular." I've never heard anything by The Arcade Fire, Thom Yorke or Muse anywhere except on college radio. And there's a lot of very popular recent stuff missing from your list. Where's the High School Musical Soundtrack? Or Kelly Clarkson? Or Gwen Stefani or the Pussycat Dolls? If anything, your list is painting a slightly rosy picture of the state of "popular" music today.

I think the biggest difference between the 1990s and today isn't the quality of music being produced, but the quality of music in the mainsteam - on non-college radio stations and MTV, and at the top of the single/album charts.
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Old 08-13-2006, 04:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bono's shades
I wouldn't call some of the stuff on your list "popular." I've never heard anything by The Arcade Fire, Thom Yorke or Muse anywhere except on college radio. And there's a lot of very popular recent stuff missing from your list. Where's the High School Musical Soundtrack? Or Kelly Clarkson? Or Gwen Stefani or the Pussycat Dolls? If anything, your list is painting a slightly rosy picture of the state of "popular" music today.

I think the biggest difference between the 1990s and today isn't the quality of music being produced, but the quality of music in the mainsteam - on non-college radio stations and MTV, and at the top of the single/album charts.
Agreed completely.

There's not enough hip hop/rap on your list, namkcuR. That's what's most popular now. That and High School Musical

but yeah, popular music has definitely declined since the 90's. however, with the internet, people have access to more music than ever, and FM radio is no longer the best place to hear of new artists.
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Old 08-13-2006, 09:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bono's shades
And there's a lot of very popular recent stuff missing from your list. Where's the High School Musical Soundtrack? Or Kelly Clarkson? Or Gwen Stefani or the Pussycat Dolls?
Popular? Who the hell are the Pussycat Dolls? And since when did high school musicals do well on the charts?
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Old 08-13-2006, 09:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Axver


Popular? Who the hell are the Pussycat Dolls? And since when did high school musicals do well on the charts?
You'd be surprised at the crap on the US Top 40.
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