Modern, over-produced music does my head in!

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Bunneth
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10 Nov 2010, 10:15 am

I feel the need to rant about the current trend in the music industry to substitute quality in a track for over-production. Pop music and R'n'B seem to be the main offenders. I know that music production has come on a long way in the past 20 years but I'm not sure if that's a good thing or to the detriment of music lovers. Case in point is Cheryl Cole's latest single Promise this (link below to those who haven't heard it).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F1q0Vn4u4g[/youtube]

It's all over the radio and TV music channels here in the UK at the moment and has gone to number 1 but I can't see why - it's a terrible song! There's so much going on in the backing track in terms of synthesizers and general effects that the song just doesn't seem to have any real focus; the chorus in particular just seems to be all over the place and I find the backing music really distracting.

This isn't a person attack on Cheryl Cole but an example of a growing trend. Over the past few years I've heard tracks by many other artists that seem to think the more layers of digital effects piled onto a song, the better, but I just find it instead to make the track sound like it's lacking direction and that the producers don't have enough faith in the recording artists vocal talents to carry the track by themselves.

It also takes all the spontaneity out of music - I doubt that nowadays they'd leave things in like John Lennon swearing in Hey Jude or the telephone ringing at the end of Bowie's Life on Mars. Yes, over-production isn't necessarily a new thing - Phil Spector being perhaps one of the most well-known examples - but at least it used to be used to enhance the performing artist's vocal and not nearly drown them out.

I guess I might just be living in a hazy, nostalgic timewarp but if that's the case, hey, at least the soundtracks good :D

What do you all think?



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10 Nov 2010, 10:46 am

I don't hear anything "over-produced" about it- it's just not the kind of music I like.

Klayton from Celldweller has admitted to "over-producing" some of his music; putting more instruments and sounds into a song than he thinks is the bare minimum he needs, but that's because he's really into the music he makes. It always comes out right, in the end, though, anyway.


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Simonono
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10 Nov 2010, 10:58 am

Everything today is just awful. I'm proud I stick with the old stuff, the modern noobs don't know what they're missing! :D

And yeah this Cheryl Cole song is one of the worst pieces of crap I have ever heard



Bunneth
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10 Nov 2010, 11:26 am

Zokk - maybe it's personal preference thing, as it's not my kind of music either. But I do find the effects in the chorus particularly distracting. I've not heard of Celldweller before, can you post a link to a track you'd recommend, I'd be interested to hear it.

Simonono - what kind of music are you into?



Dnuos
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10 Nov 2010, 11:46 am

I thought this was going to be about the loudness war. Music becomes over-compressed as time goes on. "loud" is a misleading title, but technically things are getting louder and louder. There's a limit to loudness, and at some point, it hits the limit. Then it sounds like crap.

i.e., take a modern CD, take an 80's CD, bring them down/up to the same volume, the 80's one is going to be clearer and much better-sounding. Even Extreme Death Metal is applicable in this comparison.

Which isn't always a good thing.

I don't mind over-producing whenever I'm mixing stuff.



JeffDmetalgod
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10 Nov 2010, 11:54 am

I pretty much hate music released post 1990 myself. I prefer mostly heavier forms of music,metal,punk,deathrock/goth. I just am not able to get into moderm music except european power metal and select black metal bands.



Zokk
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10 Nov 2010, 2:05 pm

Bunneth wrote:
I've not heard of Celldweller before, can you post a link to a track you'd recommend, I'd be interested to hear it.

Here's a good one from the latest Celldweller album, Wish Upon A Blackstar:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G3YzOV4pQ0[/youtube]


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naturalplastic
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10 Nov 2010, 5:53 pm

I can relate.
The video you posted is blocked here in the states so I cant comment on it.
But yes music, especially R+B tends to be overproduced.

Even when I like something current I -well-dont like it.

Im quite fascinated by Alecia Keys- both to look at- and to listen to.

Down loaded a reggae version of "you dont know my name" and burned it onto a CD with some of my soul favorites from the seventies and eighties like al green and Isaac Hayes hoping it would fit into one nice mellow but funky groove. It just clashed and jumped out like a sore thumb.

Just the over produced sound just doesnt fit in with pre-90's music.



conan
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10 Nov 2010, 10:20 pm

i would not say production has gotten better. recording an production tools have gotten far better.

the problem is that they often make music so it can sound good on cheap speakers and on the radio. one technique is that they will maximise the volume so there is little variation in the sound levels in a piece so you can listen to it in noisy environments and it still sounds 'good'

I know there is a lot more to it than that but i don't know what.

if you look at producers like steve albini (just an example) or producers of good jazz records you will find they know their s**t and will not compromise on sound for commercial gain. it is art not buisness.

i think that pop music nowadays is more and more under creative control of the producers and executives. as such, the producers are the ones responsible for giving it that sound because they are working with such simple input from the actual artists.



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10 Nov 2010, 11:50 pm

the music industry left me behind decades ago.



Bunneth
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11 Nov 2010, 5:42 am

Zokk wrote:
Bunneth wrote:
I've not heard of Celldweller before, can you post a link to a track you'd recommend, I'd be interested to hear it.

Here's a good one from the latest Celldweller album, Wish Upon A Blackstar:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G3YzOV4pQ0[/youtube]


Thanks Zokk. That's a track I would never have picked out myself but I like it; it's got some actual passion to it and I don't think it's over-produced, as there's a clear distinction between the different parts of the song and the instruments serve to compliment each other and the artist's voice, rather than mask it. It's also got a great beat and if I ever figure out how to download things from the internet onto my mp3 player, it's getting added there to one of my running mixes.



Bunneth
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11 Nov 2010, 5:48 am

naturalplastic - I find too that if I'm doing a mix CD of 70's stuff in particular then it's very hard to add in more modern tunes without it sounding jarring. I think it's for the reason that conan mentions, that current producers set the basic volume levels too high so it just becomes overpowering. An example of an older album that mixed at a purposefully low level is The Cure's Disintegration album; they even have a note on the sleeve stating that it's been mixed at a low level so it sound's good played loud.



xenon13
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11 Nov 2010, 4:48 pm

One word - autotuner.



MrXxx
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11 Nov 2010, 6:37 pm

Bunneth wrote:
This isn't a person attack on Cheryl Cole but an example of a growing trend.

What do you all think?


It took a while for me to find a video I could actually play in the states, but once I finally did...

The only thing I would argue with in what you said is that it's a "growing trend."

It's not. It's not even a trend anymore. This has been going on so long now, it has practically become standard practice.

And it SUCKS.


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Ah_Q
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14 Nov 2010, 4:43 pm

Correct, this sort of thing started in the late '90s. But I wouldn't really say the problem is "over-production" per-say, just misguided production choices.


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