The fade: Why Don't Modern Pop Songs End By Slowly Reducing Volume? - Slate article

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Grant, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit Thread Starter

    The Sad, Gradual Decline of the Fade-Out in Popular Music

    I prefer fades, especially long ones.

    Of course there's many more these days, but the first time I noticed a fade in years was with Bruno Mars' "Treasure". Of course, he, like some other artists, are into retro. Another I can think of is "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk.

    I have noticed the trend of cold endings in the last couple of decades, and I somehow link it to an overall decrease in patience and attention span. I think of way back in the 90s when a buddy of mine wanted me to make a comp tape of some songs. He specifically told me to chop off the fades because he didn't have time for it.

    To me, the cold endings indicate a harsher society. I equate fades as being gentle.
    Max Florian, GT40sc, enro99 and 6 others like this.
  2. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road

    I think it's just a fashion thing to a degree.
    Also i think the mentality has become somewhat booklike ... beginning, middle, end.
    Fades seem to have been out of vogue for quite a while.
    Ryan Lux likes this.
  3. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road

    Oddly enough, more movies and tv shows seem to have less decisive endings these days ...
    HippieDrill, Chemguy and Carl LaFong like this.
  4. WilliamWes

    WilliamWes Forum Resident

    New York
    Very good article covering all the goods and bads and trends. I do skip fades at times but I don't mind either way.
  5. seed_drill

    seed_drill Forum Resident

    Tryon, NC, USA
    Pretty far down on my list of things I don’t like about contemporary pop.
  6. kaztor

    kaztor Forum Resident

    Music becoming disposable.
    Streaming, downloading, you name it.
    McDonalds culture.
  7. lv70smusic

    lv70smusic Senior Member

    San Francisco, CA
    I didn't read the linked article yet, but don't some people view fades as lazy -- that the people involved in the recording couldn't figure out how to end the song so they just kept playing knowing that the recording would be faded out?

    I don't mind fades and I don't prefer fades. Some abrupt endings are great -- for example, Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real" wouldn't have the same impact without that ending; others don't really add anything.
  8. Angry_Panda

    Angry_Panda Active Member

    Having dabbled in bands for some years, I viewed this as a product of two factors - how does the song end when being performed live, and how badly do I want to give the impression that 'the band played the outro changes well into the night'? If I could end the song cleanly, I usually did, but some songs worked better than others in that regard. If the ending for live performance leaves something to be desired (too abrupt or corny), a fade was usually my preference in the studio take, but in one or two cases it felt odd to give the impression that the song just kept going and going, so a full stop was the lesser of two evils.

    As noted in the article, the technology used to listen probably also has an effect. I've done just enough low-wattage AM radio DJing to be dangerous, and piecing together a playlist on the fly is challenging enough with music that gives you a bit of a cushion at the end of most songs. I don't know that I'd be thrilled to have a hard stop to deal with at the end of every tune, which might be a small part of why the conglomerate radio stations have moved to pre-packaged set lists, and I'd guess that such a change has a small feedback effect (in addition to the many other factors).
    Fishoutofwater likes this.
  9. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit Thread Starter

    How do you equate cold endings with being disposable?
  10. dumangl

    dumangl Senior Member

    Fades are generally boring. If it's worth hearing it's worth actually hearing. The fade on The Beach Boys - Wind Chimes is the most beautiful part. Why should I have to turn up the volume to hear it?
  11. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Forum Resident

    Toronto, ON, CA
    Also missing a lot these days: the instrumental break or any section whatsoever without a lead vocal.
  12. aphexj

    aphexj Sound mind & body

    Usually songs fade out when they've run out of ideas and are just repeating themselves. It's weird. Just end the song!
  13. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Forum Resident

    Toronto, ON, CA
    Some fades are essential:
    Stuck With You by Huey Lewis and The News or
    Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears or
    Working My Way Back To You by Four Seasons
    for three random choices.

    A cold ending would break the spell.
  14. Grant

    Grant A Musical Free-Spirit Thread Starter

    I love fades. There are so many things one can do within a fade.

    That said, one fade that always annoyed me is the 45 of "Listen To What The Man Said" by Paul McCartney & Wings. Why on earth did Paul fade it out? That ending is beautiful and should have ended naturally. Another fade that makes no sense to me is the 45 version of "Livin' The Life" by The Isley Brothers. Why fade it?

    Other than those two examples, and a couple of others that I haven't thought of, I love fades. One of my favorites is the looong fade on the 45 of War's "The World Is A Ghetto".

    Trust me, doing fades are not the lazy way out. You wouldn't believe the thought and time producers, artists, and engineers put into getting them just right.

    As a collector, and I speak for many of us in the collector community, we obsess over the fades of hit singles right down to the last eck of sound.
    bumbletort likes this.
  15. onionmaster

    onionmaster Tropical new waver from the future

    I think it's cause all pop music seems designed for clubs these days so they want the ability to mix a cold end into another song (or radio jingle).
  16. royzak2000

    royzak2000 Forum Resident

    All ways thought of fades as the band did not know how to finish the song so took the easy way out.
    Fishoutofwater, Gila, uzn007 and 2 others like this.
  17. djoseph56

    djoseph56 physical media monster

    Chicago/NW Indiana
    Some are good, some are bad. I love The Beatles fades when they start acting all crazy and I can't imagine a song like Rush's "Limelight" without the hard ending.
  18. aphexj

    aphexj Sound mind & body

    Recently I listened to the Fleetwood Mac 1975 self-titled album in surround 5.1, and you know what is even weirder than a long fade in stereo? A long fade in surround. It's like the band is all around you, then they decide to just back away slowly out of the room...
    billnunan, Max Florian and Phoenician like this.
  19. Devin S

    Devin S FACT•XXV

    I don't really miss fade-outs. It's not a big deal to me.
  20. Brendan K

    Brendan K Forum Resident

    You've put the visual in my head of an entire band slowly leaving a room while playing a song in order to achieve a fade out. That's actually hilarious.
    Max Florian and aphexj like this.
  21. buxetehude

    buxetehude Forum Resident

    Pop’s a fading art form I tell ya.
  22. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    new york city
    Some songs work well with a fade and others don't. There are probably some contemporary songs without fades whereby one could have worked just as well or even better - and older songs with fades that sound lazy.

    Are there really that many people who actually listen to a lot of contemporary music who are seriously bothered by the more frequent lack of fades? I would think that most of the people who really prefer them aren't listening to a lot of new music anyway.
    Max Florian and mark winstanley like this.
  23. dougotte

    dougotte Vague Waste of Space-Time

    Washington, DC
    The article was an interesting read. Thanks for sharing, Grant.

    When I started listening to pop and rock in the early 70s, I read about that, and thought it, too. I think classical and trained musicians started that idea, because they knew how to compose how a piece should end. Pop musicians were just jamming and didn't have the "knowledge" to compose a proper ending.

    But, within the next 10 years, I became aware of two conflicting ideas about fades:
    1) Eno wrote about how it was conceptually and psychology an important and valid part of pop music;
    2) Other musicians (notably YMO) used cold endings in a dramatic and effective way. I think XTC used them as well.
    royzak2000 likes this.
  24. Booker_Table

    Booker_Table Well-Known Member

    Warwick, RI, USA
    I first noticed this trend -- and maybe that says something about my taste -- on Meat Loaf's Braver Than We Are. Aside from a few songs toward the end of the album that seemed to segue directly into one another (lending limited credence to Meat's frequent statements that the whole album was supposed to do that), it seemed like every single selection had an unwarranted hard ending, even on songs where a fade-out was indicated in demo versions or suggested by the content.

    (Compare, for example, Jim Steinman's demo of "Souvenirs" to Meat's rendition, which inexplicably circles back to an earlier thought at the end when the song is already ostensibly over, seemingly only in order to have a definitive "ending.")

    Can't a song, as Kevin Smith once put it, "pimp away" anymore?
  25. royzak2000

    royzak2000 Forum Resident

    Can see How Eno saw it as valid, in the realm of pop it was but I still think it was a way out for pop guys not to write a coda to take you home.
    To leave you unresolved.
    Gila likes this.

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