Skip to main content
We know it's a cliché, we know the rules, but we can't help it anyway. Photo: Hanny Naibaho (Unsplash)
We know it's a cliché, we know the rules, but we can't help it anyway. Photo: Hanny Naibaho (Unsplash)
mbx -

TOP 5 Inevitable Music Clichés

Clichés are an inevitable guilty pleasure of almost every musician or music aficionado. We can rage, we can criticize them, we can despise them, we can even identify them. However, nothing will change the fact that clichés seem to stay with us forever. At least, as long as we are willing to accept them as an inseparable (and sometimes enjoyable) part of the music business.  

1. Harmony Changes

ABBA or Beatles, Bon Jovi or Journey, "Let It Go" with Elsa or Taylor Swift, just move the harmony about one tone higher and observe the audience's tears, rising emotions and goosebumps all around. Of course, we always know what's going on, we're experts, we might even exchange ironic looks... only to get our hearts beating faster, faces blushing and defending our dignity when tears are about to flow. We know it's a cliché, we know the rules, but we can't help it anyway. The change of harmony simply works its magic and it'll probably stay in the music world for some time.

2. Cringe

A pop song featuring a recognized rapper or MC, metal with a dubstep section or a weird combination of music styles? Welcome to the world of driven, ambitious artists who show poor taste and choose to devalue their artistic integrity in the name of a shallow vision of popularity. Why do some individuals or bands need to ruin a decent song with wannabe-cool elements and surprises? Do you remember the time when it felt almost like an obligation to feature machine-gun-fast rap blabber by Nicky Minaj in every pop tune? Or Skrillex headbanging with his fellow metalheads during a dubstep breakdown? Something got in fashion and suddenly it's ubiquitous. As if you put ketchup over any food, just because you like it and it is full of sexy preservatives.

3. Synths All Around

Do you want to be taken seriously in today’s music business? Do you want to sound fresh and contemporary? Then you must use synths extensively and frequently, regardless of genre. Also, get your production to an immaculate level of perfection. Hi-hats are glittering and shimmering; vocals are pitch-perfect as if to eliminate any human trace in them; the bass is lingering in sub frequencies like at a rave party; drums are heavy with compression, with the kick beating like a hammer while the snare is duly replaced by claps. The first synthesizers were supposed to be a great artistic enhancement, enriching the audio escapades of alternative artists in the vein of Kraftwerk. Synths were also used by some obscure modern composers almost as a scientific music experiment. Now, they are uncompromising rulers, cruel and omnipresent despots of the music industry. My children can no longer listen to songs with the natural sound of electric or acoustic guitars, bass, drums or unprocessed vocals. It feels to them like a trip to a fossil museum.

4. Next Door Neighbor 

Wasn't it cute when Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett from Metallica played some local tune to please the crowd in a particular city or country? Doesn’t it make you happy when your favorite singer says in a broken foreign language: "Hello, Prague! We love you!" Of course, it only works if he is not in Berlin at that moment, doesn’t it? Something similarly embarrassing happened to Bruce Springsteen (nicknamed Boss as it comes naturally with his charismatic personality), who addressed the crowd in Cleveland: "Party noises, Pittsburgh!" Maybe it added some scratches on his long-built image of a man of the people, friendly neighbor, blue-collar dude. Although this is a really popular and overused cliché, we are still sympathetic and grateful that music celebrities are making an effort and trying to at least learn to pronounce the name of the city they're playing that night. It warms the hearts of the locals and adds a warm sense of belonging (at least for the concert time).

5. Sex, Sexy, Sexiest

This cliché is really strong as it has been here forever and will probably stay with us for the same amount of time. You can fight for any gender or minority rights as fiercely as you want, but the audience desires naked skin. Aren't we all a bit hypocritical when it comes to sexual behavior and imagination? We can't help our desire to watch the objects of our interest wearing provocative outfits or tempting our imagination with various ludicrous photoshoot positions. How many times have you clicked on a photo or a video which showed you the desired piece of a naked body leading you to unnecessary procrastination? Sex sells. Sexy clichés and sexy people will remain in the music industry. As long as we can't tame our animal instincts. Roar!

What music cliché did we forget to mention here? Let us know in the comment section below the article.

Tagy TOP 5 cliche music business

If you have found an error or typo in the article, please let us know by e-mail

Marek Bero
Bass Gym 101 books, touring & session bass player, football tactics aficionado.