Apr 18, 2010

[Music] Why American Pop Music Sucks

One thing I noticed is that listening to J-pop, K-pop, and C-pop is that their music is just deeper both on a theoretical standpoint but also on an emotional standpoint. Their music is probably just as controlled by businesses as ours, but I feel creatively it is just more powerful music. Let us first look at our American music. Now I have to rely on Youtube to tell me what currently IS American pop music since it has been so long since I even wanted to listen to it, so here are a few examples:

Current top song in Billboard Hot 100 (according to wikipedia)

At least it starts with something sounding like a Bach fugue. But even this song is pretty lame.

May as well. Really boring melodic line since it doesn't change apparently. Too creative for them? Lyrics are kinda okay but really the song is SO FREAKING BORING! I literally can't listen to all of it.

If there are better examples of A-pop let me know, but seriously all these songs are really quite boring. All these songs follow the same rules and ideas.
1) No modulation of key
2) Repeat 4-6 chords
3) Have catchy melody that is easy to sing and repeat it enough so everyone remembers it.

There is another song which could be considered one of the most popular orchestral pieces that does the same thing. It is Bolero by Ravel. I really find this tragic as there is so many other pieces by Ravel which are so much more dramatic and in general awesome, yet Bolero is by far his most well known work, and not say Daphnis et Chloe, Scheherazade, or any of his other works. This is probably because of it's repetition and it's easy catchy melody. The only reason why I can stand to play it is because it has a huge clarinet solo at the beginning.

Back to A-pop music, it's simple repetition is beyond ridiculous. There are many other pieces that are also really repetitive but would probably not be considered so. Unfortunately the music I was looking for seems to be impossible to find so just look up Lutoslawski's Trauermusik. It is a pretty cool piece which uses only 4 intervals in the entire piece. It's very chromatic and honestly really cool to listen to.

Now we have listened to American pop music, we will compare the music to pop music of other countries. Starting with Japan because, you know, I like that.

1) Cute Japanese chicks in schoolgirl uniforms. Yes please! =P
2) Rock because Japanese LOVE their metal
3) Decent compositional ideas

I mean it's constructed roughly the same as A-pop, but I just really like how their music sounds better. They use secondary dominants, chromaticism, and the oh so awesome resloution with sus.4-3. I just really really like how they find ways to create a really solid climax in the piece which A-music just seems to refuse to make. I should invest in some J-pop albums.

I was actually listening to this while writing the previous paragraph/statement thing.
As a disclaimer, I have no idea how popular this music is/isn't in Japan. I mean this stuff might only appeal to American audiences for all I know, but I know I like it much better than most American pop.

This song is so sad. As far as I can tell it's about a girl dying of spinocerebellar Degeneration, According to wikipedia. I mean how many pop songs in America are commemorating a true story about a poor girl's life. You can read the actual translation here... or at least a translation.

Okay... I'm sorta lazy so I won't actually analyze C-pop and K-pop. I will say that C-pop is probably my least favorite of all the asian pops, probably because it most resembles A-pop.

This song is just weird, but has a very nice bridge. Also nice use of m7 and M7 chords. In general though it's just a weird song.

This song is pretty reminiscent of Lady Gaga but I'm pretty sure this came out a lot earlier.

Another popular K-pop song apparently. Surprised they aren't playing Starcraft in the video. If anyone knows similar A-pop beecause I think there are some pretty obvious parallels but I don't/can't find similar songs.

Sanskrit singer. Supposedly kinda big. I like the scales she uses since it's traditional scales from what I know about China's music. I'm pretty sure it was tuned though to fit European music scales.

C-pop is hardest to find so I'll leave with that. I would also like to look at pop music from other cultures such as Bollywood's music, possibly Africa and S.America, though S.American music has migrated to N.America anyways. I would also like to look at some French pop and jazz styles since I think it is different from normal styles, but once again I need to take the time to listen and explore which I don't really have as it's time to start researching grad schools and stuff. Urgh.

Happy listening!


  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  2. Look up F.I.R chinese pop is easy. Taiwanese music. -_-'

  3. Heeeeey! You suck. Well, this is all of it, really. You're trying to compare one type of pop to another, when in fact, all pop music sucks.

    1. haha. perfectly stated. there simply is no such thing as good pop music. try indie. try hip hop. try electronic, electroswing, world, classical, jazz. yes jazz ladies and gentlemen. there is so much incredible music out there. stop being lazy and go discover some of it!!!! ok!

  4. @Chefo I actually kinda like some J-pop. Alas, my examples of the type of J-pop music has been removed from youtube, but you can still find examples of those bands online.

    I was trying to show that different cultures take pop different and, when analyzed theoretically (even quickly) you notice that some types of pop yield more musical ideas and creativity than others.

    This doesn't mean that pop music still isn't a purely corporate and industry dominated genre, but the music is more creative.

  5. Sorry but your entire opinions are bias, while I don't care for "2010" pop in the US, I don't care for k-pop, or j-pop. And as far as being repetitive.

    Step1:Listen to SNSD Gee

    Take your bias opinions somewhere.

  6. Haha, yes American pop music sucks, but so does J-pop, K-pop and all that other crap. If you want to hear good pop music, Sweden is about the only place left for respectable music that's not propagated on dance and sex first. Robyn, Royksopp, Bertine, Miike Snow, Lykke Li, the list goes on. Swedish producers actually know how to program synths. I swear I've never heard anything in a Korean track that sounds like it's not a preset.