If you were making music in the ’80s (I had a 4-track reel-to-reel in my bedroom with one Radio Shack mic, a Roland keyboard, and a Roland drum machine) you will recognize almost all of these sounds immediately. Thanks to Tara Busch on Twitter for pointing me to this wonderful collection of overused sounds.
It’s interesting: even though the sounds/patches/loops are all horribly overused, I find that they still work. Think about Phil Collins’ gated drum sounds (credited to Peter Gabriel for originating the sound): “Take A Look at Me Now” is beautiful pop ballad fodder, and it resonates with people, or else it wouldn’t have been a top-ten hit. So of course people are going to imitate that sound.
Yesterday in the studio we had a discussion about whether it was good to “surprise” people with the songwriting and sounds, or conform to people’s expectations in pop music. Since we are dealing with pop/country/rock, we decided to conform to expectations. We cut a 2/4 measure out of the chorus, opting to stay in 4/4 throughout the whole song. Was that the right decision? I don’t know, but I know what I hear on the radio, and we’re recording both for the joy of music as well as the possibility of making some money; and what makes money is conforming to people’s expectations.