Today’s high tech music sound has engulfed those sounds and bands that started it all. Or has it? Maybe pop music has lost its way in the overproduced mainstream superhighway to nowhere and needs an Indie map to find its way home.
The Beatles pioneered so many things. They made the first “music videos.” The were the first to use feedback on songs, they originated stadium concerts, well we could go on and on. Somewhere all the Rock’n’Roll energy got lost in the world of overproduction and music business middlemen until some young rebels, among them the Ramones, injected some of the old “Cavern” energy back into music. But are the Beatles and the Ramones still relevant? Does their music stand as timeless and influential, or has the spirit of rock music run its course giving way finally to the power of the ultra-produced and ultra-marketed Madison Ave. style musical performers?
Over production is killing our music today
At first one might say yes. Even the so-called Indie and Alternative bands of today suffer from too much production, mainly the overzealous use of a certain studio monster called a compressor, that literally squeezes all musicality from songs that probably in their infancy were hum-able. Imagine Dragons seem to be one of the worst offenders of this horrid phenomenon. Their songs seem so good and yet by the time they reach the airwaves they have become so un-dynamic that you can hardly tell it is a song other than it has a beat.
If you listen to The Beatles early rock music – especially the covers you will notice that they are loud. But they are loud with dynamics, and the vocals are absolutely supreme. Just listen to George Harrison on “Roll Over Beethoven.” The vocal is powerful and emotional, but lyrical at the same time. Compare that performance with a very good modern singer Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and you will wonder where we went wrong. How can a performer as terrific as Taylor Swift get her lovely voice so hijacked by producers who obviously have no right being around talented people.
Lack of Dynamics Killed Bad Blood
When you listen to “I Want To Be Sedated” by the Ramones and compare it to the outrages volumes of Bad Blood, it sounds downright tame. There are so much more dynamics in Sedated than Bad Blood, which is why the recording sounds infinitely better.
And ultimately this is why music is sort of dying right now – not that sales have suffered a lot, just look at Adele’s new offering “25,” which is a very very good album. If we are to save ourselves from over compressed un-dynamic music there will have to be a group, a band, or singer that wants to make good music using the whole sonic palate including dynamics in their recordings. There must be a way to make recordings loud enough to please the producers and also offer the listeners some volume variety in a song. The Beatles did it and so did the Ramones, those two bands, and others like them, can be the guiding light back to the promised land of musicality.