Infinite Shuffle

February 15, 2012

Random thoughts: The end of music decades

Filed under: R — assman41 @ 2:09 pm

For several years, the main quote on my Facebook page was: “I hope to live to be 100, so I can experience a whole new round of ’80s music.”

I’ve since replaced it with a plug for this blog. But the quote reappeared in my mind the other day, and it got me thinking about the future of music and how many different waves there would be in the rest of my lifetime.

Then I had an epiphany — musical decades are on their way to becoming extinct, if they haven’t already reached that point.

To clarify, when I use the term “musical decades,” I’m referring to the way that popular music of each decade from the latter half of the last century had its own distinct sound. The ’50s saw the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, the ’60s were filled with psychedelic rock and folk, the ’70s had disco and a more progressive rock sound, the ’80s saw early punk morph into New Wave and the rise to prominence of the synthesizer, and the ’90s was something of a hodgepodge of grunge, hip-hop and forgettable pop music.

Obviously, all of that is a pretty big generalization. There was plenty of other stuff going on underground and outside of the mainstream. But when the average music listener thinks back to those decades, there’s a common sound that permeated and has held strong over time.

That really can’t be said for the music of this young century. If you ask 20 random people on the street to describe the sound of the ’00s, you’re likely to get 20 distinctly different answers. And, undoubtedly, it will be that way for the foreseeable future.

There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but the two that stand out the most are the fragmentation of genres and greater access to more and different music.

For the longest time, popular music was limited in its breadth. Whatever you could find at the record store or heard on the radio was pretty much all you had to choose from. But as technology has opened up the world in all sorts of ways, it’s also enabled people to discover new music from places they never would’ve been able to — even as recently as 15 years ago.

And as more and more people are getting their music to the masses, more styles are being created — several new genres seem to pop up on the internet on a daily basis.

Trying to keep up with it all can be dizzying at times. But it can also be really exciting — you never know, your new favorite band could be just a click away.

The cat’s out of the bag. No use trying to wrangle it back in. Just enjoy the music.

Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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