Why Do We Hate Pop?

If you are a huge pop fan you are probably used to being challenged about your taste in music by pretentious musicians such as myself. I have a number of reasons why I hate pop music even though the truth is I LOVE IT! Well… some of it.

Now this is something I have struggled with my whole life. I often come across pop musicians that I absolutely love, but for some reason am embarrassed to admit it. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, since I watched the Katy Perry doc on Netflix, and have been discussing it with other people trying to figure out why we hate pop, and for those of us who don’t actually hate all pop, why do we say we do? Why is it so embarrassing to give pop a chance?

I have broken down why I think people hate pop into main points with sub headers and in doing so have come to realize a lot of what we hate about pop is also what we love about it.

I do think that these headings describe certain pop artists but not all. Unfortunately there are often some huge acts that are guilty of the following and I think it makes the whole genre look bad to some. I think that some of the reasons are pretty legit and some are just petty and I’m pretty sure I have been guilty of stating all of these reasons at some point. Let me know how you feel in the comment section and we’ll keep this discussion going. 🙂

THE MUSIC

It’s Too Simple: Pop music more than any other genre is all about the catchy hook. In a lot of cases the song seems to have very little going for it other than the chorus that gets stuck in your head and loops over and over and over again. In many cases the melody is super simple and the lyrics even simpler (Baby baby baby oooooooo). As musicians, we claim that it is almost an insult to our intelligence to have to listen to something so simple. BUT this is also what makes the song popular. Anyone can sing along and since people love interacting with music, this is what gets it requested on the radio a million times and gets it shared all over your news feed, and why kids will ask you to play it over and over again if you are a music teacher or music therapist.

It’s Unoriginal: We often complain about how all pop music sounds the same. I remember hearing a splice of California Girls and Tick Tock and I was blown away with how similar the songs were. For those of us who grew up in the 90s we are familiar with how the “Boy/Girl Band” craze brought out a whole pile of songs with almost identical arrangements. This makes you feel like you’re listening to the same song over and over again. It annoys the hell out of some people but for others I think it’s kind of a, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”, scenario. Why mess with a formula that’s working? That’s how you make the big bucks.

Pop Doesn’t Take Much Talent: It is really hard as a musician to watch people become famous when you think they lack talent. When you train really hard every day, it feels like a kick in the throat to watch someone lip synch or use auto tune to a song they didn’t write. These performers really do make you question what it takes to be a pop star. It makes me appreciate the pop stars that can actually sing and do take part in the writing process but at the same time it should just be the norm. If you can’t write you should be a fantastic singer and if you can’t sing you better be a killer writer.       *I should note that it is the norm for everyone recording an album to use auto tune to clean up their performances these days. It doesn’t bother me as much when the performer can sing well live without the auto tune.

THE BIZ

The Music is Secondary: Musicians often hate pop because in many cases the music seems to be secondary to the performance. There are pop musicians that are more famous for their dancing (Britney Spears, Paula Abdul, J.Lo) or their costumes (Gaga) than they are for their music. This is a huge problem for people who slave over song writing and perfecting their instrument. It is hard to accept that some people really just like an interesting performance and don’t actually care THAT much about the music.

Dumb Luck Replaces Hard Work: In this age of the internet and social media sometimes people just get lucky with a youtube video and become huge pop icons.This can be disheartening to hard working musicians. Some youtube stars are super hard working so this is not directed at them. Others make crappy web cam videos of themselves doing covers and become instantly famous. When you are busy, writing, practicing, booking your own shows and scrounging to find musicians to play with you, you can get pretty bitter about this. But maybe it’s just jealousy.

Sex Sells: While making this list I have been trying to look at the topics from more than one perspective, but this one really bugs me. One thing I cannot stand about the pop industry in the over sexualization of young artists, especially girls. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for people being open with their sexuality as long as it is what the person wants to show and not what some publicist or label exec. wants. You can’t always tell what it is but I think we all know that when it comes to the younger artists they are almost always being told how to dress and act. You don’t know for sure until they are older and they come out about how they were pretty much forced into their sexy images or until they have a complete melt down and end up in rehab. The extreme packaging of artists is so damaging and I just don’t like it.

Over Exposure: I think we often end up hating pop because we are sick of it. These bigger pop stars have big publicists and budgets working for them and get played EVERYWHERE. Eventually it just gets annoying seeing the same video everywhere and hearing the same song everywhere you go ( Baby baby baby ooooo). Then we just get angry every time we hear the song, which leads to hating the artist and then when our hate of the artist gets too intense we generalize our hate for the whole genre. Sounds like a pretty petty reason, but it gets pettier.

INSECURITY (for lack of a better word)

Pop Fans are Lame: This is one of the silliest reason to not like a band but I think it is more common than people are willing to admit. Some people don’t want to be associated with “the kind of people” that like pop music. I know that held me back from admitting my love for many pop artists. Pop fans are the fans you see on tv screaming and crying and throwing themselves in front of artists’ cars. We just don’t want to be lumped in with that crowd. I used to think that only silly girls like Hanson but then I gave their music a chance and I FREAKING LOVE THEM! I even bought an “I ❤ Hanson” shirt and wear it often. Whenever I wear it around musicians they laugh and say, “I get it, you’re being ironic”. And I always get a little embarrassed and find myself having to defend Hanson, because people assume that enthusiasm makes you a silly fan girl.

Jealousy: When I decide to be mature, step back and analyze why I dislike an artist, sometimes I realize I am just plain jealous. For a long time I definitely had a big jealous hate on for Katy Perry. Part of it was because I thought she wasn’t a very good singer, but now I think I just saw a couple bad performances and decided they were the “real” her. Part was because I thought she was one of those artists who did nothing to deserve her success, but then I did some research and realized she worked and still works pretty darn hard. And finally when I was able to admit she had a good voice I felt competitive. What’s the point right? As a singer I think I was jealous of her intensity. When my bf would comment on how he liked her singing (sorry for outing you honey) it would make me so mad like he was cheating on me or something ahahaha. I AM THE ONLY GOOD SINGER IN THE WORLD………So ridiculous.

and finally…..

We Haven’t Actually Listened To It: It’s really easy to hate something you know nothing about. Often I have found that people form the above opinions about performers without actually listening to them at all. We hear snippets and are just so annoyed by the buzz around these pop stars that we decide we hate the music and/or the artist and have no interest in giving them a chance. Or sometimes we have already decided we don’t like the genre and so assume that everyone in the genre is guilty of the above. I used to say I hated country music until I heard the Dixie Chicks and realized there are many different kinds of country music. Now I find myself to be a big folk and blue grass fan.

So there you have my list of common reasons why we hate pop with some arguments that show many of the reasons are really quite silly. I hope this post helps some people come out of their pop closets and start loving the music just for fun. It really closes off a world of musical experiences when we discount an entire genre. Now you don’t have to love the whole genre, just try to be a little more open and you may find some real gems.

Enjoy! 🙂

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