WTF is Pop?

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For centuries scientists, philosophers and religious nuts alike have all been throwing in their two cents to try and determine the true meaning of life. In that time, wars have been won, technology has changed the face of the Western world forever, and Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe has sold in excess of 18 million copies. So, what is my point? What is the fantastical link I am trying (but probably failing) to make? Well, the point is: pop music can be as head scratchingly baffling and beautiful as life itself. Some will regard pop as low art – a cheap and nasty product of the mainstream music industry. Others will regard it as an expert study in postmodernism – a perfect collision of style, substance and slay. For me, pop is all of these things and more.

Nearly ten years ago I encountered an article by Pitchfork writer Tom Ewing comparing Britney’s pop masterpiece Blackout with the disembodied voices heard throughout David Lynch’s equally masterful TV series Twin Peaks. I’d never watched the show before but the comparison stuck with me as I re-approached Britney’s robotic come-ons with new ears. Five years later, I had become a David Lynch devotee and the bizarre comparison suddenly made perfect sense. On one level, Blackout is an escapist slice of forward-thinking electropop; on another, it’s the sound of manufactured pop quite literally eating itself as our former bubblegum princess is drawn into darker and more daring sounds – see Exhibit A:

It’s moments like this when pop really gets interesting and the good, the bad and the ugly perfectly align.

So I suppose you’re still wondering… WTF is Pop!? Well, as your Pop Scribe I’m hoping to explore the endless answers to this question through a careful combination of words, sentences and clichés. Failing that, here’s a quote from Ms. Britney Spears herself:

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“I don’t really have time to sit down and write. But when I think of a melody, I call up my answering machine and sing it, so I won’t forget it.”

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