Over a period of several months I made a personal mission to attempt and at least respect, if not like, what I like to call pop music. Some of you know what I’m talking about: a combo of R&B, club tracks, select rap, mainstream (if that’s a genre at all), country-in-name-only, techno, and others. Basically it was whatever songs the Billboard charts deemed as hits.
After doing so…I’m not sure if I gained any respect from it, per say. What I have gained are some ideas on what’s good and bad about it. In my view, there’s a heck of a lot more bad than good.
This may be because I grew up listening to rock and classical (aka the “boring stuff” with violins and trumpets that usually puts the average college student to sleep in five minutes). Pop music didn’t enter my life until I became a teenager. Not because I started listening to it of my own free will but because I was forced to listen to it.
When you’re going on retreats with a bunch of other teenagers, you don’t have a choice.
In this first of two parts I’ll focus on what I like and then start with what I don’t like. Now don’t worry: I will not and can not elaborate on all these topics because half of them are like listening to a conversation in rapid Spanish. Furthermore, to make sure certain record companies don’t come after me with their lovely “cease and desist” orders, I’ll either put the artists stage names in initials, or make up names very close to their stage names (because few of these people use their real names for some reason) or not name them at all and hope that you the reader can figure out who I’m talking about.
So what do I, someone who’s publicly despised pop music for many years, actually like about pop music? It’s a short list.
First: the singers who can actually sing. I’ll dive into the other side of this coin in part 2. One thing I feel that’s very important, as a musician, is if you want people to listen to you live, you have to be able to sing every note in your songs. So many popular singers can’t do that, because obviously they focus more on their spectacle of a concert then being able to sing one note right! How is it that rock bands could sing all their songs correctly for years and years, yet today we have all these talented vocalists and they get overshadowed by people who can hardly sing their own music???
I’ll refrain from getting upset on this post. Anyway, a couple people who can sing without the aid of…must not rage yet….well, that thing, do exist. For some reason, the only examples I can find are women, because all the men either rap, are too old for the preteen squealers and can’t figure out their current demographic, or use that thing -sometimes in overly-excessive terms.
Number one’s the older of the two, a person who exploded with a couple hits and out-of-this-world music videos, in that they were deemed controversial many times over. Yet hiding under all of those costumes and makeup was a good singer, and we didn’t figure it out until many years later. Nowadays she’s displayed her singing talent live to millions of people and we’re all starting to look at her differently. In a good way, of course.
Number two’s younger, happens to be gorgeous, and has the wrong producers. Why? Her voice isn’t suited for the music genre those millionaire idiots make her record! This is a type of voice you should find on a soothing slow jazz record or quiet love ballads, not on synth-blasting pop songs! It dosen’t fit, and the times those losers actually gave her a chance to sing slower and turned down the volume, the results sounded much better.
Second good thing: the catchy beats. I typically hate loud, obnoxious, overused bass drums, and I still do. Yet when you combine it with a synth, play them together and write just the right notes for it, you can make some catchy beats. This is especially true on rap tracks, because if the beat’s no good you lose a third of the piece already.
Third good thing: synthesizers (sometimes). The sounds synths produce just sometimes sound awesome and with a massive amount of pop music relying on them, I’ve found some cool-sounding moments.
Fourth: catchy tunes. Even if I later found the lyrics or singing to have no staying quality whatsoever, sometimes the tunes were catchy enough to throw me back in.
Fifth: occasional good electronic dance music ( better known as EDM). This became a big thing on the radio a few years back although we’re all glad it died out faster than disco. During that period, a lot of bad music existed, but a few songs sounded okay to me. At the very least they were catchy, even if I caught some double meanings in select lyrics later on. For the songs that don’t bother with double meanings, I don’t mind them. Funny enough, the farther you go back in years (2000’s), the better this EDM stuff sounds.
Go read “My Outlook on ‘Pop’ Music: Part 2” for everything I don’t like!