Opinion: Today’s pop music is killing the genre

Opinion: Today's pop music is killing the genre

Cody Wagner, Entertainment Writer

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Most music on the most popular radio stations today is garbage. The image of pop music needs to be reformed so the radio industry can still remain alive and a major influence within the world of music.

So many songs are unsatisfying. The song “Gucci Gang” by Lil’ Pump is a well-received rap song that literally contains the lines “Gucci Gang” in almost 90% of the song. What a joke.

Pop radio has become one of the genre’s biggest issues. Instead of changing up artists and using different material, they just focus on the biggest hit released by a popular artist and only play that one song rather than trying to be innovative and experimental. I can’t remember how many times I heard the song “Circle”s by Post Malone being played on the radio. Also the song “Let me down by NF” was on constantly when it was at its peak in popularity. These songs are great by themselves but because of the overall value of their success, these tracks become too mainstream, allowing for people to only focus on the one hit tune.

If you tune into my hometown radio stations – Chicago’s Kiss FM or The Mix – you’ll find a steady repetition of songs. You’ll listen to one pop song then tune into another station and that same song will come on 5 minutes later.  I get sick and tired of hearing the same song over and over to the point where it’s on multiple stations. It shows that clearly the radio industry is becoming a fragment of the past relying on just one hit track to oversee success. They think that by playing the track repeatedly that it will get more people to listen, when in fact it’s just an annoyance that drives everyone crazy.

The sound of the songs isn’t the same as well. Much distortion and hard editing are made to the point of absurdity. I get that there needs to be censorship of adult words on mainstream radio,  but to change the sound of the whole song to make it sound more ‘’poppy’’ and tasteful just waters the art down and ruins the whole song as an entirety. Add in the commercials, and the radio just continues to evolve into a washed up format compared to streaming services.

Pop radio uses throwback material from the early 2000’s and plays them to attract the audience’s taste with the newest hippest artists that everybody loves and adores. Old material from artists such as Pitbull, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars is played to allow leeway in case new music becomes too mainstream and overplayed.  They see that people aren’t tuned into the new material of new age artists so they use tracks from old ones to bring back memories of their success and triumph. Pop music’s goal is to be popular. That is the whole idea of the genre to relate to the popularized movement of music, to relate to teens and young adults in their 20s still having fun while trying to find a life for themselves. Pop has always centered around youth and the satisfaction of new age millennials.  The songs want to relate to the average youth as much as possible and much of the material is centered toward the subject of relationships and their uncertain outcomes.

Pop radio should continue to bring in today’s hippest artists such as Post Malone, The Weekend, Ariana Grande and Halsey. These artists are some of the industry’s most successful people. Change the repetition within the system and allow for different music to be played on multiple stations. They need to expand their horizons and think about music that isn’t pop but related to pop music. An option I believe could have potential is using certain alternative music like Imagine Dragons, Hozier, Green Day. Granted all these bands center toward the genre of rock, but  they also contain elements of pop within each band’s material that relate to the overall sound of the genre. A sound that is lighthearted but not too disruptive and crazy. A sound that brings in nostalgia but also differentiation to show people that even though old songs are being used, they can be related to the overall sound that pop generates.

Another way to improve the genre of pop and its radio industry is to find new talent that is willing to step into the picture and make a name for themselves. New talent can be scouted every day as people create new beats, rhythms, harmonies. New music is made every day. Instead of relying just on artists who are well known they should introduce new people into the industry so listeners can hear something they’ve never heard before. The radio industry needs to be bold and different with their music. Focus on different material to popular artists rather than the same hit single. People want to hear something new and exciting. They want to relate with the music and feel their body becoming connected with the elements of a song. They want to express whether it be dancing, singing, crying, laughing, smiling, etc. Emotion and connection is what makes a great song. Songs are always great when artists put emotion into them.

I also think that pop radio should advertise more often as I hardly see any advertisements for radio stations anymore. TV ads should be available showing different material from new age artists. More events should be held like Kiss FM’s Jingle Ball in December to further gain attention and popularity within the music industry.

As for music we could do without, don’t even get me started on Takashi Sixnine. His image and songs bring out nothing but pure frustration as he tries to be this punk-like, hard-baller with all bark and no bite. It’s frustrating to me that many of my peers accept and listen to this tasteless music. Sure, it has the ability to amp people up for a party or before a concert, but to take the time and enjoy said music is beyond craziness in my world. Rappers like XXX Tentacion and Juice Wrld are the future of the genre. The unique beats, rhythms and relatable lyrics hook you into their world and the art they are trying to express.

I love how rap (especially new age ) contains interesting beats and rhythms that match perfectly with the song’s dynamic. It’s the beats that get people interested. Rap has truly revolutionized itself since the days of Run DMC and NWA with the introduction of newer technology and creative minds allowing for the genre to rise to the occasion and be the most popular genre of music to date. With this new technology different ways of sound are being created, beats are the core to the sound of rap as newer ones have been created for songs to have style and symmetry along with harmonies and pulse pounding lyrics. Many of these lyrics try to drive a force and dig deep into social and political issues that are occuring today. Rap has further evolved itself. What was once the idea of bling, cars, girls, money is still recurring but also lyrics of social injustice, systemic racism, substance abuse, violence, poverty, all subjects related to some of today’s rap. The genre has become real and identified real issues revolving around our society. This has created a spark of revolution and a message of hope for people dealing with such issues. For the pop genre to see a revolution, it has to make some of the same changes.