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Journal Journal: "Pop" is Not a Genre

It concerns me that "Pop" is considered a musical genre.

"Pop" means "popular" which connotes that a large number of people like it. "Pop" music can be *anything*, including Rock, Country, Rap, Polka blah blah, whatever.

The problem is, when holier-than-thou critics snobbishly announce "I never listen to pop music," or "When was the last time you heard a good pop song," what does that really mean? What happens when your obscure band becomes a hit with the general public? Do you renounce them and stop listening?

Of course, if people were left to their own devices to choose music based on the merit of the music, based on standard criteria for what makes good music, then it would probably make sense to seek out "popular" music. But the waters are muddied by huge marketing budgets. Anything from radio station payola to snackfood tie-ins to brand-name-beer fests can influence the public to buy into a particular band.

So, the term "Pop music" has become synonymous with this market-driven space, a space that could ideally be a creative-driven space, where music could get judged on its own merits. The question becomes one of whether or not there is crossover. There are certainly "Pop" bands that have merit, no? Just like there are probably 80 million bands that nobody knows about, who suck.

The bottom line is that the majority of the civilized population of the world is content to let money dictate which types of artistic expression dominate the public arena of awareness. And artists need paychecks so they don't starve. The manifestations of this situation are pointless to argue for or against since they are just plain reality.

So, "Pop" is not a genre, but rather the state of all pervasive art in civilized culture. Good for you if you have the ear for good music. Just don't confuse feeling good about paying $5 to see Johnny Shit-the-Rag playing the local dive and not completely sucking, and feeling great about paying $150 to see Bruce Springsteen playing Lincoln Financial Field and rocking your ass off.

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