Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pop Music: What Goes Around, Comes Around...

Pop Music. Funny how this unpretentious, light-hearted term has truly become a phenomenon and has taken over so many of our lives. Some swear by these two words, others consider the very notion of it way beneath them. But so very few of us have been left completely sterile and ignorant of this genre.

Quite ironically, as I flipped through the online pages of Wikipedia (another representative of today's pop culture - forget Webster's dictionary - Wiki is the big boss now!), I noticed how Pop Music is not referred to as a set genre, but instead: "music charted by the number of sales, plays, etc. that the work receives. It is not a particular genre or style of music, but simply that which is the most popular for the tracked period of time." So true, I never looked at it that way.

Another interesting point made by the same source is that in opposition to music that may require education or formation to fully appreciate it, "a defining characteristic of pop music is that anyone is able to enjoy it."

What about the pop stars? I often wonder how the simple term "singer" has gradually shifted from the very essence of "a music artist" to the pompousness of "a pop icon" and finally has reached an arguably low form of art under a very glittery "pop star" position.

Can't say too many pop stars worrying about this too much nowadays, but a significant chunk of the album-buying (not the single buyers!) demographic in today's marketplace have raised the question on a number of occasions. It's hard to blame them, really, as there are more and more single-oriented records and much less "conceptualized" albums being made these days. How many songs do you really LOVE on an average album you normally buy nowadays? 1? 2? The days of "I love this album, what a work of art" are pretty much over. Itunes has made it a lot easier and much more convenient to operate on these terms - you like one or two songs on an album but aren't willing to spend 20 bucks on a CD of 12 tracks, 10 of which you don't really like? No problem. The obvious downsides are probably present, as well, but let's leave that to the critics...

It is a shame, though, that most artists (not all) have been replaced by what we now call the "pop stars" on a larger scale. Television has certainly helped a great deal, and particularly all the music-oriented reality shows. But can you do? C'est la vie, really.

These afternoon I came across Nickelback's Rockstar video spoof about "Pop Stars" which is absolutely hilarious, but at the same time, quite sad if you look at it from a realistic standpoint. Funny and all that, no doubt, but the ironic thing is that joking aside, it actually is a very objective synopsis of what's popular today. It's pointless feeling distraught and nostalgic about it, what's done is done and that's the end of it... For now. I'm constantly surprised - pleasantly surprised - when I witness first-hand the ever-growing "comeback" of real hunger and thirst among average music lovers for REAL music. Not to say that today's pop hits aren't very commercial and very catchy - no offense at all - but what ever happened to the days when we were regularly discovering the big shots like Elton John, The Beatles, Aretha, Barbra, The Jacksons....? Revolutionary talent, that is... It's hard to beat that sort of caliber, isn't it. Plenty of fabulous one-hit wonders have emerged lately, there's no denying of that! Great sounding, well-produced, highly addictive commercial successes all around... But what happens a few months down the line, when what was hot last month is no longer the "flavor of the month" today?

I read an interesting interview with the legendary Sir George Martin, often referred to as "the Fifth Beatle". His take on today's pop-music scene isn't all that lovey-dovey, either... "I've listened to quite a few records," Martin said, "but I'm not terribly happy with the current pop music."

Everything comes in a full circle, though, no doubt it'll be that way in this case, as well. Just curious to see what will eventually prove to be the final straw that leads on to the new beginning, a brand new starting point of that same old circle.

Interesting times... And remember: what goes around, always comes around :-)

P.S. Some of you might be wondering right now: "who cares?" And that's the bottom line, whether we like it or not - some do, others simply don't! :-)

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