Pop is a genre that I have never been interested in. Even when I was young, I veered away from it, my first CD being We Are The NIght by The Chemical Brothers. However, it is only recently that I have started thinking about why that might be, and how, from the pop that am I exposed to, which is limited to the chart toppers and those included on ADoseofBuckley’s “worst 10 songs of (year),” it seemed that pop is growing even more homogenised that it ever has been before.
It certainly feels that pop songs rely far too much on hype and catchiness, utilising each to garner almost all their sales before people get bored and move onto something else. It’s indicative of how their audience has changed from mostly everyone (hence it literally being defined as “popular music”) to teenagers and children. It’s for people with short attention spans who haven’t yet formed their opinions on what they actually like and so, for wont of anything better, they listen to pop.
I’ve found that, in my search for new artists and bands, I’ve exposed myself to some people who I would have professed to hate that I actually don’t mind, the first being Kendrick Lamar when Obama revealed that his favourite song of the year was “How much a dollar cost?” I wouldn’t listen to his music on a regular basis, but it’s no longer something I go out of my way to avoid. Clearly there’s still talent in the pop- and mainstream-music industry, so I have to ask; why can’t they produce good music?
Countless parodies have been made and songs examined where artist’s careers are revealed to be nothing but big, hypocritical messes with the artistic integrity of Rothko, reproducing the same song ad-nauseum until they burn their career into the ground or someone writes an actually good song for them. Everyone, whether they think the songs are good or not, seems to like poking fun at pop-stars.
Putting even a small amount of thought into it I came up with a fairly easy, obvious answer, with a few factors, as to why pop-stars get ripped on so much. First off, they don’t write their own songs. Some metal artists need to work on the themes of their songs and rappers are basically defined by their ability to write lyrics over beats, so, when pop-stars don’t write their own songs, they look infinitely less talented than artists in other areas, especially when some pop stars can’t even play an instrument. Even the Black Keys, who are the biggest rip-offs in rock music, write their own lyrics. Their riffs and solos that are “inspired by” is another matter, but at least they have a leg to stand on.
On top of that, it feels like everything is about image. Sex sells and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is how most pop artists pay their bills, and with the desperation the archaic music industry is now flaunting like it’s going out of fashion, everything is getting more dolled-up to try and make a quick buck. I can think of 5 artists off the top of my head that wouldn’t have a career if they hadn’t been basically naked in their most popular music videos, or at least not been doing something controversial. Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga. There are, of course, a few pop stars that don’t rely on sex appeal, Adele being the biggest name that leaps to mind. The difference between her and the other artists I’ve mentioned is that she actually makes music rather than trying to make the same song over and over.
And don’t think I’ve forgotten the men. Everything that I hear from male pop stars makes want to punch them. The pseudo-rapping, the choice lyrics about money and fame and women, the hilarious emphasis on repeating their stage-names on every song they are featured in as an attempt to get you to pay attention to them and, of course, their attempts to garner attention off-stage as well as on. Justin Bieber, I’m looking at you on this one.
Of course, metal artists, rock stars, rappers, DJs and anyone else has their image but they seem to have a little more self respect than pop stars. It also feels like big fans of metal or rap or whatever are much more able to pull off the on-stage looks of their favourite artists whereas pop stars outfits are all specially made for the stage and doing anything to try and look like them will ultimately result in failure.
It’s also easy to make fun of people who take things to the extremes, even if you like the way they look. KISS and Slipknot are good examples from metal, but these are the exceptions to the general trend. Any pop star, however, seems to wear a new outfit every day.
Overall though, the most important thing is the perception of talent that I mentioned. Pop stars aren’t seen to have any talent themselves, especially since autotune because prevalent thus removing the need for a singer to even be able to sing. When people write songs that top the charts like “watch me,” or “you a stupid ho” or anything else with one or two repeated lines or verses that lack any artistic flare or talent (I don’t think that’s actually something that can be contested. If you think these songs are actually good and not just funny then I think you need your ears examined) It suddenly becomes more fun to make fun of the artists than it is to listen to their music. Pop music is the modern art of the music industry. It can lack depth, understanding, artistic ability or even any work by the artist whose name is attached to it, but it will still be noticed by some troupe of people who are taking it seriously but whom everyone else is laughing at.