by Deirdre Kaye
Posted In: Music Commentary
at 11:33 AM | Permalink
What "Pop music" has become … and why it makes for a delicious snack
You know what I like? Pop music. Some of you may be judging me right now and, for that, I’m judging you in return. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to dislike Pop.Of course, I get it. Most Pop music isn’t the well-written, deeper-than-the-ocean type stuff, but rather easy to understand and anchored by a catchy hook. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. Music isn’t supposed to be unattainable — we’re usually drawn to music because we can relate to it. Pop just expresses our emotions and situations in more simple terms than other genres.Some of you are probably starting to get nitpicky about my use of “Pop” as a genre. To a certain extent, Pop isn’t a genre at all. Historically, Pop was just short for popular, meaning it runs the gamut on genres. Listen to the current NOW That's What I Call Music collection (we’re up to about 4067 volumes, I believe) and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not full of ground-breaking musical experimentation or earth-shatteringly powerful lyricism, but every one of those songs has a damn good hook. Beyoncé wouldn’t classify herself as Pop. She’d call herself Hip Hop or R&B. “Run the World (Girls)” was certainly popular, though. Alex Clare’s “Too Close” is full of drums and synth awesomeness, lying somewhere between Rock and Electronic and yet it’s all over Top 40. Taylor Swift was, at one point, a Country artist. Now, with a little less accent and a lot less acoustic guitar, she’s lasting longer on Billboard’s Top 40 than the Country charts. The structures of their music may be very different, but they all end up on the same station.Pop has very much become its own genre. It’s the genre for all the likable and relatable music from all the other genres. Think of it as the exact opposite of “The Island of Misfit Toys.” Pop is The Genre of the Overplayed. They’re overplayed for a reason, though. Some of those songs are pretty close to genius. The best recent example is “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes (and Adam Levine). The idea is simple: Boy loves Girl … a lot. But throughout the entire song, they pull from the same stereo heart metaphor. Whether he’s referring to the trials and tribulations of a relationship via a comparison to an old-school boombox that requires tons of D batteries or the simple idea of a heart beating, like speakers, with every note, they carry the thought all the way through. In my book, that’s pretty impressive.Speaking of Adam Levine, I like “Moves like Jagger,” too. You know what Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, sang about quite a bit? Dancing. You know what “Moves like Jagger” is about? Dancing … sort of. You know what it makes me want to do? Dance. Pop songs are nothing if not danceable. Even the slow ones! If they don’t make you wish for that cute guy across the room to come and sweep you off your feet and twirl you around the room, they’re doing something wrong.Yes. Sometimes Pop can be annoying. A majority of Pop music is made by people with “outside voices.” They always sound like they’re yelling. Often they’re squeaky, too. One Direction is super excited about what makes me beautiful. For someone who adds an unsure “maybe” to the end of her pick-up line, Carly Rae Jepsen's voice is far from a timid whisper. But, I still really like that song.The easiest explanation I can give is this: It’s catchy and easy and sometimes we’re all a little simpleminded.Carly Rae and Taylor Swift may not write the kind of music that would inspire people to become “Band-Aids” or make William Miller, Greil Marcus or Lester Bangs commit their lives to writing about music. They do, however, write songs that are fun to listen to when you’re on the way to see a more substantive show. After a long hard day of deep-thinking and problem solving, what’s wrong with a little light-hearted entertainment?So, for the sake of dancers, the simple-minded, the commuters and the road trippers: Long live Pop!
by Mike Breen
Bunbury adds three huge bands and The Black Keys is sold out
Two items of importance came down the wire recently relating to upcoming concerts in Cincinnati. • This summer's three-day Bunbury Music Festival along the riverfront previously announced headliners for each day (Jane's Addiction, Death Cab for Cutie and Weezer) and today organizers gave us three more names. The Airborne Toxic Event is now set to play July 13 before Jane's, Manchester Orchestra will play July 14 and Gym Class Heroes (pictured) is set for the closing day of the fest, July 15. From a purely commercial standpoint, this thing is going to be huge. Each act announced so far is top-tier enough to headline its own large show and all receive regular airplay on "Modern Rock" radio (if not Top 40). I'd get your tickets early if you are hoping to attend. Passes for the inaugural Bunbury fest are $46 for one day or $93 for all three days. Click here to purchase. • If you don't have tickets for The Black Keys show at U.S. Bank Arena this Friday, start thinking about cyber scalpers (sorry, "online ticket brokers") because the show has officially sold out. Friday's concert is the first date on the Keys' first ever headlining arena tour, which includes a few other sold-out shows along the route, including a Madison Square Garden one that sold every ticket in 15 minutes. I think that officially makes them "Arena Rock" stars. And damn popular ones at that. Not bad for a little Blues/Rock duo from Akron, Ohio.
Dec. 18 • Madison Theater
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I've got to hand it to the guys in Gym Class Heroes. They accomplished something I might never have even dreamed of attempting for the sheer improbability of it: They made my teenaged daughter sing a Supertramp song.