Sometimes I find the sheer amount of music out there amazing.
Take metal, for example. It’s generally considered a somewhat fringe genre; not a whole lot of people listen to it. So you’d expect there to not be a whole helluvalot of metal bands. But, on the contrary, there are a great number. And they are quite diverse. The name “metal” is actually quite misleading; I don’t think it makes any sense to group everything called metal into one category. I would never, for example, listen to this voluntarily. I would rather listen to country or, even *shudder* rap. So what I listen to is really this one sub-genre of this one fringe genre. And yet there are dozens of bands that play the kind of music I listen to.
And I suspect this is true for a lot of other genres. I might see most kinds of rap as similar, but anyone who listens to rap probably draws a sharp distinction between their kind and the other kinds (I can’t give examples, I don’t know anything about rap). Same for electronic, country, folk, etc.
Cool as this sometimes seems, it seems somewhat disconcerting. If there’s nothing that everyone agrees to listen to, how can we say that anything has any kind of artistic merit? I tend to think some of the bands I listen to (not all of them, but some of them) are actually worth listening to, objectively – in other words, they are good art. But the same is doubtlessly true of a number of other people, all of whom listen to different mutually exclusive genres. So how do we decide what is truly meritorious? It seems like we no longer have people like the old classical composers, who everyone agrees are worthwhile. We just have a million different people singing various songs and no consensus on who’s better than whom.
I suppose it might be that, eventually, a few decades from now, there’ll be some idea of what current music is trash and what is decent. At least some more developed idea that what we have right now. But until then…