It's enough to leave most music lovers All Shook Up: Elvis Presley's music is derivative and lacking in substance, according to UNSW academic Professor Robert Walker.
Professor Walker, from the School of English, Media and Performing Arts, says we need to have Suspicious Minds when it comes to the quality of music we're offered. And that includes most music from The King through to Madonna and Britney Spears.
Professor Walker blames the variable quality of music education in schools for condemning many Australians to a life of unsophisticated listening.
Professor Walker's book Music Education: Cultural Values, Social Change and Innovation was launched this week at UNSW.
In it he calls for further government investment in children's music education, suggesting that the music curriculum needs to be based in a cultural framework to allow for a more critical assessment of all types of music.
"Music education has been diverted over the last 30 to 40 years from what should be its main focus, namely to draw students into what musicians actually do," he writes. "(It's the) difference between education and entertainment."
Professor Walker says because the general public lacks a critical ear, artists such as Madonna and Britney Spears have flourished, with people "seduced by the advertising".
"The first few years of his career were OK, but then he became very derivative," says Professor Walker. "What about the poor old black guy, where it (Presley's music) all came from?
"What matters is that we have 40 and 50-year-old people who want a bit more depth in their music and they don't know how to approach it," he says. "That's why we've got popular classics selling really well."
Professor Walker suggests that while school students might benefit in the future from an investment in music education there's also an immediate payoff.
"Studies consistently show that music is the most important thing in the lives of teenagers, yet so few of them are captured by the thrill of playing a musical instrument," he says. "It would be a real investment in what can be a difficult period of their lives."
Media contacts: Associate Professor Robert Walker 9385 6499 or Susi Hamilton, UNSW media 0422 934 024.