There is little certainty in life. It is easy to feel like we have little control of our lives and that our fates are in the hand of some indifferent higher power. It is because of these feelings that we created pop culture. People wanted the opportunity to play God. They wanted the chance to build up others so that they could have the satisfaction of tearing them down. Just like God, we as a society, have the ability to create and destroy. We pluck people out of obscurity, make them into celebrities, worship them and then when we become bored or envious of them, we destroy them. We either strip them from the limelight or we destroy the reputation.
We hate pop music because it reflects our most negative attributes. Pop music is an acknowledgement and celebration of our society’s most perverted pleasures. It is superficial, it is contrived and it is narcissistic. But at the end of the day- aren’t we?
People bash the pop genre. People say that every song sounds the same and that it is an industry based on stolen and recycled content. People say that it’s reductive and that it lacks intellect or passion. They say that’s it’s mass produced and mechanical. At the end of the day, pop stars can’t get a break. If they try something experimental, they’re criticized for being polarizing. If they release something similar to their previous work, they’re criticized for not growing as an artist. The constant battle that pop stars face is releasing music that is meaningful and original while catering to the masses.
Those who reject pop music ignore the reality of our society. Pop music is the dominant genre because it is the most honest. People are inherently self obsessed and only interested in materialistic things. Teenagers like to drink, they like to have sex, they like to party all night. We are a society that lives for instant gratification, and pop music gives us this gratification. We listen to pop music so we don’t have to listen to the voices in our heads. Now that we live in a global world, we’re painfully aware of the injustices around the world. We know about the poverty of third world countries, we know about human rights abuses. But we choose to do nothing about them- we drown out the cries of the world around us with polished beats and hooks. Maybe all pop songs sound the same, maybe they don’t. But one could argue that pop music just reflects the reality that there aren’t really many original ideas left. We are a society that likes to build upon what we already have and while pop songs may sound similar they are constantly evolving. We’re a society of thieves, built upon cultural appropriation and globalization.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that before people criticize pop music they should look at the society we live in. Pop music isn’t the death of culture, it’s merely a reflection of it. There’s something quite liberating about acknowledging our own excess and narcissism. Everyone craves to be the center of attention, everyone wants to be remembered when they die. We all long for some perverted form of immortality and relevance. Being superficial is a part of human nature. The issue is when we allow this type of thinking and living to dominate all aspects of our existence. Pop music is meant to be fun and problem free. Sometimes we need that. It is when we choose to live in a reality that ignores injustice and abuse that this becomes an issue. I don’t expect pop music to change the world. I don’t expect to find great meaning in it. I need it to be easy to dance to.