You Know Music Is Getting Worse?

When cliché-mongers call music “the international language,” the implication is that anyone’s music will be intelligible (and maybe appealing) to anyone else. That’s ridiculous, of course. Few things inspire contempt more quickly than music that’s not to our taste. Let us keep this in mind as we turn to a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for the Associated Press and Rolling Stone. One of its questions asked adults to identify the musical genre they like the best. Rock ‘n’ roll was the top vote getter (cited by 26 percent), with country/ western close behind (22 percent). Classical was the only other genre to score in double digits (barely, at 10 percent), putting it ahead of jazz (7 percent), hip hop or rap (7 percent), pop (6 percent), rhythm and blues (4 percent), blues (2 percent) and folk (1 percent). The rest of the vote was widely scattered, apart from the 4 percent of respondents who don’t listen to music. As you can see from the chart below, relatively few adults feel we’re in a musical golden age. To add insult to injury, the stuff isn’t even affordable. Twenty-three percent of respondents said CDs are “very expensive” today; 51 percent said they’re “somewhat” so. A digital download for 99 cents, by contrast, seems economical: Just 19 percent said such a deal is “too expensive,” while 52 percent termed it “a fair price” and 19 percent said it’s “a bargain.” The Internet isn’t where adults find out about new music, though (as if they care). A mere 4 percent said it’s their primary venue for doing this, while 55 percent pointed to FM radio and 10 percent cited television music channels.