Classic music is undeniably great, and when asked to name their top five bands or singers, most people will name at least one artist who is not a contemporary performer. Classics are timeless and still enjoyed today, both by people who grew up with them and by young people.
What is it that makes classic music so great and so beloved across generations? What is it that makes classic music so genuinely enjoyable across time? Here are some possibilities:
People generally gravitate toward, prefer, and feel the most connection to the music they grew up with and listened to during their formative years. So no matter what decade you grew up in, the music that was popular when you were in high school or college is the music that you probably have stuck with and keep revisiting.
Familiarity, especially with the classics, can also come from music that our parents listened to that we remember from childhood and adopted as our own favorites as we were growing up. So you may have also found a connection with the music that your parents listened to at home or in the car. This familiarity gives us an instant connection that no modern music can compete with.
Classic music from when we were growing up also had more variety, and listeners were exposed to a wider array of music. Listening to the radio provided listeners with a broad assortment of music. In addition, classic genres were more broad than today’s music.
Most of today’s music is streamed, and streaming algorithms are built to deliver music that is similar to what the listener has chosen previously, so all of today’s music can start to sound the same. In addition, musical genres have become so niche today that if you choose a satellite radio station, you may only be hearing death metal or punk music, when in the past, you could listen to a general rock and roll station and hear all different types of rock, or just a general station and hear high quality music across genres.
Listening to many genres provides the opportunity to discover artists from many different genres, and the classics we grew up with are quality across genres. The variety of classic music is also obvious by the many different types of oldies artists performing today across all genres, from classic rock to jazz to swing.
Technology plays a huge role in the sound and content of modern music. While you would think that technology would give today’s artists an advantage and more opportunity for creativity, in fact, it seems to be limiting them.
Some of today’s artists rely on beats and computer generated melodies that they sing over, which limits the sound and feeling of the song. It also leads to less instruments in today’s music. Classic music is pure performance, with recorded singing and instruments, and without computer generated beats and Auto-Tune.
While there are certainly quality artists today, most people connect more deeply with classic music, probably based on the familiarity, variety, and the true music that it provides.