So, lately, as you may expect, I’ve been listening to a lot of records. Some of these have been new, some of them have been old, some of them have been classics, some lesser known, some alternative, and others pop. And all this got me thinking about this about a trend I’ve notice to dismiss pop music as not worth mentioning. Why is this?
It seems to me that people who want to appear as if they know more about music than you, or people who think that just because they listen to certain kinds of music they are cooler than you tend be the ones to dismiss pop music as not worth their time. Here we are presented with two problems that need an answer.
Firstly, how can a person know more about music if they pay no attention to pop? I mean, ignoring the music that is selling right now and thinking that somehow makes you more musically intelligent than others is like saying that you know about architecture than anyone else because you live in a tent. Sure, you might have a very in-depth knowledge of the more obscure artists and bands out there, but that just makes you knowledgeable about a certain area of music, not music in general. If you are truly interested in musically academically then you have to be open to all kinds of music, and then judge it on its own merits. This is not to say that one can’t have a preference or a dislike for a particular style of music, but it is childish to dismiss a style you do not like as worthless based solely on your own opinion
Secondly, does not listening to pop music make you cooler than everyone else? Maybe, but it certainly doesn’t make you cooler if you have no idea about the music you are not listening to. I mean, if you can’t name at least three current pop artists and describe their music then it doesn’t make you cooler if you don’t listen to those artists it just makes you ignorant.
This may all seem like I’m having a go at people who are more interested in experimental or alternative music, but I’m not. I’m just picking on those people who think that their tastes are so superior to other’s that they get to decide what music is and isn’t worthwhile.
There is another thing that must be discussed here, namely what is pop music? Is it a genre in itself? Or is it based solely on the popularity of the music? And if it is a genre, what defines it?
When you walk into a record store and look through the section marked ‘pop’ is there a clear commonality between all of the records there? The answer to that question, I think, is probably not. I mean, in that section you will find everything from The Beatles and The Beach Boys to Lady Gaga and Bon Jovi. If pop is a genre in itself, then how do we explain all of these bands and artists being lumped into the same category? From this it can be argued that pop is not a genre of music.
So, if it’s not a genre, then what defines it? The only thing I can think of is the popularity of the record, and this is an artificial distinction. I mean, Madonna had a number one album and that’s pop, but Nirvana had a number one album and that’s ‘alternative’. So really they’re both pop, or, contrariwise, pop is a useless distinction in the way people currently use it.
I think that what this really comes down to is the idea of rock sincerity by which I mean did the artist make a record purely to make money or did the artist create a record that was true to their artistic vision? This will be the topic of a rant for later on.
So, to sum up (for now) I will say that it is stupid to dismiss ‘pop’ music out of hand, mainly because ‘pop’ barely even means anything, but also because it limits your musical experiences and makes you seem like a tool.