I get it. It’s not “cool” to love pop music. If you’ve ever found yourself saying something along the lines of “All the music on the radio is crap!” or “The quality of music these days is going downhill," this article is for you!
Now I’m not saying it’s not crap, but I think there are things we can learn from pop music. So before you dismiss it as a useless genre, let’s see what we can take away from it.
There’s something to be said for appealing to your audience.
Yes, I understand that a lot of pop songs are being pushed to radio by major labels and shoved down our throats, but the audience’s response is still an essential factor to the success of a song. A lot of songwriters are so self-involved in their songwriting that they don’t even consider how an audience will respond to the song.
I’m not saying sacrifice your artistic integrity and start cranking out peppy “love-yourself” music, BUT if you let your listeners be a factor in the songwriting process, they may respond to your music better. After all, isn’t part of the reason you’re writing songs for people to enjoy them?
Production quality matters.
Even if you don’t listen to the radio, you hear top-notch production every day. It’s become the standard. If your music isn’t meeting that standard, it’s going to be harder to get people to give you a chance.
Not only is production quality important, but people are beginning to value the production just as much as the song itself. That’s why producers like Calvin Harris and Skrillex have become so famous.
So consider the production, the arrangement, and the beat as a part of your song, not just the frosting on the cake. Write in that killer bass drop while you’re writing the melody. Want to change up the beat going into the bridge? – Write it into the song!
Pop songs are casual. They’re informal. You’re probably not going to find complex poetry and deep hidden meanings, but you’ll find lots of slang, idioms, and colloquial language. People love that, because it’s relatable.
So write like you talk. It’s so easy to get so caught up in metaphors and poetry that you lose sight of how the words will sound out loud. (Trust me, I’m guilty of this!) If you can’t say a sentence out loud and make it sound natural, it probably won’t work well in a song.
People love catchy melodies.
There’s a reason songwriter Max Martin has cranked out a record number of Billboard Hot 100 hits (surpassed by only John Lennon and Paul McCartney) – he’s a brilliant melody writer.
Pop music is all about the melody. So the next time you’re hating on a song because of its boring lyrics, simple chord progression, or the singer’s voice, take a second to focus on the melody. Even though those lyrics are cliché as all get out, millions of people are still singing them in their car and there’s a reason why.
Analyze the melody (and the rhythm of the melody) and try to figure out what it is that makes it so catchy.
I honestly thing as musicians and songwriters, there’s something we can learn from every song, good or bad. So the next time you hear a pop song, before you groan and change the station, take a second to think: what IS it about this song that makes it so popular? Even if you don’t like the song as a whole, there may be some aspects you like (and can learn from) if you just give it a chance.
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