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date: 26 February 2020


  • Jacqueline Warwick


Often used as a term interchangeable with “popular music,” pop refers more precisely to a genre of popular music or an attitude toward making popular music that is typically seen as distinct from other genres such as rock, soul, or country. Indeed, pop is often defined in negative terms; Simon Frith argues that pop is “what’s left when all the other forms of popular music are stripped away. . . . From this perspective pop is defined as much by what it isn’t as by what it is.” While a genre like Rock has identifiable sonic markers and characteristics—such as an emphasis on electric guitar, extensive use of blues-influenced structures, an ideology of authenticity and sincerity—pop as a genre cannot be said to have a coherent style. Pop’s voracious borrowing and adaptation leads not only to new stylistic combinations but also to “pop” versions of country, rock, hip hop, heavy metal, and other styles. Rather than a specific set of sounds, pop is a sensibility....

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