As far as music is concerned, I'll take classic rock to anything coming out today, with the exception of some underground rap . That's one of the few styles of music I consider innovative, along with a little bit of indie rock that's around. The people who are good in modern music are really good, but unfortunately they go unnoticed, or they have a pretty small underground following with exception of a few bands and artists.
There are a few artists today who I think have potential or are actaully pretty good, but according my standards they're good becuase they follow some of the older ideas in music and sound more like the bands of the past, rather than new commercialized radio. One artist out today who I consider excellent and innovative is Ben Folds. This is because his music is simple, yet he's extremly skilled, he tells good stories with his songs, and he incorporates great harmonies like some of the better acts of the past like the beatles, the beach boys, and crosby stills and nash. He produces what some would call classic pop music. It's not heavy at all but yet it has a distinctly alternative feel. This is what the radio is lacking today and popular music in general. In order to find sounds like this you have to dig into the underground and independent scene. To be frank, music like this isn't all that popular, that's probably why its hard to categorize as pop because it certainly isnt main stream.
My advice to bands coming out today is define your influences. Study the classics and put your music together based on what they have done, while adding something that's unique to your act. Be experimental but stay true to what has worked in the past and keep pop sensibilities in mind.