Snubbing popular music used to be a favourite habit of mine. I would laugh at its shallowness, cringe at its excessive sexuality and ignore the fickle song charts. Even now, I switch radio channels if the song is misogynistic or uncomfortably sexual. Despite the obvious problems with pop music, there are still lessons we can all learn from it.
Love, Love, Love
There are not enough great pop songs that aren’t about love. If it’s not about desire, finding love or being in love, it’s about heartbreak or independence from love.
Not only is the cultural infatuation about romantic love, we have an unhealthy obsession with young love, accompanied by giddiness, impulsiveness and immature lust. Very rarely does a song come out about all the problems and feelings involved in decade-long relationships!
This might be because pop songs are aimed mostly at young people, so young love is more relatable. But life is so much more than just love so it would be nice if there could be another focal point.
Pop music might not produce the most original art, but it definitely brings certain ideas into the public consciousness. For example, Miley Cyrus’ infamous Wrecking Ball video pushed the boundaries of YouTube’s view on decency. And then Rub by Peaches is still dividing viewers – is it liberatingly artistic, or unforgivably pornographic?
Pop music gives a good indication of what our society finds interesting and might even highlight the problems that we face.
Charm Is Key
This is especially true in pop music. If you’ve got a catchy tune, you can spout rubbish and it might still become a hit. But at the same time, you need to have the content for it to actually connect with your audience.
Pop music has cracked the secret to charming audiences. Love is quite an easy topic to charm audiences with, which could explain its popularity – but the next step up for pop music would be to charm audiences with more pressing matters.
Scientists and environmentalists all over the world are trying to encourage action against climate change (don’t pretend it’s not real), but they’re not getting a huge backing because they have not mastered the art of charm – yet.
Instead of using guilt and obligation to try and get people to reduce waste and consumption, they should turn to pop music for guidance on how to get people to willingly follow their lead.
Who knows, maybe prudent pop music is what is needed to save the world!