Pop music is seemingly derived from an abbreviation of “popular”, a genre which originated during the 50s and 60s, in the western world probably deriving from what is called rock n roll. The terms “pop music” and “popular music” may have often been used interchangeably, but the former in fact simply implies music that is popular.
So what exactly is pop music then?
Pop literally refers to being purposefully flexible. Well, we may note that pop music is not definite; it is constantly changes. The easiest way to identify pop music is to define them as the ones which are most successful on the music chart from time to time. Over the past five decades, musical styles that top the pop charts have obviously changed or evolved continually. However, there may be some consistent patterns in what people define as pop music.
Pop music is exceedingly eclectic, often borrowing different elements from various musical styles including rock, Dance, Latin, Urban and country. Well, there are also core elements that define pop, nonetheless. General characteristics like the short to medium-length of songs, basic verse-chorus format or structure and repetition of melodic tunes or choruses, and hooks are often what pop songs come out like.
Pop and Popular Music
It is palpable to confuse popular music for pop music. The musicologist’s primary reference resource New Grove Dictionary Of Music and Musicians, describes popular music as those since the industrialization of 1800’s i.e. most suitably in line with the tastes of the urbanized middle class population. This would include a wide range from minstrel and vaudeville shows to that of heavy metal. But, pop music, has principally come into being as music that mainly evolved out of the mid-50s rock and roll revolution and has continued in much of a definable path till today.
Song Structure of Pop Music
Pop song is probably the most identifiable element in pop music. Because it is usually not written, recorded and performed as a symphony, concerto or suite. Like already mentioned the song usually consisting of some verses and repeated chorus or choruses is the basic format for pop-music. The songs lengths are often range between two and a half, to five and a half, except for exceptional songs like the epic ‘Hey Jude’ by Beatles which lasted 7 minute. In most cases, when such abnormally long songs are aired on radio, are released by an edited version. Another example on the extraordinary side would be American Pie by Don McLean which was edited down to 4 minutes from eight and a half minutes. Later the pop songs evolved to as short a length as 2 minutes in the late 50s.
Point to note, pop music is a melting pot that assimilates ideas and element from country, rock, r&b, hip hop, punk, disco and even Latin music in the most recent times.
Pure Pop or Power Pop
So what about the particular genre in pop music which is claimed to be pop in its purest form? Some describe it as mixture of melodic pop with hard rock which tends towards the added aggressiveness. Well, power pop is also typical of short songs not exceeding three and a half minutes played with drums, electric guitars and bass along with very strong and catchy vocals and choruses, or hooks. The primary objective in pop music is more about pleasing the audience and not the art involved, because it is all about selling the most. Meant to be music most accessible to the widest audience.
Among the top power pop or pure pop artists of the past, the Raspberries, the Memphis and the Cheap Trick are prominent. In recent years, bands like Weezer, Fountain of Wayne and Jimmy Eat World have emerged to be the successors of classic pure pop.
A more exciting extension of pop music however would be the dance-pop genre, which managed to get worldwide attention from people of all ages. By people of all ages, I mean kids included, everyone love to witness the electrified dance that they performed. This kind of music also tend to go viral faster with social media networks and popular bluetooth portable speakers. Michael Jackson is as you know, an exceptional example, just to name one. Overall pop music of course has worldwide appeal and you will not find many who would not know about pop music.