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I've noticed that mostly all new songs are alike or very similar. If before when you listened to a new album you heard a new song with every new track now when you listen to modern composers you hear one same motiv in variants. The melodies are almost the same, the chords and even the harmony is usually the same, the drum beat doesn't change much, even the intros, choruses and outros are ofren the same. Why so?

It's been a long time since I've stumbled upon a modern composer who has concepted albums and where each track in an album is an individual track but has a relation with the other tracks, where all the songs on an album complete some idea.

I mean remember Pink Floyd or Rainbow, Dire Straits, Genesis or Queen albums, they where all unique, why don't we have that now?

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There are really 3 separate answers to this question:

  1. It "all sounds the same" is a common complaint for unfamiliar genres. When you first hear a style of music you are unfamiliar with, all you notice is the genre elements, the things that are common to the genre. Only with familiarity do you become able to distinguish the individual touches that make songs unique. Assuming you aren't a teenager, you probably don't know current pop well enough to tell the artists apart.

  2. There are more interesting, diverse and unusual album-making artists out there, they just may not be in the Top 40. tUnE-yArDs, for example, or Janelle Monae, whose (not unpopular) Metropolis Suite is an entire linked chain of sonically diverse concept albums.

  3. The market right now isn't really oriented towards albums, most people buy single tracks. And pop music, which has arguably always (with the exception of a few shining eras) been formulaic, continues to be so. In my opinion, it's actually more interesting and innovative right now than it has been in quite a long time. Young pop stars like Lorde and Frank Ocean are hitting the charts with songs way stranger and more original than anything you could have heard in the era of Britney Spears and Puff Daddy.

With all that said, Beyoncé's Lemonade was a recent #1 hit concept album where each song has a distinctly different mood and sound, so you can't say it never happens any more. Even during the 70s, not every band was a Pink Floyd.

  • "Even during the 70s, not every band was a Pink Floyd."... for sure... some of them were Mud, or Showaddywaddy, or Paper Lace, or Tony Orlando & Dawn... ;-) – Tetsujin Sep 22 '17 at 18:39
  • I disagree. Take Michael Jackson or Peter Gabriel or even Elton John or Bryan Adams. Each song they wrote was unique; each track was special and really new on an album. Take Yes or Rush. Even Celine Dion and Mariah Carey didn't have similar songs on albums. But look now at Ed Sheeran or Justin Bieber. Their songs are almost all the same. Ed's got only one song that's completely out of the ordinary - the one he wrote for Hobbit - Desolation of Smaug. Take all those new pop singers or metal bands and a you hear is one song played over and over in just different variations. Or even those instrume – SovereignSun Sep 22 '17 at 20:50
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    Even Bieber is stretching himself a little bit in his new material. But using Ed Sheeran as your example is like using Tony Orlando to represent the 70s. Have you listened to any of the contemporary artists or albums I specifically mentioned as counterexamples, or are you just assuming they must be tepid carbon copies because you're committed to your prejudgments? I defy you to listen to Lemonade or The ArchAndroid or NikkiNack & tell me every track sounds the same. – Chris Sunami Sep 23 '17 at 2:10
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    @SovereignSun I love Bryan Adams. But there's no way Janelle Monae isn't a more original artist than him and Elton John put together, with a dash of Celine Dion on top. If you think otherwise, you're letting nostalgia deafen you. Don't become the old person who thinks culture stopped happening the year he turned 25. – Chris Sunami Sep 23 '17 at 2:20
  • Can I trot out my favourite example for this type of thing - Kings of Leon. For sure, there's similarity in each album, but over 7 albums I don't think they've yet written 'the same song twice'. – Tetsujin Sep 23 '17 at 6:25
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I think part of the problem with "pop music" in the "chart sense" or "x factor" sense is the production process. Everyone "sounds" the same. There's not a lot of sonic diversity. The same digital processes are used. As far as song writing, if the sonic palette is pretty much the same (as dictated as to what is deemed as currently popular), then writing "pop" songs will inevitably involve similar chord patterns that end up sounding like someone else's similar to someone else's song. Hopefully this trend will decline when people stop buying albums by Ed Sheeran and the like.

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If we do a formal analysis of early rock music we would most likely find that most of them follow rather closely an especific aesthetic framework, that is, most of them make use of the same elements in the same way for each song. After all, we do group 'rock music' for this very reason.

Analogously, most of the music from the barroque, or any time period, share a lot of patterns. This is not something that happens only to pop music.

We tend to say that music is the same, and we are parcially right from a certain point of view. Shifts in trends usually are not a matter of a few years, rather they take decades and are not sudden.

Identifying by ear if a certain work is from late or early Beethoven is not easy for somebody who is not familiar with Beethoven's work, and I propose that this is in part for the same reason some of us may hear "modern" music too monotonous.

When we are familiar with a certain way of making music identifying subtle changes in it becomes easier.

As a side note, if we as listeners tend to like hearing the things we are familiar with, but also like hearing new things, we may be one of the reasons that music mostly evolves from subtle changes to established models.

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