Chris Cornell Slams Modern Pop, Eighties Rock

Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell has lamented the state of modern music, claiming that "Contemporary pop music couldn't be any worse than it is now."

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Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell has lamented the state of modern music, claiming that "Contemporary pop music couldn't be any worse than it is now." In an interview with the Sun newspaper, he pointed to Adele as the one bright spot in the current pop scene.

"They're actually songs and she can really sing. So obviously the biggest market still responds to a human being creating music."

Cornell doesn't see the situation as totally bleak though, claiming that good rock music benefits from an obstacle:

"I've always believed that rock music benefits from an obstacle. The worst rock is made when everybody loves rock, like in the late Eighties. That's the only time hard rock has been the biggest-selling genre of music and it was mostly crap. The Seattle scene was the antithesis of that. Soundgarden was very instrumental in creating that shift. We were one of the first bands to be held up and looked at, where the engines of commercial rock thought, This is the future. This band or bands like it can be selling millions of records'.

"A big reason grunge became so big so fast is because people were so sick of what was out there.It's the same thing now. You have a better chance of a very healthy and vital rock scene coming out today because there's something to react against."

The recently reunited Soundgarden, who debuted new song Live To Rise on the Avengers soundtrack back in April, are tentatively set to release a new LP later in the year.

In spite of his rock credentials, Chris Cornell is no stranger to the world of chart music. The singer dallied with pop on his 2009 LP Scream, which was produced by Timbaland. That record received mixed-to-negative reviews, with Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor attacking the disc as "embarrassing" on Twitter.

114 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    I would love to slam some of the modern pop, like Katy Perry... if you know what I mean.
    Baphometronic
    PatVanHalen5150 wrote: Agreed on the pop music, without question. However, even though Soundgarden is one of the 2 bands from the grunge era that I can listen to without getting the urge to kill someone, completely disagree on the 80s. It was the "fun" decade for rock and saw the emergence of more than a handful of excellent hard rock/heavy metal bands. I'd rather listen to fun and upbeat music than depressing & simplistic crap any day of the week.
    if you are calling Soundgarden simplistic, you arent listening to Soundgarden
    Virtuosofreak
    I think he meant Grunge in general,not exactly Soundgarden. He himself said tha he likes Soundgarden.
    Abacus11
    PatVanHalen5150 wrote: Agreed on the pop music, without question. However, even though Soundgarden is one of the 2 bands from the grunge era that I can listen to without getting the urge to kill someone, completely disagree on the 80s. It was the "fun" decade for rock and saw the emergence of more than a handful of excellent hard rock/heavy metal bands. I'd rather listen to fun and upbeat music than depressing & simplistic crap any day of the week.
    If you think that Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, The Melvins and Screaming Trees are "simplistic crap" compared to Warrant, Poison, Trixter and Winger you really need to get your ears checked.
    Virtuosofreak
    I think that you took this too seriously. You see,he didn't specify any bands. He just stated a fact. Grunge is mostly simplistic and depressing. Glam Metal/Hard Rock - not too complicated,but not THAT simplistic,and way more fun. Besides,Alice In Chains is not really Grunge. It's Heavy/Alternative metal.
    Kain Highwind
    Pol-Pot-Smoker wrote: PatVanHalen5150 wrote: Agreed on the pop music, without question. However, even though Soundgarden is one of the 2 bands from the grunge era that I can listen to without getting the urge to kill someone, completely disagree on the 80s. It was the "fun" decade for rock and saw the emergence of more than a handful of excellent hard rock/heavy metal bands. I'd rather listen to fun and upbeat music than depressing & simplistic crap any day of the week. 80's also saw the birth of post-punk... now THAT'S fun and upbeat music... lol
    Post-punk came from the 70s actually
    Gortorek
    ''Ive always believed that rock music benefits from an obstacle.'' - Good to see I'm not the only one recognizing this tendency. The 'triple threat' presented by sub-standard modern music consists of cut&paste production, misdirection through mismanagement and over glorified generic musicians. Hell, anybody who can surpass these three issues in their work has my utmost respect, regardless of the genre.
    SIEGE312
    After Soundgarden, not to mention the three albums with Audioslave, I think the guy's allowed one huge mistake album. And honestly I'd still prefer Scream over a good deal of the other pop music out today...
    ermonski
    we need a Soundgarden - Pearl Jam - Alice in Chains tour. that will be a killer!
    iljh
    I'm personally just tired of people bringing other types of music into the rock world. I don't care if Eminem is out there putting on his show, or if Lady Gaga is writing her next album, or if Justin Beiber likes Maiden, I don't care. It has nothing to do with rock. The people that buy those albums like that kind of music, and just because it's there isn't going to take away from Slipknot or Foo Fighters sales. The state of rock music has only itself to blame if it feels the need. The fact that there are a zillion rock bands that sound the same is the problem. The fact that bands have one or two huge hits on the radio and then die out when people get tired of hearing those songs. If rock artist want to bitch about music, they only need to bitch about rock music. OR they can shut up and try something original (although they'll get accused of selling out most likely, which is ridiculous) or just put some effort into making an awesome collection of songs people want to buy and hear over and over again. Stop blaming other people and genres. And I'll take 80's Metallica or Motley Crue over 90's Nirvana anyday.
    Iommianity
    Actually ****, Pearl Jam MORE depressing than Alice in Chains? Think about that for a second. More depressing than Alice in Chains. More depressing than songs about heroin abuse, being buried in one's shit, and having nothing to live for? And what's empowering? Songs about misogyny and even more drug use. Makes sense to me!
    Virtuosofreak
    If you think that Glam metal was just all about misogyny,sex,and drug abuse,then you don't really know anything about Glam metal. Yes,in general,it did use the cliche: "Sex,Drugs,and Rock'n'roll". But it was later,when it got bigger. And it wasn't that much because of the music,it was because some of the Glam metal musicians were either too crazy because of their success,either they didn't REALLY understand what drugs are,and what are the consequences. And,for the record,ONLY A PART of the musicians HAD A DRUG ADDICTION. Correct me,if I'm wrong,but the the original purpose of Glam metal was to create a different,fun kind of heavy metal,by using heavy metal & hard rock instrumentation,and borrowing some ideas from 70's glam rock and late-70's punk. Yeah,Warrant did put out a comparatively shitty single called "Cherry Pie",hich even Jani Lane thought of as being shit. Actually,if you dig deeper,then you'll see that Glam metal is not that shallow. There are plenty of love songs,that are REALLY honest/philosophical,like: Every Rose Got It's Thorn by Poison,You're All I Need by White Lion,Sweet Child O' Mine. Songs about personal experiences: You're All I Need,Kickstart My Heart,and Wild Side by Motley Crue, Dead Or Alive by Bon Jovi(even though it's more of simply a hard rock song,but it still counts 'cause Bon Jovi are/were Glam metal). Songs about hope,and making changes for the better,like: Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi,Time For Change by Motley Crue,and Stars by Hear'n'Aid Some philosophical/political songs,like: Wind Of Change by Scorpions,Little Fighter by White Lion,When The Children Cry by White Lion,Nobody's Fool by Cinderella,Civil War by G'N'R,Fallen Angel by Poison,Nothin' But A Good Time by Poison(it is not depressive at all,but still it ahs some philosophy about life in it) Just dig deeper,and you'll see.
    BwareDWare94
    lul wrote: adele is overrated and she's fat
    What the **** does that have to do with anything? Meat Loaf is ****ing obese. Weight has nothing whatsoever to do with talent. I'd be willing to guess this "fat" comment stems from your own lack of perfect physical condition. Christ.
    CollyOBrien
    dewitt wrote: It would be foolish to say that there was better pop music before, as the good stuff from the past is virtually all that gets remembered.
    I literally had a sentence very similar to this written when I noticed it above me. I'd say 90% of music from the 80's has been forgotten, but put a WHAM song on and my god watch me bounce around like an idiot...and I'm a metalhead!
    a drummer
    rockerwannabe wrote: I agree that the LATE 80's brought about a lot of posers and wannabes, ie Warrant and Poison, but they all had technical skills that far surpassed the other posers within 90's grunge. CC Deville could still tear up a neck (and subsequently some cheeseburgers, too) but with the exception of Pearl Jam and Thayil in Soundgarden, those grunge rockers were lame musicians. They made some good songs but almost a fluke.
    So Jerry Cantrell is a LAME musician?? You sir are retarded
    rockerwannabe
    I agree that the LATE 80's brought about a lot of posers and wannabes, ie Warrant and Poison, but they all had technical skills that far surpassed the other posers within 90's grunge. CC Deville could still tear up a neck (and subsequently some cheeseburgers, too) but with the exception of Pearl Jam and Thayil in Soundgarden, those grunge rockers were lame musicians. They made some good songs but almost a fluke.
    dewitt
    I think he's wrong about some of that, and less right about others. Sure, there was a lot of shitty music coming out in the late 80s, but I would argue that hard rock was still the most successful genre in the mid-to-late 90s. There were far worse things coming out then, if you ask me, but it all boils down to taste. As far as quality of material, the two time frames might actually be pretty damn comparable, preferences aside. But I don't think I agree about the pop music stuff, either. There has always been a plethora of horrible pop music. It's just that the style of it has changed. It would be foolish to say that there was better pop music before, as the good stuff from the past is virtually all that gets remembered. There is still decent pop music that comes out every now and then. You just have to find it, same as anything else. In 10-20 years, people will remember the better pop music of today, forget most of the garbage, and long for a return of the music of today. Now, if he were to say that rock music was worse today than it's ever been, in general, I might be inclined to agree with him.
    latinromans
    The main reason I don't like pop artists glam metal artists or really much any music that's made with lowest common denominator logic is that to make sure there songs sell and that the majority of people can enjoy them they usually stick to the same sounds again and again because they know those old tricks will always sound pretty nice and most industry's don't like risk. however it will be the bands that make you think and redefine what music can be in your mind that will hold real influence over future musicians, this music will forever be doomed to being fringe music because new stuff is generally an aquired taste and most people don't invest enough time in music to really understand material outside of their comfort zone, however dedicated musicians will over time become acquainted with this often confusing at first material and understand it and integrate those sounds into the next wave of accepted music.
    metalmaniac90
    The late 80's were the only time hard rock was popular? So I guess.... Led Zeppelin was never popular. Damn.
    PatVanHalen5150
    Agreed on the pop music, without question. However, even though Soundgarden is one of the 2 bands from the grunge era that I can listen to without getting the urge to kill someone, completely disagree on the 80s. It was the "fun" decade for rock and saw the emergence of more than a handful of excellent hard rock/heavy metal bands. I'd rather listen to fun and upbeat music than depressing & simplistic crap any day of the week.
    goingnowhere21
    I think calling rock music awful when everyone likes it is sort of narrow-minded. Just because songs are popular doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad. And to shun the entire 80's hard rock scene just because of that really is an unfair statement.
    PlayMeSomeFloyd
    goingnowhere21 wrote: I think calling rock music awful when everyone likes it is sort of narrow-minded. Just because songs are popular doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad. And to shun the entire 80's hard rock scene just because of that really is an unfair statement.
    Quite to the contrary, a song being popular may very well mean it's great. Sure there's plenty of manufactured crap that's advertised well enough to be crammed down the throat of today's youth. That's basically how most modern hip-hop/dance pop survives. But, a well written song is easily just as popular as long as it gets heard. Good melodies along with relatable lyrical content has always been the most popular thing in any style of music. Chris Cornell is entitled to his opinion, as well all are. But, just becuase he doesn't like a style of music does't necessarily mean it's total crap. Especially when you consider that this comes from a guy who's only really as good as whatever band is backing him up at the moment.
    Darth Wader
    Modern rock is pretty terrible now except for a few highlights: Foo Fighters, Gaslight Anthem, anything Jack White. It's the reason I have made a bunch of 90's rock playlists at work. The songs were just really good and always had great musical intros...though I think most of us long back 20 years in music (last decade had a lot of people longing for the 80's).
    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    rockerwannabe wrote: I agree that the LATE 80's brought about a lot of posers and wannabes, ie Warrant and Poison, but they all had technical skills that far surpassed the other posers within 90's grunge. CC Deville could still tear up a neck (and subsequently some cheeseburgers, too) but with the exception of Pearl Jam and Thayil in Soundgarden, those grunge rockers were lame musicians. They made some good songs but almost a fluke.
    Tell me a cock-rock drummer better than Sean Kinney of Alice in Chains and maybe we can start arguing.
    BigMikeBDD
    There's not much talent in today's pop, however, it dwarfs anything the rap genre has to offer today and that's pretty sad.
    swave75
    Pol-Pot-Smoker wrote: I would love to slam some of the modern pop, like Katy Perry... if you know what I mean.
    You are going to have to wait in line. That's my woman!
    Galfadez
    Why do people care about contemporary pop music? It's make for a market, if you're not in that market no one is going to force you to listen to it. There is heaps of good new music, but instead of going looking for it people just complain about the state of pop music.
    Armagedn
    Kain Highwind wrote: Motley Crue, Warrant, Ratt, Poison, Winger... ....Yeah, I agree with him on the 80s
    Hey, Warrant's good. Cherry Pie doesn't count, even THEY disowned that song. Check out Uncle Tom's Cabin by them.
    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    PatVanHalen5150 wrote: What's so funny? Listen to John Sykes' "Bad Boy Live" album.
    I actually know Aldrige's playing a lot, because Whitesnake is probably the only "glam" band I enjoy. I also listened to his stuff with Ozzy Osbourne during all my teenage years and he's nothing special. On the other hand, Morgenstein IS a great drummer, but his most impressive stuff is far away from being with Winger. But listen to Alice in Chains' "Dirt" if you never did. Sean's rhythm sense is out of this world.
    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    Kain Highwind wrote: Pol-Pot-Smoker wrote: PatVanHalen5150 wrote: Agreed on the pop music, without question. However, even though Soundgarden is one of the 2 bands from the grunge era that I can listen to without getting the urge to kill someone, completely disagree on the 80s. It was the "fun" decade for rock and saw the emergence of more than a handful of excellent hard rock/heavy metal bands. I'd rather listen to fun and upbeat music than depressing & simplistic crap any day of the week. 80's also saw the birth of post-punk... now THAT'S fun and upbeat music... lol Post-punk came from the 70s actually
    Yeah my mistake, forgot about Joy Division and PiL
    Sparky-MMA
    Gortorek wrote: ''Ive always believed that rock music benefits from an obstacle.'' - Good to see I'm not the only one recognizing this tendency. The 'triple threat' presented by sub-standard modern music consists of cut&paste production , misdirection through mismanagement and over glorified generic musicians. Hell, anybody who can surpass these three issues in their work has my utmost respect, regardless of the genre.
    look at most music in general, most have the same riffs for chorus' and verse's, a good producer can make a bands track sound perfect from getting the band to play 24 (verse, chrous, bridge) bars of music, the only person who has to perform the entire track is the vocalist and they'll have chorus' c&p'd all over the place, thats how music works. and how production works. most bands can't afford a long studio session, so they cut corners and play minimal music to make the record.
    MoJo-EaTeR
    Kain Highwind wrote: Motley Crue, Warrant, Ratt, Poison, Winger... ....Yeah, I agree with him on the 80s
    Motley debuted in the early 80's, '81 to be exact. In my personal opinion, and I'll probably get slammed for this, they are in the top 5 of what came out of the 80's.
    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    And just WTF, Nirvana is probably one of the "happier" bands I've ever listened to. Territorial Pissings puts a smile on my face. Speaking of Sean Kinney, Alice in Chains is actually far more "depressing" than Nirvana or Pearl Jam together.
    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    PatVanHalen5150 wrote: Agreed on the pop music, without question. However, even though Soundgarden is one of the 2 bands from the grunge era that I can listen to without getting the urge to kill someone, completely disagree on the 80s. It was the "fun" decade for rock and saw the emergence of more than a handful of excellent hard rock/heavy metal bands. I'd rather listen to fun and upbeat music than depressing & simplistic crap any day of the week.
    80's also saw the birth of post-punk... now THAT'S fun and upbeat music... lol
    Rick_Diculous
    Chris Cornell is 100% correct although that new Soundgarden song, "Live to Rise" is awful.
    hihi7
    ermonski wrote: we need a Soundgarden - Pearl Jam - Alice in Chains tour. that will be a killer!
    Would be the best tour ever.
    wylde1994
    You have a better chance of a very healthy and vital rock scene coming out today because theres something to react against.
    This is actually quite a good point, and i sooo hope it happens
    Swannie
    "Contemporary pop music couldnt be any worse than it is now." The singer dallied with pop on his 2009 LP Scream, which was produced by Timbaland.
    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    Not to mention crazy tempo breaks and fills, and all that stuff. But seriously, there's no point in comparing musicians, I'll leave that for the 12-year olds (my mistake, sorry), but the grunge musicians are far away from being "lame". Also, making music is not about skill anyway, is about what you can do with what you got, so I rest this case here.
    beau05
    Pol-Pot-Smoker wrote: Also, making music is not about skill anyway, is about what you can do with what you got, so I rest this case here.
    Also, If all you've got to work with is Sebastian Bach-esque vocals, big hair, and a guitarist playing a lime green Charvel? Then so be it
    shreddymcshred
    Adele is not special. She's just like every other choir singing diva to come before her. Also, plenty of pop singers can sing really well. Whether or not their songs have substance is another story.
    mikel123
    Just saw Chris on the songbook tour... hands down the greatest voice I've ever heard for 2+ hours. A masterclass in solo acoustic performance. Talk about soul... as a singer its kinda depressing to see him wail like that with every color at any range so easily without breaking a sweat. He's as authentic as it gets, there's no b.s cheesiness in his songs. You're never going to see geographically isolated cities again that sprawl with a new kind of rock music. Like San Francisco in the 60's with the counterculture movement, Britain in the 60's, New York and Boston in the 70's, San Francisco again in the late 70's early 80's bay area, LA in the 80's, Seattle in the 90's. That was the last. I think one of the reasons has to do with how everything is so interconnected today and everyone around the world is exposed to the same exact thing... What we call "grunge" developed and grew in Seattle for quite a few years before the huge bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam became the biggest thing in the 90's. Just like the bay area with thrash and LA with glam. In biological terms there is no habitat fragmentation. Everyone in every city around the world is hearing the same thing. Which is bad for groundbreaking music to thrive.
    limpidgreen345
    Jeepers crimeny, not again. Modern music sucks... back in my day [classic band/artist #1] and [classic band/artist #2] were huge but now all you have is crap like [popular band/artist #1] and [popular band/artist #2]. People ought to start listening to [obscure band/artist #1] and [obscure band/artist #2].
    DexterF
    Mass_debator wrote: I don't think he gets to say that after "Scream" quite frankly.
    Well, "Scream" was a lot different in ways, it just, well, sucked. Experimenting is one thing, but still salami and whipped cream dont mix.