In Defence of Pop Music

Quite a few music students who have found my blog have been confused about why I review pop music. Why would something like that in any way interest me?

Simple question – simple answer. I think it is important to look at music that is living and changing constantly, and in the 21st century, that genre of music is pop. On a personal note, I feel a much deeper connection with modern popular music than I do with any of the medieval or Renaissance genres I have to study as part of my course.

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This is where I want to hear Stravinsky (I do not own this photo)

We all have guilty pleasures about pop music, but why are they guilty? We should embrace them wholeheartedly. I have angrily defended The Killers, Lady Gaga and Carly Rae Jepsen to people and will continue to do so. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga is one of the best pop songs of the 21st century in my opinion, with well-crafted instrumentation and a chorus that sticks in your head for a long time. Run Away with Me and Your Type by Carly Rae Jepsen are great, upbeat, fun pop songs and there is nothing wrong with that. Pop music can give us the swelling highs and crushing lows of classical music, so why is it seen as a lesser genre? Sure, it doesn’t contain the complex counterpoint of J. S. Bach or the harmonic organisation of Schoenberg, but why should it? We’ve all at some point danced along to a pop song of our choice, whether that be the Beatles, S Club 7, Beyoncé or the Pet Shop Boys. It is music that we are all going to interact with.

Let me propose this to you: in a club, what would you rather hear: Hoedown by Copland or Timber by Pitbull ft. Ke$ha? While I adore Copland, my answer would be Ke$ha. It is situational music that has no illusion of grandeur. What is so bad about that? I think that if Schubert and Fanny Mendelssohn were alive today, they would have been writing pop songs and Mozart would have been writing musicals. They were writing in genres that were popular at the time and pop music is exactly that, popular.

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Does anyone really want to hear Stavinsky here? (I do not own this photo)

I don’t ever feel guilty for the music I like; my opinion is that if it is inoffensive, and I can justify why I like it, there shouldn’t be a problem. Pop music should not be seen as lesser, but instead as the genre of music that is alive. It is more alive than anything written in the 14th century, and I am going to keep dancing along. So try and stop me.

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