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What was the greatest decade or era for music?

I find myself listening more and more to music that was made 15-20 years ago. I am becoming more and more digusted with the current music industry. There is no talent. With the advent of autotune and voice sythesizers any smuck can stroll into a studio and sing well. Not to mention the worthless characters that just happen to manage to make it big. It makes me sick.

  • Apr 6 2011: I think every era had its good music and its crappy stuff, but only the good survives, which is what makes previous eras look better than today.
    • Apr 6 2011: Mr. Eldred, I never thought of that. I need to keep that in mind.
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    Apr 2 2011: Who are these 'worthless characters' of whom you speak? And what makes them worthless? Just curious.
    • Apr 2 2011: Right now, I have a huge problem with Hollywood. I have no problem with celebrities who had to work towards being successful (i.e. Bill Murray, before he became a cast member on Saturday Night Live, worked at a pizzeria). I have no problem with successful celebrities, who contribute back to society. Like Bono, he does alot of African humanitarian work.

      These "worthless characters" I speak of are the Lindsay Lohan's, Paris Hilton's or the Charlie Sheens, who are absolutely loaded. All they do is squander it. They give nothing back to society, all they do is take and take. It is so frustrating, because our society (i.e. The U.S., I am not that sure about other countries) is celebrity obsessed.

      I feel like this is just a recent phenomenon, like since the 90's. I think Britany Spears started it all. The princess bee-bop girl, who didn't really have any talent. She just had a great body and new how to swing it around in public.

      How can we fix this ailment? I turn to you TEDsters...
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        Apr 2 2011: Okay, so your angry at the way things are... with most things that are bad... And you blame music industry for greed, is that it?
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        Apr 2 2011: Colby,
        First we need to stop talking about those things we don't appreciate. Stop giving it energy...stop buying the tabloids...stop paying attention. Focus on what you want to create in our world. Give your energy to what you WANT to see, rather than what you DON'T want to see. What we focus on expands. Be what you want to see. How's that sound to you?
        • Apr 3 2011: I try to do that, but I cannot just turn everything off. We are bombarded daily by every medium about this stuff. Should I stop reading the paper or watching the news? I can't even stand in line at the grocery store without having dozens of tabloids right in front of my face.
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        Apr 2 2011: Colby, what source would you cite to back up you assertions that these people you listed give nothing back? Maybe they don't do it in a public way. I don't know much about her, but a quick google search suggests Paris Hilton does have a philanthropic side:

        I think we should be careful with assumptions like this—just because someone is famous doesn't mean that's all there is to them. Also, it's entirely within your power not to pay attention to any of this—if you don't like these people, why waste your time on them?

        As for music, I think the best decades were the 1820s & 1830s. The late Beethoven Piano Sonatas and String Quartets, the majority of Chopin's work, the major works of Robert Schumann. It was a very rich time for music.
        • Apr 5 2011: Just because a multi-millionaire gives some money to charity does not count as giving back. Anyone can give money and do a photo shoot to make it appear she is actually doing something. I know people who are on the brink of poverty and still give to charity.
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        Apr 6 2011: Colby,
        Sorry I couldn't get this closer to your comment that I'm addressing. You say "I just cannot turn everything off". You don't have to turn everything off, and of course it's beneficial to continue listening to the news and reading the paper. I agree that we are bombarded daily with information. We can choose which information we want to focus on, can't we? You're right that at the grocery store there are tabloids right in front of our faces. Have you noticed that there are also gardening magazines? Those are the ones I choose to focus on:>)

        An example for me is a recent conversation about Charlie Sheen on TED. As soon as I saw the title, I thought..."oh no...not him again"! When anything about his recent adventure comes on tv, I do something else. I am tired of his antics, so didn't even check out the TED conversation. It is possible that I missed something, but I don't think so. The only point I'm trying to make, is that I agree with you that we are bombarded with "stuff" daily AND we have choices regarding how we spend our energy. If you want to spend energy contemplating what some person does, or doesn't do for charity, that is a choice you make. Are you familier with the serenity prayer? It sometimes helps change my focus:>)

        "Grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference".
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          Apr 6 2011: I second this!

          I accept Colbys opinion as something that I cannot change.
        • Apr 6 2011: Okay...I can accept that. It makes sense. However, let me ask you this. Has anything ever gotten done by ignoring it? What I am saying is, if we ignore it and do not voice how we feel about it won't it just get worse?
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      Apr 6 2011: I'm not suggesting to ignore anything. You seem to be bothered by what is happening with music and the entertainment business today...yes? You say you are getting bombarded by "stuff" that you do not appreciate...yes? All I'm saying, basically, is pick your battles. What, realistically, can you do about the situation? If there are steps you can take, then do it. OR accept it as part of life. Simply complaining about something doesn't usually change the situation. Either take action, or direct your energy somewere else:>)
      Or...keep complaining, but after awhile, people stop listening:>)
  • Jun 27 2011: If you can't find what you are looking for in music these days, either you are looking in the wrong places or your mind is already made up to not like anything. The talent is and always will be out there.
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    Jun 26 2011: one more note: i suppose you don't think that philip glass is without talent. so by "current music industry", you mean pop. contemporary music is much much richer than that.
  • Jun 26 2011: To be alive in the time of Mozart would be to like living today with how we feel about the internet. We are starting to explore its possibilities and creativity sparks, just like people in the Baroque era were fascinated with harmony. What came to western music after the invention of tonal harmony is literally everything you hear now to say the least. Makes me excited, then, for what the internet will have done for us 400 years from now... :)
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    Jun 26 2011: my vote is 1607 and the years after that. this was the year when claudio monteverdi composed the first ever opera, l'orfeo, and thus singlehandedly unleashed the baroque era in music and the opera genre at the same time.
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    Jun 25 2011: This decade thanks to theSlacks -
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    Apr 6 2011: I can't believe that I didn't tip you about all the "beautiful" talks here on TED, check them out, I think thats what you're looking for!
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    Apr 6 2011: I'd have to agree with Mark on the music preferences. Chopin's emotional ambiguity within music captures me.

    Colby, I've grown so exhausted with the nonsense on television and radio that I completely boycott all but National Public Radio. The internet has so many wonderful opportunities for filtering your intake that I find it my primary source of communication with most humans. Sad? I don't think so. I think our dilemma is one of excess.
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    Apr 6 2011: Any schmuck can make music - that's never changed. She just needs to have the backing of a major label or blatant product placement to 'make it big'.

    Plus, you're treading on wobbly ground here. There is no hierarchy in pop culture. Sure, these days the process seems to be in reverse (pick an audience and then tailor the music/hats to fit) but when you are arguing about taste, then you are arguing opinion and in that kind of argument, everybody's right..
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    Apr 6 2011: Colby, as I understand it your question is really not about music, since most of the comments are about general greed and selfish behavior... You mentioned Hollywood (with some specifics), tabloids, autotune, artists, lack of talent and the U.S.A... You went the other way and said that Bono was cool since he was doing a lot of work in Africa, you also select artists like Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan and seem to like them because they are "good"... I think you forget that all this is a matter of taste and that no taste can really be argued to be better then another.

    The following statement may not be correct.

    I'm just going to wing it here but I bet that you are pissed-off/disappointed at most big corporations, political systems, people, websites, teachers and so on... be truthful, is it so?

    I say all of this because I wish to warn you about your thoughts, "they are the path to the dark-side"!
    • Apr 6 2011: My question is about the music. But, how many songs have you heard in the past year that actually had meaning to them? By meaning, I mean not a swear word or slur every other line or a song about inapropriate behavior or fill in the blank (stuff that I do not want to put on this thread). Have you listened to Katy Perry's music? Her fan base is like 14 year old girls and she is singing about "going all the way tonight?" As a parent would you want you little girl listening to that? I mentioned Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra and Bono because they were artists who possessed talent back in the day, when talent was appreciated. Look at who the children of today are modeling their lives after...50 cent, Britany Spears, Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne...list goes on and on. There are many other examples...I could fill a book. Look at what they wear and how they act. Was this the case 15 -20 years ago. There were some. It is certainly not as rampant as it is today. I do reconize that everyone has their own taste, but can you seriously say that there is not s downward trend in the quality of music being produced (by quality I am refering to the lyrics and the tune the song). I reconize that you probable have heard some good songs. I am not denying that good songas are not written anymore. But, I guess what I should have clarified was that I was refering to the pop and rap culture in the U.S and not the musi industry as a whole.
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        Apr 6 2011: I agree that most of the pop and rap culture in the U.S are probably bad for moral values... but you have to remember that so was rock when it first came! Look at the kids of the 60,70 and 80ies how were they dressed, how did you dress in comparison to your parents? And what about the moral values, how were those of the decades listed above viewed by their elders?

        History repeats itself!

        Concerning good music lately with good moral values and what I call a good message I could probably fill a book as well...

        I'll provide some links just as an example, I have not researched the topic deeply, these are just some fairly new songs off the top of my head that i find good... don't know how far back i'm "allowed" to go but I view them as past-years songs... Jason Mraz - I'm yours Smash Mouth - Walkin' on the sun Kevin Miichael - It don't make any difference to me

        I hope to add more when I have the time.

        Give me some feedback on your thoughts please!

        Is this good or bad? Beach Boys - I Get Around
        • Apr 6 2011: Look at the successful bands who came out of those decades...the Beatles, AC/DC, Led Zepplain, Queen, Aerosmith, Van Halen...Their lyrics were not explicit or nearly as suggestive as they are today. There was less technology and more musical talent. Their lyrics had meaning. They were deep and sturred the emotions of people. In the rare occasion that they were, it was done so subtlely. I know people associate that era with sex, drugs and rock n' roll. That is true. But, that still exists today, plus the mass media. So what does that mean? That means that more and more people are exposed to their behavior.

          These were the stars in those days. The stars of today are: Eminem, Usher, Nelly, Beyonce, Alicia Keyes, 50 Cent, Nickelback, Britany Spears, Destiny's Child and Jay-Z (according to Nickelback is a good band, this does not apply to them. Look at those other artists and tell me what their impact is on society.

          My argument encompasses the past decade of music production. As I mentioned, I have begun to listen to ealier music, like from the nineties. Smash Mouth=great band. Beach Boys=good band (however, not applicable, different decade).
        • Apr 6 2011: Slight oversight, just saying I like them both.
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          Jun 25 2011: Good Vibrations - In my Room - beautiful tunes. The guy's a troubled genius..
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        • Apr 6 2011: Fanatastic bands...the Beach Boys and Joan Jett. It was my father who got me into Joan Jett!
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        Apr 6 2011: Ill leave my final comment here. I believe that there are better things to do on TED then debate taste, although the conversation is still here so it is valid...
        I've had my saying on the matter of taste and will say no more.
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          Apr 6 2011: And Birdia stands by her ideas no matter what!!!:>)
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    Apr 5 2011: the 2000's for having the most awesome DnB around.
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        Apr 6 2011: Well i guess it depends on what kind of dnb you like, my favorite group right now is NOISIA.
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    Apr 5 2011: I agree with you Colby. While I still listen to music that my parent's listened to 20 years ago, I am doubtful that one day my own children will listen to what is played today. There seems to be a high turnover rate of different artists that lack the passion that past artists have. Many artists that today are still popular were revolutionary and truly inspired the masses. They said the things that were on so many people's minds, advocating for change, fighting governments, inspiring young adults to empower themselves. What is so special about today's artists?
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    Apr 3 2011: By default I once had the privilege of standing about ten feet away from Peter Yaro )Peter Paul and Mary) in the Democratic Club in DC (my wife was the Catering Manager there). I was holding my then four year old daughter as he sang 'Puff The Magic Dragon' I had tears rolling down my face. On the way in on the same night I said hi to Tom Paxton, these are icons of the music industry no matter how you call it. They wrote about things which had meaning to them and many others. I'm in the entertainment industry so I listen to my daughters music with an open mind, but I hear what your saying, it's shallow and technologically put together. Peter Yaro and Tom Paxton and so many others of the 60, 70 and 80's had a guitar and their voice to say the powerful things they had to say.
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    Apr 2 2011: Well I'm old-fashioned as well but...
    Colby, I think that you might be bitter at the moment... excuse me for saying it but you sound very bitter... it's not a very TEDish way!

    People still sing freely and greatly... I really think that you are just looking in the wrong channels!
    Not everyone uses autotune!

    Please reconsider!
    • Apr 3 2011: I'm not bitter. I just am amazed at how easy it is for anyone to catapulted into famed nowadays. People become rich and famous so fast (and now at younger and younger ages) they do not know how to control themselves or how to properly handle it.
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        Apr 3 2011: I wonder if we are not talking Genres too? I mean one only has to look at the 'Virtual Choir' project to see what amazing music is being put together and yes it was using technology but wow what an amazing result. So thank you Jimmy I stand corrected also. I could also list quite a lot of music my 15 year old listens to that is very good. I think we are sometimes bombarded with the rubbish on the radio and so I for one tend to see this era as pretty sad when in fact that's only a small part of it.
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          Apr 6 2011: Lee, I'm really glad that I could help you remember/realize that there is so much good stuff and that it is all a matter of perspective!
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    • Apr 2 2011: Bob Dylan...They're selling postcards of the hanging, They're painting the passports brown...
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      Apr 6 2011: Birdia,
      You look too young to remember the artists you have mentioned! It's can still like them...LOL:>)

      My daughter came home from college one day (20 years ago) and told me about the "new singers" she had just discovered...Simon and Garfunkle...when they "came back":>) Nice to know that some of these entertainers/artists are loved and respected through many generations:>)
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    Apr 2 2011: I agree with you Colby, I'd say probably 60s - 80s was the best time for music. But then, I also have to admit that this is very subjective. If you ask kids today, their taste is very different and the find cool, what we might consider awful.
    It's like art in general. What do we consider art ? When is something art and when is it just junk ?
    • Apr 2 2011: Harald,

      I totally understand that it is a generational thing. But, artist nowadays have much less talent than before. This is due to all the technology that can make up for the lack of talent. I guess I appreciate hard work and real talent.
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        Apr 2 2011: Colby,
        I agree that technology has helped many performing artists. As a former performing artist who started out with very little technology, and moved through several technological eras, let me tell you that one still has to have talent to get up there and perform.All types of music are interesting to me because they all offer us something different. We can always turn it off or leave the room if it's something we don't enjoy!

        Awwww....but I remember meeting Revett in San Francisco during the folk era, and that was very special:>)
    • Jun 26 2011: Ultimately there is no greatest era, nor does there have to be. People are attracted to different styles and genres and eras based on their exposure to certain types of musics at different times of their lives and the degree of exposure to which they had.
  • Apr 1 2011: I was raised with music of the fifties and sixties. You can play the first few bars of almost any hit song made during that period and I can sing along and tell you the title and artist. Most of the music pre-Beatles was, frankly, awful, but it resonates with me because that was the period when I had my first few (dozen) crushes on girls. I believe that is, in fact, what makes most people relate to the music of a particular era -- the memories. But I have enjoyed some music of any era, including now. (I have this theory that if you don't like Bad Romance, particularly if you are watching the video, there is something wrong with you! I have been in love with Stefani Germanotta since forever.) But Jazz and I just don't get along; never did.
    • Apr 2 2011: Please tell me you like Frank Sinatra...