At a party a few years ago, an acquaintance complained that there was no good music at that time. He listened to commercial radio but didn't really like anything he heard. Sorry, but that's like saying that all restaurants are terrible when you only go to McDonald's. Commercial radio is convenient and they expend lots of effort marketing it to make you even more aware of it. So if you want to uncover music that's more intriguing, more flavorful, as it were, you'll have to expend your own effort to find it. Listen to the non-commercial radio stations that lack huge marketing budgets. Stay up late to catch the commercial radio programs that air after they stop measuring audience for ad revenue. Buy a CD just because a friend or critic whose taste you respect recommends it.
The fact is, there will always be popular music that sucks. In particular,
almost any song will be annoying if overplayed. I even liked "Mambo No. 5"
before two out of three Vegas lounge acts were covering it. Times when there
is good or bad music really just equate to times when you could hear great
music without even thinking about it or when you really had to root around
to find something good.
For example, when Moby was touring in support of Play, he joked about
revisiting 1987 by playing some hair metal riffs. But that wasn't what 1987
sounded like to me. I realized that I suppressed those memories. For me,
1987 sounded like Julian Cope, That Petrol Emotion and New Order and first
discovering Iggy Pop and the Replacements. I specifically remember blasting
That Petrol Emotion's Manic Pop Thrill on the car stereo trying to
drown out the Bon Jovi coming from the next car over. Doing my own small
part to make good music easier to hear.