By Popular Demand

evil's angels

“Oh, give me the Beach Boys beat, boys, and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock and roll, and drift away.” – Dobie Gray

I love music.  I love listening to songs, whether it’s in the car, at home, on the internet, at work (I’m the only one crazy enough to voluntarily turn on the muzak at Mecca when we’re closed).  I love a wide variety of music.  There’s hardly a genre out there that doesn’t have something I really enjoy listening to.  But when it comes down to it, there is one kind of music I like more than any other….

I like pop music.

Dude!?!?  What the fuck's wrong with you!?!?

Dude!?!? What the fuck’s wrong with you!?!?

There, I said it.

It’s kind of ironic in numerous ways.  First of all, because of the fact that I’m generally a very contrarian person.  The most effective way to get me to dislike something is for it to be something everyone around me loves.  This is largely behind why I don’t root, root, root for the home teams, get on any of those trendy social media networks, or watch pretty much anything on television these days.  What can I say?  I don’t like running with the pack.

And it also works in reverse.... love ya, Jar Jar, baby!

And it also works in reverse…. love ya, Jar Jar, baby!

Second of all, it’s interesting that pop music seems to be so universally hated.  After all, the “pop” in pop music stands for “popular”, and according to the all-knowing Google:

pop·u·lar – (adj.) 1. Liked, admired, or enjoyed by many people or by a particular person or group.

Pictured above: popular

Pictured above: popular

So if the music is “popular”, then it should be liked, admired, or enjoyed by many people.  But it sure doesn’t seem that way, does it?  I know a lot of people who consider themselves to be musical connoisseurs who absolutely loathe any music or artist that is mainstream.  And heaven forbid one of their favorite musicians should hit the big time…

Beanage wasteland.

Beanage wasteland.

“Pop goes the weasel, cuz the weasel goes pop!” – 3rd Bass

The exact point any band or artist “sold out” seems to be the musical equivalent to a TV show’s “jumping the shark” moment.  Sure, the music before your favorite group became huge commercial successes was likely purer, and more intellectual, and maybe edgier and artsier… and for the “uneducated masses”, it’s probably a whole hell of a lot less interesting to listen to than the “hits”.

And that brings us to what is perhaps the reason for this oxymoronic mass dislike of popular music can be found in the alternate definition that comes up for the word “popular”:

pop·u·lar (adj.) – 2. (of cultural activities or products) intended for, or suited to the taste, understanding or means of the general public rather than specialists or intellectuals.

To put this definition in layman’s terms as it pertains to our subject at hand, “popular music” is essentially music that is “dumbed down” to the tastes of the masses…. and those masses are usually…

We <3 U Justin!!!

We ❤ U Justin!

From the days of Elvis to One Direction, it seems pop music generally caters to the young female demographic.  Put a young male sex symbol on stage, have him sing some silly love song with a funky beat, and you have a guaranteed #1 pop hit.  Heck, it doesn’t have to even be a dude who may or may not have gone through puberty yet… we’ve seen the likes of Madonna, Britney Spears, and Miley Cyrus capture a wide net of teenybopperette fans no matter how slutty sexy they try to make their public image.

who doesn't love furry lesbians?

Girls kissing girls is universally enjoyed entertainment.

“New York, London, Paris, Munich… everybody talk about, Pop Muzik!” – M

But this is really a gross oversimplification of pop music.  Anything that gets a lot of airplay on the radio and in other elements of pop culture is essentially considered to be popular music.  And of course, what gets that precious repetitive airplay is generally hand selected by the kings of the music industry… the record labels.  Local hits by lesser known acts? … sorry, not in these modern times.  The DJ’s don’t get much say in what platters get spun on the air anymore.

Sigh... if I have to play one more P!nk song, I swear.... hey, we get it, you're a freak.  Big fucking deal!  We're all freaks!  Bitch...

Sigh… if I have to play one more P!nk song, I swear…. hey, we get it, you’re a freak who likes to fly your flag. Big fucking deal! We’re all freaks, bitch…

“Never wanted to be no pop singer” – John Cougar Mellencamp

And exactly why should catchy pop ditties be considered to be “guilty pleasures”…  particularly the songs of yesteryear by artists we like to pretend never existed?  Is it so shameful to wanna break your stride three decades after Matthew Wilder had America diddybopping to his feel good hit?  What’s wrong with wanting to get your groove thang on with a little disco era Bee Gees?  Why should Debbie Gibson’s and Tiffany’s and Rick Astley’s music get the pariah treatment now when a quarter of a century ago it was The Shit?

Ring the bell, sucka!  School's back in!

Ring the bell, sucka! School’s back in!

“If memories were all I played, I’d rather drive a truck.” – Rick Nelson

The fact is nobody should be ashamed of their taste in music, whether it made the big time or can only be found buried deep at your local record store.

Knock yourself out, Tino fans!  All two of you...

Knock yourself out, Tino fans! All two of you…

So why do I generally like pop music over unpop music?  I actually came to the realization that answers this question over the last year and a half at work, where I get to listen to the eclectic selection of the CD’s the brass in Bentonville want played constantly in all of their stores.  I’ve come to like a lot of the songs I discovered only from hearing them at work, many of which are not at all mainstream.  Why?



“A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio” – Goo Goo Dolls

I very rarely like songs the first time I hear them, or even the second time, or sometimes the thirtieth time… whether they are hits on the radio or something more obscure I hear somewhere else.  It takes a lot of listens before most songs grow on me.  Some of the songs I once absolutely hated are now favorites of mine.  But this is why it would do no good for me to actively explore new music, because on average it takes so long for any particular ditty to catch my interest… and in the end, I may not end up even liking it at all, which would make for a lot of wasted effort.  So the only chance I have to get to really like songs is via “forced” constant exposure.

Sorry, Jose.  I still fucking hate your song.

Sorry, Jose. I still fucking hate your song.

“I write the songs that make the whole world sing” – Barry Manilow

So here’s a little love for the much-maligned darling of the airwaves, pop music.  Thank you for giving me a lifetime full of earworms by playing the same thing over on re-pea-pea-pea-pea-peat.  I’m not going to hang my head in shame the next time I get caught singing along to “Macho Man” at the ballpark, or seen bopping up and down in the car to “Blurred Lines”, or listening to whatever classic gems Merby and Sheena are posting.  Nope, I’m going to totally own it, just like I tell everyone at work about my unicorn collection


Maybe you should try singing along to Beck, loser…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
This entry was posted in Squirrel Droppings and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to By Popular Demand

  1. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I like pop, I like soul, I like rock, but I never liked disco–Everclear

    OK, not true, I do love disco too.

    I don’t listen to a lot of current music because of the constant repeats. Even on satellite radio, the pop stations tend to be playing the same songs over and over. I end up skipping those and spending my time on different versions of rock or listening to the ipod (where the pop songs are from the 70s and 80s). I rely on my kid through his friends to alert me to any current songs worth checking into.

    • I could never listen to a current Top 40 station because of the almost hourly repeats of songs… I prefer my repetition to be a bit more scattered over time. And I see what you did there! I love “AM Radio!”

  2. merbear74 says:

    Diddybopping? Classic gems? Why, you are the best squirrel, like ever!

  3. 1jaded1 says:

    I like pretty much all music from classical to hard rock (fave). A lot of the more “alternative” music is using heavy synths, which makes it sound poppish. It’s interesting, my alt station was playing Lorde’s ‘Team’ and I hated it. Then another rock group covered it. It sounds better, IMO, but they still play it to death. I love your statement that no one should be ashamed of the music that they listen to…to each his own.

    • Ha, I can be like that with covers of more traditional standards. I love Devo’s cover of “Satisfaction” way more than the Stones original. I’m a fan of almost any version of “Smalls Like Teen Spirit” except Nirvana’s (Even the Paul Anka version, which is awesome!) And I was shocked to discover that Blake Shelton, of all people, made me like “Footloose” in a way Kenny Loggins never did.

      Oh, and never go to Funkytown with Lipps, Inc. Only trust the Pseudo Echo version! Best cover of a “classic” evah!

      My musical tastes are so spread out over the map that even I’m not sure of what I like and don’t like!

      • 1jaded1 says:

        Pseudo Echo was awesome. I wore out the cassette. That video at the end of your non-mainstream link was fun. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Wow! I love this post. You put into words something I have struggled with for years. I think there is a craft and art of creating the perfect pop song that reaches through the radio and grabs us all. Perhaps that’s why some people are so snooty and agnostic about such music. Is there some underlying jealousy that they have no idea how one can create such candy confections? I have no idea. But I will always shamelessly love these songs. And today’s radio seems richer with them than any other time I can recall, other than the mid-to-late 80s when I was in junior high and high school.

    • Thanks! Back in the 80’s (and really, the two decades that preceded it), there was so much variety on the radio. The decade we grew up in had not only pop, but rock, new wave, rap, heavy metal, post-disco… it was all played on the Top 40 stations! I really miss that… but I hate it when people say there’s no good music anymore. If they’d turn on the radio and give what they hear a chance, I think they’d actually like it.

      I think another element of the dislike of pop music is the belief that most of the pop musicians have little actual musical talent. I’m not sure that’s as true as the haters like to think it is, but songs have been written for more demographically pleasing artists to perform for about as long as the recording studio has been around…

  5. But … what IS pop music? Who sings it? I like lots of different music, but not everything in any genre. I’m really not sure what pop music is but I probably like at least some of it because I like some of everything.

    • That is a good question, and one that is probably beyond my squirrely brain to try and tackle. Michael Jackson is the King of Pop, so perhaps we should ask his hologram…

  6. gentlestitches says:

    Great post and fabulously fun link!

  7. Tino. I don’t even know the words to comment on that cover.

    I find myself listening to the punk-pop bands my teenage daughter listens to. I even go to the concerts and sing along (without making a fool of myself) and wonder why I don’t hear those songs on the radio. Oh well. Fun post. Keep writing about this stuff.

  8. draliman says:

    “The only way to get popular again after you’ve sold out is to die” (draliman, 2014)

    I’ve never heard of “Tino” but that picture is just WRONG 🙂

  9. I think there is nothing wrong to like pop music, you can sing along every song immediately, even when you are drunken, that’s cool. btw: Tino’s lacoste shirt is faked :o)

  10. C.K. Hope says:

    Why would you hang your head in shame when caught singing along to Macho Man? Doesn’t everyone sing along with that one? I STILL sing along with Madonna, which means I own the CDs since she doesn’t get air time anymore, which means I just admitted that not only did I buy Madonna when she first came out, oops I brought it again (snicker) when I got a CD player.

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