The advantage to compression is that it makes a track using it stand out against tracks that don't. It also makes tracks more audible in an environment where there is a lot of background noise. So, big pluses in a lot of situations in the modern world. But, honestly? It makes music sound like shit. Sorry to be blunt. I read about this a while back, but the Atlantic article lays out the context. I've been wondering why so much pop music sounds so crappy and this is part of the reason. Another part is pointless hyperactivity, but I've already posted, briefly, on that. Meaningless arm-waving is a vice all music is prone to, but this punching up of everything, or chopping of the peaks, is a vice unique to pop music.
Here is some truthiness for you:
- You can't actually listen to music when there is a lot of background noise--all you can listen to is punched up sludge
- Music uses a number of different techniques to express things: a range of pitches, a range of harmonies, a range of rhythmic values and a range of dynamic values--it makes no more sense to flatten out the louds and softs than it would to use just one note in the melody
- Musical expression is not a function of digital or other compression, or of costuming, or of dance routines, or of whatever else you can find to stuff into the video
- I'm all in favor of sexiness, but sexiness and musicality are not actually the same thing.
As I said, it cannot be experienced in a recording, but just to give you a slight taste of it, here is a YouTube clip of the first part. The first movement of the symphony is 25 to 30 minutes long, depending on the performance, so it has to be chopped up. The crescendo I am talking about starts around 6:52 in this clip: