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Giving pop music a chance

I was a high school kid in the ’90s and fell into the more alternative music crowd thanks to influence of friends like Tim Kilbourn. Granted, it was mostly the alternative Christian music scene, but there was still some good music there. I think I started to develop an anti-pop bias as a result. I definitely remember having the attitude that there wasn’t much value in “bubble gum pop.” I thought it was a better art form if the artists wrote their own music/lyrics and the lyrics dealt with “deeper” ideas.

I wouldn’t really reflect about this for many years to come. I’m not sure if it was the main catalyst, but I have a memory from the XOXO 2018 festival where they were playing Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion often between speakers. I had only known her for “Call Me Maybe” before that. That was definitely a catchy song, but it had been overplayed so I never really gave her a listen after that.

The Emotion songs were really catchy, but there was also something about hearing it in a crowd setting where a lot of other attendees were big fans and were getting into it. It made it more energetic and obviously stuck in my mind. When I finally listened to the whole album, it became one of my favorites.

The more I thought about it, I realized that there were a lot of artists in pop or pop-adjacent genres that I enjoyed and it didn’t really make sense to have such an arbitrary line about who made the music and how. Why did I love synthpop like Shiny Toy Guns but ignored pop like CRJ? I consciously started to try out more music I had written off or ignored before, and I’m really glad I did. I’m in my mid-40s now and I’m very aware of the tendency to get stuck in our ways, stick with what we know. Trying to expand the music I listen to is one small way I’m trying to avoid that. I have no illusions of it making me hip, but maybe it will help keep me young-ish 😃.

Speaking of “Call Me Maybe” and giving music another chance, I highly recommend this track break down by Christian Hand. I had no idea that Dave Ogilvie from Skinny Puppy mixed the song! Even if you’re tired of the song, suspend judgment momentarily and listen:

Christian Hand breaks down “Call Me Maybe”

Eventually this also led to me giving Taylor Swift a better listen. There’s still a lot of her music I haven’t listened to, but I particularly love folklore.

Taylor Swift, “this is me trying”

More recently, I’ve really been enjoying Chappell Roan. The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess is so good.

Chappell Roan, “HOT TO GO!”

Look, even America’s dad loves CRJ. Tell me this song isn’t a bop.

Carly Rae Jepsen, “I Really Like You”

What’s some music that you might have written off before but ended up loving?

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