If you’re talking about pop , Michael Jackson also known as the King of Pop will come to mind. However, there were others too who made this genre what it is today. The unique sounds of the Beatles, Madonna, George Michael, Robbie Williams and Britney Spears have echoed through the generations. What would pop music be like without their catchy, harmonic and melodic songs to get everyone singing? But what exactly is pop? We take a look at its rise and impact to bring light to the darkness.
Pop, which is not synonymous with the term popular music, arose out of rock’n’roll, folk and beat music in the mid 50s USA. However, Elvis Presley is also counted as a pioneer of the pop culture. The complexity of the original music style largely disappeared. In its place, simple harmonicas and series’ of melodies easy to remember were introduced, giving the populace better access to this music. With its catchy melodies the new style of pop was especially well received by the younger generation.
The Beatles, who started their legendary career in the 60s, belong to the first and most popular group of bands that have made pop what it is today. With their guitar-driven music they not only provided inspiration for bands at the time but became a source of inspiration for generations of artists to come. Popular music of the 70s was especially shaped by the flower-power-movement and disco music. The US-American film Saturday Night Fever and its respective soundtrack rather spectacularly mirrored the pop-feeling of the 70s with pop hits from the Bee Gees and Kool & The Gang.
Since the 80s pop music has also inspired the adult audience - who could imagine the modern music scene without it? The King of Pop, Michael Jackson , remains unforgotten. His album, Thriller, is the most sold album of all time. His hits Billy Jean and Smooth Criminal epitomize pop from this decade. The same applies for Madonna who received the title of The Queen of Pop with her hits Like A Prayer and Like a Virgin, becoming the most successful female singer of the decade. Also worth mentioning is Whitney Houston and Prince whose hits Wanna Dance With Somebody and Purple Rain respectively have sung themselves into pop heaven. Meanwhile in Europe, pop artists Phil Collins, Billy Idol, Nena and Co. became musical sensations.
In the 90s one of the greatest changes in music history took place with the breakthrough of hip hop and r’n’b. Even popular music became heavily influenced by these two musical styles, seen, for example, in pop songs by Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Boys II Men and TLC. The end of the 90s marked the teen pop entrance on the international music scene. Backstreet Boys, Destiny's Child and the Spice Girls, all from Great Britain, conquered the pop charts. Britney Spears stormed the charts with her hit "...Baby One More Time" and in doing so became arguably the most famous popstar at the time.
In the 2000s the triumph of teen pop continued. However, some boybands such as NSYNC couldn’t hold on to their popularity during the second half of the decade. Instead, many children's series’ stars such as Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez rose to the top of the sales charts. In addition, the strong influence of African American music remained evident. Rihanna, who frequently combined this style with Caribbean sounds, can now be considered one of the biggest pop stars of the last 20 years. The end of 2000s marked the arrival of a new wave of influential artists, all of whom have transformed the music scene up to the present day. Lady Gaga, for example, entered the stage in 2008 with her pop hit Just Dance, and livened up pop music by reintroducing key electronic elements, heard in her music, which can be listened to on the dedicated station, ABCD Lady Gaga .
Justin Bieber's debut single One Time came out a year later. The heart-throb, who was discovered by the equally successful singer Usher, triggered total mass hysteria one public appearance at a time. Also worth noting is the influence of various casting shows on the pop scene over the last 15 years, with shows having produced stars such as One Direction, Olly Murs (both X Factor) and Kelly Clarkson (American Idol).
So, what has this musical backstory taught us? Pop is not just pop. This type of music for the masses likes to combine various, current styles together. Although hard to pin down, the general consensus still recognizes two distinctive features of pop music: its electro-acoustic production and the distribution of this music through mass media. Its "triviality" together with the fact that it is the most lucrative branch of the music industry sometimes gives pop a bad name among critics. However, this hasn’t affected this genre’s popularity one bit. Everyone can relate to the lyrics in some way or another. Countless radio stations on radio.net address the issues of life, love and loss. The extensive collection of radios on offer demonstrates just how diverse this genre is, and that it continues to develop all the time. There will always be a Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift or a Justin Bieber taking the charts by storm.