I've said it once, I'm about to say it again, and I'll say it a million times after this. I am a snob about music. I'm picky about what I listen to and I rarely take musical suggestions from anyone, even though I expect everyone to be in love with each song I enthusiastically send them. I love talking about music with like minded people, but the topic that we can all rarely agree on is the genre of pop. Most people who are 'into' music dismiss the idea of pop music as mindless, but I'm here to set the record straight. Write it on my gravestone people, I LOVE GOOD POP MUSIC. I used to hide it, I used to deny ever listening to the radio, I used to turn my nose at the mere mention of anything on Billboard's 200. But I'm here to, once and for all, set the record straight and defend quality pop.
First off, we need to talk about the pop music industry. Keeping an original image in the world of pop music is basically unheard of. Major record labels are notorious for taking an artist and turning them and their sound into something completely different, using people as money making objects and throwing them in the trash once the show the slight inkling of aging or rebellion. So let's just appreciate the people who have gone through hell and back to make a pop album without being too manipulated by the industry, who control basically everything that gets put on the radio and sold in stores. Being cool with pop does not mean I don't recognize that basically all of radio music is mass produced and fueled by money, but it also means that I explore lesser known pop artists who put out really great albums that barely hit the radar of mainstream music listeners and who are basically ignored by others simply for being labeled as 'pop'. Really good, quality pop, with meaning and soul and vocals that kill never make it into the playing field of big names with bigger record deals.
And that's not to say that mass produced pop music should be dismissed as 'bad', necessarily. There are mass produced albums and artists in every genre in the world, but somehow, these artists are still regarded as reputable because their label as a musician is 'alternative' or 'rock'. Pop music is popular because it's loved by a really huge group of people, and you can't really make a strong argument against something that has millions and billions of fans worldwide. Can a genre, song, or album really be considered 'bad' if it has international success and a huge following? Perhaps, instead of a genre, pop music should be looked at as an industry on it's own--millions of dollars go into producing albums, concerts, and merchandise for big names in pop, and this isn't seen in many other musical genres. You literally CAN'T ignore it or claim it to be irrelevant; it is EVERYWHERE. Please don't try to brush off pop because of it's reputation, nobody at Universal Music Group can hear you.
Pop music is even starting to creep it's way into the beloved world of indie and alternative music critics, who are beginning to publicize the great pop albums that are getting tossed to the side. Pitchfork Media turned a lot of heads by putting Carly Rae Jepsen's E.MO.TION on their coveted best albums of the year guide, and all of a sudden, even fans of the most underground music around were praising....a pop album. And it's a really good fucking album. I was skeptical, too, trust me. But my snobby ass was proven wrong the second I started streaming. It is a BOP. You shouldn't need Pitchfork to tell you that pop can be cool, but if that's what it takes, so be it.
Many of those who consider themselves to be very into music often forget that some of the 'oldies' music they listen to now is actually pop. The Cure, Prince, Bowie, The Cranberries, and even Twisted Sister have all had the label of 'pop' associated with them at one time or another.
Knowing your shit when it comes to anything means understanding and forming educated opinions on every aspect of the subject at hand. If you consider yourself a 'music person', you need to know about pop music, too. Don't hate a genre because you don't think it's not cool enough to be on your monthly Spotify playlist, hate it because of it's industry's misogynistic ideals and exploitation of young women's bodies for cash (a topic I plan to dive into next week).
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