Keith Richards Says Pop Music Is "Rubbish": "There's Very Little Feel in It"

"They make it as cheap and as easy as possible and therefore it always sounds the same"

Photo: Raph_PH

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Sep 25, 2023

The Rolling Stones are releasing their first album of new material in 18 years next month, which is pretty exciting for a certain genre of people. Likewise, guitar legend Keith Richards reserves the right not to be excited by certain genres of music. Unsurprisingly British in his rejection of the rise in poptimism, the musician has deemed pop music as "rubbish."

In a new interview with The Telegraph, 79-year-old Richards admitted that he can't get down with the kids and their Billboard pop charts.

"I don't want to start complaining about pop music," he told journalist Neil McCormick, but couldn't resist: "It's always been rubbish. I mean, that's the point of it."

The guitarist explained, "They make it as cheap and as easy as possible and therefore it always sounds the same; there's very little feel in it," adding that he prefers to listen to music by people who are playing actual instruments: "That is, I don't like to hear plastic synthesized Muzak, as it used to be known, what you hear in ­elevators, which is now the par for the course."

Notions of authenticity have become a core tenet of music criticism — and rock has long been mythologized as this unbearably authentic genre, while pop represents the other side of the spectrum with its surface-level shallowness. More than any actual sonic differences, this seems to have become a key differentiator between the genres regardless of the fact that authenticity is evaluated across pretty much all musical styles (and people in general).

Speaking of, Richards is still as dismissive of hip-hop as ever. "I don't really like to hear people yelling at me and telling me it's music, a.k.a rap," he said. "I can get enough of that without ­leaving my house." Instead, he prefers to listen to a lot of blues, jazz and classical music.

Insisting on only some genres — which are rather arbitrary categorizations, by the way — having merit is perhaps limiting to one's relationship with music, but this Nobel Prize hopeful seems to think it something of a beast of burden.

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