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Music Business

Pop Music – The Roots And What It Means Today

Photograph of the blog post author, Georgia Carter

Georgia Carter


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Pop music has been around since the early 20th century in the United States and the UK, when jazz, blues, country, rock and roll and big band were booming. Pop music has its origins earlier than you may have thought, as even in the late 19th century people would all gather around the piano in their home and listen to music. Popular music is the blend of different music and genres that are popular at any time. So it has changed a little between then and now, but the premise is exactly the same.

We will be examining the roots of pop music, what exactly it means today and we will delve into the reality shows that produce out-of-the-box pop artists, where people are shot to fame within the popular culture market. There has even been a marriage proposal to come out of one of these talent shows – but more on that later. Keep reading for more on the evolution of pop music.

What Is Pop Music?

In its purest form, pop music is the music that is favorable with people at that time, so that could be anything from jazz, blues, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll,disco, soul music & funk, hip hop, grunge and pop music today. The list is endless but as you can see the desire for the type of music changes with the period in which it is played. Music has come a long way and there is an obvious distinction between the likes of Louis Armstrong singing All of Me, in 1932 to Bruno Mars singing Uptown Funk in 2015.

In the music industry, it is the audience, the public who decide what is popular and for that reason, pop music in its most general term will continue. So consequently, the more popular a genre of music, the more commercial success it will have.

In the late 19th century, there was the invention of music publishing, to meet the demands of sheet music. Many more people were able to play music by popular artists and then it took off from there. The phonograph was created, so then people could also listen to records too, which kicked off the physical sales of music.

And look how far we have come today, where people can just stream music, rather than purchasing the physical copy of their favorite single or album with the use of a DSP. However, physical sales are making a comeback and many artists release a physical vinyl EP as well as it being able to be streamed on a DSP. Artists have to be quite savvy now in the music industry.

There have been many advances in terms of tech in the music industry, so it means that overtime, musicians have taken the genres and made them their own, creating pop music for the masses. We have seen electronic music, hip hop music, dance music all taking a dominant place in the charts as opposed to other genres and this is what we would call pop music now.

Pop music artists however come in many different forms and it doesn’t always have to mirror the chart topping hits. It can be heavily influenced by the number of streams on DSPs as well. For example, if you take a look at Today’s Hits on Apple Music Hits, Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You is still on the list and it was released back in 1994. Apparently as of last Friday (9th December), the No. 1 song in the charts was I’m Good (Blue) by Guetta and Bebe Rexha.

In terms of global streams,with a total of 1.5 billion global streams this year, Harry Styles’ As It Was was officially named Spotify’s most listened-to track in the UK in 2022.

Taylor Swift’s single Anti-Hero made waves in early December. In the United States, it debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 as Swift’s ninth number-one song in the country, with 59.7 million streams, 13,500 digital downloads sold, and an airplay audience of 32 million. It also started a TikTok trend with many celebs taking on the challenge in which it provided a perfect template for people to share why they are the problem when it comes to relationships and dating.

Famous Pop Artists

There are so many famous pop music artists, but it seems that these below have made themselves household names for a reason. Their music will always be popular among the masses and even with older artists like ABBA, Elton John or Fleetwood Mac who have been around for quite some time, they stand the test of time.

This is what any musician wants, to know that their music will be played beyond their heyday and everybody genuinely has a love of it. Of course I am including those who are very much mainstream today as well.

  • Beyoncé
  • Lady Gaga
  • Michael Jackson
  • Dua Lipa
  • Ed Sheeran
  • ABBA
  • Elton John
  • Britney Spears
  • Adele
  • Spice Girls
  • Katy Perry
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Taylor Swift
  • Whitney Houston
  • David Bowie
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Kate Bush

Kate Bush – Stranger Things
Kate Bush is a great example of when older music can be catapulted back into the charts. When Stranger Things used Running Up That Hill, everybody went crazy for it and it made No.1 on the UK Singles Chart dated 17 June 2022 and was Bush’s first number one since “Wuthering Heights” in 1978.#

ABBA Voyage
is the ABBA Arena built around ABBA’s timeless music and never-before-seen concert. Blending cutting-edge technology, spectacular lighting, and some of the most beloved songs ever written, ABBA take to the stage in a whole new way. In a stunning, purpose-built arena, one of the most popular groups in history appear as digital avatars in a ‘ground-breaking’ concert that really ‘needs to be seen to be believed’.

Instrumental Pop Music

Instrumental covers of pop music songs have become a trend on social media, such as YouTube. You can listen to covers of the likes of Sia, Ed Sheeran, One Direction, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, and many more — performed as piano and cello covers.

YouTube player

Reality Pop Music Shows

We have seen the rise of talent shows that champion pop music in the UK and in the US, like Pop Idol – both in the UK and the US, The X Factor, Popstars:The Rivals and The Voice.

The Premise

Members of the public enter the talent competition to win a record deal and world-wide fame. Their lives are changed forever and they are put through their paces, even having a chance to sing with popular artists in the industry towards the end of the show.

There is a difference in the show The Voice, where the judges sit with their backs to the person performing – so it is a blind audition, and they just concentrate on the voice and not what someone looks like. Judges have included Sir Tom Jones, Rita Ora, and Jessie J. in the past and the show is broadcast around the world now.

Just some of the artists that have become famous from being on these tv talent shows include;

  • One Direction
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Will Young
  • Little Mix
  • Leona Lewis
  • Girls Aloud
  • Adam Lambert
  • Becky Hill
  • Olly Murs
  • Katherine McPhee

They certainly have these shows to thank for their musical career as they were exposed to the public and the music industry as a whole on an enormous scale. It has to be said that those who do not go on to win, have some success in the industry.

Katherine McPhee was in second place in American Idol, in 2006. And even-though she didn’t win, she became successful in her own right, has now married David Foster – an award winner music producer and was a mentor on the show – and now has a child with him. Her career sky rocketed after being on the show.

And just look at Koryn Hawthorne in Season 8 of The Voice. She was a member of Pharrell Williams’ team and finished fourth in her season. She has gone on to have a successful gospel career and was nominated twice for Grammys in the Gospel Performance/Song category: in 2019 for Won’t He Do It and in 2020 for Speak the Name.

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These are the new pop artists on the scene to keep a lookout for;

  • Sam Ryder
  • Bakar
  • Terry Presume
  • Paris Texas
  • Yeat
  • PawPaw Rod
  • Wet Leg
  • Blue Lab Beats
  • Faouzia

Closing Thoughts

Pop music is constantly evolving and we continue to see an abundance of new pop artists on the scene, like Sam Ryder, an english singer songwriter, who found fame from Eurovision last year. It is an exciting time for pop music and we really look forward to listening to the new pop tracks in 2023!


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