Too Cool for Pop?

My favorite song from last year was “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen.  I particularly like her performance with Jimmy Fallon (is she really 27?  She looks 12):

Because I like a lot of obscure artists, many find it very surprising that I would like such a pure pop tune as much as I do.  And no, I do not like it ironically.

They figure I would prefer “some indie record that’s much cooler than Taylor Swift’s.”  In fact, I also like the Taylor Swift song containing that line, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”:

And “22” and “I Knew You Were Trouble,” though I prefer “State of Grace” . . .

. . . because it reminds me of ‘80s new wave like the Motels or Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark:

There is nothing wrong with, indeed there is a whole lot right with, a catchy pop tune.  Especially during the summer.

That’s one of the advantages of getting older, I can like or dislike whatever music I want without worrying about what others might think.  I am more comfortable with my own taste and maybe, just maybe, a bit less worried about other people’s opinions of it.

I no longer need to worry about whether or not the music I am listening to is “cool.”

Pop is not cool, pretty much by definition.  Pop is democratic, available to everyone and defined by whatever the “masses,” especially the young masses, embrace.

Cool is defined by exclusivity, or at least the illusion of exclusivity, giving people the impression they are members of a club that other, less cool people are not welcome to join.  Perhaps this explains the huge backlash when a former cult band crosses over to the more general public — they must have sold out if the  “common folk” on the other side of the velvet rope now like them.

Is it ironic that in a democracy that subscribes to majority rule, we disdain what most people like, dismiss it as “common” instead of embracing it as “shared”?   When we are young, most of us embrace pop to fit in, be like everyone else, but when we grow a bit older, many of us ostentatiously turn away from pop to prove our individuality, our coolness.  Older still, we no longer need to choose between the two.

As much as I congratulate myself for appreciating artists the masses have never heard of (and would probably not be interested in if they did), take undue pride in my more refined taste, sometimes I just crave the sugar rush of a great disposable pop tune.

The irony is, many of those “disposable” pop tunes hang on much longer than most indie trends of the week.  I still smile whenever I hear the Monkees, the band that first made me a believer in pop music:

A prefabricated TV band singing a Neil Diamond song — what could be more pop than that?

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5 thoughts on “Too Cool for Pop?

  1. Enjoyed the commentary, but couldn’t play any of the videos, none of them had the little arrow on them you press to play. Is this just my system?

  2. Pingback: Pop Tunes, a Remix, a Cover and a Shazam Discovery | Societe Anonyme Inc

  3. Pingback: Cheese Samples at the Mall | Societe Anonyme Inc

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