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.
    hazydavy
    The Crue were great. They set the course. Same with Guns 'n' Roses. It was the distillation and excesses that made 80's rock suck. Nothing wrong with a power ballad, but when everybody HAD to write one to satisfy the suits is when it became absurd. 70's rockers were never chained down that way. For every Cinderella you had your Poison. That's the way it went. In a just world, Ratt would have been the princes of the rock world.
    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.
    BwareDWare94
    About the only pop artists I can stand right now are fringe pop artists like John Mayer and The Fray. Not full on pop but still definitively fit in the genre.
    BwareDWare94
    insurgentsteve wrote: The next era of good rock bands needs to begin now!
    It already has. They're called Hurt, Alter Bridge, and RED.
    Pol-Pot-Smoker
    Btw, people dissing grunge musicians would probably like to have a word with Kim Thayil, Jerry Cantrell or Mike McCready. Just to name a few.
    Midnightoutlaw
    Abacus11 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. 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.
    if you knew anything about playing music you'd think that trixter and winger were miles far more talented than those depressed grunge artist. don't hate it till you try it
    MichaelScarn
    oh and the worst rock is when everybody loves rock? try the white album, and sgt peppers lonely hearts club band? idiot
    MichaelScarn
    oh so i guess GNR and van halen and aerosmith arent some of the greatest bands of all time, and slash, eddie van halen, and joe perry, just played "Simplistic" crap, sure chris cornell, major respect lost for you
    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!
    SilentReaction
    (sic)knot wrote: ...this isn't really big news, like UG, really? Everyone has there own set of opinions and I agree mainly with Cornell just not the 80's part. today people are selling out or using to much electronic stuff and not enuf instruments (linkin park) but thankfully soundgarden is not one of them
    that's the most retarded comment i have read, linkin park are using as much instruments as they have always used, just in a different style.
    higherworlds
    What an idiot, rock is not about showmanship, its about music that knows tone, melody, and talent, not hair fire, and the same shit over and over
    Abacus11 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. 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.
    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.
    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.
    DogdaySunrise
    Mass_debator wrote: I don't think he gets to say that after "Scream" quite frankly.
    This.
    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.
    jrcsgtpeppers
    I dont like 99% of pop music being made in the last 20 years. I enjoyed the backstreet boys and NSYNCH more than the artists that followed them. I dont hear any originality. Thats what music is about for me. Creativity. I dont hear it in the lyrics and most certainly dont hear it in the music. As for rock, what is rock these days? Foo fighters? All of their songs are upbeat sing alongs. I couldnt listen to them if you cut out the vocal tracks. Its hard for me to listen to a lot of the popular music these days. But im not saying the popular music before wasnt horrible too. Just not as bad. If you group hair metal and put it up against new pop. At least there was motley crue. What do we have now? Noone sticks out as any better than the rest.
    archangels
    I have one word for you, Mr. Cornell: Scream. As for anyone else that complains about the state of music now or in the past: Shut up.
    metalmaniac90
    The late 80's were the only time hard rock was popular? So I guess.... Led Zeppelin was never popular. Damn.
    Bezza27
    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.
    What's the other band then? :L
    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.
    Idiot Pineapple
    Protip: Using popular as a metric is meaningless with art Protip2: Your favorite old rock bands are pop music. Pop = popular. Millions of people know these bands and have bought their albums. Erego, they're pop music. Pop isn't a genre. That is all.
    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
    hihi7
    ermonski wrote: we need a Soundgarden - Pearl Jam - Alice in Chains tour. that will be a killer!
    Would be the best tour ever.
    zamboni757
    MichaelScarn wrote: oh so i guess GNR and van halen and aerosmith arent some of the greatest bands of all time, and slash, eddie van halen, and joe perry, just played "Simplistic" crap, sure chris cornell, major respect lost for you
    Aerosmith is a 70's band
    Abacus11
    PatVanHalen5150 wrote: Abacus11 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. 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. I wasn't referring to Soundgarden, I was referring to the overall sound of grunge. As I said, Soundgarden is one of 2 bands from the grunge era (the other being AIC) that I don't mind listening to. Jerry Cantrell & Kim Thayil are masters at their craft, and I give them all the respect in the world. As far as the hierarchy of that era (Namely Nirvana & Pearl Jam), to my ears, their material sounds bland, boring, and downright goddamn depressing. Once again, I don't listen to music to make me feel like crap. I listen to music to empower me.
    That's cool, I can understand that. None of the grunge era bands ever really depressed me though. I always thought of their music as more thought-provoking and interesting than depressing but to each their own. The hair metal stuff can be cool as background music or for a little nostalgia but after a song or two I can't stand it (for the most part).
    jmag
    Fuck this shit. Not so long ago this hypocrite was making music with Timbaland, now he's a musical purist.
    RamblinMan2450
    I'm glad I haven't been furiously screaming the same opinions of Chris Cornell here. Modern pop is complete crap. Half the people don't know how to sing, and use auto-tune, the other half are just straight up retarded. At least rock talks about stuff that matters. Pop is all party, and nothing else. What stands to reason is that the majority of people who listen to pop, is equivalent to the down trend of IQ's.
    Evan42881
    jrcsgtpeppers wrote: I dont like 99% of pop music being made in the last 20 years. I enjoyed the backstreet boys and NSYNCH more than the artists that followed them. I dont hear any originality. Thats what music is about for me. Creativity. I dont hear it in the lyrics and most certainly dont hear it in the music. As for rock, what is rock these days? Foo fighters? All of their songs are upbeat sing alongs. I couldnt listen to them if you cut out the vocal tracks. Its hard for me to listen to a lot of the popular music these days. But im not saying the popular music before wasnt horrible too. Just not as bad. If you group hair metal and put it up against new pop. At least there was motley crue. What do we have now? Noone sticks out as any better than the rest.
    You should listen to The Black Keys. They're a great band. Their newest album is kind of over produced though. Check out Magic Potion and Brothers,and you won't be sorry.
    BwareDWare94
    BigSpence wrote: BwareDWare94 wrote: insurgentsteve wrote: The next era of good rock bands needs to begin now! It already has. They're called Hurt, Alter Bridge, and RED. You mean I'm not the only RED fan on this site? =D
    Yeah, dude. I'm completely baffled by all the RED hatred on this site. Some people hate Christian artists even if they don't beat you over the head with their lyrics, I guess.
    Way Cool JR.
    The 80's frickin rocked! That was a magical decade for all types of music, especially Rock & Metal, IMO most of it was way ahead of it's time.
    Twofly
    What a douchebag hipocrite after makig that CD shaped coaster Scream
    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.
    Skuzzmo
    lul wrote: adele is overrated and she's fat
    Wow, how shallow are you?
    BigSpence
    BwareDWare94 wrote: insurgentsteve wrote: The next era of good rock bands needs to begin now! It already has. They're called Hurt, Alter Bridge, and RED.
    You mean I'm not the only RED fan on this site? =D
    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
    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].
    The1Legend1
    zamboni757 wrote: so is van halen for that matter
    Van Halen put out their debut album, Van Halen, in '78. They only had two albums from the 70's, but six in the 80's. Then, they had three in the 90's, and obviously one recently. Only 17% of their albums came out in the 70's, with the majority, 6, coming out in the 80's. I think this makes them an 80's band.
    Anjohl
    The 80's sucked? That's not what I remember. Slippery When Wet, Hysteria, Appetite for Destruction, Dr. Feelgood, Screaming for Vengeance, Back in Black? Hello? Love, love, love Cornell, but please, no.
    TheExterminator
    PatVanHalen5150 wrote: It was the "fun" decade for rock and saw the emergence of more than a handful of excellent hard rock/heavy metal bands.
    None of which are what he's talking about, by the sounds of it. He's talking about the MTV-created Pop Rock that people called Glam Metal, not legitimate 80's Rock and Heavy Metal.
    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.
    Randomrings
    For the most part I couldn't agree more. In a lot of ways, a lot of our pop-stars today are just female versions of glam bands. But now he's saying you have a better chance in today's rock scene. Didn't he also say in a different interview that rock is dead?
    TheHawkdaddy
    Its amazing how many people in the music industry don't seem to understand how it works. Its all clear channel and payola, get with it people. Its all public information.
    guitarWand
    who says we have to listen to contemporary commercial music anyway?Commercial music is just that,commercial.there's more great interesting music coming out now than ever before.Cornell,listen to some metal and underground rock,then get busy again.
    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.