Pop music is music that becomes popular in the mainstream of the American general population and usually crosses over into more than one music field and will sometimes bridge more than one generation.
This was part of an answer I offered someone at a recent NSAI Louisville Workshop who asked, "What is Pop music?"
I went on to give an example. I had been preparing a song analogy workshop at home which included the song "Yesterday" by Lennon and McCartney. I had played the song earlier one day on stereo and I noticed my oldest daughter and my wife at different times humming or singing the song. Not always, but usually it's a good sign if a song reaches both a teenager and a person in the mid-thirties age group.
Pop music also tends to change a great deal with time. If you consider what was popular fifty years ago, much of that music would not be popular today because music taste changes as the attitude of the times change.
I added that this is what I perceive Pop music to be. But I have since read Harper's Dictionary of Music, which adds more descriptive detail and one quote that deserves attention: "The term 'popular music' is also used in a very general way to distinguish it from 'serious' or 'classical' music."
Some interesting examples from Billboard magazine's Top Pop Albums for December 2, '89 are:
#1 "Girl You Know It's True" – Milli Vanilli
#2 Billy Joel
#3 Janet Jackson – #6 Rolling Stones #20 Cher
#26 B. Streisand
#50 Randy Travis
#60 Bob Dylan I
The fastest climber was White Snake's Slip of the Tongue album at #13 in only its second week on the charts.
The top three all-time favorite call-in songs for WAVE Radio's "Oldies Pop Station Requests" in Louisville for the November 3rd weekend were:
#1 -(626 votes) "Always On My Mind"
#2 -(459) "Love Me Tender"
#3 -(391) "Satisfaction"
I think it would be safe to say that what is Pop in Louisville may not necessarily be what many listeners of other stations in L.A., Calif. or Wichita, Kan. might think of as Pop. However, as a whole, we probably agree, depending upon our age and share a lot of common ground.
Simply put, Pop music is music that is accepted by the mainstream American public. If the question were asked, "What is Pop music?" in a songwriting contest where a newly written song entry has been submitted, technically, the song has not been tested with the general public and is not popular. It can only be considered by judges who believe that the untested song fits the current Pop mode within their own description of what Pop is today.
NOTICE: Please see the Louisville Music News February calendar for schedule changes in meeting location and dates (second and fourth Mondays).