Steven Wilson talked about the current state of pop music with FaceCulture, saying (transcribed by UG):
“When I was growing up there was a tradition of what I call the very progressive or very sophisticated pop record.
“When I use the word ‘pop’ some people have a very negative reaction to it. For me The Beatles is pop, that’s the quintessential pop group.
“When I say ‘pop’ – it can be anything from The Beatles to ABBA, and to everything in between.
“For me the ’80s is particularly special because of this era when it was apparently possible to make records which were simultaneously very accessible – catchy melodies, catchy choruses – but at the same time if you wanted to engage with them at a deeper level, you had great lyrics, great musicianship, great production, great arrangements, great ideas.
“I think the ’80s were a fantastic time time for music. Sometimes ’80s kinda get the bad rep, because there was a lot of not so great stuff.
“It was the era of Margaret Tatcher, it was the era of bad clothes and silly hair, and there’s a lot of artifice in pop.
“The modern pop is so – to me anyway, and I’m old admittedly – but to me modern pop seems so banal and so anodyne and so bland.
“The ’80s were definitely in some ways a continuation of the ’70s. There were a lot of musicians that were using the possibilities of the new technology – embracing the possibilities of sampling which was a relatively new technological innovation.
“It was very exciting. There was a lot of technologies, new synthesizers, sampling, digital recording, all of these things were kind of inspiring to musicians.
“And there was still a feeling that you could be innovative, you could push the boundaries. You could still create thing that people had never heard before, which you can’t do now.
“There is no way you could create music that people will have that kind of response to. But I was still hearing stuff in the ’80s that was like… To me, it was expanding my idea about what music could be.”
Asked to single out a few examples of “progressive or very sophisticated pop records” he talked about, Steven listed the following efforts:
Peter Gabriel – “So”
Kate Bush – “Hounds Of Love”
Talk Talk – “Colour of Spring”
Tears For Fears – “Seeds of Love”
“Those four records are good examples of those kind of records.
“To a lesser or greater degree they had a direct influence [on my new album ‘To the Bone’], but I think it’s more important is I see them as representative of this time when people were really striving to make very intelligent, very smart pop music.
“And it seems to me that that is not something that we have a lot of in 21st century.”