What is the “sound” of the new millennium?

If you ask someone about music in the 60’s, you’d hear a bunch of warm-hearted tales of the British Invasion, the summer of ’69, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and all of the iconic sounds that set the standard for music that came in the next generations. There was disco in the 70s, as well as a lot of what we would call “classic rock” today, including the production of some of rock’s most legendary songs, like Free Bird and Stairway to Heaven. The 80’s had it’s own quirks in music popularized by the Brat Pack movies, but there were new sounds in heavy metal, as well as the developing face of rap and hip-hop with groups like Run DMC and NWA. The 90’s was a flowering cacophony of musical styles that had something for just about everyone. It was the birthplace for music from Nirvana, Notorious B.I.G., Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, Tupac, and a bunch of other iconic musicians of their time, as well as the ever-revolting (or glorious, depending on your standpoint) pop star movement toward the end of the decade, with Britney, Christina, Backstreet Boys, and all of those other ones I can’t remember at the moment. Truly, every decade has had a sound – a long list of name talent that helped to define and produce a soundtrack to the generation in which they existed.

So….exactly what is the sound of today? When we say 90’s music, we think about Puff Daddy before he started truncating his own name, Chumbawamba getting knocked down and getting up again, Ace of Base singing every song to the same beat, and a list of many musicians, whether they were mainstream, underground, obscure, or even tasteless. But we remember the songs of that generation, for better or for worse, because that was what the generation was about. But if I asked you about the defining the sound of the 2000’s, I’d like to see what you’d give me for an answer. There have been many great musicians in this era, and also a fair share of bad ones, but are they memorable? Could someone honestly start talking about this generation, and be able to apply the appropriate soundtrack to it? I personally have had a hard time myself trying to think of the artists that have staying power in this day and age that weren’t formed before the 90s.

These days, it’s become quite difficult to define an era in music because of all the genres that have been created, or destroyed, depending on your point of view. So many edges now have been blurred, and breakthroughs in music have really pushed the limits. These days, the pop scene has become a digital playground, with most of the popstars from yesteryear now turning to more techno-infused sounds and repetitive hooks. Hip hop and rock partnerships aren’t anything new, but the collaborations have become much more elaborate and have created new sonic possibilities. What’s more is that technology and software have made it incredibly easy to produce high-quality, multi-layered songs in the comfort of your own home, and with digital avenues in which to distribute them, some people hardly have to bother with studio time at all.

However, there’s been less of an emphasis on making timeless music – songs that you could play in any era, and it would still be relevant and wouldn’t feel dated. A lot of the music made today is geared more around sales than about pushing the limits of what music can achieve. One of the bands that comes to mind when I think of music that isn’t dated is Rage Against the Machine. Sure, their music wouldn’t necessarily sit well with all types of people’s tastes, but when you listen to their music, there isn’t the slightest bit of music that hints the time in which it was produced. You could move the songs around a 20-year span, and it would fit anywhere. That’s the kind of music that this generation needs – something that transcends the time period in which it was created. Here’s hoping that some talent comes along that can achieve that sound.

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