The New Pop

A somewhat controversial look at the genres that are coming into the limelight since the fall of the boy-bands and the divas.

Ultimate Guitar

In the last year or so, pop has 'popped.' All or most of the boy bands have split up, and most of the pop divas have lost populatity. It's safe to say that the trend is gone for another few years. However, something has to replace it. I think that there are two kinds of music to replace the boy bands and the divas.

Before i get into it, I'll provide the definiton of "pop" that i am working with. Rather than simply "popular music" I will (in this article) refer to pop as music that is geared towards a mass audience, with no intent to offend anyone. "Radio-friendly" is a good way to describe it.

Hip-hop is the obvious answer here. Justin Timberlake is doing songs with Nelly (one of the biggest rappers in the business these days). Junior high kids are buying Eminem's CD's in record numbers. Hip-hop radio stations are springing up all over the place (I live in Calgary, and we got two rap stations in the last year). The ideal of the boy band has been replaced by the hip-hop "crew." Just a bunch of black guys instead of white guys, wearing big jeans and shiny shirts, rather than tank tops and leather pants. Instead of Britney Spears, people like Ashanti.

This boom in the rap business is leading to the ruin of good rap. Songs are becoming more and more radio friendly, many are actually using the sounds of radio editing as a part of the song. It's becoming formulaic, and dull. Take 50 Cent for example. Dr. Dre and Eminem basically built him a career from the ground up, because he fits the image. The fact that rap has always been about selling out doesn't help. By this I mean, the ideal life of a rapper is to get rich, quick, and never look back. NOT to sell out to the record label and become another clone. A different definition of "selling out" applies in this case. Sadly, we ARE getting these clones nowadays.

This is exactly what has happened to regular pop music over the decades. The Beatles (although their entire career escapes categorization) started out as a pop band. They sang songs about love and holding hands and happy things, and they were damn good at it. Then they came out with the Monkees, and countless other bands trying to recreate the formula, and it got ruined. In the 80's Michael Jackson recreated pop, and did a fantastic job of it. Pretty soon, any bonehead with a catchy phrase and a rythm in his head was in the recording studio, ruining pop once again. The New Kids on the Block redefined the idea of a boy band, and then along came 4 other boy bands, and ruined it all. Madonna created the image of a pop diva, now we have them all over the place.

Now, we see the same occurrence in rap. I would argue that Nelly, Jay-Z and Ja Rule (to name a few) have redefined rap to be more radio-friendly and have a mass appeal. Now, countless others are jumping on the bandwagon and ruining it for the good guys.

But, just as the Beatles had the Rolling Stones, Rap needs an opposing, yet equally popular alternative. You guessed it. Nu-metal. Think about this. How many kids do you know who listen to Korn? Slipknot? Mudvayne? Thousands. Millions. And it's becoming popularized. Every time I turn on my radio, I hear Chevelle, Disturbed, Opeth, Trust Company, Linkin Park etc...

But how can this be? Nu-metal is so dark. So contoversial. So inappropriate. Your parents hate the stuff. When my mom's parents discovered a copy of The Rolling Stones' "Sticky Fingers" album in her room, she was grounded for a month. It's all perspective. Nobody in the mainstream made music about drug use (Dead Flowers) violence (Street Fighting Man) and death (Paint It Black) back in the early 60's, until the Stones did it.

Now, we have Nu-metal bands singing about suicide, hatred, abuse, pain and anger with more blatancy than ever before. And the pop progression apples. Nine Inch Nails and Korn did it right, and now everyone else is diluting the talent pool. I'm not trying to rip on Nu-Metal here, I just want to point out how rapidly it is becoming popularized. The old "Beatles vs the Stones" debate could soon become "Justin vs. Slipknot"

And many may be asking: "Where does pop-punk fit into all of this?" I would lump it in with nu-metal, simply because it appeals to millions of kids, the songs are about pain, relationships, depression, politics, etc... and it's also a good alternative to hip-hop. The sound is just a little peppier than with nu-metal. I know the two genres are quite different, but in this case, their few commonalities are what I'm looking at.

So we see the revolving door of popularity has once again turned, and a couple of new genres are getting their five years of fame. I wonder what will be next? Hopefully a classic rock revival of some sort...

Just my thoughts. Take them as you will.

76 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Emenim is a good lyricist I mean hes the only true rapper nowadays... I guess I dont really know about these thing(rap) lol
    ^ what does that have to do with rap being popular? oh i get it, you're a moron with a keyboard. why not add something useful to the debate at hand?
    some bands have no sense of originality, they just want to get rich and famous, and fast, what better way to do it than follow the trend. but for other bands who put in effort and make their music sound decent enough, well they deserve something. great article.
    I really agree with what you had to say Friggen Jerk. It's interseting to stand back and look at how music has changed over the years. Music is a lot like fads, something is popular one day, then the next it isn't. Except music does last long then fads like bell bottoms, thank god. Oh and I think Eminem is a very talented individual of found a great way to make money. Just for that he deserves props. SHIBBY
    leave the kids for themselves, if they like rap they like rap. its fine by me, its not my personal favourite but i can live with it. all i object to is the kids that like rap calling me a "mosher". to hell with them!
    i dont think rap sucks. i think eminem is the most talented lyricist out there. a lot of these metal bands could learn a thing or two from him about lyrics. at least he isnt singing about how how a girl doesnt like him, or how no one understands him.
    it amazes me to no end. this was not an opinon piece, as far as preference goes. i was simply commenting on a very obvious trend in music. i never said any of it was good or bad, just that certain genres were gaining popularity in the wake of the boy band implosion. as soon as you drop a band name in an article, people assume that you are giving an opinon on the band, and they feel that they have to defend that opinon as if it were a slap in their face. i never said i like rap. i just said it was popular. i never said nu-metal was bad. i just said it is popular. i never said pop-punk sucks either. i just said that it's getting popular. y'all need to calm down before you post. ps, thanks for the feedback, those of you who understood the article!
    i agree, frigginjerk. but rap is crap. it no longer stands for "rythem and poetry", but good old "retards attempting poetry".
    Eminem is one true rapper... He is making lyrics about hes daughter and how it is to live. All other rappers say they do the same but just listen to missy Elliot? "Let me work it" She is rapping about penis... And Dr Dre and all those guys!!!! They are just full of crap..... Cypress Hill I think is a bit funny by the way... Have U ever heard Tequila Sunrise? Better do because it is great and also Dr Green Thumb.....
    Black Eyed Pees is pretty good. At least "Where is the Love"..... It has a good message and they say that america should focus on there on problems.....
    good article but wat about the new garage rock revival?? The white stripes, the strokes, the vines, the hives all of them have mass appeal. All i can say is im happy theres no more boy bands or britneys. PS ive never heard of Opeth
    What fucxin' POP-PUNK band sings about politics. The last political song I heard on the radio was "London Calling." No pop-punk band sings about politics. They sing about girls, love, and now something completely different, SUICIDE! YAY FOR PEOPLE CASHING IN ON TEEN SUICIDE. WOOWHOO!
    in the article how you said about radio stations playing rap poppin favorite radio station played metal and stuff like nirvana zep hendrix and other hard rock and classic and all that beautiful genius soon as eminem came out they went pissed me off
    Kwick STX
    perfec_circl, I agree with you. Not saying I hate them, but when I hear them, I usually change the station. As I'm sure you'll agree(name...), Perfect Circle and Tool are quality bands. They are a little dark(Tool mostly, Perfect Circle's "Pet" is a little bit...), but SO good. I "hope" that will become popular. As for Nu-Metal, I think that will become more popular. As always, kick ASS job frigginjerk, you oughtta do more lessons, like on scales, and how-to solo
    this is sad. a mega long page full of comments made my biased idiots. I believe i am standing next to the grave of musical integrity these days.
    ^ garage rock gets lumped in with the rest of the rock that is due for a major comeback in a few more years.
    anytime my brother, but dont waste time responding to me... write more columns! lol just messing, please continue writing though
    I liked the articule, I don't no why when someone mentions a band as an example people have to criticize.I mean you are free to express your feelings but I think you should also focus on what the articule is about and not its examples of bands.
    Emenius Sleepus
    Hey dude, I like some of the bands you mentioned but this is a pretty kool article. It made me laugh, because I like good charlotte and Linkin Park and Slipknot or whatever, but you have a really good point. "Justin vs Slipknot"... nice. Except Justin was born to be a girl, I'm ashamed of mother Nature.
    Who decided to categorize and throw genre stickers on everything? What counts is the music. I've heard people (my friends), listening to my blues mix and saying "hey this is good music, what is it?" "B.B.King???? Man this sucks!" the invent of genre has screwed over those who appreciate the MUSIC the music is whats important, the expression. "There is no bad genre, just bad artists" Also though i'd like to say, this article was amazing. It was a stunningly accurate analysis of the way mainstream cultural America changes and adapts to itself, constantly exchanging ideas with its opposite. As a side note for all those commenting on the demise of modern music, its not true, there are some amazing bands today, just no one gives them a chance. RHCP, Dispatch, David Gray, Incubus, more too. get out of ur self indignant self created realms and look around you, there has always been bad music, but there will always be good music. As a whole, friggenjerk, you are seeming to me like a single voice of reason, keep writing ur prophetic insights, u r a genius. **Follow the Telegraph Road** -SomnusLupus
    Man, you're ALL idiots in my opinion! He's just put his thoughts out there, you guys are totally missing the point!! It's just a nice informative article on his thoughts of genres of today, who really cares if opeth may or may not be an EXACT genre. Really, no band is 100% ANY genre, cause all their songs are different...freakin idiots...
    once again, the ignorence never fails to amaze me.this rock you suck. that's all i hear from the majority! it's time to wake up. people can listen to whatever they want. its sad that the author has to give examples of everything just to put his point through your thick skulls. and then you give him sh*t if he doesn't catagorize some band exacly the way you want.(it also sucks that my comment is on the bottom because of the spam and no one will read it)
    Are PyrO a childblaster? Because if you are you diserve to die and if you come to Svedala me and my friends will kill you.
    whoa guys, i goofed! i meant to write OTEP, not OPETH. i was in a hurry, and i'm not a huge fan of either band, hence the mixup. sorry! and for those who have read this before, it's because i wrote it last year, and it was on UG before the reformatting!
    Tom Martin
    you should respect bands like that, its because of them that music is what it is now. korn are probably one of the most influential bands ever. they were the first band ever to be dubbed 'nu-metal' and you can see their influence in nearly all bands out today. the reason jon davis sings about experiences of being an abused child is because he was, the reason he sings about being raped as a child is because he was. im sure when you write songs, you write about past experiences, or emotions. so why have a go at him for doing exactly that?
    there is something worse than rap and pop..... well, I don't want to address a genre or anything but I think Korn.... slipknot, they all suck... all they do is piss and moan about how a bully in middle school beat them up and picked on them, I really wish they'd shut the fu*k up or write some good music
    Maybe Opeth sux Truly Ninja, but you listen to White Stripes and Radiohead.
    rap sucks i wish every raper died right the is no more rap for nu metal i dont mind i can stand it being around but we strill need some real metal bands.
    i never said any of it sucked. i just pointed out that rap and nu-metal are becoming the new pop. they aren't my cup of tea, but i respect the genres nontheless. read it again. where did i say any of it was no good?
    hmmm ,maybe no bands should ever come out and do some "formula" the sixties shouldve had ONLY the beatles, and the 80ties ONLY michael jackson, that way pop couldve never been ruined and we would listen to the same band over and over again until we feel like going over there and slashing them to pieces then the freedom of choosing who you listen to will be gone, and variety wouldnt exist good going ...
    Good column, I definitely agree with most of the points made. I feel that the article was well written and well thought out. I only hope future artists will go back to being original.