#421: First It Steals Your Mind, Then It Steals Your Soul

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#421: First It Steals Your Mind, Then It Steals Your Soul

Pop music:  love it or hate it, it does exist!

I have found myself briefly flirting with popular hit songs from time to time, but I find that the rush goes away fast.  You can be totally into a new song, only to be bored with it after hearing it dozens of times over a week or two.  Then, on to the next thing.  This is nothing new, that’s pop music for you.  But why do modern-day pop songs lack longevity?  Whether it’s Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Beyonce or One Direction, their songs are hook-laden and catchy.  Yet there’s nothing about them that sticks with you for long.  People don’t really carry around a Beyonce track for life like they do with a Led Zeppelin number.  Why?

Pop songwriters always try to hit the biggest possible audience.  That’s what they are paid to do.  As such, a lot of pop music ends up sounding very “neutral”.   The songs are vaguely catchy and lyrically bland so as to appeal to “everyone”.   That doesn’t seem to be enough for a song to stick forever.  Rather than try and make a pop song interesting, producers would rather throw in whatever sounds, beats and hooks are “in” right now.  Rather than do something new, they go for something familiar.  That’s what the masses go for – songs that sound like songs they already like.  As long as it’s not much longer than three minutes….

I’m speaking very generally now.  I know there is pop music out there that defies the pigeonholes that people often want their music slotted in.  I’m not talking about those songs.  I’m talking about the same damn beats, same damn words, and the same damn melodies that you hear every day.

How does today’s pop music steal your mind and soul?  Below, find some reasons:

1. Today, pop songs trick you into thinking an artist can really write, play and sing. A look at the credits shows that 18 writers from Sweden wrote that song, and got sued by 7 different writers from America for stealing it.  A computer fixed every missed beat and note.  The song was almost completely untouched by human hands.

2. The lack of innovation and exploration in pop music leads to stagnation. Just copy, copy, copy.  Have a hit with an idea similar to someone else’s.  There’s very little new out there.  How can you expect your mind and musical taste to grow by listening to the same damn song every day?

3. Faceless performers don’t have much ability or personality compared to the golden days of the 60’s. Back then, you knew when it was Aretha singing.  Today, you have to use an app on your phone to see if that was Katy Perry or Demi Lovato.  Listen to them sing live – they do a low sultry voice, and then belt it out on the choruses, aided and abetted by computers.  Sure, Demi has lungs, but her voice gets pretty thin when she’s reaching for notes without assistance.  Thankfully this is usually covered up by the screaming crowds of teen girls.

4. We’re long past the days of people like Michael Jackson being the King of Pop. Jackson, a talented writer, worked with one of the best producers in the world, Quincy Jones.  Together they worked hard and played hard to create real pop music with actual soul.  Who is left in the world of pop of that stature and talent?  Surely not Justin Timberlake.  Timberlake has never written anything with the soul of “Billie Jean”, not that I have heard anyway.

5. Pop music and pop culture have become so intertwined that they have formed a complex web of stupidity. Remember when Britney Spears said, “I think we should just trust our president in every decision that he makes and we should just support that”?  Pop stars today are saying even dumber things.  Witness this zinger from Ariana Grande about “cow tit pus”:

“In America, almost everybody thinks you need to have meat for protein. Protein, protein, protein! And what’s in dairy? Calcium, calcium, calcium. It’s those kinds of proteins that latch onto the insides of your blood stream and make it easier for you to have a heart attack. Look, cows produce milk with nutrients for cows. Maybe that’s why Americans end up looking like cows! Ultimately, no one wants cow tit pus in their food, do they?”

And don’t even get me started on Biebs, the Little Turd from Stratford.

And these reasons, dear friends, are only some of the ways that modern pop music can steal your mind and then steal your soul.  Stick to the classics, and beware!  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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55 comments

    1. To prove I’m not an anti-pop elistist, here’s a list of pop songs you would find in my house in my collection:

      Hilary Duff – The Getaway
      Avril Lavigne – first 3 albums and all associated singles
      Melanie C – first solo album
      Lights – Second Go
      Nastasha Bedingfield – Unwritten

      etc etc

      Liked by 1 person

        1. (Touchy touchy…)

          Pop music isn’t all bad. As you might know I pretty much grew up with pop music and the like. Even now I find myself discovering music that’s played on the radio. I tend to have a very open mind when it comes to music.

          A post like this is purely inflammatory. Nothing more.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. That’s my style. Come on man, you’ve been reading me long enough to know that. I’m the guy that did a Quiet Riot review purely as a picture of a pile of shit. If I can’t be inflammatory now and then I’m not interested in writing.

          Besides, you’re the only one of us who got inflamed, as you put it.

          Like

      1. My daughters first concert was Hilary Duff. Another Disney created pop star that peaked at 18.

        I don’t know if Avril Lavigne was pop. She had a unique look, appealed to people who were into skateboards, and had more of a slightly harder, punk edge to it. Maybe she started her own genre. It was possibly closer to Blink 182, Green Day etc. than to pop. What do you think?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, One Direction and all those bands, I suppose they are not that much different than the Monkees. A band made for TV. But the Monkees had Michael Nesmith. It’s yet to be seen if 1D has anything.

      For the record I do like the Monkees.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. I’ve been taken by the odd modern ‘pop’ song, but I reckon it’s completely justified to dismiss modern ‘pop’ music as insipid, insincere and uninspired. Most of it being like 4 minute made-for-commercial jingles.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you!

          I don’t like making general statements, in general.

          LOL.

          I loathe these TV/pop stars, ’tis all. But godbless anyone who loves them.

          I’ll never forget, when I met my wife, she was into American Idol. She was trying to convince me that every once in a while there was a rocker that was good. She said to me, “There’s one guy on this year, and you’d really like him. His name is Bo Bice.”

          NO THANK YOU!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Mike! I try to keep up to date with what’s new in pop but most of the newer songs lack a long-lasting power. I heard my first One Direction song the other day – talk about generic, can’t even remember it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Your call. Most times I read a post with a youtube clip of a song I know I won’t like I skip past it without watching. As soon as I saw Ariana Grande(I think I ordered her at Starbucks) I ignored it.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thing is, there’ve always been the throw-away novelty singles, even if you just look at pop and rock over the decades. On some level I think people know that that’s all they are, but those songs sell because people are suckers for a catchy hook and beat. They wash out quickly, to be replaced by something else, and the whole process is some pop music ouroboros. It has always been and likely will always be – there’ll always be the pop tart, the boy band, all the others because enough people buy it to make it profitable for marketing teams to make that stuff. Weightier music has more value, sure, but it’s not as fun (for some people) on an afternoon at the beach.

    I wonder how much age has to do with enjoyment of it. Is it only a youth phenomenon? Do we proportionally listen to less pop crap as we age? This could be interesting (I haven’t read the whole thing yet): http://www.newsweek.com/why-do-we-listen-less-pop-music-we-get-older-329805

    I like to think I’m doing my part by letting my kids listen to whatever they want, and putting on ‘my’ music when they can’t decide. In this way they’ve heard a lot of music that isn’t so much a flash in the pan pop stuff (though they’ve never had much access to that stuff as I don’t own a whole lot of it, though they do like the radio sometimes), and now, over time, they’ve started to choose the stronger-built stuff of their own accord. They’re learning, I suppose, what sounds good to them over time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had to look up ouroboros! Well done though.

      I think back to what I liked as a kid, and it was rarely pop. There as a year I liked Culture Club, Michael Jackson, and the like, I was 10 turning 11. Then I heard AC/DC and Quiet Riot and Manfred Mann and was like WHAT THE HELL IS THIS!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I did that phase too, and I still love my old Gowan, Platinum Blonde and Glass Tiger tapes. And I had a similar moment of change, but where you heard Quiet Riot, I heard Louis Armstrong and Muddy Waters. My teen years were spent largely in jazz and blues, though I was aware of the rock I just didn’t play it as much. :)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. See I call Glass Tiger, Gowan, and Platinum Blonde all rock — they might be pop rock but I say who cares. I like many songs from all three groups anyway. I rated Crowded House here quite highly. I also posted some Glass Tiger on Geoff’s site a few weeks back but let’s get some right here right now!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks sir!

      There’s a great book by Frank Zappa, called the Real Frank Zappa book I believe. He breaks things down and demonstrates how song A is basically the same as song B, but that this is what the public want!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No really! I can’t think of anything. Pop has its place. Good, bad, and ugly. I used to look down my nose at it but somewhere along the long, I stopped.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This was my first introduction to pop music, literally….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Avvh5H-EPWU

    My wife and daughter love this crap. When we go on a road trip, I get my music for a bit, then their noise goes on, and I try and tune out, moving the speaker volume to their side of the car.
    I point out to my daughter that they choose good looking young people with some singing talent, but most are manufactured to be an image, or a brand. The “musicians” are often button pushers. I tell her that in my music, at least they play their own instruments, and she says “that is old school dad”. When I ask her about a certain song they don’t play, she says that was from last year, as if it was 50 years ago. Often songs burn out in about 3-4 months, so the pop singer would have to have a ton of singles on every album, and put out an album every year or 2 or they will be long forgotten.
    One exception I have would be Bruno Mars. I thought he was good at the Super Bowl, and the Uptown Funk is pretty good. I think he could venture into soul, jazz, blues, and even rock if given the chance.

    As for American Idol, I think you might have preferred this guy(skip to about 1:25 in if you don`t want to watch the whole thing…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhnMAqvACMY

    When I watched that show I rooted for him because he was more of a rocker, and he was struggling with Tourette Syndrome, and I like an underdog. Daughtry and Adam Levine were also decent.

    I do enjoy though when a pop singer does a good job an a rock or metal record. Fergie on Slash as an example. When different genres combine, sometimes good things happen, like when rap was mixing with metal and rock in the 80`s

    P.S. One thing that realllllllllly pisses me off is when pop stars flash the devil horns.
    YOU ARE NOT METAL. YOU ARE A POSER!!!!!!!!!!

    I

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing that really bugs me? Seeing a Kardashian in a fucking Iron Maiden shirt. I discussed this with Tyler in one of the Tyler and LeBrain podcast things.

      Bruno Mars is a guy I would make an exception for in this post — some Ed Sheeran music too. Thanks for reminding me of Bruno.

      Cool that your introduction to pop music was Pop Muzik!!!

      Like

      1. The next time I point out that one of her pop artists has stolen an idea/riff/song etc. from an old artist, that she doesn’t say “what about Led Zeppelin? Isn’t that what they did?”

        The Kardashian thing doesn’t bug me as much because she is more a reality tv star and she may actually like Iron Maiden for all I know. I don’t think she would do it for ratings because no self respecting metal fan I know would watch that show. I couldn’t even bring myself to watch The Osbournes.

        Like

  5. Quite possibly one of the most used pop artists is Pitbull. That guy is on every 3rd song on the radio, and he always sounds the same. I watched a New Years Eve show one year and he was on it. He is a horrible singer, but his voice is catchy, and they are able to fix his voice for the album in the studio. Here is another example……https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8MIM3_PcSw

    OW. MY EARS!!!! I can’t believe this was the girl that sang Baby One More Time. I wonder if she needed tons of fixing for that song as well.

    Like

  6. I like the Oscar WIlde quote: ‘Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’
    So I don’t tend to pay attention to new music until it has passed the 6-month threshold. If people are still jazzed about it then, chances are it’s worth exploring and not just popular because it is “new.”

    A song like Uptown Funk certainly passes the test, but that’s more of the MJ/Quincy Jones arrangement you eluded to.
    two semi-Current, 6-month old pop songs I like:
    Bastille – Pompeii
    Taylor Swift – Shake it off (though the bratty breakdown is uncomfortably close to Avril lavigne’s girlfriend, which was litigiously close to the Rubinoos)
    I think well-crafted pop can still exist, but it’s probably the exception as opposed to the rule

    Like

    1. Uptown Funk is cool because the word funk is a word many tweens/teens/twentysomethings probably don’t know. They probably googled it when this song came out. When I first heard the song with my daughter I played some funk records for her after to show her what funk is. Any modern pop song that can introduce young people to a cool, older form of music is ok in my books.

      I’m not sure if it/was considered pop, but I had on some Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince and my daughter and her friend were getting into it.

      Was that late 80’s, early 90’s rap music considered pop? I’m not sure. It sure crossed over genres. Every dance bar I went to had Fresh Prince, MC Hammer, Young MC, Vanilla Ice, LL Cool J, etc.

      Like

  7. One thing that bothers me about pop music is that the artists have to fit into a mold. They have to be young, good looking, and thin. I watched American Idol and Simon Cowell would tell girls that were heavy, or the guys that were nerdy or not attractive enough that they would never make it. They could be awesome singers, but would lose out to pretty girls and handsome guys that had less talent all the time. In most other genres, the talent is what wins out over the look, and they aren’t over the hill at 20 either.

    Like

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