In middle school, I discovered music I really liked. It was very different from what my parents introduced me to. I would spend hours on YouTube in my room, pressing on all the recommended music videos. The bands comprising the soundtrack of my angst-filled years were as follows: My Chemical Romance (especially their second album, “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge”); Arctic Monkeys; Cage the Elephant; Paramore; Panic! at the Disco; Pierce the Veil; Green Day; The Cure; and Gorillaz. I thought I was so cool because I didn’t listen to “mainstream” music that you would hear on Top 40 radio. I was, in fact, not cool (I can live with that.)
As I got older, I started to broaden my horizon musically. Now, at almost 20 years old, I cringe at the mindset 13-to-14-year-old me had. And even though I still listen to most of the bands I mentioned earlier (I am still a devout listener of The Cure and Gorillaz,) I noticed that my Apple Music Replay List for 2021 and the ongoing one for 2022 have songs from both Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift. I realize pop is not that bad. But then I started to wonder why it got such a bad name?
Like, why is this genre always talked down upon when iconic musicians such as The Beatles and David Bowie are considered pop artists? Some of my favorite albums by them have been the ones that lean into their pop sensibilities (if you would like to know, my favorite Beatles’ album is “Revolver,” and my top one for Bowie is probably “Let’s Dance”; it changes all the time, honestly.) These people helped shape popular music and inspired countless musicians for years to come.
I would argue that we are in an exciting time for pop. Artists like Lorde, Charli XCX, Billie Eilish and many more have carved their own way through music. The subgenres within pop music are also wide; art-pop, electropop, orchestral pop and dance-pop, etc. People are missing out on a world of possibilities because they do not dig deeper and just take pop at face value.
I’m now at the point in my life where if I like a song, I can find meaning. I really do not care what genre it is from. But that is the beauty of music; it has an array of meanings to lots of different people. The point is to enjoy a song or an album you like and connect with.
I will be the first to confess that there is a lot of music I just can not get into even though I have tried (an example being country music in any form and Radiohead.) It is okay not to like all music — everyone has a personal taste and preference for what they want to listen to. But every once in a while, give different genres a listen. You never know what you will find.