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The Aesthetics of Pop Music

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"It All Sounds The Same These Days!"

In just about every home in America at just about any given time the words: "It all sounds the same these days!" is uttered to a teenage child, while the mother is screaming "Turn it down!" in the background. The teenager storms to his bedroom and turns the radio up to full volume and thinks, "They just don't get it!" Then proceeds to dance around the room singing into the hairbrush. This is the pleasure principal of pop music. Whether accredited to innocence or ignorance, a unreconciled naivety has survived this culture since its inception. They're everywhere. We cannot escape the wrath of teen pop bands, you can love 'em or hate 'em, but they are a representation of an ever changing culture.

What is the pop music phenomenon? Most pop music uses a "commercial" approach to songwriting which limits the use of complicated musical devices, this is said to be what makes pop music. "Popular music is popular because the composition hears for the listener and is pre-digested."(Adorno, Theodore, On Popular Music 1941) Pop music contains simple, chord driven, repetitious, square phrased (4 bar) melodies that are catchy and easily singable. The phrases in these sections are generally 4, 8, 12, or 16 measures long. Most pop songs have a catchy 8 measure phrase that is repeated 6-8 times throughout the song. This attributes to the ever so frequently heard "It was on the radio this morning and I just can't get it out of my head" phenomenon.

Pop music has a standard structure as follows:

Introduction/ Verse 1/Bridge (refrain)

Verse 2/ Bridge/Verse or Outro

The frequent use of simple chord progressions and these chords are often "looped" in order to make the tune more predictable, helping the listener more easily memorize the song. Attributing to another frequently heard phrase "I don't even like that song and I know all the words!"

How can the aesthetics of pop music be measured? From person to person tastes in music differ greatly and the effect that music has on ones self can be very abstract, so how can the aesthetics of a classification of music, pop, that is: simple, predictable and repetitious



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