While a lot of people complain about contemporary music as adults (preferring the music they grew up with) this theory of the case doesn't seem to apply to millennials, according to a new study, which reveals the demographic to overwhelmingly recognize music from the 1960s through to 2000, with a precipitous dip in recognizing anything released later.
Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0
You hear a lot of complaints about music today being too computerized, repetitious, lyrically vapid, and/or lacking melody. I've always believed that each era has its own music that garners the same complaints (except for the computer "on-the-grid" part). It gets criticized when it's new and revered when it becomes a golden oldie. That said, it's long been known that each generation favors the music that it grows up with, but that doesn't seem to be the case with millennials.
Researchers from New York University tested a group between the age of 18 and 25 on their ability to recognize hit records from different decades. They found that they remembered songs from the 1960s up until the year 2000. Song recognition and memory decreased rapidly after that time period.
Each participant was presented with short excerpts from a random selection of 7 out of 152 songs and asked if they recognized them. The songs included Billboard #1s from between 1940 and 2015.
There was a steep drop-off after 2000, and a gradual drop-off for songs of the 50s and 40s.
The study also stated, "Unexpectedly a strong correlation was seen between the likelihood of recognizing a song and its play count on Spotify." So in other words, the more we hear something, the more we tend to like and remember it.
One factor could be that millennials listened to a lot of their parent's music when growing up, maybe more of it with more diverse selections than in previous generations. Maybe music today isn't as good because general musicianship is less prized than in years passed. After all, the fix-it capabilities of a digital audio workstation can do wonders for a mediocre performance.
You have to wonder what music catalogs of current hits are going to be worth in the future. If no one knows the songs when they're hot, how will they remember them years later?