The Monogenre and its Effects on Pop

Why do your parents always say everything new “sounds the same”

Lorde was one of the earliest signs of the Monogenre’s growth

Wikimedia Commons

Lorde was one of the earliest signs of the Monogenre’s growth

Music, especially pop, has and will always be engulfed in cliche. The I-V-vi-IV chord progression, vocal fry, and even something as simple as a song about a song is steeped in the history of music. But more and more as time goes on from the 2010s to now, there is a certain simplification of popular music that shows constraints to get on the Top 20 of the Billboard 100. But why now in the age of streaming does music become so amalgamated, and what has created what is referred to as the “mono genre”?

Defining the mono genre is difficult, but to put it as simply as possible, it is the current dominant genre of music that tries to combine multiple styles of music at once. An easy example would be Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”, which combined countryesque instrumentals with rap’s lyrical stylings. Others would include pop’s takeover of EDM’s drop or most popular country songs including a popular rapper or pop singer (a la Florida Georgia line’s “Cruise”). Recently those influences have become more subtle, mixing the styles instead of holding them up separately in one song like R&B’s resurgence inside of what would typically be more loud and abrasive pop hits.

The reasoning behind this shift to “one genre to rule them all” has two arguments: more accessible access to all forms of music or access to free producing technology; at the same time, recent generations have had far more influence from different genres and it would make sense to take bits and pieces from each to create your voice. As Chris Deville in his article “Deconstructing: HAIM, Lorde, And The Monogenre” says,

“Years of overflowing hard drives, the limitless feeding frenzy of online streaming, and the death of the guilty pleasure could only result in a generation of music that crossbreeds disparate styles.”

There is also a less artistic and more economical answer for the shift: to try and grab as many demographics as possible, to have a grab bag of cliches that people can attach themselves to in any song. Both are true, the rise of indie music and the possibilities of unsigned artists show that there are musicians who used their musical resources to their fullest, but it’s also true that labels have used the increase in listener base of all genres to their advantage and that the perversion of the mono genre has to lead to uninteresting music. The mono genre is a blessing and a curse for the current music industry as it promotes diversity and crushes it under the widest net possible for pop.

The mono genre is a fact, it’s here to stay and will be affecting the upper echelons of music for a while, but it is hard to say that is purely a bad thing, it is always good to combine and separate and experiment with music and the mono genre is just an evolution of the experimentation that thousands of artists have used to find their sound.