2011 goes pop

The music climate is as frigid as the business
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  December 20, 2011

HELLO GOODBYE The age of the carefully nurtured album artist is over — seeya later, Kreayshawn!

The Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" alludes to eras of upheaval and tumult. But what if that tumult happens too slowly to seem interesting? Cultural crank James Howard Kunstler coined a term for our times, "The Long Emergency," as we all sense a steady decline without feeling the thunk! of the trapdoor opening beneath us. What is true of financial derivatives and peak oil production may also hold for pop music, as the entire business tanks, but so gradually that each shift is almost imperceptible. Shrinking major labels, plummeting sales, shuttered brick-and-mortar record stores — the artists at the top of the charts get there with fewer fans, and society shrugs at music as a star-making entity. At the close of two-oh-one-one, on the gentle slope of the precipice to oblivion, the goings-on in music remain interesting, even if fewer people care than ever before. Here are 10 of this year's more fascinating trends in song.

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  Topics: Music Features , Music, Singles, year in review,  More more >
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