The Curse of Pop Music
“Basic white-girl music”, otherwise referred to as generic pop music, is a term that has haunted millions of teenage girls for years. Every day, there is something or someone reminding us that there is nothing edgy or cool about listening to bubblegum pop. Somehow, listening to mainstream music has always corresponded with being a surface-level individual, someone who doesn’t read into things, or someone who lacks the mental capacity to want something more nuanced or deep. This is not a particularly new phenomenon.
The Beatles, Elvis, and practically every pop and rock band since the 1950s have been fueled by the flames of teenage girl mania. Ever since fan girls have existed, so have the nagging voices telling them that they are too dramatic, that they care too much, and that what they enjoy is insignificant.
Although time and time again, these artists have proven to have a real and lasting impact on the music industry by creating critically acclaimed hits and classic albums, history has not failed to repeat itself.
With every new shimmering pop star comes endless criticism, hate, and questioning. Pop stars who fall under the singer-songwriter category now face critics policing them on how they should be allowed to express their feelings, often including comments such as “all she does is write about ex-boyfriends” or criticizing those who enjoy their songs with comments like "people with real problems don’t listen to this artist to process their emotions”.
Pop stars who are praised for their performances are always met with criticism and nostalgia bias from the older generation, comparing them to the great performers of their time and claiming that the era of great pop stars is over.
The criticism of this genre is almost equal to the love for it. Pop music being overplayed and underwhelming is an opinion that has existed since the beginning of the genre. Pop listeners, specifically teenage girls, are called obsessive and crazy for defending their favorite artists against this criticism.
It is no question that when it comes to music taste, the less basic you are, the more respected you are. Where does this ego boost that comes with having a more obscure music taste come from? Why do people feel a sense of victory and superiority over you after they learn that you enjoy glittery pop music as opposed to something darker and more intense? It could be a need to be seen as unique. The less common something is, the more special it may appear.
There is no risk of overexposure when something is not exposed at all, hence the obsession with smaller, less popular things. This is not to say that lesser-known artists don’t deserve a spotlight or people who adore and resonate with their message and art; it is actually the opposite. If this hatred and feigned superiority over people with different music tastes could end, maybe the urge to ‘gatekeep’ smaller artists will be less intense.
Maybe if people were not scared of their favorite artists going mainstream, they would be more comfortable sharing and advocating for their lesser-known artists to be listened to by all types of individuals.