There is one argument about ‘modern pop music’ that just drives me crazy. After watching the …er… interesting performance by Katy Perry at the Super Bowl half-time show, one of the biggest criticisms I was reading online about her was that she was ‘silly’ and ‘music just isn’t made the way it used to be’. As in somewhere down the line pop music had somehow stopped being serious.
Problem is, pop music has never taken itself seriously. And that’s why it’s so good.
Miss Perry, while you can have any opinion you like about her, does produce a great pop song. Pop music has always been a bit frivolous and frilly. There’s nothing wrong with that if what it delivers what it says on the label, but to argue that music has somehow died because she’s not singing about ‘real problems’ is completely bizarre.
In 1959 Dodie Stevens released her first single called “Pink Shoe Laces”. The sweet little pop song tells a story about the girl’s boyfriend. He’s not good-looking, heavens no, but she’s wild about his crazy clothes. The song is ditzy and goofy has all hell, but it’s got an undeniable charm and ridiculous lyrics.
It hasn’t aged well as terms like ‘whirly-birdy’ will be lost to any listener under the age of forty. Yet, the song continues to be catchy as heck. And THAT’S the sing of a good pop song. If you can’t get it out of your head, it’s done it’s job.
Unfortunately, I cannot find a live person of the Chordettes singing the song (and their version is fantastic, of course), but little Dodie Stevens really gives it all. Stevens was only 13 when she recorded her take. It ended up at #3 giving her a gold record. Not too bad for a song about a man with questionable clothing choices.
If any of these classic pop artists released any one of Katy Perry’s songs, the music elite would throw their hands in the air with praise. It’s that classic sensibility that often ruins the success of new artists (and I use the term new artist loosely). Pop music has always been silly. If you want more out of your music, just listen to something else. But you can never hate a genre for doing what it has always done all along.
It may not even be possible anymore of people to relax and maybe, just maybe like something that’s rather silly after all.