I’ve been seeing a recent crop up of a lot more music reviewers hitting the scene lately, but something with music reviewers lately has been bugging me. I love that more people are doing it, but at the same time there’s a fair amount of people that seem to be going into it, through an already biased and uninformed angle.
The most common thing reviewed by music reviewers in this community these days is pop, but I think the question is rarely asked, do any of the pop reviewers even WANT to like pop? Pop is a common target because it’s everywhere and is also easy to make fun of. But sadly lately with recent trends in pop I’m seeing a lot of reviewers, including some on channel awesome, go into it pretty uneducated about where pop is at this current time, and that’s where I feel I have a bit of a leg up.
Pop music lately has been heavily influenced by the EDM and Dance music scenes, thanks in large part to the large market there is for stuff played at nightclubs around the world. Where as in the 80s and the 90s the majority of pop would have much more simplistic use of electronic sound and something simple like drum machines, now they’re using MUCH more advanced sounds that only really exist in a DJ’s mixing software. Not only that but many DJs who are already worldwide famous in the EDM scene such as David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Benny Benassi are collaborating with pop artists now to create new chart toppers. Often times they know that music isn’t their best, but they do know one thing. They’re catchy, they’ll get played in clubs, and they will MAKE THEM MONEY.
But there comes my rub with music reviewers lately. I’m still amazed how many times I have to explain simple EDM concepts or even fight with people to explain that EDM, or techno in laymans terms, largely follows a lot of the same music theory concepts that govern all music, or even pass through the barrier that it’s more than “just noise”. It’s not just a couple of blips and bloops on a computer, I could give a whole lecture on what goes in to just a house track without even touching on dubstep or trance or drum and bass.
This goes for pop music as well. There’s a lot of conventions and theory that goes into composing everything pop from Ke$ha to One Direction to Katy Perry. I use these often slammed examples because contrary to popular belief even if they’re not writing their own material whoever is knows a thing or two about music theory and is working some sort of music magic to create them. And when you actually take a more objective lens to them you’ll find they aren’t bad and well made for the target audience.
So then why do I see so many reviewers seemingly ignoring this theory, or worse completely missing the mark on what the music really is. Pop has many conventions and principles unique to it, that can be used to see it from a pop analysts perspective. But these seem to keep being ignored in favor of “Raaah, I hate this song and I hate this artist RAAH!!!” It makes me wonder, how many reviewers actually go into pop even willing to like it? If your mind is made up that you hate pop, or worse you don’t even like pop, then why are you reviewing it?
There’s a whole subculture dedicated to hating pop music, and I think that’s the stance where a lot of music reviewers in this community come from. They hate pop, their audience want to hate pop, so no matter what it’s not getting a fair shake. Me, I’m different, I like pop. I might be the only music reviewer in this community who’s actually gone dancing at a nightclub regularly for any period of time and enjoyed it. I’ve seen countless DJs live, and I have a huge list of pop remixes on my iPod. If you just automatically slam pop, or even claim something is just noise or what have you, then that comes across to me as rather ignorant and uneducated in terms of music and I’m not sure I can trust your opinion.
There still some awesome people reviewing music out there, but it’s very tough for me as perhaps the only person who’s been very close to the actual target audience of current pop, as well as an enthusiast of EDM who’s seen the bleed in effect of techno into pop, see people review pop when it seems they don’t really understand the genre, or have confessed that from the start they don’t like it. You want to be a hater, well the go hate, but I don’t feel you should be a hater if you’re going to attempt to give an honest critique of pop music. If you don’t like it, and you’re doing your show out of your hatred for the genre, then you’re putting a HUGE amount of energy into hating something. And no matter how much I may try to say otherwise, you’ve already made your mind up before you even get on camera, that you hate pop.
But then again this is just the opinion of one guy, and at that a minority in this community. I know I’m one of the few people in this community who actually can enjoy pop, and perhaps the ONLY person who follows the current EDM scene. I can’t tell you how to make your videos, if you disagree about this stuff make them how you want to make them. But these are just my thoughts as a critic, an analyst, and a music fan.