Author Topic: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?  (Read 796 times)

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Online WildRanger

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Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« on: June 11, 2018, 01:21:20 PM »
This genre of rock music often gets a 'pretentious' tag?
Why? Why talented bands who tend to make music that is on a higher musical level are sometimes criticized for their musical ambitions?

Offline MirrorMask

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 01:26:39 PM »
Because sometimes - at times it's an unfair perception, at times it's accurate - the general public perceives that the talent is not there to serve the song, but the other way around. That a song does not work properly because it's just an excuse to show off how someone is cool with his instruments.

Also the themes of the concept albums can sound pretentions, when a story line is too much intricated or philosophical.... sometimes prog bands give the impression that Leonardo DiCaprio gives in Revenant: great performance, sure, but damn, you're trying too hard.
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Offline Parama

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 01:31:48 PM »
because a two hour concept album with over 30 songs that uses its story to stroke its own ego and pretend it's the pinnacle of art is pretentious as hell, lol

Offline pg1067

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 01:44:34 PM »
Because progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form, whereas many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects.
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Offline Stadler

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2018, 02:02:35 PM »
Because progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form, whereas many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects.

You say that like it's such a bad thing... and to be fair, I thought someone would have said it a lot earlier.   

I don't think the two are related (Prog elevating as an art form; listeners perhaps wanting something with less effort).   I often fall into the latter category.   I've been sad ever since John Wetton died; I LOVED that man's music, and he is one of the very few celebrities who's death really impacted me... and yet I'll take the first Asia album and Icon:Zero (the poppiest of the Wetton/Downes catalogue) because it touches me the most emotionally.   

Plenty of prog does it for me - the live "In The Cage" medly on 3SL is my favorite moment of recorded music ever - but I want different things at different times.  None is inherently better than others.   I think, though, it's the same reason that engineers like math and precision and rules, and, say, painters like colors and impressions and no boundaries, but we ALL feel love in some form or fashion.   I think prog is a music that perhaps has a less universal feel than some other types of music that are more emotionally driven. 

As much as I love prog, I am far more fascinated by and respectful of a piece of music that touches millions of people.   I really like Fripp's playing on Fracture, but Yesterday is a phenomenon to me.  I've seen Crimson five times and never seen anyone cry; I stood on the floor at a McCartney show and when he played Yesterday there were easily 10 people in eyesight of me (including me, by the way) with tears coming down their faces.  That to be is awesome.   

Offline pg1067

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2018, 03:32:01 PM »
Because progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form, whereas many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects.

You say that like it's such a bad thing... and to be fair, I thought someone would have said it a lot earlier.

Earlier than 23 minutes after the original post went up?

I simply explained why I think some folks call progressive music pretentious.  I don't agree with it.  Nor am I making any value judgment about any of it and am particularly not suggesting that any type of music is, in any way, "better than" any other type of music.  To the extent the rest of your post can be summarized as "proggier isn't necessarily better," I'd agree, but I'm not entirely sure what that has to do with the issue raised by the OP.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 05:02:40 PM by pg1067 »
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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2018, 03:54:17 PM »
I think part of it has to do with the fact that some prog fans make it come off as pretentious.  Not saying that about anyone here, but I think many of us have met someone who doesn't like pop music because it's too simple and basic and have made that opinion forcibly known on people who do like the pop music.

Offline wolfking

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2018, 04:57:09 PM »
Becasue those that say that are shit at their instruments or can't play one and are jealous of the bands technically abilities and creativity. 

It's also that a large majority of the himan race have brains the size of peanuts and have the attention spans of a flea, so something like prog is instantly dismissed because it's not a 3 minute song with a 4/4 beat that they can listen to and don't have to think about as it's not too much for their pathetic little minds.

Offline Adami

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2018, 05:00:04 PM »
Becasue those that say that are shit at their instruments or can't play one and are jealous of the bands technically abilities and creativity. 

It's also that a large majority of the himan race have brains the size of peanuts and have the attention spans of a flea, so something like prog is instantly dismissed because it's not a 3 minute song with a 4/4 beat that they can listen to and don't have to think about as it's not too much for their pathetic little minds.

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Offline ChuckSteak

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2018, 05:19:02 PM »
What I find interesting is who are the people that call prog "pretentious". Ask them what kinds of music they listen to. After they answer you, you will understand why they call prog pretentious.

For me, calling something pretentious just implies that you don't understand it. It shows your frustration and confusion. As if the person somehow felt offended by it or made inferior by it. A true answer would be: "I don't like this kind of music", and that would be perfectly fine.

I won't come here and say that some prog doesn't go too far and isn't complex for the sake of it. But I wouldn't call that pretentious. I just don't like it, period.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 05:24:51 PM by ChuckSteak »

Offline KevShmev

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2018, 05:59:28 PM »
Because many people are stupid.

Offline Lethean

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2018, 11:31:24 PM »
What I find interesting is who are the people that call prog "pretentious". Ask them what kinds of music they listen to. After they answer you, you will understand why they call prog pretentious.

For me, calling something pretentious just implies that you don't understand it. It shows your frustration and confusion. As if the person somehow felt offended by it or made inferior by it. A true answer would be: "I don't like this kind of music", and that would be perfectly fine.

I won't come here and say that some prog doesn't go too far and isn't complex for the sake of it. But I wouldn't call that pretentious. I just don't like it, period.

Is it possible to agree with both Stadler and wolfking at once?  Because I kinda feel like I do. :)  Either way - I think Chuck is onto something with this post and I definitely agree.

Offline mike099

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2018, 03:37:48 AM »
because a two hour concept album with over 30 songs that uses its story to stroke its own ego and pretend it's the pinnacle of art is pretentious as hell, lol

I wonder which album you are talking about? ;D
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Online ozzy554

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2018, 08:54:46 AM »
I think because for the most part the most vocal people of fanbases can suck. Especially in youtube comment sections people can come off as snobby pretentious dicks and that can give a bad impression of the genre to some people.

Offline Stadler

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2018, 10:42:17 AM »
Because progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form, whereas many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects.

You say that like it's such a bad thing... and to be fair, I thought someone would have said it a lot earlier.

Earlier than 23 minutes after the original post went up?

I simply explained why I think some folks call progressive music pretentious.  I don't agree with it.  Nor am I making any value judgment about any of it and am particularly not suggesting that any type of music is, in any way, "better than" any other type of music.  To the extent the rest of your post can be summarized as "proggier isn't necessarily better," I'd agree, but I'm not entirely sure what that has to do with the issue raised by the OP.

I'm sorry; I wasn't digging at you.   I just sort of bristle at the notion that somehow pop songs are "dumber" blah blah blah.  I think different music serves different purposes.  I probably shouldn't have said anything.

Offline pg1067

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2018, 12:04:03 PM »
Because progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form, whereas many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects.

You say that like it's such a bad thing... and to be fair, I thought someone would have said it a lot earlier.

Earlier than 23 minutes after the original post went up?

I simply explained why I think some folks call progressive music pretentious.  I don't agree with it.  Nor am I making any value judgment about any of it and am particularly not suggesting that any type of music is, in any way, "better than" any other type of music.  To the extent the rest of your post can be summarized as "proggier isn't necessarily better," I'd agree, but I'm not entirely sure what that has to do with the issue raised by the OP.

I'm sorry; I wasn't digging at you.   I just sort of bristle at the notion that somehow pop songs are "dumber" blah blah blah.  I think different music serves different purposes.  I probably shouldn't have said anything.

Good...now go sit in the corner and think about what you've done!

J/K....it's all good.  Pop songs are, by nature and design, simpler, but as mentioned, that doesn't make them dumber or less worthy or anything like that.  The fact that some prog artists and fans think otherwise is probably what triggers some of the "pretentious" backlash.
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Offline Ninjabait

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2018, 04:30:24 PM »
because a two hour concept album with over 30 songs that uses its story to stroke its own ego and pretend it's the pinnacle of art is pretentious as hell, lol

I wonder which album you are talking about? ;D

Consequences by Godley & Cream?

And to answer the original question, a lot of people see prog as being pretentious because, well, there's a lot of really pretentious prog bands and albums out there. ELP is a bit pretentious for trying to rockify classical pieces, Genesis was a bit pretentious with Peter Gabriel wearing costumes on stage, Yes was a bit pretentious for making an album of four 20-minute songs based entirely around a footnote in an obscure religious text, Godley & Cream was pretentious for making a 3LP concept album about...actually, I still have no clue what it's about, etc. All the prog bands that quote classical pieces without really thinking about if it serves the music or if it makes any sense are pretentious. The constant concept albums about nothing really in particular are pretentious. The obscure thesaurus vomit lyrics are pretentious. Heck, prog bands are even a bit aware of this at times. Thick as a Brick was a parody of a lot of the things I mentioned here. Prog isn't inherently pretentious, but it sure does a LOT of pretentious things and those things are what it's known for.

Which, by the way, is not something unique to prog. There are a lot of genres of music that are named after terms critics used to insult those genres. Emo and Baroque classical are two examples that instantly spring to mind. I mean, even the term "Gothic" was an insult at first.

It also doesn't help matters that progheads (and metalheads too actually) tend to be a bit pretentious. They tend to hold their music up on a pedestal above everything else and berate every other genre and the fans of those genres for being "inferior" to them. And if reading fan review of prog are any indication, there's a lot of psuedo-intellectual peacocking that goes around. The amount of pretentious, nonsensical gibberish I've read in non-professional prog reviews is actually kind of hilarious.

So, basically: it's because the fans try to act like they're superior to everyone else and the bands tend to do goofy things completely seriously.

Because progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form, whereas many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects.

Yeah, except that's not true at all. There's a lot of "high artistic statements" in pop music that are a) really popular, and b) well-liked. Recent examples off the top of my head include Beyonce's Lemonade, Frank Ocean's Blonde, Lorde's Melodrama, Green Day's American Idiot, My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade, and so on. Heck, bands like Muse and Radiohead are incredibly popular and they try to do stuff like this all the time. Not to mention that DSotM is one of the best selling and best loved albums of all time.

And yes, I understand that you're playing devil's advocate here.

Becasue those that say that are shit at their instruments or can't play one and are jealous of the bands technically abilities and creativity. 

It's also that a large majority of the himan race have brains the size of peanuts and have the attention spans of a flea, so something like prog is instantly dismissed because it's not a 3 minute song with a 4/4 beat that they can listen to and don't have to think about as it's not too much for their pathetic little minds.

*human *Because

Also, again, everything said here is also completely untrue. A lot of pop musicians can play REALLY well, they just don't show off all the time. Prince was really well-known for his guitar playing, there are stories about Adele one-shotting songs in recordings sessions without wavering from the pitch, most pop singers can play two or three instruments, and don't even get me started on The Wrecking Crew. Besides, I doubt every prog fan out there is a grand virtuoso. Or a lot of them can even play decently.

First: thanks for proving my above point about progheads being pretentious and biased against other genres. Second, nothing you've said is true. Again. A far as I know, there is no proven correlation between intelligence and musical preference outside of stupid online quizzes and forum posts (interestingly, though, there are correlations between preference and age/gender, extroversion/introversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, open mindedness, and conscientiousness). Second, pop songs have been slowly getting longer over the years. Yes, seriously. In the 50s and 60s, most pop songs were less than 3 minutes long. Now, they strike in the 4-5 minute range. Third, not all pop songs are in 4/4. Shocker, I know. And even more of a shocker: most prog songs are primarily in 4/4. Even with Dream Theater, a super-majority of their music is mostly in 4/4. Ain't nothin' wrong with 4/4, it's called "common time" for a reason.

Offline pg1067

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2018, 05:28:15 PM »
Because progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form, whereas many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects.

Yeah, except that's not true at all. There's a lot of "high artistic statements" in pop music that are a) really popular, and b) well-liked. Recent examples off the top of my head include Beyonce's Lemonade, Frank Ocean's Blonde, Lorde's Melodrama, Green Day's American Idiot, My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade, and so on. Heck, bands like Muse and Radiohead are incredibly popular and they try to do stuff like this all the time. Not to mention that DSotM is one of the best selling and best loved albums of all time.

Not true at all?  Let's break it down:

"Progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form."  That's not true?  Certainly nothing you wrote rebuts that statement.  Do you really believe this not to be true?  In answering this question, note my use of the word "tries," which implies that it is not always successful.

"Many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music."  I broke down the second part of my dichotomy into two parts, but really the entirety of the second part was focused on what "consumers of pop/rock music" are and aren't seeking, and your assertion that there are "a lot of 'high artistic statements' in pop music that are a) really popular, and b) well-liked" (two terms which, as far as I can tell, mean exactly the same thing) doesn't rebut what I wrote.

When I used the term "many," I obviously meant some number less than all, and by also using the parenthetical "possibly even a majority," I was clearly implying that "many" could easily be some percent of "consumers of pop/rock music" less than 50%.

You seem to have interpreted what I wrote as some sort of attack on popular music.  It was anything but.  Remember that the OP's inquiry was why "many people" call "prog rock" "pretentious."  My response was an attempt to offer an opinion about why those persons who do characterize "prog rock" in that way (and I think we can all agree that this does occur) do what they do.  Because the inquiry is why these persons do this, the focus of my response was on those people and no on popular music.  I have personally had discussions with folks who view progressive music as "pretentious," and it is my observation that the persons who feel this way "are not seeking high artistic statements from their music."

So how exactly is any of this wrong?

"and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects."  I separated this part of my response out because it could be interpreted as a stab at pop music, but let's look at it closer.  First of all, as noted above, we're talking about the people who refer to "prog rock" as "pretentious" and considering why those people do that.  I believe it to be true that such persons are far more interested in "simple" pop music than pop music that is, itself, on the more complex side of things (whether musically or lyrically).

Now let's look at what you wrote:

"There[] [are] a lot of 'high artistic statements' in pop music."  I completely agree (to the extent that we can agree on what "high artistic statements" means).

Of the "recent examples" you cited, the only one with which I have any familiarity is "The Black Parade," and that's only because that song was used as the theme song for the Los Angeles Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run.  Are the lyrics a "high artistic statement"?  I honestly can't say because I never analyzed them to any great extent, but I'm perfectly happy to assume they are.  The music certainly isn't anything special, except that it is evocative and emotional (as is the singer's delivery).  However, this simply illustrates the point I made elsewhere in this thread that there's a lot of really good pop music.  As an aside, I'm not entire sure how "popular" this song or band is because I don't think I've ever heard of either outside of the hockey context I mentioned.

And no, I wasn't playing devil's advocate.
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Offline Anguyen92

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2018, 05:35:53 PM »
I listen to Welcome to the Black Parade like once a week since a radio station I frequently listen to, KROQ, plays that song and a lot of My Chemical Romance quite frequently.  My Chemical Romance was quite the big band around the mid-00s and late-00s, but yes, Welcome to the Black Parade was a big song that I listened to quite a lot in 2012 (thanks to radio and the LA Kings Stanley Cup run) as well as Breaking Benjamin's The Diary of Jane.

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #19 on: June 12, 2018, 05:42:23 PM »
I saw Imagine Dragons over the weekend.  Was only familiar with some of their hit songs, but was surprised with how musical the whole band was for the entire concert, changing instruments, extending instrumentals, a drum solo, an acoustic part of the set, all while being so much pop in terms of song structure but clearly showing they are making artistic statements with their music.  To just assume pop means simple is a bit of a simple assumption. 

Offline Ninjabait

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #20 on: June 12, 2018, 08:43:53 PM »
Not true at all?  Let's break it down:

"Progressive music tries to elevate itself as an art form."  That's not true?  Certainly nothing you wrote rebuts that statement.  Do you really believe this not to be true?  In answering this question, note my use of the word "tries," which implies that it is not always successful.

Yes and no. Not all prog music tries to elevate itself as an art form. Some of it is bands and artists trying to imitate and recreate music that struck and emotional chord with them. In fact, I'd wager that that's the majority of prog that's out there. #NotAllProg tries to be super artsy. Prog is simply a genre of music and a means of expression. Every genre of music has artists that try to reach that lofty standard of "high art" with mixed results (yes even pop), and artists that try to play it safe with mixed results. Prog doesn't really lean strongly to one way or the other. At the end of the day, music (regardless of genre) is about expression and emotion. That's it.

"Many (possibly even a majority) of consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music."  I broke down the second part of my dichotomy into two parts, but really the entirety of the second part was focused on what "consumers of pop/rock music" are and aren't seeking, and your assertion that there are "a lot of 'high artistic statements' in pop music that are a) really popular, and b) well-liked" (two terms which, as far as I can tell, mean exactly the same thing) doesn't rebut what I wrote.

When I used the term "many," I obviously meant some number less than all, and by also using the parenthetical "possibly even a majority," I was clearly implying that "many" could easily be some percent of "consumers of pop/rock music" less than 50%.

I used "popular" to indicate a) commercial success, and b) renown. There are plenty of things that are commercially successful and renowned but not well-liked. Love Beach hit #55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went Gold and is fairly well-known, but it is definitely not well-liked. It's popular, but it's not well-liked. That probably should've been clearer, I admit.

There's an implication in your post that progheads are trying to seek out high artistic statements and popheads/rock fans are not. Both of these are generalizations that don't really hold much truth to them. Quite a few popheads/rock fans are looking for grand artistic statements and quite a few progheads are looking for music that sounds familiar and they can enjoy. If you look at the pop charts at rate your music, you'll easily see this. Michael Jackson's Thriller (the best selling album of all time) is listed at #29 under much more experimental acts like Bjork and Kate Bush (who, btw, were both very successful as pop acts and are household names). There's a lot of pop music that fits the criteria of what you describe as the pophead's ideal, but isn't successful. Katy Perry's recent album was a massive flop and it fits that ideal. Meanwhile, more complex "high artistic statements" of pop music have been extremely successful. To add more recent examples, Kate Bush's first tour in 39 years made international headlines. Back a couple of years ago when Radiohead announced A Moon Shaped Pool, it was all anyone ever talked about and it definitely could be described as an attempt at some sort of "high art". Last year, Lorde's Melodrama debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. A lot of more experimental and "artistic" bands and albums sell very well, even in recent times. Even those progressive "high artistic statements" were huge hits. Most of the four classic albums by Pink Floyd were, Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans (the poster child for "progressive high artistic statements") both hit in the Top 10 in the US and UK, with TfTO reaching #1 for two weeks.

Your entire premise that the general population aren't seeking anything "artistic" is incredibly flawed, because clearly those "high artistic statements" in music are being sought out frequently and consistently.

You seem to have interpreted what I wrote as some sort of attack on popular music.  It was anything but.  Remember that the OP's inquiry was why "many people" call "prog rock" "pretentious."  My response was an attempt to offer an opinion about why those persons who do characterize "prog rock" in that way (and I think we can all agree that this does occur) do what they do.  Because the inquiry is why these persons do this, the focus of my response was on those people and no on popular music.  I have personally had discussions with folks who view progressive music as "pretentious," and it is my observation that the persons who feel this way "are not seeking high artistic statements from their music."

Rereading your post, I can't interpret it any way but "prog is high art, pop is low brow music for the uneducated masses". You're implicitly attacking pop music and the people who listen to it by saying that there's a clear distinction between "high art" (prog) and pop. If this wasn't your intention, you really did not do a good job of getting your point across.

And I don't think citing your interpretation of private conversations you've had is a reliable source at all.

"and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects."  I separated this part of my response out because it could be interpreted as a stab at pop music, but let's look at it closer.  First of all, as noted above, we're talking about the people who refer to "prog rock" as "pretentious" and considering why those people do that.  I believe it to be true that such persons are far more interested in "simple" pop music than pop music that is, itself, on the more complex side of things (whether musically or lyrically).

No, but you didn't mention that at all. You said "consumers of pop music" not "people who consider prog pretentious". You're conflating the two, which are not inclusive. By mentioning "consumers of pop music", you're implying that that group considers prog pretentious. Not every consumer of pop music considers prog pretentious, and there are a lot of people who like both.

I wouldn't even consider most pop music "simple". Some of the techniques they use for arrangement and production are really in-depth, there tends to be a lot of playing with lyrical structure, and making a catchy melody is not as simple as most people think. But even if pop music were "simple", what you argued still wouldn't be true. If you even look at the Billboard Hot 100 for this week or any week, you'll consistently find a mix of what would be called "simple" pop music and more experimental and complex pop music. Heck, the #1 album right now is "ye" by Kanye West, which is...a bit on the experimental side, to put it lightly.

While it's true that people who prefer "three chords and the truth" probably won't be fans of prog music (although, you'd probably be surprised), it's not true that there's a significant overlap between "consumers of pop music" and "people who prefer simpler music and find prog pretentious", which is what you seem to be arguing.

Of the "recent examples" you cited, the only one with which I have any familiarity is "The Black Parade," and that's only because that song was used as the theme song for the Los Angeles Kings' 2012 Stanley Cup run.  Are the lyrics a "high artistic statement"?  I honestly can't say because I never analyzed them to any great extent, but I'm perfectly happy to assume they are.  The music certainly isn't anything special, except that it is evocative and emotional (as is the singer's delivery).  However, this simply illustrates the point I made elsewhere in this thread that there's a lot of really good pop music.  As an aside, I'm not entire sure how "popular" this song or band is because I don't think I've ever heard of either outside of the hockey context I mentioned.

I'm actually a little surprised you hadn't heard of most of those. All of them were nearly inescapable, at least in the US. The Black Parade went Triple Platinum in the US and was accredited in a number of other counties. Plus, there are a lot of memes.

That said, there are a number of things that most of them have in common:

1) Most, if not all of them are concept albums. That's already an attempt at reaching for some "high artistic statement".

Spoiler alert: "The Black Parade" is specifically a concept album about a young man who's dying of cancer and reliving his life in his final moments. Eventually, he dies and begins musing on how his death affects others, his life and its significance, and even on what death is. Which could qualify as a "high artistic statement".

2) They attempt to go beyond the conventions of the genre (which even the illustrious prog doesn't do very frequently) to create new sounds and interpretations of music in that genre.

The Black Parade brought in more "art-rock" influences from the likes of Queen, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie. There's a lot of guitar orchestrations that wouldn't be present on emo/punk albums from that time, more polished and complex guitar work, the inclusion of sound effects, and some neat vocal harmonies.

3) They tried to bring other artforms into their expression and push the boundaries of those mediums as well. Lemonade, famously, was accompanied by a 45min music video.

The Black Parade used theatrical elements like costumes, staging, and effects in the live shows and music videos.

Honestly, though, I'm still very surprised you aren't familiar with most of them. American Idiot was adapted into a Broadway musical (which I've heard is good), most of the albums have gone some form of platinum, and they attracted lots of attention and talk. What's even cooler is that these more experimental albums were some of these bands' greatest hits. The extreme presence of "highly artistic" popular music that is still well-regarded and extremely popular completely negates your claim that "consumers of pop/rock music are not seeking high artistic statements from their music and are happy with short, easily accessible songs about simple subjects". All evidence points to the contrary.

And, for the record, if you had said something like "People who like simpler music would find prog's attempts at making grandiose higher artistic statements pretentious", I would have taken 0 issue with it. If that's what you meant at the core, fine, but there were unnecessary digs at pop music and generalizations you included that I did take issue with.

Offline ChuckSteak

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2018, 02:33:09 AM »
Some quotes I found from a topic about why people don't like prog rock. They might also be relevant to this thread and to understand why people call prog pretentious.


“Your average person/consumer has the attention span of a goldfish. Anything that isn't constant hooks is deemed impossible to pay attention to. People who don't understand music have essentially been spoiled by McRock and McPop, so when they get a real steak in front of them, they have no idea what they're dealing with.”

“A lack of exposure to musical diversity, a different personality type that views music as mere background, plus (in many today) an inability to focus due to addiction to the instant-gratification, fast-paced online culture.

The latter also makes them unable to read books, sustain conversation, focus in school, be alone with their thoughts, achieve difficult things requiring sustained effort or complete tasks in a timely manner. They are sleep-deprived, depressed, anxious, and scattered.

Just look at modern movie trends: superheroes and comics dominate, the films are action and effects driven, there is little sustained dialogue, and explosions are needed every few seconds to get the audience to look up from their phones.”

“People are programmed to think that 3.5 minute intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-outro is the epitome of song writing.”

Offline Stadler

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2018, 08:11:09 AM »
Just going on record to say that any explanation as to why "X" demographic doesn't like "Y" genre that includes ad hominem attacks on the demographic's intelligence, attention span, listening comprehension, or general worth as human beings is as pretentious as the subject genre, self-rationalizing, or, if you will, patent and utter bullshit.

I'm perfectly capable of sitting and listening to a lengthy and complex piece of music, my intelligence is quite robust, my attention span is mature (I've said here before, I once sat in a concrete stairwell for over five hours with no music, phone, book or other outside stimuli), etc. etc. and I find a LOT of music to be "pretentious".   I'm very happy to listen to a catchy tune on the radio, yes, including Taylor Swift, One Direction, and Demi Lovato.   Not so much the new album, but I consider "1989" to be the "Thriller" of it's generation, and "Wildest Dreams" to be one of the catchiest songs ever written.   

It's not a coincidence that you generally have prog fans making this argument.   

Offline TheOutlawXanadu

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2018, 09:54:01 AM »
Like many things in life, I don't think that there is one ultimate reason why prog is sometimes called "pretentious". There are probably a combination of factors:

1) Anytime you do something that is different from what is tried and true, people might assume that you are trying to make an unnecessary statement. Prog usually goes against a lot of norms, the most obvious example being song lengths.

2) Some prog features a lot of individual showmanship. If it goes too overboard, people can get flashes of their Philosophy 101 professor going on a ten-minute soliloquy. :lol

3) Some prog bands or prog rock composers are legitimately pretentious and/or snooty. For example, I love Steven Wilson and his music, but it is a little cringe-worthy watching him talk about iPods as though they killed his dog. :chill

Please note that I am not passing positive or negative judgement on any of this. I just think that these are some examples of why prog can come off as pretentious. Whether it is right or wrong really comes down to the specific band.
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Offline Podaar

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2018, 10:48:25 AM »
Since we don't have Hef around anymore, I'll attempt to give a Hefdaddy42 answer. Because, that's what this thread needs.

Because, more often than not, it is.

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2018, 10:50:53 AM »
tbh, hard to not think of prog as pretentious when you see some of the song titles

Illumination Theory
The Revealing Science of God
King Solomon and the 72 Names of God
etc

Offline bosk1

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2018, 11:05:50 AM »
Because, more often than not, it is.

That you, Hef?
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Offline Podaar

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2018, 11:19:34 AM »
Because, more often than not, it is.

That you, Hef?

I'll take that as the highest compliment that anyone has ever given me!  :biggrin:

Offline pg1067

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2018, 02:23:47 PM »
[Y]es, including Taylor Swift, One Direction, and Demi Lovato.

Now THAT would be an interesting experiment!
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Offline Dave_Manchester

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2018, 04:55:48 PM »
I think part of it is the lyrical themes of many prog bands. Early Yes for example (Tales From Topographic Oceans) wrote utter gibberish masquerading as profound meditations, safe in the belief that they wouldn't be rumbled because they wrote about highfalutin esoteric Eastern stuff (similar to the tactic Dream Theater employed in that section of Illumination Theory, titled "Even The Most Facile Claptrap Sounds Impressive If You Write It In French"). Peter Gabriel's interminable spoken-word live introductions to Supper's Ready and parts of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway are toe-curling in how self-important they are, given he's singing nonsense that collapses under scrutiny (much as I love him and Genesis' music). A modern example would be Maynard's lyrics in Tool, which I've heard fans say are deep, and so they make me wonder what they've seen and read in their lives. I absolutely adore Tool's music, but the lyrics to me are only deep if you're shallow. The same applies to Yes and Genesis and Pink Floyd (though Waters was certainly a gifted wordsmith). That's my take on this thread's question. Prog musicians are more likely to refer to themselves as "artists", believing an 'artist' to be anyone who voices whatever's on his mind. They're most likely to get annoyed in concert when fans aren't paying the properly due amount of reverent attention to their words (looking at you, Mr Waters). They're most likely to let us all in on the revelations that war is all about profit, politicians are all puppets, property is theft, religion is a con, and so on. They (Roger Waters for example, in songs like It's A Miracle and The Pros and Cons of Hitch-Hiking) mock pop music as being 'low-brow', while imagining singing "Fuck all that we've got to get on with these" ('Not Now John' by Pink Floyd) is a profound comment on imperialism. In short, there's intellectual snobbery in a lot of prog music. Pink Floyd is my favourite band of all time, but I get no more intellectual stimulation from their lyrics as from Britney Spears' lyrics (I'm also a fan of Britney Spears incidentally, and own all 9 of her albums). And the difference between them is, Waters thinks he has original things to contribute to human thought, whereas Britney is under no illusions. I think that's where pretension comes in. It's when you think what you're saying has a greater overall value than it does. To that end, preposterous blather like The Revealing Science of God is more pretentious to me than Hit Me Baby One More Time.

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2018, 04:59:55 PM »
I feel like prog rock fans use a strawman argument that they are being called pretentious. When in fact, they probably aren't.


Which, of course, makes them pretentious. :neverusethis:
would have thought the same thing but seeing the OP was TAC i immediately thought Maiden or DT related
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Offline ChuckSteak

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2018, 09:38:17 PM »
Whatever I don't understand and at the same time is complex, demanding or intellectual can be called pretentious, even if it isn't. It is just how you perceive it.

Offline Lethean

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2018, 01:02:09 AM »
People like to put down what they don't like and/or don't understand.  For some, that means prog is "pretentious."  For some, that means metal is for degenerates; pop is sheep, etc, etc, etc.  Personally, I don't find it necessary to call music that I've heard pretentious. I understand that some musicians may act that way, but I'm pretty certain they're not limited to prog.  Prog fans can be pretentious, but so can fans of other genres as well.  I once got a ride with some fans of some kind of electronic dance music, who spent the entire time talking about how superior what they listened to was and how people who only liked it at clubs just "don't get it" - the whole 9 yards.  Those 2 were acting quite pretentious, but it would be ridiculous to apply that to entire fanbase or to a genre of music by extension.

Offline Stadler

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2018, 09:17:36 AM »
No offense to ChuckSteak and Lethean, but I think Dave is far closer to the core. It's not JUST about "not understanding".   That sort of implies the same level of "self-importance" that Dave is throwing under the bus.   I understand about as much of what Kendrick Lamar is singing as I do Jon Anderson - which is to say, NOTHING - but I would never presume Kendrick to be "pretentious".  I think Dave is on to something, in that there may actually be nothing TO understand, which kind of destroys the "not understanding" idea.  I would  throw Steven Wilson into that group as well, but point taken, Dave.   

Offline Lethean

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Re: Why is prog rock called pretentious music by many people?
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2018, 09:40:30 AM »
No offense taken; I simply don't agree.  And when I said "don't like/don't understand," the understand part was not code for people not understanding the lyrics.  It could be that, or it could be not understanding why someone would want to listen to a song that's 10 minutes long, or a song with a long intro with no singing (this was me the first time I heard 2112).  Or, it could be someone not understanding or relating to references in Lemonade, or whatever.  I didn't mean not understanding as a slight to people who don't like prog or anything else.  When some people don't like or understand something, they go further and feel the need to put it down and make generalizations.