I actually think Wrecking Ball is a very good pop song, but I agree music has gone downhill.
The bands that are talented and clever enough to write raw, gutsy music (like the Stones or Nirvana or even the Pumpkins or Pixies more recently) are now for whatever reason doing esoteric music that’s too cold and intellectual and difficult to access. And the emotional immediacy isn’t there; it’s just very formal and cold and you need to think about it to appreciate it.
I like the immediacy of Miley or Britney Spears, but the music is written by committee and takes no risks whatsoever. It’s garbage, but some of it is good, well-crafted garbage...
The loudness wars… that’s another issue. Speakers are so bad music needs to be compressed to fit into a tiny dynamic range. Reminds me of HDR, actually, which I think is hideous and only looks good on a small iPhone screen or something (never printed large) and is why I like these 8x10 photos.
That said, Gursky to me falls into the visual camp that’s analogous to bands that are talented musicians but too distant and self-aware to make anything raw. Which is why this photo is so silly in many respects. And why high art is so silly (it’s too intellectual). But I do think a lot of his work is good, and prefer this photo to any HDR. (There is some good commercial photography, too, but most of it is in print… actual commercials. A lot of middlebow “art” is horrible. Stuck in Customs is the worst photography I’ve ever seen. It's like Kinkade's paintings. I’m sorry to be a snob, but this stuff is the worst of both worlds. There has been good stuff that occupies this space, and it's the best stuff… Beatles, Spielberg, etc.)
I honestly think Miley is someone who can only be appreciated by people near her age, who haven't lived through when music meant more, concerts meant more, and it wasn't all promoted and pigeonholed to where it had to either be idiot "hip hop pop", just "hip hop", "rap", or "country".
Rock is dead, because that's how the industry wants it. If they promoted it, kids today would love it. Just ask what type of music most kids in Northern and central Europe...and South America like. Bands like Iron Maiden couldn't tour the way they have in these places, if the youth didn't love them.
I also disagree that MTV kept rock music alive. The fans kept it alive IN SPITE OF MTV. MTV really promoted "new wave" and top 40 pop music such as Madonna and Boy George ("Culture Club"), more than "rock" acts of the time. It wasn't until the late 80's that "hair metal" became the rage. And plaid shirts, saggy pants, the whole Seattle cultural takeover, was a direct reaction by the music industry, to find something that was the opposite of hair metal, but that was still "rock". After a time they needed to modify it further, so was born "heavy industrial"...but then in the late '90's, there was a brief European influence of "techno pop", because people got tired of angry plaid wearing Seattle artists whose daddies died when they were age 13...then when they discovered Neil Young could be their surrogate daddy, a lot of their fans stopped thinking of them as relevant.
In the 1980's, we would have never liked the type of music that most kids like today. We still like the music from that era, when our favorite bands tour, we attend in droves. Some of today's youth also attend, even without their parents. I've seen them. U2 set the record for highest grossing, and longest single tour, with "360" (2009 to 2011). It also cost the most to produce. Having seen it twice, I feel it was worth it. But those counted toward the nearly 50 large concerts I've attended in my life.
In 2000, for KISS's "farewell tour" of that time, they actually sold more tickets than Britney Spears (and that was at Spears' peak). Her tour however, grossed more money, because ticket prices were jacked up a lot for her, and those fans paid. But 2000, was 24 years after KISS was at their peak (1976).
24 years from now, will Cyrus, or Spears (in her case 10 years from now...and pathetically she's Cyrus' "idol")...be able to tour and sell more tickets than whatever the current popular act is of that time? Nope...no way. Why? I say because their "fans" are not fans of them or their music, only of a culture of idiocy promoted by people who don't care a whit about artistry.
Music today, is simply a much smaller industry than before Napster and MP3 music sharing took off (and eventually before Apple's iPod took over). The profit margin is a lot lower, because of downloadable music. So the industry, promotes a few acts, to a degree...but ignores the rest. And the music companies, apparently hate rock music. That's why it's not promoted...not because the artists are too esoteric. There are plenty of local rock bands in every city that are good enough to have made the big time (at least one from each city I would guess), were they in a different era in time.
None of today's acts in the USA are "mega artists", on the level of the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, or even U2. Why? Well, because their music is not as good, and as artists, they aren't as good. History will show that.
Lady Gaga, in my opinion, is more of an artist than most of the other females who have made it big. She actually sings, dances, plays piano, and writes much of her own music. The others don't seem to be able to play a musical instrument. Miley can play an acoustic guitar on occasion, but I don't get the sense she enjoys it. Taylor Swift enjoys playing guitar, but she's another story.
As for speakers being bad, compressor limiters have been around since the 1960's. The whole reason for it, has more to do with ambient noise in the end user's listening environment, rather than speakers. It's also the reason compression is used for live performances (that and to put less stress on the PA). Basically, popular music needs to be compressed, because it needs to sound loud, even when it is played back fairly quietly...because most consumers are listening in a car, or in some place where people are trying to shout over the music.
Ever been to a party or concert where people don't try to yell over the music? I've not.
In summation, what I'm trying to say is, it's a good thing Jay Z wasn't around to stomp out early blues and rock from the 1950's, that southern people (and people in Chicago and especially Detroit)...of his own race, invented. I'm glad it took so long for rock music to die. Hopefully it will be resurrected for the youth culture, but I guess it will be different than it was.
Youth culture today, musically celebrates thuggery, vulgarity, misogyny, in a way that is very hypocritical...not to mention it sounds really lame. And it's because the people in charge of what music gets promoted and played on air, want it that way. It's got little to nothing to do with a spontaneous desire for such, by the consumers of that music.