I can say with only a minimal amount of hyperbole that this may very well in fact be the worst year for music since the turn of the millennium. Worse than 2013, worse than 2007 even.
I understand that this is an enormously subjective statement, but I cannot imagine anyone coming up with a good counter argument simply because of the fact that I am speaking not only of quality, but of quantity. There’s just no music.
Where are the big name mainstream releases? Where are the big name indie releases? Where are the hyped up underground artists with cult followings? It’s scary how little has emerged so far in 2023 and how little is on the horizon.
It’s baffling because for the first time in many years, January gave the world a legitimate hit: Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers”. An actual ubiquitous single in this day and age, at the beginning of the year no less? A miracle.
The problem was that it’s not a very good song in the least bit. It’s a banal slice of repetitive landfill pop and entirely unexpected from Cyrus. After spending a large part of the last decade attempting to position herself as an authentic rocker and songwriter, she has her first giant hit in that same decade by returning to the bland adult-contemporary drivel she built a name on? When the rock aesthetic has actually returned to the spotlight? The irony is palpable. It’s like she wants to fail.
The only other song that has even remotely crossed into everyday dialogue is Jack Black’s rote contribution to the Super Mario Brothers movie, “Peaches”. Fuelling a Reddit glee storm, the ballad is a mediocre piece of music and has thrived solely on the OMG AWESOMESAUCE factor that it’s eligible for an Academy Award.
And then we have the start of festival season with Coachella, which has turned into a faceless melee of unknown artists. For all his notoriety, Bad Bunny has yet to release an actual recognizable hit, and yet he’s a headliner.
I fully admit that I’m not familiar with about 80% of the lineup, and that’s the exact problem I’m pointing to. Why are these absolute nobodies getting spots at one of the biggest music festivals in the world yet not getting any attention in any music publications?
You’ve got Charli XCX and Porter Robinson in the second line. Two never-weres who were pushed relentlessly 10 years ago and failed to make any sort of waves are now – simply by virtue of being around for so long – getting these spots. I’m surprised Rita Ora isn’t on here. If the bulk of the acts is less popular than these examples, we really are in rough waters.
boygenius, the supposed “supergroup”, is a name I recognize because I have had it constantly paraded around in front of me since the beginning of the year. One of the only event records of the year so far, boygenius’ debut is tepid, inoffensive, and devastatingly overrated. There are a few pleasant hooks strewn across the album, but it is for the most part a bland coffeeshop listen without a hint of grit or distinction.
At the very least it’s better than the new album from the National.