But really, ISN’T pop a genre?

So I was registering the old CD for sales tracking today, and had a bit of difficulty in the “Genre” box, in that the only two that remotely seem to fit the album were “Soul/R&B” and “Rock”, neither of which it really is.  Certainly, the upcoming CD is hardly “R&B” OR “Rock”.  

Contacting the individuals to confirm that there was no category for “Pop” because “Pop is short for Popular music”, I was told “if you have no genre, leave it blank.”  which made me somewhat sad for my songs! They are orphaned, genre-less songs! Alone in the world! What are they to do, other than be grabbed by a man in a ridiculous hat and walked down through London as he tries to sell them while singing “One Song For Sale” all because they asked for another bowl of porridge which they didn’t really even want but were encouraged to ask for by their stupid peers at the orphanage?

And is “Pop” really more artificial a category than “Adult Contemporary”? What does that mean other than that it’s non-classical music for “old people”? 

I think my real point is that while Pop originated in “Popular”, it has as many characteristic elements to it as “Rock” or “R&B”.  Generally, the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-optionalbridge-chorus structure.  Drums, piano/guitar, bass.  Vocals that sit in the mix to be heard above the rest, so that they are the main focus of the song.  Traditionally in some iteration of 4/4 or 12/4 time.  A repetitive chorus/simple melody that is often more accessible than the extremes of other genres. 

How else does one characterize music like Leona Lewis’s “Bleeding Love”, which is really too synthetic to be “R&B”, too soft to be “Rock”, too vocally-focused to be “Electronic”?  It’s easiest to call that “Pop”, in the same way as much of Ryan Tedder’s OneRepublic work is more “Pop” than it is “Rock”.  Or Marié Digby’s second album in particular?  Or Jordin Sparks’s first album?  Or David Archuleta’s entire life?

And the vocally-focused, hook-catch nature of pop music has been it’s unifying factor since the term was first coined.  I find that music like The Four Seasons’ hits can only really be truly called “pop”. 

And heaven help us if we’re going to classify Max Martin’s work for Britney (“Baby One More Time”, “Oops I Did It Again”), the Backstreet Boys (“Quit Playing Games”, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), etc. anything BUT pop.  Can you imagine someone trying to make a case for categorizing that work as “Soul/R&B” or “Electronic”?   And that’s not even discussing the Spice Girls (“Entire Catalogue”). 

So my point is, to those who are determining genres, it’s time to add Pop as a genre.  Don’t embarass me by having me try to pass my music off as anything but Pop. 

And while you’re at it, can someone please stop putting the Mariah Carey CDs in the Rock sections of the music stores?  It’s been a good 12 out of 20 years since she even said the word “rock”.

A good debate on pop music takes place in the comments section here:

http://theithacan.org/blogs/allthatjazz/2010/01/30/whatever-happened-to-pop-music/

Comment (1)

  1. Jamey Brazen

    I stumbled onto your blog and read a few post. I like your style of writing.

Comments are closed.


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