I started to write a long, rambling repy to cenaman's blog about the poor quality of pop today compared to the brilliance of yesteryear's music. I thought the bands that were picked to use as benchmarks for quality were unusual.
AC/DC, ZZ Top, and Metallica are all bands, that for me, went over the top of awesome and back down into mediocre.
I was a Texas kid in the 80s. I actually got to see the Deguello and El Loco tours. ZZ Top was my first concert in eighth grade. Imagine the heartbreak I felt watching them transform from Jesus Just Left Chicago and Waitin' on the Bus to TV Dinners and Rough Boys.
The first time I even heard a Metallica song was live. All I knew about them was my Mexican friends on the football team really seemed to like them. I saw them in San Antonio. The warm up band was a poser band like Krokus. Metallica was second. Then Ozzy was supposed to play for two hours at the end of the show. We went to see Ozzy and didn't give a shit who else was playing. When Metallica started playing, it was jaw dropping. In 1982, they were almost a perfect fit for my teen angst and mild meth addiction. If you could go back in time, show them all their fine documentary, Some Kind of Monster, in 1980s, they'd all pour gas over their heads and self immolate.
AC/DC isn't as extreme a case. They made a comeback for their Back in Black album, but after Bon Scott, it was kind of embarrassing. I don't know if the stomping around in the school uniforms with the turkey wattle kneck was a brilliant self parody or brain damaged obliviousness.
But as brilliant as this music was in the early 1980s, it wasn't really pop music. There's no way anything those bands did that was an analog to Beiber. In 1982, the top songs were by Olivia Newton John, John Cougar, and Eye of the Tiger by Survivor.