Music commercialism has always been around. Everyone knew the Monkees were just an act, but everyone still loved them.
But these days, it seems so much more prominent, and no one bothers to hide it. Boy bands and teen female singers assembled, nay, engineered to sell records continue to dominate the industry, even though we all know they're just here to sell stuff. In a horrible union of all that is wrong with the world, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys are selling CDs at McDonalds, and Nsync is selling them at Burger King. Heck you can even buy Nsync marionettes.
I must be getting old, because merchandising didn't seem this rampant before (but I know it probably was).