I find a much stronger reason for song lengths being the way they are is so people who don't like the song only have to wait a few mins for it to change. When I say "radio" I mean public venues in general like a bar or a hair salon, that may or may not be straight playing the radio.
Well, the standardization is literally there due to older tape lengths.
I don't deny that dancing/outfits/videos are a big part of how most people enjoy music. I am just viciously opposed to it. I'm in it to 'listen' not to 'watch' and not to idolize. Not saying I've never watched attached music/lyric videos, but those that I do see aren't just a bunch of hot, suggestive dancers. KPOP can put out some bangers, but I find that whole act repulsive. I've never dressed in the goth/emo fashion that is common with metalheads. I find that aspect of music to be increasingly distracting.
Many of the sins I've listed are old sins it's true (Elvis dancing), but the degrees to which these dominant have increased. Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Mamas & Papas, Kansas, etc., would struggle to be radio hit popular today. I can think of maybe Regina Spektor being an example that got a couple songs on there. That is my basic point. Dance music isn't new, but it's never been as dominant.
Dance is definitely part of the majority of musical experience, and has been so for all of human history. Contemplative listening has a long history too, of course, but dance very foundational to music experience, and infact is
in the majority of it in basically every society. Adam Neely cited someone who brought up a good point; that if modern music theory had developed and become pushed in West Africa rather than Germany and Austria, there's a good chance it was required to be able to dance when practicing music theory. And West Africa isn't unique here.
Also, I dance like once a year (and only when very
drunk), so I share your approach to listening. There's just not much of an objectivity to the claim that dancing is more prominent today.
I'll also note that metalhead fashion and expression goes way beyond the stereotypical make-upped look, leather/rough black stuff and long hair.
Similarly, I don't expect every song to be some intellectual journey, but virtually none are. Artists might release like *one* song in this vein to show that they can, but it's not what dominates (Lil Baby's 'The Bigger Pictire', Taylor Swift's 'You Need To Calm Down') exist, but they're big outliers for those artists and might even be critiqued as hollow virtue signaling. There's also trends in just simpler vocabulary as well (though that's throughout culture). I've heard a lot of cliche metal lyrics, or just pure nonsense that gives the illusion of some deeper meaning. It's still so much more tolerable to me than stuff like "Party in the USA" where the only non-1st-grade words are "cardigan" and "stilettos" because fashion ofc.
Well, they don't have
to release philosophical music. They have to release music that causes some sort of emotional response in the listener. Again, I share your foundational aesthetics, but I'm noting why it's wrong to call my tastes objective, specifically because of what we know of how humans have generally always engaged with music.
As far as some artists still producing music, I'm not saying they up and stopped. I'm really ignorant on Lady Gaga. The only songs I remember of hers though were like the 4 smash hits from her first album. For years it was hard to NOT hear those songs everywhere. She's not retired. I assume she's still making bangers. But her popularity certainly spiked early, and that type of trajectory is what I associate with being fad-like (whether the artist deserves to be a fad or not). Do you think Olivia Rodrigo or Billie Eilish will have multiple radio hits in 10 years? It's not meant as a slight to them, but I sincerely doubt it.
Lady Gaga afaik started working on her other projects (again) which was always less popular. Britney Spears, Madonna, Eminem, Kanye West are still active. Newer acts (after my active pop listening period) have also lasted 10-20 years since they first came onto the scene. Whether Olivia Rodrigo or Billie Eilish will produce in 10 years, again, I have no clue.
When I say "bands" vs "artists" I'm not saying that bands make better music. It's completely subjective whether Billy Joel is better or worse than Pink Floyd. One-man gigs can be complete, generally when they're playing the piano or the guitar.
Piano and guitar... Well, they're indeed good soloist instrument, but you honestly don't need anymore than your voice for legitimate participation. Again, this is kind of weird as to the whole point of my response, which was in regard to objectively noting a decline, but appealing to those two instruments is particularly ahistorical as to what makes music work, and very specific as to concurrent institutions moreso than what music can actually be described as. As a value statements in regards to objective loss, it was a strange one. ^^
Record companies have been a parasitic middleman forever. Opportunists have always seen popular acts and wanted to get in on the action. What's different today is that the music industry isn't just trying to profit from artists, it's trying to *create* artists. It can create entire bands too of course, but the path of least resistance is just finding a candidate you like, and then you supply EVERYTHING. They provide the music, the lyrics, supply the necessary band/production, clothes, make-up artists, promoters, choreographer, etc. This confuses the cause and effect of popularity. Are new artists played a lot because they're popular, or are they popular because they're played a lot? Like these singers aren't completely musically ignorant, they often can play an instrument or went through some kind of classic music training. They're not like pulled off the street after all. But still, I think most people would agree that stars aren't born, they're created. You can find that depressing without being a prog head who only listens to songs with at least 4 different time signatures.
The industry mostly works in that the big music companies hire & publish a lot
of people, the vast majority perfectly capable musicians, and then people that get picked up by public interest are pushed.
My jam is stuff like this for what it's worth:
Opeth and Porcupine Tree are massive venues definitely entrenched in the cultural industry. Dunno about the two others.
EDIT By the way, I definitely suggest you check out Adorno (if you haven't). His observations about the culture industry are very useful as to the commercialization of art under capitalism, and he's widely used in regards to criticism of mass culture. Note, of course, that his target was jazz, which would seem weird to you; but the point is that everything
from that environment onward has the same problems of corporatism. EDITEDIT: He's also very obtuse, btw. Very hard to read. If you find it difficult, understand that everyone does (including professors)