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Death of the melody?

Author Topic: Death of the melody?  (Read 3684 times)

Offline Helluvafella

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Death of the melody?
« on: June 27, 2021, 10:46:41 PM »
Hello fellow pop music fans :)

I’ve been an avid reader in this forum for quite some time now and a Max fan for over 15 years.
I know every Max song in and out since I’m a songwriter and musician myself.

I was always a huge fan of mainstream pop music and it’s fast paced trends, but somehow for the last 2 or 3 years I really don’t know how to feel about mainstream music anymore. Yesterday I listened to the new Doja Cat single “You Right” written and produced by Dr. Luke and I literally was scratching my head in disbelief. To me, pop music was always about great melodies, these new pop songs somehow try to imitate current mainstream hip hop and abandon great melody writing in exchange for 3 notes that are repeated to oblivion in a super annoying way. Just listen to the aforementioned track. The chorus melody sounds like garbage to my ears! I know I know, hip hop is the number one genre at the moment (at least in the US) but ditching interesting melodies in order to appeal to 13 year old kids that listen to mumble rap and trap all day is not the way to go if you ask me. Especially not for pop music. Has anyone experienced the same thing?

I wonder what Max is thinking about this new trend! Max, to me, is the king of melodies, and his melodies are so well crafted that I would give anything to hear his opinion on this. At least to my ears, it sounds like we’re approaching an era of “death of the melody” and it’s super super frustrating!!

« Last Edit: June 27, 2021, 10:51:45 PM by Helluvafella »

Offline Helluvafella

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2021, 11:46:10 PM »
Thank you for your comment :)

Say so is an interesting song and I can tell you what my initial reaction was after hearing the song for the first time: aha interesting, someone sampled the guitar riff from “good times” by chic. Nile Rodgers wouldn’t be too amused because he’s not been credited ;) Then I read that it was a song by Dr. Luke and it was all clear as day! Haha I like Mr. Gottwald and think he’s amazingly talented but, as a songwriter myself, I strongly believe he’s sometimes too obvious with copying songs from the past without giving proper credits. („Girlfriend“ by Avril Lavigne is the perfect example which is a massive rip off of The Rubinoos' 1979 single "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend") or listen to the chorus of Katy Perry’s „Teenage Dream“ and compare it to The new radicals „you get what you give“. Luke even copied the quarter note guitar pattern in the Intro  ;D) … I have plenty more examples but that’s a tale for another time :)

Offline Helluvafella

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2021, 11:57:17 PM »
Yeah, I’ve seen that showcase. Very interesting stuff. To me, if you copy your own songs or reuse samples, background vocals, effects, etc. from previous songs, that’s ok. But it you copy others without giving them proper credits that’s a big no no. For instance, I didn’t know Lee Oskar‘s „San Francisco Bay“ wasn’t credited when Kesha‘s „Timber“ came out. I instantly recognized Lee Oskars song because of the little harmonica melody and because I like music from the 70‘s. The original writers filed copyright infringement claims and sued the record label.

I would love to see what Luke would do if someone ripped off one of his songs and made a smash hit 😂

Offline Helluvafella

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2021, 12:05:39 AM »
Max, for instance is also reusing melodies sometimes. For instance the chorus of „Loser like me“ is actually the verse from „When you’re looking like that“. Funny stuff. 😂

Offline j.fco.morales

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2021, 06:08:14 AM »
I think at this point everything was made and created.

The differences are subtle: vocals, tone, sound design, texture, the lyrics, the moment of the release, etc.

Offline bugmenot

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2021, 06:34:14 AM »
Where do I sign a petition for Spotify and Billboard etc. having separate charts for 0-14 year old demographics? They do have technical possibilities for that today. I swear it would solve this problem and break the illusion that melodies are dead and music getting uglier. It's just more and more kids consuming the market.

It's obvious that unexperienced listeners of young age prefer accessible music akin to nursery rhythms, we all prefer music we can access cognitively. We just need to admit that a working adult spends less time on Spotify than a child and less inclined to form his playlist according to what his classmates listen to.

Offline Helluvafella

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2021, 11:54:24 AM »
Where do I sign a petition for Spotify and Billboard etc. having separate charts for 0-14 year old demographics? They do have technical possibilities for that today. I swear it would solve this problem and break the illusion that melodies are dead and music getting uglier. It's just more and more kids consuming the market.

It's obvious that unexperienced listeners of young age prefer accessible music akin to nursery rhythms, we all prefer music we can access cognitively. We just need to admit that a working adult spends less time on Spotify than a child and less inclined to form his playlist according to what his classmates listen to.

This is an interesting idea and technically possible, although I think charts music was always made for teenagers and young adults since the early days. Studies show that our music taste doesn’t really develop beyond our teen years. For men, the most important period for forming musical taste is between the ages of 13 to 16. For women, the most important period is between 11 and 14, with 13 being the most likely age for when their favorite song came out.

The big difference is that today literally EVERYONE can make music at home cheaply - a $500,000 studio from back in the day can exist on your laptop for about $500. Also, with the invention of streaming and CD sales going down the drain, there's almost no need to go the old "record label-route" in order to make it in the industry. You can just upload your music to Spotify and pay ads on instagram and facebook. Now - the labels back in the day were actually GREAT at being the initial filters for music and quality. For all the hoopla on how creatively stifling or evil major record labels have been - they were actually awesome at opening or closing the door for those that were qualified - in all genres. They were the FILTERS! You had execs and A&R people who were skilled and qualified, often with accumulated decades of experience who would say “Yes - you are awesome - here’s a couple hundred thousand dollars, let’s make this record." Compare that landscape to today, where as I mentioned, technology has put music creation literally in the hands of anyone.

This leads to the music landscape being filled with super mediocre music - in VERY LARGE QUANTITIES. Keep in mind with the technology in the hands of literally everyone – we’ve gone from about 75,000 key new music releases PER YEAR, say in the year 2000 to today, where over 60,000 songs are being uploaded to Spotify EVERY SINGLE DAY! That’s not an exaggeration. Spotify is seeing a new track uploaded to its platform every 1.4 seconds.

This leads to drastic changes in the way songs are being written and music is being produced. Songs get shorter (because on Spotify, a stream counts as a stream after it was played for 30 seconds). So instead of having one song running 4 minutes, they now produce a songs that run 2 minutes with no intro and no bridge and so people can literally play the song two times in 4 minutes instead of just listening to it once - which, of course, means they are going achieve twice as much streams than a regular 3-4 minute song. Also, have you noticed that songs nowadays start with choruses - "Say So" is a good example. This is all due to streaming & competition.

The most important factor I have discovered is that popular music back in the day used to be "just beautiful", lovely melodies paired with nice words. Then rock'n'roll took over and with it the invention of riffs and hooks. Labels noticed that hooks made songs instantly more memorable and catchy. So they kind of balanced "hookiness" with "beautiful" parts. Nowadays, at least to me, a lot of songs that perform well in the charts only consist of hooks and no beautiful parts to go with it. A great example of a song with a "good balance" between hooky and beautiful is Max's "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz. It has tons of repetition in the verses to create memorable hooks and a beautiful melody in the chorus to balance it out. Another example of a good balance is Lady Gaga's "Poker Face". Tons of hooks and repetition paired with a beautiful chorus melody. Now compare these two songs to Doja Cat viral hit "moo". Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXnJqYwebF8 No beautiful parts just hooks. And I can name tons of other example of this phenomenon.

Offline Helluvafella

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2021, 04:40:21 PM »
Since you're a fan of Max, what do you think of his newer stuff? Like the new Coldplay song or the Weeknd album?

I adore Blinding Lights. Easily one of the best song of the last 5 years. Oddly enough, kids seem to dig the 80's vibe. The new Coldplay song doesn't sound like Max to me. It sounds like Chris Martin was going for an 80's sound so he hired Max :-) However, "Higher Power" is definitely a grower. You gotta give it 2,3 spins till you dig it. Also, I've seen the song in a Mercedes commercial for a new electric car, so the phrase "you've got a higher power" was definitely a deliberate choice for the chorus haha

Offline Snipes3000

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2021, 06:14:07 PM »
I'm supposed to be answering way more elaborative but I'm writing a thesis for a law degree close to the deadline so I can't really write much here now. But I just wanted to say yes, the Coldplay song is really not bad and in fact very interesting study material, and I'm concurring also with the power of some little phrases in higher power. My favourite part is the b-hook. I will come back on this topic and respond more elaborative in about 10 days.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2021, 06:15:52 PM by Snipes3000 »
Hi, I'm Luke and I'm sitting on my throne! Oh, and have you noticed that Denniz PoP songs are extremely hooky?

Offline Dagge

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2021, 10:57:06 PM »
This is an interesting idea and technically possible, although I think charts music was always made for teenagers and young adults since the early days. Studies show that our music taste doesn’t really develop beyond our teen years. For men, the most important period for forming musical taste is between the ages of 13 to 16. For women, the most important period is between 11 and 14, with 13 being the most likely age for when their favorite song came out.
...

Some very good thoughts. While old Max melodies were rich and hard to imitate, today music is mostly gimmick and many wannabe 'get-rich-quick' producers feel entitled to try their luck. It looks more and more like an advertising business, even like an old mail-order business with all psychological rules that still work (I have been in that business and there are some amazing similarities). But Max and the ancient team are not without guilt because they used the same tricks although with taste and intelligently. Today producers mostly possess neither taste nor the second part and the result is here for all to hear. We came from the using of hooks, get their attention in the first 5 secs etc as helping hand to become the essence. If that trend lasts big advertising agencies like Ogilvy have a chance to become hit production houses. Let's get their attention, and add even some music if necessary.

Offline Helluvafella

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2021, 12:25:59 AM »
We came from the using of hooks, get their attention in the first 5 secs etc as helping hand to become the essence.

That’s exactly it. Hooks are excellent tools to reel the listener in, but the „beautiful“ part is what hits the home run in a song. That is why so many songs don’t hit the home run for me anymore.

And yes, you’re absolutely right. Max and Luke have used the same tricks and gimmicks, but they have done it so damn tastefully that I still like it. A gimmicky song for example is ET by Katy Perry. The main drum pattern is that Queen “we will rock you” stomp. That’s already super catchy. Then you got this very atonal and rhythmic melody in the verse and funnily enough the melody in the chorus is exactly the same. Now the clever and beautiful part is the prechorus “you’re from another dimension”. The prechorus sets the chorus up perfectly and it sound fresh and new although we have already heard it in the verse. Typical melodic math. And even though “ET” is a super gimmicky song, it is so perfectly executed that I enjoy it very much.
 
I tend to listen to a lot of different playlists on Spotify and I honestly don’t get why so many people upload so many mediocre songs. Perhaps they don’t know any better and think they are “the shit” or they just don’t care. However, it really kills the listening experience for me when I cringe at 90% of the songs.

One thing why music gets simpler and simpler every year is that the new generation of music creators as well as listeners don’t play any instruments. Kids rather play computer games than learn how to play the guitar or piano. Learning an instrument is very time consuming and you don’t get the any instant gratification from it compared to uploading pictures on social media or playing video games.

I can guarantee that anyone who knows at least a little bit music theory or plays an instrument will have a different perspective on music than someone who doesn’t give a rats *** about it. It’s like, when all you eat is McDonalds all day every day, how can you appreciate a home cooked meal with fresh ingredients. The simple answer: you can’t!
« Last Edit: July 01, 2021, 12:29:41 AM by Helluvafella »

Offline Dagge

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2021, 11:14:50 AM »
...
One thing why music gets simpler and simpler every year is that the new generation of music creators as well as listeners don’t play any instruments. ...

Another reason may be, you can buy top equipment for under 1K USD now, I have bought it too just for fun. And they all heard about huge sums top producers and composers earn. Add to that fascination with music on a massive scale and low bar to 'publish' on Spotify and other channels. As a result, many entered this 'business' without proper preparation or talent (or both). What they don't realize is that music creating is not easier to do than architectural work, law study or similar work-intensive profession. One needs a lot of studies, preparation, and talent.

Offline Snipes3000

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2021, 12:31:07 AM »
As promised, here is my response to this thread.

1. The first thing addressed in this thread by Helluvafella was that he believes new music doesn't pay as much attention to great melodies anymore, and pointed to Doja Cat and Dr Luke's You Right. What I notice in the song is that the verse is definitely melodic but during the chorus there is an emphasis on rhythm rather than melody. One could have the perspective that there are two different types of listeners in contemporary music: those focused on melody and those focused on rhythm. Each judge the music they hear with a different ear. The You Right song is focused to serve the rhythmic crowd I would say. I praise the song for having a melodic verse and then a switch to a rhythmic part in the chorus. It is a little bit of serving both crowds. Another example of serving two crowds is How Do you Sleep by Sam Smith and MXM. Puff Daddy's approach in the 90's made him climb the top of the charts, where he would combine rap verses with melodic choruses. Overall, combing the two proves to be a very succesful formula. Doja Cat also has a song Kiss Me More and Say So which combine melody and rhythm by adding a rap and perhaps rhythmic melodies. I can mention tons of hit songs that used this formula, including J. Lo, Destiny's Child, Nelly&Kelly Dilemma. For more examples I refer to my spotify playlists called 'RHYTMIC-MELODIC (FILTER)'.

2. Helluvafella also thought that spotify influences how music is being made. I would add that also social media stories (including tiktok) and the limited time available in those stories influence this. Some melodies might be too long to become memorable within the timeframe, while rhythmic repetition would make it more easy. Rhythmic is thus perhaps more suitable for the circumstances we are currently in.
3. The steals of Luke and not crediting others: in Seabrook's book on pop Luke stated that if you take a progression or whatever and slightly change it, it is not the same but similar. That's not plagiarism in his view. I think pop often recreatess the past. Listen to Barbara Streisand Woman In Love and see which Max Martin #1 hit song you recognise therein. Great songwriters and producers reference great music,, including MXM.

4. Helluvafella has the view that songs back in the days used to be just beautiful lovely melodies, paired with nice words. But this is definitely not the complete picture of the music that was released back in the  days. There has always been a rhythmic crowd and for racial reasons they weren't as present in releases as they could have been. I think the thing is that overall melody has an eternal element (it lasts in our hearts) while rhythmic has less of that eternal character (it is perhaps more contemporary and quickly forgotten, like how contemporary hiphop vanishes from our memory in no time).

5. As Dagge mentioned, everybody is taking a shot nowadays. Remember that it was not that long ago that the market was still controlled by the major labels. 50 cent couldnt get his epic mixtape further than new york in 2000-2002. But the record labels have lost the power to filter out who they want. Everybody hopps in and everybody is taking a shot and expects that it is easy and money comes easy because  they see videos of guys pretending that they make music easily as they ignore that htey have certain essential skills. Just like dagge says, music is like archicterual work and the 10.000 hours rule definitely applies to pop music, yet not to hiphop.

6. Start to listen to music with the ears of someone who is focused on rhythm and develop an ear for someone focused on melody. Develop two types of ears.

7. The argument that music might becomes easier because kids dont pay much attention to musical training and mastering instruments might be truth as well. It is those kids that will replace those sitting on the throwns currently. The generation growing up in the 90's is much less inspired by guitars I think than others. The new generation seems to embrace it again however.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2021, 12:33:07 AM by Snipes3000 »
Hi, I'm Luke and I'm sitting on my throne! Oh, and have you noticed that Denniz PoP songs are extremely hooky?

Offline Dagge

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Re: Death of the melody?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2021, 11:19:57 PM »
(Hit) music creating is a helluva hard job that appears to be helluva easy to do. The problem is unlike other professions one may spend years learning and honing skills yet if he/she doesn't possess a quite substantial amount of natural talent, then it's usually a wasted time. That causes a lot of frustration for genuine music lovers that end up this way, I know some of them. This rarely happens in other professions. So for an aspiring hit-maker, it may be of the highest importance to test his/her natural talent for writing strong, attractive rhythmic melodies, better soon than later. Based on what I heard on songwriting plug services like Taxi this talent is really rare among musicians, which makes the hitmaker profession even more elusive. I admit after all those years of studying hit music I personally still feel some kind of a mystical appreciation for really talented hit writers.