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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Vocal Music - Pop Music

Continuing our alphabetical look at vocal music today we look at pop music.

Pop music, short for popular music, is a genre that encompasses a wide range of styles, trends, and cultural influences. It is one of the most accessible and commercially successful forms of music, appealing to a broad audience across different age groups and backgrounds. As of my last update in September 2021, pop music has continued to evolve, so I'll provide a general overview while acknowledging that new developments may have occurred since then.

Origins and Evolution:

  • Pop music emerged in the 1950s as a response to the rise of rock and roll. It incorporated elements from various genres, including rock, R&B, jazz, and country, among others….and we have covered some of these in previous blogs (or will).

  • Over the decades, pop music evolved, incorporating electronic and digital production techniques, leading to the rise of “electro-pop" in the 1980s and 1990s.

  • In the 2000s and 2010s, pop music saw an increasing influence of hip-hop and dance music, leading to the popularisation of "pop rap" and "EDM" (Electronic Dance Music).

Characteristics of Pop Music:

  • Catchy Melodies: Pop music is known for its memorable and singable melodies, often designed to be instantly appealing to listeners.

  • Relatable Lyrics: Pop songs typically feature straightforward and relatable lyrics, focusing on universal themes like love, relationships, and personal experiences.

  • Emphasis on Production: Pop music often places a significant emphasis on polished production, employing studio techniques, digital effects, and auto-tune to create a clean and commercial sound.

  • Danceability: Many pop songs are designed to be danceable and upbeat, encouraging audience engagement and participation.

Key Figures and Influences:

  • Throughout its history, pop music has been shaped by numerous influential artists, such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Beatles, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga, to name a few.

  • Producers and songwriters play a crucial role in shaping the pop music landscape, including names like Max Martin, Dr. Luke, Pharrell Williams, and Ryan Tedder.

Global Reach:

  • Pop music's global appeal has been enhanced by the internet and digital platforms, enabling artists to reach audiences worldwide instantly.

  • The rise of social media has allowed artists to engage directly with their fans and promote their music in new ways.

Criticism and Commercialisation:

  • Pop music is not without its critics, who argue that its commercial focus can lead to a lack of artistic depth or authenticity.

  • Some critics argue that the pop music industry often prioritizes marketability over musical innovation.

Impact on Culture:

  • Pop music has a significant influence on popular culture, fashion, and even political movements.

  • Many iconic pop songs have become anthems that resonate with generations and mark specific historical moments.

Diversity and Inclusivity:

  • In recent years, pop music has seen an increase in diversity and inclusivity, with artists from different backgrounds contributing to its evolution.

Remember that pop music is a vast and constantly evolving genre, so this overview only scratches the surface. Its impact on society and culture continues to be a subject of study and fascination, and its future remains as exciting and uncertain as ever.

Structure Of The Pop Song

Most pop songs will have an intro.

Following that a pop song will follow a largely verse - chorus - verse - chorus format.

The verses will have the same tune.

The chorus will have a different tune. The lyrics of a chorus don’t change.

Songs usually finish with a coda or outro.

To mix things up sometimes a song will have a BRIDGE or MIDDLE-8.

This is a section of new lyrics, new melody, new chords…new feel.

The lead singer sings the melody.

Backing singers will harmonise behind the lead singer.

Possible Features Of Backing Singers

Harmony - All singing different notes

Unison - All singing the same notes

Descant - A higher part sung in time with the main tune (think Christmas carols in choir with the really high bit soaring over the top)

Call And Response - Responding to what the lead has sung

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