How Pop Music Culture Has Shaped Our Lives

Go on, admit it…you love pop music and cheesy love songs.

During the 1950s and 1960s, pop music encompassed rock and roll and the youth-oriented styles it influenced. Rock and pop music remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.

Pop music, a genre of popular music, has, over the decades, grown into an independent ever-evolving form of music. Finding its roots in America and the UK, pop music is popularly known for being a composition of various styles of music.

Although most people identified it as a genre associated with sex, drinking, and party, pop music has spread across multiple cultures with a wider scope of usage.

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Building my pop culture knowledge has been an integral part of my life — first as a pop culture obsessive, and now as a culture reporter and writer. But at some point in my adolescence, it also unwittingly became a way of writing my own primer to life in America.

Pop culture more or less helped me teach myself American culture since I didn’t have existing reference points from my parents. There are still lots of gaps in my knowledge: references I have to look up, work I’m not familiar with because it predated me and wasn’t something my parents would have known about because they didn’t grow up here. Watching movies and television, reading books and listening to music were like steps toward assembling an identity for myself. I was putting together some building blocks to understand a culture unfamiliar to me and my parents.

I thought I was alone with this approach. But over the years, I’ve seen that it’s a common experience for many immigrants and their children. For instance, when actor and comedian Bob Saget died earlier this year, I spoke to a range of immigrants and children of immigrants about how his work on “Full House” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” — two ubiquitous and widely appealing shows of the 1980s and 1990s — were formative for them. (And somehow, the story I wrote ended up in John Stamos’ eulogy for his dear friend and colleague.)

By the 2000s, pop was a genre with endless roads for artists to travel down, each with its own flair and twist to the classic traditions of pop music. Teen pop was existing in the music of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera; pop rock and power pop were making a comeback in the sounds of Blink 182’s “All the Small Things”, opening up a gate for the musicians that would come to be pivotal within the pop-punk genre, like Simple Plan and Fall Out Boy. Towards the end of the first decade of the 2000s, pop was again being influenced with hip hop and R&B sounds through Rihanna’s music, and electronic sounds made themselves known in Lady Gaga’s sounds from her album, Poker Face, which went on to win two Grammys. Pop music had become an electric melting pot of subgenres and sounds that all shared the common tropes of a pop song.

Pop has become so much more than a catchy melody and repeated verses—it’s a representation of the way music and musical trends has evolved throughout the years, gathering up sounds that shouldn’t have worked together, but did, and did so in a way that was immensely loved. Today, pop music is as diverse and rich as it is because of the influences on its evolution. Pop is a complicated, wondrous genre of music where the possibilities feel endless, and the sounds feel like all of your favorites coming home to play.

All of that got me thinking about how lots of us have a story to tell about a movie, TV show, book, song, artist or album that unlocked something in us, helped us fit in, taught us something or became an entry point to something bigger. Maybe it was something we consciously sought out, or maybe it was simply whatever was available to us. Maybe it was something that, upon reflection in adulthood, we realize was imperfect or deeply flawed. Maybe it was something we haven’t thought about in a long time, something buried deep in the recesses of our minds. Or maybe it was something that still plays on a loop in our heads, making us wonder: “Do other people think about this too?”

Due to the genre’s ever-changing nature, the definition of pop music is dynamically pliable. In its application, pop music is a version of popular music that runs the highest hits. Pop is basically a form of contemporary music that distinguishes itself from folk, art, and classical styles of music.

Some of the elements that create a variance between pop music and the subgenres of popular music include repetitive structuresimple melodies, and danceable rhythm. Instruments used in pop music have a defining force of what goes around the genre.

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Scott Baber
Scott Baber
Senior Managing editor

Manages incoming enquiries and advertising. Based in London and very sporty. Worked news and sports desks in local paper after graduating.


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