Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles. "Pop" and "rock" were roughly synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other.
Although much of the music that appears on record charts is seen as pop music, the genre is distinguished from chart music. Pop music is eclectic, and often borrows elements from other styles such as urban, dance, rock, Latin, and country; nonetheless, there are core elements that define pop music. Identifying factors include generally short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), as well as common use of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and hooks.
|Cultural origins||1940s and 1950s, United States and United Kingdom|
|Typical instruments||Electric guitar, guitar, bass guitar, drums, piano, maraca, tambourine, drum machines, percussion instrument|
David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop music as "a body of music which is distinguishable from popular, jazz, and folk musics". According to Pete Seeger, pop music is "professional music which draws upon both folk music and fine arts music". Although pop music is seen as just the singles charts, it is not the sum of all chart music. The music charts contain songs from a variety of sources, including classical, jazz, rock, and novelty songs. As a genre, pop music is seen to exist and develop separately. Therefore, the term "pop music" may be used to describe a distinct genre, designed to appeal to all, often characterized as "instant singles-based music aimed at teenagers" in contrast to rock music as "album-based music for adults".
Pop music continuously evolves along with the term's definition. According to music writer Bill Lamb, popular music is defined as "the music since industrialization in the 1800s that is most in line with the tastes and interests of the urban middle class." The term "pop song" was first used in 1926, in the sense of a piece of music "having popular appeal". Hatch and Millward indicate that many events in the history of recording in the 1920s can be seen as the birth of the modern pop music industry, including in country, blues, and hillbilly music.
According to the website of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the term "pop music" "originated in Britain in the mid-1950s as a description for rock and roll and the new youth music styles that it influenced". The Oxford Dictionary of Music states that while pop's "earlier meaning meant concerts appealing to a wide audience [...] since the late 1950s, however, pop has had the special meaning of non-classical mus[ic], usually in the form of songs, performed by such artists as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, ABBA, etc." Grove Music Online also states that "[...] in the early 1960s, [the term] 'pop music' competed terminologically with beat music [in England], while in the US its coverage overlapped (as it still does) with that of 'rock and roll'".
From about 1967, the term “pop music” was increasingly used in opposition to the term rock music, a division that gave generic significance to both terms. While rock aspired to authenticity and an expansion of the possibilities of popular music, pop was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible. According to British musicologist Simon Frith, pop music is produced "as a matter of enterprise not art", and is "designed to appeal to everyone" but "doesn't come from any particular place or mark off any particular taste". Frith adds that it is "not driven by any significant ambition except profit and commercial reward [...] and, in musical terms, it is essentially conservative". It is, "provided from on high (by record companies, radio programmers, and concert promoters) rather than being made from below ... Pop is not a do-it-yourself music but is professionally produced and packaged".
According to Frith, characteristics of pop music include an aim of appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology, and an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal "artistic" qualities. Music scholar Timothy Warner said it typically has an emphasis on recording, production, and technology, rather than live performance; a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments; and aims to encourage dancing or uses dance-oriented rhythms.
The main medium of pop music is the song, often between two and a half and three and a half minutes in length, generally marked by a consistent and noticeable rhythmic element, a mainstream style and a simple traditional structure. Common variants include the verse-chorus form and the thirty-two-bar form, with a focus on melodies and catchy hooks, and a chorus that contrasts melodically, rhythmically and harmonically with the verse. The beat and the melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment. The lyrics of modern pop songs typically focus on simple themes – often love and romantic relationships – although there are notable exceptions.
Harmony and chord progressions in pop music are often "that of classical European tonality, only more simple-minded." Clichés include the barbershop quartet-style harmony (i.e. ii – V – I) and blues scale-influenced harmony. There was a lessening of the influence of traditional views of the circle of fifths between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, including less predominance for the dominant function.
Throughout its development, pop music has absorbed influences from other genres of popular music. Early pop music drew on the sentimental ballad for its form, gained its use of vocal harmonies from gospel and soul music, instrumentation from jazz and rock music, orchestration from classical music, tempo from dance music, backing from electronic music, rhythmic elements from hip-hop music, and spoken passages from rap.
In the 1960s, the majority of mainstream pop music fell in two categories: guitar, drum and bass groups or singers backed by a traditional orchestra. Since early in the decade, it was common for pop producers, songwriters, and engineers to freely experiment with musical form, orchestration, unnatural reverb, and other sound effects. Some of the best known examples are Phil Spector's Wall of Sound and Joe Meek's use of homemade electronic sound effects for acts like the Tornados. At the same time, pop music on radio and in both American and British film moved away from refined Tin Pan Alley to more eccentric songwriting and incorporated reverb-drenched rock guitar, symphonic strings, and horns played by groups of properly arranged and rehearsed studio musicians.
During the mid-1960s, pop music made repeated forays into new sounds, styles, and techniques that inspired public discourse among its listeners. The word "progressive" was frequently used, and it was thought that every song and single was to be a "progression" from the last. Music critic Simon Reynolds writes that beginning with 1967, a divide would exist between "progressive" pop and "mass/chart" pop, a separation which was "also, broadly, one between boys and girls, middle-class and working-class." Before the progressive pop of the late 1960s, performers were typically unable to decide on the artistic content of their music. Assisted by the mid-1960s economic boom, record labels began investing in artists, giving them the freedom to experiment, and offering them limited control over their content and marketing. This situation fell in disuse after the late 1970s and would not reemerge until the rise of Internet stars. Indie pop, which developed in the late 1970s, marked another departure from the glamour of contemporary pop music, with guitar bands formed on the then-novel premise that one could record and release their own music without having to procure a record contract from a major label. By 2014, pop music worldwide had been permeated by electronic dance music.
A Scientific Reports study that examined over 464,000 recordings of popular music recorded between 1955 and 2010 found less variety in pitch progressions, growing average loudness levels, less diverse instrumentation and recording techniques, and less timbral variety, which declined after reaching a peak in the 1960s. Scientific American's John Matson reported that this "seems to support the popular anecdotal observation that pop music of yore was "better", or at least more varied, than today’s top-40 stuff."
In May 2018, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, concluded that pop music has become 'sadder' over the last 30 years. The elements of happiness and brightness have eventually been replaced with the electronic beats making the pop music more 'sad yet danceable'.
In the 1940s improved microphone design allowed a more intimate singing style and ten or twenty years later, inexpensive and more durable 45 r.p.m. records for singles "revolutionized the manner in which pop has been disseminated". This helped to move pop music to 'a record/radio/film star system'. Another technological change was the widespread availability of television in the 1950s; with televised performances, "pop stars had to have a visual presence". In the 1960s, the introduction of inexpensive, portable transistor radios meant that teenagers in the developed world could listen to music outside of the home. Multi-track recording (from the 1960s); and digital sampling (from the 1980s) have also been utilized as methods for the creation and elaboration of pop music. By the early 1980s, the promotion of pop music had been greatly affected by the rise of music television channels like MTV, which "favoured those artists such as Michael Jackson and Madonna who had a strong visual appeal".
A recent study held by New York University  in which 643 participants had to rank how familier a pop song is to them, songs from the decade 1960-69 turned out to be the most memorable, a lot more than songs from recent years 2000 to 2015.
The latter half of the 20th-century included a large-scale trend in American culture in which the boundaries between art and pop music were increasingly blurred. Between 1950 and 1970, there was a debate of pop versus art. Since then, certain music publications have embraced its legitimacy. According to Popmatters' Robert Loss: "There’s a strong argument for the 'rockist' mode in music criticism—that it exists, and that it’s harmful—and poptimism has positioned itself as a corrective, an antidote. ... In general, the Old Guard of rock critics and journalists is depicted as a bunch of bricklayers for the foundations of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. True in part, which is to say, false. Like film studies, rock criticism of the late ‘60s and the ‘70s was an attempt to make popular music worthy of study; it was poptimism before its day."
Pop music has been dominated by the American and (from the mid-1960s) British music industries, whose influence has made pop music something of an international monoculture, but most regions and countries have their own form of pop music, sometimes producing local versions of wider trends, and lending them local characteristics. Some of these trends (for example Europop) have had a significant impact of the development of the genre.
According to Grove Music Online, "Western-derived pop styles, whether coexisting with or marginalizing distinctively local genres, have spread throughout the world and have come to constitute stylistic common denominators in global commercial music cultures". Some non-Western countries, such as Japan, have developed a thriving pop music industry, most of which is devoted to Western-style pop. Japan has for several years produced a greater quantity of music than everywhere except the US. The spread of Western-style pop music has been interpreted variously as representing processes of Americanization, homogenization, modernization, creative appropriation, cultural imperialism, or a more general process of globalization.
In Korea, pop music's influence has led to the birth of boy bands and girl groups which have gained overseas renown through both their music and aesthetics. Korean co-ed groups (mixed gender groups) have not been as successful.
The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP ) is an American non-profit performance-rights organization (PRO) that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them accordingly.ASCAP collects licensing fees from users of music created by ASCAP members, then distributes them back to its members as royalties. In effect, the arrangement is the product of a compromise: when a song is played, the user does not have to pay the copyright holder directly, nor does the music creator have to bill a radio station for use of a song.
In 2012, ASCAP collected over US$941 million in licensing fees and distributed $828.7 million in royalties to its members, with an 11.6 percent operating expense ratio. As of July 2018, ASCAP membership included over 670,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers, with over 11 million registered works.In the United States, ASCAP competes with four other PROs – Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC), Global Music Rights, & Pro Music Rights.Contemporary Christian music
Contemporary Christian music (or CCM—and occasionally "inspirational music") is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith. It formed as those affected by the 1960s Jesus movement revival began to express themselves in a more contemporary style of music than the hymns, Gospel and Southern gospel music that was prevalent in the church at the time. Today, the term is typically used to refer to pop, rock, or praise & worship styles.
It has representation on several music charts including Billboard's Christian Albums, Christian Songs, Hot Christian AC (Adult Contemporary), Christian CHR, Soft AC/Inspirational, and Christian Digital Songs as well as the UK's Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart. Top-selling CCM artists will also appear on the Billboard 200. In the iTunes Store, the genre is represented as part of the Christian and gospel genre while the Google Play Music system labels it as Christian/Gospel.Country pop
Country pop (also known as pop country) is a fusion genre of country music and pop music that was developed by members of the country genre out of a desire to reach a larger, mainstream audience. By producing country songs that employed many styles and sounds found in pop music, the country music industry was effective in gaining new listeners without alienating its traditional country audience. Country pop music is often known for genres like rock, pop, and country combined. It is a continuation of similar efforts that began in the late 1950s originally known as Nashville sound and later on Countrypolitan. By the mid-1970s, many country artists were transitioning to the pop-country sound which led to some records charting high on mainstream top 40 as well as country Billboard charts.Dance-pop
Dance-pop is a popular music sub-genre that originated in the early 1980s. It is generally uptempo music intended for nightclubs with the intention of being danceable but also suitable for contemporary hit radio. Developing from a combination of dance and pop with influences of disco, post-disco and synth-pop, it is generally characterised by strong beats with easy, uncomplicated song structures which are generally more similar to pop music than the more free-form dance genre, with an emphasis on melody as well as catchy tunes. The genre, on the whole, tends to be producer-driven, despite some notable exceptions.Dance-pop is known for being highly eclectic, having borrowed influences from other genres, which varied by producers, artists and periods. Such include contemporary R&B, house, trance, techno, electropop, new jack swing, funk and pop rock.
Dance-pop is a popular mainstream style of music and there have been numerous pop artists and groups who perform in the genre. Notable ones includeCher, Madonna, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Gloria Estefan, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Spice Girls, Paula Abdul, Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, NSYNC, Destiny's Child, Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and Selena GomezElectropop
Electropop is a music genre combining elements of electronic and pop genres. Usually, it is described as a variant of synth-pop that heavily emphasizes on its electronic sound. The genre has seen a revival of popularity and major influence since the 2000s.Europop
Europop (also Euro pop) is a style of pop music that originated in Europe during the late 1960s and developed to today's form throughout the late 1970s. Europop topped the charts throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Many successful Europop artists came from Belgium, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.Indie pop
Indie pop (also typeset as indie-pop or indiepop) is a music genre and subculture that combines guitar pop with DIY ethic in opposition to the style and tone of mainstream pop music. It originated from British post-punk in the late 1970s and subsequently generated a thriving fanzine, label, and club and gig circuit. Compared to its counterpart, indie rock, the genre is more melodic, less abrasive, and relatively angst-free. In later years, the definition of indie pop has bifurcated to also mean bands from unrelated DIY scenes/movements with pop leanings. Subgenres include chamber pop and twee pop.Iranian pop music
Iranian pop music refers to pop music originated in Iran, with songs mainly in Persian and other regional languages of the country. It is also widely referred to as Persian pop music in the Western world.Latin pop
Latin pop (Spanish and Portuguese: Pop latino) refers to pop music that contains sounds or influence from Latin America, but it can also mean pop music from anywhere in the Spanish-speaking world. Latin pop usually combines upbeat Latin music with American pop music. Latin pop is commonly associated with Spanish-language pop, rock, and dance music.Pop-rap
Pop-rap is a genre of music fusing the rhythm-based lyricism of hip hop music with pop music's preference for melodious vocals and catchy tunes, which gained mainstream popularity during the 1990s. The lyrics are often lighthearted, with choruses similar to those heard in pop music. The influences and roots of pop rap trace back to late 1980s hip hop artists, such as Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Beastie Boys.Pop rock
Pop rock (also typeset as pop/rock) is rock music with a greater emphasis on professional songwriting and recording craft, and less emphasis on attitude. Originating in the 1950s as an alternative to rock and roll, early pop rock was influenced by the beat, arrangements, and style of rock and roll (and sometimes doo-wop). It may be viewed as a distinct genre field, rather than music that overlaps with pop and rock. The detractors of pop rock often deride it as a slick, commercial product, less authentic than rock music.Psychedelic pop
Psychedelic pop is pop music that contains musical characteristics associated with psychedelic music. This includes "trippy" effects such as fuzz guitars, tape manipulation, sitars, backwards recording, and Beach Boys-style harmonies. Blended with pop, they create melodic songs with tight song structures. It reached its peak during the late 1960s, and declined rapidly in the early 1970s.Smooth jazz
Smooth jazz is music that evolved from a blend of jazz fusion and easy listening pop music, featuring a polished pop feel with little to no jazz improvisation. The genre arose in the mid-1970s in the United States, but it was not named "smooth jazz" until the 1980s. Traditional jazz players and jazz purists did not embrace the popular style; Jazz Journal's "Sound Investment" column stated in November 1999 that it "would cover an extremely wide spectrum of jazz styles" while avoiding smooth jazz.
The earliest smooth jazz music appearing in the 1970s includes the 1975 album Touch by saxophonist John Klemmer, the song "Breezin'" as performed by guitarist George Benson in 1976, the 1977 instrumental composition "Feels So Good" by flugelhorn player Chuck Mangione, and jazz fusion group Spyro Gyra's instrumental "Morning Dance", released in 1979. Smooth jazz grew in popularity in the 1980s as Anita Baker, Sade, Al Jarreau and Grover Washington released multiple hit songs. The smooth jazz genre began to decline at the end of the 1980s in a backlash exemplified by critical complaints about what many critics saw as the "bland" sound of top-selling saxophonist Kenny G, whose popularity peaked with his 1992 album Breathless.Swamp pop
Swamp pop is a music genre indigenous to the Acadiana region of south Louisiana and an adjoining section of Southeast Texas. Created in the 1950s and early 1960s by teenage Cajuns, it combines New Orleans-style rhythm and blues, country and western, and traditional French Louisiana musical influences. Although a fairly obscure genre, swamp pop maintains a large audience in its south Louisiana and southeast Texas homeland, and it has acquired a small but passionate cult following in the United Kingdom, northern Europe, and Japan."Swamp rock" is a distinct genre and is different from swamp pop in that drew more on 1960s rock than on the 1950s rhythm and blues sound that helped to define swamp pop. It is epitomized by the work of such artists as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tony Joe White, Delaney & Bonnie and Jesse Ed Davis.Teen pop
Teen pop is a subgenre of pop music that is created, marketed and oriented towards preteens and teenagers. Teen pop incorporates diverse genres such as pop, R&B, dance, electronic, hip hop, country and rock. Typical characteristics of teen pop music include autotuned vocals, choreographed dancing, emphasis on visual appeal (photogenic faces, unique body physiques, immaculately styled hair and designer clothes), lyrics focused on teenage issues such as love/relationships, finding oneself, friendships, teenage angst, teen rebellion, coming of age, fitting in and growing up (regardless of the artists' age) and repeated chorus lines. According to AllMusic, teen pop "is essentially dance-pop, pop, and urban ballads" that are marketed to teens, and was conceived in its contemporary form during the late 1980s and 1990s, pointing out the late 1990s as "arguably the style's golden era." About.com's Bill Lamb described teen pop sound as "a simple, straightforward, ultra-catchy melody line [...] The songs may incorporate elements of other pop music genres, but usually they will never be mistaken for anything but mainstream pop. The music is designed for maximum focus on the performer and a direct appeal to listeners."Top 40
In the music industry, the top 40 is the current, 40 most-popular songs in a particular genre. It is the best-selling or most frequently broadcast popular music. Record charts have traditionally consisted of a total of 40 songs. "Top 40" or "contemporary hit radio" is also a radio format. Frequent variants of the Top 40 are the Top 10, Top 20, Top 30, Top 50, Top 75, Top 100 and Top 200.Traditional pop
Traditional pop (also classic pop or pop standards) music consists of Western popular music that generally pre-dates the advent of rock and roll in the mid-1950s. The most popular and enduring songs from this style of music are known as pop standards or American standards. The works of these songwriters and composers are usually considered part of the canon known as the "Great American Songbook". More generally, the term "standard" can be applied to any popular song that has become very widely known within mainstream culture.
Traditional/classic pop music is generally regarded as having existed between the mid-1940s and mid-1950s. AllMusic defines traditional pop as "post-big band and pre-rock & roll pop music." This definition is disputed by many scholars; however, as many of the most popular works of Cole Porter and those of George and Ira Gershwin pre-date World War II, while the works of Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern date to World War I.Wanna One
Wanna One (Hangul: 워너원) was a South Korean boy band formed by CJ E&M through the 2017 survival competition Produce 101 (season 2). The group was composed of eleven members: Kang Daniel, Park Ji-hoon, Lee Dae-hwi, Kim Jae-hwan, Ong Seong-wu, Park Woo-jin, Lai Kuan-lin, Yoon Ji-sung, Hwang Min-hyun, Bae Jin-young and Ha Sung-woon. The group debuted on August 7, 2017 under Swing Entertainment and CJ E&M. Their contract ended on December 31, 2018, but their final activity as a group was their last concert on January 24–27, 2019.Wham!
Wham! were an English pop duo consisting of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley, formed in London in 1981.Influenced by funk and soul music and presenting themselves as disaffected youth, Wham's 1983 debut album Fantastic addressed the United Kingdom's unemployment problem and teen angst over adulthood.Their second studio album Make It Big in 1984 was a worldwide pop smash hit, charting number one in both the UK and the United States. The singles from the album — "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", "Everything She Wants" and "Careless Whisper" — all topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US. In 1985, Wham made a highly publicized 10-day visit to China, the first by a Western pop group. The event was seen as a major watershed moment in increasing friendly bilateral relations between China and the West.Wham became one of the most successful pop acts of the 1980s, selling more than 30 million certified records worldwide from 1982 to 1986.
|General forms of |
Western popular music
|Topics specific to |
pop music style
|Cultural impact of ...|
(italics = ongoing)