by Christian Ward Two motivations for this post:
1. Hearing Ashlee Simpson’s single Outta My Head today. It’s quite possibly the worst song ever made. It was written by SIX!!! people. As a comparison, ‘Yesterday’, the most covered song in history, was written by Paul McCartney, one man, in his sleep.
So what’s gone wrong in the last 40 years, that we’ve gone from Yesterday to “Ay ya ya ya ya”?
Well, McCartney was a songwriting genius, right? Well maybe, but that genius didn’t spring out of thin air. He’d done his homework, and was steeped in rock’n’roll and blues, folk, ragtime, musicals, Tin Pan Alley standards, church hymns and classical music – all influences working on him when he composed. The writers of ‘Outta My Head’ are influenced by market forces and the few hit records of the last 18 months, all of which eschew melody for the novelty of the studio and the tyranny of whatever rhythm is moving the clubfloors at this particular moment.
As a balance to this argument, let’s remember that McCartney and his contemporaries have produced a fair amount of rubbish in their time. And the leading lights of pop/r’n’b between about 1999 and 2002 (Aaliyah, Kelis, Destiny’s Child, the Neptunes) let loose a wave of truly future-facing, heart-stopping records.
But for the last 3 years it’s been a downward spiral; with popular music across genres deteriorating massively as writers and performers completely misplace the melody.