The term pop music, not to be confused with popular music, refers to a genre of music that is intended for the widest listening audience. Pop artists sell more albums, their songs are played throughout different radio stations, and they draw the largest concert audiences compared to many other genre artists.
Starting in 1955 with Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock,” pop music often derives its root elements from rock ‘n roll. However, its influence can include one or more genres and music styles all together.
Over the years, the face of pop music has changed from Bill Haley to The Beatles, and from Madonna to Britney Spears. Today, we have the daring, controversial Lady Gaga. How is this change defined, and what exactly has perpetuated it? More importantly, what does the future look like for pop music?
Fifty years ago, pop music bands needed to have a mainstream sound if they hoped to make it in the music world. There wasn’t a lot of room for new sounds, new looks, or new bands. If a band wasn’t mainstream, it often fell through the cracks and was buried before it even had a chance to rise. Today, this is not the case. In fact, the opposite is embraced.
The evolution of technology has made it possible for new sounds, new artists, and new looks to build a fan base before they officially start recording. With the help of social networks and on-line videos and exposure, many artists are already popular before they are signed by a record company. Although building this fan base takes time and word of mouth, bands with a different sound get noticed quicker and more often, consequently providing fans with a new taste for their ever-changing music palates.
It is not to say that artists from the 80’s like Madonna and Olivia Newton-John were not quality artists. These artists just needed to fit loosely into a mold that had already been preset by the music industry. However, someone as iconic as Madonna has been considered to be one of the most influential artists to change the face of pop. Often, an artist that has pushed the envelope, particularly in the realm of sexuality, has helped paved the way for current artists such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Lady Gaga.
It is uncertain what the future holds for pop music, but one thing is clear. More musicians will make their way to the top of the charts thanks to the evolution of technology, the artists that came before them, and the ever-changing musical tastes of our evolving generation.