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Pop VS Popular Music

Some people are confused whether Pop is one and the same with Popular music. We explore their differences to distinguish them clearly from each other.

First, the definitions, Popular music is a common term used to describe the broad genres of music that has mass appeal. The key here is that different genres, such as rock or jazz, could be considered as popular music.

Pop Music, on the other hand, is a music genre itself. It is said to be a milder version of rock and roll. Pop Music doesn’t aim for the higher music discipline such as in classical music. It is made to be likable to the public. It’s focused on the recording, production, and marketability of the songs.

The primary medium of pop is the song itself. You will notice that the pattern of a verse-chorus form where the chorus is a perfect contrast of the melody, rhythm, and harmony of the verse. The lyrics of the songs are everyday relatable things to make it appeal to more people.

Arguably, pop music started when music halls became popular. Before music recording was available, music halls had drawn an audience with songs professionally written to appeal to almost everyone. The music scene evolved as the gramophone became available. It allowed music to be recorded and distributed to more audience.

The recording saw the rise of famous crooners and millions of record sales. Famous pop artist of the 1930s and 1940s were Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Other music genres also started to record their music.

To keep track of who’s who in the music scene, pop music charts were developed in the 1950s. The first Top Twenty chart was compiled and recorded during this period. Rock’n’Roll music also began to take the music industry by storm. The great Elvis Presley was the biggest pop star until the early 1960s.

And then came The Beatles, who set a new bar in pop music. These talented group could write their songs, and they produced a unique sound that is called “Beatlesque.” The Beatles generated a cult following and influenced a lot of upcoming artists, especially in the songwriting department.  However, professional songwriters for singers were still in great demand as producers continue to manufacture stars that have the perfect looks but with less talent to back it up.

In the 1990s, Boy Bands started to gain a footing on the music scene. The producers handpicked the members of these groups to be the in front lines of pop music. Since the followers of pop music are mostly the teens, the producers cast good looking young singers to better appeal to their listeners. Their songs were the same catchy arrangements that are easy to the ears. However, the boy band trend started to fade towards the end of the millennium, but some of its better band members were given a solo career.

Pop music is continuing to dominate the music scenes up to the present. This genre takes in the most patronage and sales in the music industry. The formula of selling accessible music targeted to the general public is working very well up to now.

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Do We Still Need Genres?

Popular music or Pop is commonly called mainstream music. Some people think that it is a separate category, but they do not realize that pop music actually consists of different genres such us hip-hop, rock, dance, jazz, electronic, R&B, among others.

I think the best way to describe pop music is to think of it as the current fad or musical style of the moment. If we go back in time, we will realize that certain music genres stood out and became the pop music of the period. For example, in the 1950s, rock and R&B are the raves. In the 1980s, hip-hop music prevailed. Now, at this current time, it seems that dance music is the chosen genre of pop music. I rarely hear band acts on the radio lately. In fact, other artists are evolving and adapting their music to meet what the listeners want to hear at the moment.

It gives me a feeling that genre is not that important as before. Twenty years ago, you can say that you like a particular genre. You write “alternative rock” when asked what your favorite music is. I even recall my school mates forming cliques based on the music they prefer as hip hop vs. metal (rock music).

Now, you cannot claim to belong to an exclusive music genre anymore. You get to hear everything and discover new music to love with just one streaming. Before, people go to a record bar and go straight to the aisle of his selected genre. Today, we are given a library consists of million songs and sounds to choose from. Although the streaming sites still categorize the music, I am pretty sure that one does not stay in one box of criteria. With all the music available right at your fingertips, it is impossible not to trail off and find something new to like.

The internet seems to shatter the stereotype of music and let everyone hear whatever music they like. One day, we might see that there will only be two music genre, the one you like and the one you don’t.