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  1. #1

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    My daughter just played a new Alecia Keys video ,just her singinging and playing piano. Just want to say how awful the actual music was. She is a way more capable musician of playing more sophisticated harmonic structures.

    But just like John Legend, and many other current Pop Icons. They play a simple 4 chord triadic repetitive set of changes, much like 1950s Doo Wop type of song form. And while simple isn't the problem, it's the actual lack of musicality it generates. Almost like a computer generated the song.
    I think Tony Bennett said it best describing it as 4 chords and 3 of them are wrong,LOL!

    I have enough of an issue with guitarists dumbing down the harmonic structures of songs. But when someone like Alecia Keys who is so much better does this it drives me CRAZY !

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    My daughter just played a new Alecia Keys video ,just her singinging and playing piano. Just want to say how awful the actual music was. She is a way more capable musician of playing more sophisticated harmonic structures.

    But just like John Legend, and many other current Pop Icons. They play a simple 4 chord triadic repetitive set of changes, much like 1950s Doo Wop type of song form. And while simple isn't the problem, it's the actual lack of musicality it generates. Almost like a computer generated the song.
    I think Tony Bennett said it best describing it as 4 chords and 3 of them are wrong,LOL!

    I have enough of an issue with guitarists dumbing down the harmonic structures of songs. But when someone like Alecia Keys who is so much better does this it drives me CRAZY !
    I really don't understand why you voluntarily decide to torture yourself. There is enough high quality recently released music to listen to, as well as all of the thousands of recording of made over the decades. In addition one can make their own music.

    To seek out music just to drive oneself CRAZY, is what I would define as CRAZY.

  4. #3
    Because you can't escape it,especially when your kids like it,lol!

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    Because you can't escape it,especially when your kids like it,lol!
    Escape is the only option...


  6. #5

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    No offense Jads, but give it a rest. You're fighting the entire world and the worlds got bigger issues than how the complexity of what is in the charts affects your self esteem.

    Go play some good music, volunteer somewhere where extra hands are needed or something else positive ... or if you're feeling down take a bit care of yourself. Spewing negativity never improved any ones mood.

    Take care mate!

  7. #6

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    It is a song about people struggling, which she modified to honour the first responders in this crisis: "So I sing a song for the hustlers trading at the bus stop/ Single mothers waiting on a check to come/ Young teachers, student doctors/ People on the front line knowing they don't get to run/ This goes out to the underdog."

    The harmonic structures are not that important.


  8. #7
    No argument with the lyrics or intent of the message. But such a talented artist just as Lady Gaga,Bruno Mars. Why do they feel the need to use such banal music as the backing track?

    Again folks, I get how it seems I'm out of touch,or insensitive about the message.
    But it's important that we not accept mediocrity as the bar to reach.
    Wether it be music,art,science, math, etc. Being the most popular should never be the most important factor.

    I'm a pro musician and since this is what I do for a living,I'm voicing concern.
    Please do the same in your respective field of endevour, to better all of us.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    No argument with the lyrics or intent of the message. But such a talented artist just as Lady Gaga,Bruno Mars. Why do they feel the need to use such banal music as the backing track?

    Again folks, I get how it seems I'm out of touch,or insensitive about the message.
    But it's important that we not accept mediocrity as the bar to reach.
    Wether it be music,art,science, math, etc. Being the most popular should never be the most important factor.

    I'm a pro musician and since this is what I do for a living,I'm voicing concern.
    Please do the same in your respective field of endevour, to better all of us.
    As already stated the purpose or 'goal' of the song was to honor first-responders. I.e. the lyrics were the heart of the song. I assume Keys wrote the harmony 'quickly' because that wasn't her focus. The song wasn't done by Keys to become more popular.

    Thus you singling out this specific song, created and sang for the reasons that it was, is just flat out misguided (at best).

    Hey, I understand your overall point about the downfall of music in general (i.e. I read the other rant thread you created). But using this song as an example in your 'mission' and creating a thread just about this song, isn't cool.

    As it relates to having kids; It appears you're also very disappointed in the musical taste of your own child. Maybe you should work in that area more.

  10. #9
    Actually not disappointed in. My daughter or her taste. She like most kids are way into today's music. But she's also loves Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Donny Hathaway,etc.

    And Alecia Keys does a wonderful, version of Donny Hathaway's "Someday Well all be Free" And while I get the point you are trying to make. My point is an Artist
    such as Alecia Keys, Stevie Wonder,etc. are capable of so much more. And especially now, reaching deeper than just lyrics is important

    And again I don't mind simplicity Bill Withers among others did the same. And that IS the reason it becomes a standard,memorable, and part of the great American Fabric. If Ms.Keys was incapable, I wouldn't be making this thread in the first place.

  11. #10

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    Perhaps she kept it simple on purpose so that others could learn and play it easily. We may never know...

  12. #11

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    Music is not so much art these days as communication artifice, requiring homogeneity derived from banal popular themes; behold...


  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobomov


    No offense Jads, but give it a rest. You're fighting the entire world and the worlds got bigger issues than how the complexity of what is in the charts affects your self esteem.

    Go play some good music, volunteer somewhere where extra hands are needed or something else positive ... or if you're feeling down take a bit care of yourself. Spewing negativity never improved any ones mood.

    Take care mate!
    I got a real kick out of this! Ha! ha! But why is it always an old man cursing the clouds, rain, snow, and other things he can't change. I see a lot of young kids doing the same thing these days. Everybody is acting out. Its not just us old guys that are cantankerous anymore. Ask any school teacher or coach.

  14. #13
    I totally agree I'm the Old Grandpa yelling at the Clouds. I think the difference is musicians who actually played music were responsible both good and bad.

    Again this woman is playing almost a 4 chord computer type generated progression on an instrument she actually has deeper knowledge on.
    Is she purposely dumbing it down and if so WOW! It tells us how uneducated the masses are.

    When Stevie Wonder or similar artist's did this they still had a musical backing track. Corny yes, but still something.

  15. #14

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    The uneducated masses. That's the crux of the issue.

  16. #15
    I was afraid that was it, now I know chose the wrong profession!

  17. #16

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    Perhaps Alicia Keys would rather not have her family to set up a go fund me page to pay for her funeral expenses when she comes to the end of her days after decades of working.

  18. #17

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    Hey, the folk music revolution in the late 50s/early 60s, which also became the rock music revolution, etc., pretty much ended jazz as a popular form of music. Although that process began with bebop; as soon as jazz stopped being dance music and became more of a form of chamber music, its popularity began to wane. Simpler song structures, easier to listen to when requiring less attention, became increasingly popular. that process has just continued and now with the power of computers "singers" don't even have to be able to sing in key as long as they look hot and can dance.

    There was a brief moment with prog rock such as Yes, King Crimson, etc. which managed to be relatively popular and which involved music that was more complicated. But it didn't last. For some reason the Grateful Dead managed to run obliquely through popular music while still playing relatively complex music, but for all its charms even a ballad like "Stella Blue" is no "Stella by Starlight."

  19. #18
    Alecia Keys is rich already. Entertainment business is just humming along nicely. Music on the other has died several deaths with MTV, and Rap taking over as cheaper way of producing entertainment for business to get rich.

    The fact that we the general public accept this is deplorable. But so much for education, especially when they cut art and music funding.
    I'm not against McDonald's Cheeseburgers and cheap fun. I'm against comparing it against past accomplishments that are far better! And if you can't hear it, you should consider quitting music altogether.

    After all you guys can hear the difference between John Coltrane and Kenny G?

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    The fact that we the general public accept this is deplorable.
    Deplorable pretty much sums up the music consumers of 2020. As usual, it's mostly high school age kids spending money, the market responds to their tastes, just like they always have since they became the main music buyers in the 50's.

  21. #20

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    I assume Ms. Keys is quite well to do. My comment was a reference to Allen Holdsworth and others who played highly complex music, were revered by (only) musicians while being ignored by pretty much everyone else. They share a collective history of lacking financial means to pay for more than next weeks groceries. It would be great if things were different but they aren’t and it’s been that way for a long time. Hell, people now don’t even pay for the music that they really like.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    .They play a simple 4 chord triadic repetitive set of changes, much like 1950s Doo Wop type of song form. And while simple isn't the problem, it's the actual lack of musicality it generates. Almost like a computer generated the song.
    I think Tony Bennett said it best describing it as 4 chords and 3 of them are wrong,LOL!
    i agree,
    but add although not a huge fan of Doo Wop. i certainly dont dislike, there are some real tearjerker tunes and although harmony often 1 6 2 5 ish the vocal melodies could be were something else................................. like everything else good and bad.

    FZ got me into a bit of Doo wop,

  23. #22

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    In re: popular music, the Roman satiric poet Juvenal summed it up best:

    "“Two things only the people anxiously desire — bread and circuses.” " Juvenal

    And, a wonderful sign I hung in my office for 40 years that I found at a little country store while fly fishing in Northern Michigan: "Never try to teach a pig to sing . . .
    It's a waste of time . . . and annoys the pig."

    And, in response to those who eschew a critical view of contemporary life the words of the great French philosopher Rene Descartes:

    "I think, therefore I am."

    Hope that's some food for thought for those of us who see not only a decline in serious music but also a general, quantifiable decline in all things civilized and human. Good playing . . . Marinero

  24. #23
    Thanks for all coments fellas. Always good to hear from all sides of an issue. Especially those I disagree with and havent considered.

    Just as Pop music is Bread and Circuses for the masses. I really feel the difference is that by replacing the real musicians and their contributions to the process. We have lost the actual Soul or Magic, even if it was a banal song.

    By better artist's like Alicia Keys,Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars,etc. accepting this banal song forms and recording proccess. We have reached an all time low!

    I remember Herbie Hancock was severely critisized by his peers when he released The Headhunter album.
    But his feeling was to reach the public, and bring them up to a higher musical level.

  25. #24

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    There’s nothing wrong with simple, the power of repetition is a very African jazz concept since the 60s. I don’t mind the three chords she’s playing, I think they have a nice meditative like quality. The problem I have is with the verses where she does that current style of fast syllable Nana Nana Nana hip-hop style of singing. It’s not melodic and I find it tedious and it sounds the same in hip hop influenced song after song. It’s almost corny and has an attitude effect I don’t connect with. I like when she sings the falsetto parts of the song, it sounds beautiful.

  26. #25

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    I've been listening to a public-radio, music-only, eclectic pop/rock, classic/modern mix radio station for about nine months, and getting exposed to current pop for the first time in a couple of decades, literally.

    It's not bad. Brittney Howard, Local Natives, Cage the Elephant are some of the fresh releases they play, and while it's not world-stopping, it's good music delivered well, to my ears.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    The uneducated masses. That's the crux of the issue.
    And that's all that needs to be said. I sometimes think there's some sort of dark agreement made in the country where i live, (Belgium), between radiostations, to see who can play the most commercial crap and get away with it.

    And they do a good job i must say. They never fail to do so. There's a handfull of stations who actually play some really good music, but that 's it.
    Uneducated masses you say? Come on over, we have tons of those. And they're liking it too. I've never understood that.

    I'd like to join the grandpa, shouting at the clouds. It's better than to slide over to the commercial, poppy, let's melt those braincells into nohting, side.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    There’s nothing wrong with simple, the power of repetition is a very African jazz concept since the 60s. I don’t mind the three chords she’s playing, I think they have a nice meditative like quality. The problem I have is with the verses where she does that current style of fast syllable Nana Nana Nana hip-hop style of singing. It’s not melodic and I find it tedious and it sounds the same in hip hop influenced song after song. It’s almost corny and has an attitude effect I don’t connect with. I like when she sings the falsetto parts of the song, it sounds beautiful.

    Hi, R,
    I consume a steady diet of Jazz, Classical, Bossa/Latin Music, and Old School Funk/R&B. If I live a thousand lives, I'll never have the time to explore the totality of these genres for the gems they hold. Therefore, I never listen to mainstream radio/music for the above reasons. The other day, I was at a friend's house and saw a CD of Alicia Keys. When we played it, I thought she had a very expressive voice with great potential but the music she played was predictable and trite and I couldn't understand the lyrics of anything she sang. Is this the fault of the artist or is this the tripe she needs to sing to make a living/career in music? Who do we blame: the artist, the record company, her audience? And, if an "artist" devotes their entire life to this tripe , how should we judge the artist? Good playing . . . Marinero

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemuel
    And that's all that needs to be said. I sometimes think there's some sort of dark agreement made in the country where i live, (Belgium), between radiostations, to see who can play the most commercial crap and get away with it.

    And they do a good job i must say. They never fail to do so. There's a handfull of stations who actually play some really good music, but that 's it.
    Uneducated masses you say? Come on over, we have tons of those. And they're liking it too. I've never understood that.

    I'd like to join the grandpa, shouting at the clouds. It's better than to slide over to the commercial, poppy, let's melt those braincells into nohting, side.
    Uh, there are more than two sides. E.g. grandpas can just ignore any art they find trite, commercial, poppy etc....

    What I see here is that grandpas are going out of his way to get annoyed. Are you folks trapped in an elevator?

  30. #29

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    "Are you folks trapped in an elevator?" Jameslovestal

    No James,
    Just living in a different reality than your own. It doesn't have to be bad . . . just different.
    Good playing . . . Marinero






  31. #30

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    Sometimes i do feel like being trapped in an elevator, yes. I'm trying my very best to ignore that which annoys me, but there's no escape. At my workplace, in stores, on (mentioned earlier) radio stations, it's everywhere. I can't ignore, for instance, Bohemian Rhapsody being played for the umpteenth time. Queen has a discography with which you could fill a modest library. But what do i hear? Yep, Bohemian Rhapsody. Maybe, if your lucky, Bycicle. Just to give an example. With so much beautiful music created and being created, you'd think there would be more than that? But it's probably me, i know.
    Most of the time, when i'm working or i'm out and about on my own, i have my earphones in. So i can go about not being annoyed. And i have the luxury of listening to some fabulous music.

  32. #31
    Again it's not the Entertainment side of music that bothers me. Its that the Artists that are actually talented are choosing to forego any part of it for fame and notoriety. Sting, The Beatles, EWF, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, etc all improved their art as they progressed.

    Now it's become apparent that going the other direction is the new normal.
    What does that say? To me it says we are no longer listen as much as watch music. And that along with no new Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastoius, Stevie Wonders,, Ray Charles, etc. Or at least talent that raised actual music as an art form, music is dying.

    I also get really tired of people saying that you just need to look for the great Music. It doesn't exist in any genre in any form. Snarky Puppy are talented musicians selling an older formula just for the visual masses. They aren't The Brecker Bros.
    I use them as an example because they are the previous genre minus the BLOOD!
    Just as John McGlaughlins eloquant analysis of the current state of music.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    Alecia Keys is rich already. Entertainment business is just humming along nicely. Music on the other has died several deaths with MTV, and Rap taking over as cheaper way of producing entertainment for business to get rich.

    The fact that we the general public accept this is deplorable. But so much for education, especially when they cut art and music funding.
    I'm not against McDonald's Cheeseburgers and cheap fun. I'm against comparing it against past accomplishments that are far better! And if you can't hear it, you should consider quitting music altogether.

    After all you guys can hear the difference between John Coltrane and Kenny G?
    Alicia Keyes does POP music. Pop os short for popular. Popular means millions like and buy it. She doesn't claim to do jazz, period. Relax, you'll live longer.

  34. #33
    You obviously haven't heard her version of Donny Hathaway song "Someday We'll all Be Free" She is a very talented musician capable of much deeper music.

    And like Lady Gaga, they need to lead their generation of listeners, not dumb it down for the sake of fame and fortune. There are plenty of posers already doing that.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    And that along with no new Jimi Hendrix, Jaco Pastoius, Stevie Wonders,, Ray Charles, etc. Or at least talent that raised actual music as an art form, music is dying.
    Why are you praising hacks that are a mere shadow of the players before them .. Rachmaninoff is where it is at, not some pentatonic hack that had to go to the UK to gain interest and eventually OD'ed and choked on his own womit.

    At least the drummer of Spinal Tab choked on someone else's womit.

  36. #35
    It don't mean a thing,if it ain't got that SWING!

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    Alicia Keyes does POP music. Pop os short for popular. Popular means millions like and buy it. She doesn't claim to do jazz, period. Relax, you'll live longer.
    He also doesn't respect younger jazz musicians since he doesn't respect any and all musicians that didn't come from his generation.

    How do I know this: well this is a statement from him, just today:

    "I also get really tired of people saying that you just need to look for the great Music. It doesn't exist in any genre in any form"

    Does NOT exist in ANY genre in ANY form.

    What a misguided, crazy (at best), statement.

  38. #37
    Please show me some great new music in any genre? Not just great musicians, but actual great Music since the invetion of the Iphone.

    Haven't found it yet and believe with You Tube and the Internet I've found great old music.

  39. #38

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    Expecting musicians to starve for their art is just asinine. Sane ones produce music that sells. Jazz does not sell, and it's difficult, if even possible, to make a living just playing jazz. 90 or 100 years ago it might have been possible, but not in the last 50 or so. The number of musicians who make a good living doing nothing but playing jazz is vanishingly small. Jazz is not popular music, it's a small niche market. We may play jazz for the love of it, but not many on this forum actually make a living doing it. The number is not zero, but it's very small. Slagging anyone for making good money by producing non-jazz music is not something I consider right. I may not listen to it, but I don't condemn it. My idea of good music is not the standard everyone is required to meet. Rent has to be paid, food has to be bought, and baby needs new shoes.

  40. #39

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    Officially, the best song of the last 50 or so years. Perfect.


  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Officially, the best song of the last 50 or so years. Perfect.




    Yep, i totally agree on that!

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    You obviously haven't heard her version of Donny Hathaway song "Someday We'll all Be Free" She is a very talented musician capable of much deeper music.

    And like Lady Gaga, they need to lead their generation of listeners, not dumb it down for the sake of fame and fortune. There are plenty of posers already doing that.
    Actually, they owe you nothing, jabs. And the fact that Alicia can do several levels, some deeper than others, should be quite enough for you. Nobody is forcing you to listen to her. If she were to follow your advice, she would be another struggling unknown.

  43. #42
    Nice video, song is okay. Nobody owed the Beatles, Ray Charles, Brian Wilson, Sting, etc and they were and are quite wealthy!

    Quit tryinging to defend the banal crap in all things,just because it sells. Alicia Keyes is better than that,and that's the point.
    If the Artists capable of carrying the torch don't do it. Then we're all in trouble!

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57
    Nice video, song is okay. Nobody owed the Beatles, Ray Charles, Brian Wilson, Sting, etc and they were and are quite wealthy!

    Quit tryinging to defend the banal crap in all things,just because it sells. Alicia Keyes is better than that,and that's the point.
    If the Artists capable of carrying the torch don't do it. Then we're all in trouble!
    Artist have always released commercial 'crap', and that includes those mentioned above. Same goes for songwriters.

    E.g. Hoagy Carmichael; For every Stardust, Nearness of You, Georgia on my Mind,,, he also wrote some very cheesy basic songs.

  45. #44
    Agreed on above statement, except there's no NEW Good songs , music wise anyways.

  46. #45

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    Look modern music is screwed either way, no?

    - if it's new/different it's a ghastly racket
    - if it's evocative of past eras, it's derivative

    So it can never win...

    Joking aside, I think there's a couple of cultural currents here

    1) Music is moving heavily towards overlaps with sound design. This is certainly true of modern Pop production, which if you are into that is a serious heavy art form. But if you are a harmony guy, you aren't going to be interested.

    This is also true of the composition faculty in the conservatoire where a friend works. They didn't have a counterpoint module anymore, until someone got upset and now my friend teaches it, learning as he goes lol.

    (But also of film music, cinema composition is all like Han Zimmer. HZ was ahead of the curve tech wise incidentally, hence his influence. Film music is very sonic now.)

    This has a flip side... You have retro sound design too... people trying to recapture a texture of the past. Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson were influential here.

    2) Change of form... OK so everything now is streaming and YT. This has completely changed the pacing of songs. I also often feel that stuff feels .. half finished. Unsatisfying. It's like they got halfway through the song and stopped polishing somehow.

    I feel this really strongly with popular artists like Tom Misch, Vulfpeck and so on. There's a lot I like, they can actually be fabulous musicians... but also ... it never quite connects right. It's hard to say... I don't know if anyone knows what I mean

    (Misch is a nice guitar player BTW, check him out... He's just released a new thing on Blue Note. I can almost forgive him for being from Dulwich. Dave Cliff also lives in Dulwich so I can live with it.)

    3) No-one makes any money apart from Max Martin.

    4) Youth culture is centred around video games and online culture. These take the central space occupied by music in my dad's generation. Even during my adolescence, video games were creeping in. Now they dominate. Many kids are actually more into video game music than pop music. Which is cool actually, I think, because that's very stylistically diverse. People get turned onto John Dowland, jazz, all sorts through video games.

    But you don't get music tribes like you used to. Kids are very eclectic now.

    5) Not many gigs (before the 'rona I mean). Guitarists play into laptops now. Instagram. This prog rock guy Plini had never plugged into an amp until he had to tour. You get the tour off the back of your presence on the web, right? Esp. social media. That affects things too.

    I think that covers it...

  47. #46

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    Anyway I can do you list of modern stuff I like, if you care, which I don't think you do.

  48. #47
    Don't get me started on Vulfpeck, Most Unfunky Music ever! These guys are like Computer generated loops pretending to be James Brown. No space, no mistakes, and NO FEELING!

    I hate this most of all pretending to be Hip, when it's not! Prince suffered this imo.Almost a total rip off of other artists music and sold it visually to everyone like he invented it. I don't care if Jeff Beck, Miles Davis and everyone else bought it as well.
    He was the Wizard of Oz in his generation. He was a brilliant Sales and Marketing person who had musical skills.
    Kiss was a robotic remake of James Brown Papas Got a Brand New Bag. Almost everything he did was repurposed JB,Sly,Jimi, or New Wave Pop.

    My only admiration was for When Doves Cry and a few select other songs.But just because he was a P.T. Barnum of his generation , shouldn't put him in a Musical Genius category like Stevie Wonder.

  49. #48

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    More banal tripe for the masses....


  50. #49

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    Do the masses know about Spalding?

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    Do the masses know about Spalding?
    Well, she won the best new artist Grammy in 2011, so you think that would put her on the map. But she challenges herself, so I guess she doesn't qualify as good music because she doesn't represent mainstream pop. I don't know.

    This newer music rant about no great music being made in the past 20 years versus top 10 shit that's been selling for the past 20 years. I guess that invalidates new good music cuz it doesn't sell or chart or mainstream is unaware of it???

    When culture gets low, you have to dig extra hard for the good stuff, but it's there. I know it's too much work to seek it out for many, and easier to whine about it. Just another reflection on the current status of stuff.

    The tastemakers aren't doling out good stuff for the discerning ear, just product for the consumer culture. $$$