La Roux Argues Against Underground Music in Defence of Pop

Star sees "less value in music without poppy hooks."

Ultimate Guitar

Elly Jackson, aka La Roux has expressed her revolt toward underground music - arguing in favour of pop music.

As Gigwise notes, her claims argue that records aren't cool if they're not hook-heavy and sell a huge amount of copies.

In an interview with Time Out she said: "I like the ambition of making pop. Underground music gets all of the respect and critical acclaim, yet the stuff which sells sh-tloads of records doesn't," she said. "It's the challenge of writing music that's quality, but also pop, that I want to take on."

Asked if it was a problem with underground music, Jackson responded: "There are too many underground records. I'm sick of people saying, 'That record was so great,' and yet it only sells 4,000 copies. I don't see what's cool about not writing hooks; if you're really f--king clever, where's the f--king melody that I can remember? I woke up today and forgot your whole album - genius! I don't get it."

Jackson was also recently expressing her distaste toward Kanye West. In an interview with the Sunday Times she said "F--k him! Nobody likes him."

75 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The thing with pop is that it's (in 99,99999%) made by someone else, and not the actual performer (just to avoid using the word artist here). Pop requires less and less talent with each passing year due to the amazing studio engineering possibilities, and she had the audacity to say something against the underground music... Bless that 0,00001% of Pop that's worth something!
    I think what you've hit on now is that the talent is in the producing and less so in the songwriting. The industry has just shifted in that direction.
    i think part of the blame comes from people, who like to pay less and less attention to what they consume.
    Mainstream Pop < Underground music without pop hooks < Underground music with pop hooks.
    Hooks are not always a good thing. And songs or albums which are hard to get into at first often have FAR more staying power than those that catch immediately.
    She has about the same train of thoughts and arguments as do rich people against the poor.
    Yet she looks weird and has the charisma of something that really lacks charisma.
    Yeah, go after Kanye for headlines, go after "underground music" for more of those. Seems to work just fine if you don't have a huge selling single to promote there.
    Underground music is better because you can push boundaries! There are no limits. Something like old school Mr Bungle from 20 years ago is so much more interesting than the rehashed electro rubbish she writes.
    I do NOT agree whatsoever. Anybody in England who did AS Music Technology in 2010/11 (specific I know, but still) will remember the horror of having her single "Colourless Colour" stuck in their head for MONTHS. Just because you remember a melody doesn't mean it's good, or even that you like it
    The Judist
    From wiki: "Jackson was born in London, the daughter of The Bill and Emmerdale actress Trudie Goodwin and actor Kit Jackson." Well aren't you lucky you got the chance to be overground
    That's an awfully broad assumption. Not all underground music is experimental or hard-listening like Swans or Death Grips, there's loads of bands in the underground scene who write the catchy, yet high quality music she speaks of, Mac DeMarco, Joanna Gruesome, Ariel Pink, Connan Mockasin, the list goes on and on. That said, having catchy hooks is not a prerequisite of good music , it might be a prerequisite of good pop music , but not all music in general, I think it just shows how narrow her scope is for music more than anything, to say something like that. Also, I don't think selling loads of copies should ever be the prerequisite of a good record, look at big Star or The Velvet Underground, neither band sold that many albums back in the day, but just about every alternative and indie band under the sun cites them as an influence. I'd an artist work towards longevity rather than instant gratification.
    Look, I swear a lot through the day, I really do - but I still question people who, in the middle of an interview, feel the need to drop in a few curses. It ain't big and it ain't clever and it sure doesn't help get your argument across. Fucking quit it.
    Incidentally, I laud McDonald's for the quantity of 'food product' sold. I'm tired of people going on and on about that neighborhood steakhouse down the street. If you're really clever, why haven't you cornered the market with catchy advertisement and substandard nutrition? I don't get it.
    Good on her for wanting to make quality pop music as opposed to the watered-down, safe music which dominates the radio.
    "Underground music" gets all of the respect and critical acclaim because, for the most part, it's much better. We've been spoon-fed the verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus-chorus for SO LONG now. The pop music that makes the most money is predictable, formulaic, boring and makes the same old sex/love/party references that pop music has been making since the early 20th century just with updated slang every few years. I'll agree with her that is really IS difficult to write a GOOD pop song... however, the pop songs that make the most money are very rarely interesting and they very rarely deviate from the same old formula. Pop music that sells millions of records AND is high quality is extremely rare. That's just how its.
    I don't think the problem is in the formula though. Most rock bands follow the same formula, and yet they manage to innovate within it, while also writing lyrics that make you think, instead of superficial stuff all the time.
    La Roux: "Hey guys, I have a new album coming out, watch me say things to get reactions and exposure."
    So, cool. Pop songs do require a kind of work. It's not all that easy to make melodies so catchy they stay in your heads and everyone can enjoy them in different occasions. Only thing though? Nah. Not even counting that there have been less popular bands making very catchy melodies, if you're listening to music without emphasis on melody it still has a purpose. Timbre or atmosphere or whatnot.
    Pop is a dirty in word in music these days. Especially with the cool kids. Shame. There have been some great pop songs in the last ten years, its a shame they get watered down so much by the waves and waves of shite
    This is just pathetic, clearly this person has no real love of music and doesnt see it as art.
    That's funny because I couldn't remember a single song of hers, even if I had heard it on pop radio a thousand times, probably because all this "hook-heavy pop music" blends together so much that I couldn't tell you what artist released what anymore.
    I'm sorry, did she say something important? Because I kinda missed it.
    Well, maybe she's not so well-known and stuff but ... it's hard to argue that she has a point.
    "If it sells it MUST be awesome" So... this also applies to... I don't know, Gangnam Style? I'm sorry but as Kavabangac said, you can't just watch music that way
    Pop music is shoved in our faces so yea, the general public will buy their music, increasing their sales. But true music lovers seek out music that is unique, not relying on recycled hooks, hence the stronger underground fanbase.
    And I'm not denying your first sentence, I just dislike the idea that just BECAUSE something is popular it means it was easy to make. There's a lot of recycled shit out there, but UG has a pretty big hard on for Adele, who just hired a load of top songwriters to write hits for her, so it's kind of hypocritical for the community to rage against people who "just write hooks". There's a difference between say 80% of top 40 artists and that 20% that make it on legitimate merit.
    I must say I do SEE her point. It's almost a competition at times as to who can find the newest most underground band making the most revolutionary music, and people never really give credit to people like Bruno Mars because he makes "easy" music. But, knowing what will actually sell is a skill, and writing a song YOU like that will sell is a very difficult to master skill. Saying that, "everyone likes it so it must be good" is just completely flawed logic. The chart here in the UK is just FULL of old X Factor contestants, wannabe folk musicians and shitty dance pop music that all sounds the same.
    She forgets all the promotion and money that major labels have at their disposal. It's hard for an undergroundtecord to compete without some clever viral stuff. Quantity does not equal quality.
    The point being? That those who write the stuff that's been written one million times already with the same chord progressions and ****tons of autotune deserve more respect than those who try to break new ground or at least have a style of their own... ...cause it sells more? Do I even need to comment?
    To be fair, writing hooks doesn't exclude you from writing interesting music, and likewise the same chord progressions have produced the best-known songs of plenty of respected artists (i.e. every blues player ever obviously, Red Hot Chili Peppers have a dozen or so quality I-V-vi-IV songs, Manic Street Preachers' Motorcycle Emptiness, Bruce Dickinson's Tears of the Dragon, Lynyrd Skynyrd's incredible Tuesday's Gone etc. etc. etc.) As for autotune, just about everyone who can afford it uses some level of pitch correction. The idea that "everyone bought it so it's good" is ridiculous, but no more so than "I can play an instrument with a reasonable level of competence, therefore I can judge what constitutes good music". Yeah, I'm not a big pop fan generally (with exceptions ) but - regardless of complexity, since both she and everyone else seem to mix that into the issue she was originally talking about unnecessarily - what she said about the value of hooks is pretty valid. You can have good songs without hooks, but name me a real classic that didn't have a hook of some variety.
    Except she's stating clearly that music without hooks is bad, basically. There's nothing wrong with a band writing simpler stuff from time to time, but the very idea that a band or "artist" (as many of those are just products backed by a ton of producers and songwriters) who cannot write anything else is ridiculous on so many levels it's amazing. The idea of a "classic" is stupid and is exactly the same concept of considering something better just because it's more popular. Many albums which shaped and developed music did not have radio hits and often remain more obscure than some which are completely predictable, but were just easier to promote and sell.
    What she's saying is that she can't see the appeal of music without hooks. Which I guess for most people is equivalent to saying it's bad, but she doesn't really say that outright. Only writing one kind of music isn't much of a complaint either, it never stopped AC/DC or Motorhead or, dare I say it, Iron Maiden. I suspect your average pop album, besides the singles, would display a similar level of variation to any of theirs. And there's more to a classic than that. A song that didn't have a perceptible effect on the music that came after doesn't have much chance of being called a classic. Calling the idea stupid is once again coming back to the idea of the imaginary great uneducated mass of non-musical proles. Because, obviously good music is defined by the opinions of people who "know about music". Seriously, why should we assume a song's popularity is irrelevant just because it doesn't use a fancy enough scale or enough superfluous instrumental sections in its structure? The "normal people" don't just look at what's number one on the hot 100 and say "this is my favourite song!" Even the most musically uninterested person will have some kind of reason for liking what they like.
    I've never delved deep enough into either Motorhead's or AC/DC's discography so I can't comment, but saying that about Iron Maiden is a fallacy in its purest form. At the most basic their stuff can be easily divided into four or five "eras", and then there are often large differences from album to album. I've already written this in comments under several articles where this was brought up - the idea of a "classic" is so stupid and so toxic entirely because it's a vicious circle and it only functions because of that. A lot of people don't even bother to look past a band's "classic" songs or albums, or past the "classic" bands in a genre, when the truth is a lot of the more obscure stuff is often no weaker or superior in a lot of ways - including cases when someone is praised for "inventing" a genre or style while someone else had done that before, just didn't manage to get famous. Then you have everyone perpetuating that bullshit - these bands/songs/albums are "classic", so everyone unfamiliar with the genre or whatever listens to those, often never checking out the remaining material. And the cycle continues. "Good" and "bad" music is entirely subjective of course, but the popularity of "classics" is only because they were so lucky or so promoted in the first place. If not for that, they would be held in the same regard as all others and more attention would be paid to other works.
    Remember how you feel as she says these words people. Yes, they are bullshit. She has a "pop-elitist" attitude. This is how everybody on this website looks every they have 5 pages of shit to talk about rock bands that sale, or have a sound that does not conform to your idea of rock music.
    I think what she means is that there is a great level of focus in composing a simple and effective pop song that people often overlook. While the underground offers more freedom in creativity, it often fails to deliver memorability. I think it's a very valid and respectful comment about people leaning over edges and dismissing one side over the other completely.
    I guess whoever downvoted, must be shitting a dozen pop hits a day for fun...
    More likely they disagreed with the idea that underground music fails to be memorable. While bands like Circa Survive or Deftones may not be underground, they aren't mainstream pop yet are still certainly memorable, especially the Deftones.
    Only hooks I'm into are in hip hop. Maybe she has a short attention span, so she needs to have the same melody again and again to really get it?
    She has one song, Bulletproof, and it was an annoying cliched attempt at indie electropop. A good hook is nothing without good music
    Marcus 90
    Am i the only one who think this is abit funny coming from her, considering she said she couldn't stand Kanye West a few days back, the pot calling the kettle black eh?
    What if you can write music that appeals to the underground and critics but is also catchy and appeals to the masses? Write whatever the **** you want, if people like it so much the better.
    Remember how you feel as she says these words people. Yes, they are bullshit. She has a "pop-elitist" attitude. This is how everybody on this website looks every they have 5 pages of shit to talk about rock bands that sale, or have a sound that does not conform to your idea of rock music.
    The fact that a song or an album full of them don't contain hooks or a melody that keeps hanging around in your head is so that people will listen again and again if they enjoyed it. It's about good music in general, not about having a melody that every one can remember.
    well if people like something, let them listen to whatever they please... it's music, to each his own. That being said, you can't expect some critic who appreciates music to say it's good just because it sells. Anyways, seems like a call for attention (pop singer calling for attention? naah) and people shouldn't take it seriously.