Music History

Published on June 21st, 2016 | by Alan Cross

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Computer Models Say That 80s Music Is Boring

Every generation believes that the music that was new when they were young was the greatest music ever made. It’s just how we’re built. Therefore, if you grew up during the 80s, chances are you have an unshakeable fondness for the music of that decade.

But here’s the thing. You’re wrong. The music of the 80s was boring. At least that’s what a computer says. From NPR:

By treating each hit song like a fossil, the London-based research team found that America’s mainstream music has remained stylistically diverse over the last 50 years, with one decade as an exception: the 1980s. The research was published on Tuesday (May 3) in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

The algorithm also spots the three years that inspired the most creativity in musical composition and shows that certain musical characteristics often attributed to the Beatles and the Rolling Stone actually predated these bands.

“The work is far and away the most comprehensive and sophisticated analysis yet of popular music,” said University of Reading evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel, who studies trends in human culture and wasn’t involved in the research. “Many commentators attempt to link eras of pop music to social and political changes, but this program does not rely on preconceptions. Rather it allows patterns to emerge from [musical] data.”

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker.

In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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