When music started to drift into rap and grunge, I abandoned the “popular” music scene, the Top 40 and the underground, which seemed to be filled with ecstasy-popping industrialized rhythms and semi-one hit wonders. I believe this occurrence happened for me in the mid 1980s.
Back in the 60s and 70s, artists tended to be more creative (my opinion)
1) The public and the record companies demanded it
2) Social culture was changing in a much more radical way and
3) Technology did not drive everything; creativity did.
Here are my explanations:
1) Artists such as the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones would
produce an album of original material, sometimes as often as ever six
months. The public was hungry for it and the record companies wanted
profits. In the 70s, this evolved into an original LP about once a year
But when Michael Jackson released Off The Wall in 1979, he basically took three years off. Now it’s true he came back with Thriller in 1982, but then he took 4 years off. And after the release of Bad, he took another 4 years off before 1991’s Black & White.
The Beatles released Paperback Writer in 1966 and were on hiatus for only 9 months. But then came arguably the best album of the rock era, Sgt. Pepper. And then Magical Mystery Tour. And then The White Album (a double LP I might add…) And then
Check out how many releases Elton John had between 1970-1977. He was arguably the best selling act of that time period. (Sidebar: when Elton took longer times between releases, his commercial success rapidly declined and his music was but a shell of its former glory.) Now artists have to be pushed to release something every other year; partially because they fail to come up with something new and partially because niche radio passes them by.
2) Socially, there was a major difference in the culture. My parents are only 20 years older than me, yet we were worlds apart on musical tastes. My kids are 28-34 years younger than me, but for the most part, we like pretty much the same artists. Many of today’s so-called artists have to “sample” in order to have a hit.
3) Finally, technology has spoiled today’s artists. ProTools software make people like Rosie O’Donnell sound great, though I would venture to say that she wouldn’t know an in-tune piece of music if it bit her. Drum machines, electronic percussion and vocal software have made stars of the likes of Brittney Spears, Jessica and Ashley Simpson, Hillary Duff, Christina Aguliara and on and on and on. Not one of them, or all of them combined, could equal the command, power, yet subtle tones of Linda Ronstadt.