What has the power to make you get up and move, to both inspire you and enrage you? Rock, rap, “pop”, country, and blues are all forms of this phenomenon we call music. Music has been a part of each and everyone of our lives. How often have you heard a song and it brought you back to a place in your past, or reminded you of someone? Chances are you were listening to music that fell into one of the two most popular categories, rock or pop. Both rock and pop can be considered movements in society, however the motivation for these movements were on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Also another thing that they have in common is that once the artists are famous the may both have a tendency to fall off the deep end. This may entail spending thousands of dollars on drugs and alcohol. Eventually many of both pop and rock stars end up in rehab. Even though the lines between rock and pop can be blurred at times there are many distinct differences.
One of the most profound differences is the way both types of music came about. Rock and roll started back in the early 60’s. It was a time when the Vietnam war had just begun. Steppenwolf, The Beetles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors all were sending out soulful messages through their music. They were singing about war, drugs, and love instead of war. There lyrics were from the heart. It provoked feelings of rage for the government, and love for one another. The rock and roll movement began out of pent up energy that had to be released in an positive manner. It had very pure, honest intentions. On the other hand pop, short for popular, music was contrived from the beginning. It too had it’s beginnings in the 60’s starting with the Monkeys. Four guys were brought together by some corporate bigwigs to create an American version of the Beetles. Little did the public know that they were not even singing their own songs. They were lip-singing the whole time. But, they managed to top the charts and make young girls faint. That could be considered the first pop music.
Another major difference between rock and pop groups are the way they get started. Pop groups are usually formed by record companies with preconceived notions of what kind of image they want the artist to have. Basically the artists’ sell them selves to the record label. This gives the record company the freedom to market their group any way they please. A new phenomenon that has taken the pop world by storm are the “boy bands”. “Boy bands” are groups of four or five guys that is marketed by the record labels to the ten to sixteen year old demographic. These pop stars start at the top and stay there as long as that have the record companies’ backing. Rock bands have a much harder path to the top. Many bands start in garages and local bars, playing for anyone who will listen.Just getting signed to a label may require many years of hard work sending out demos and then getting rejected. The reason why is that most rock artists will not “sell out”. This would allow the record companies to take creative control of the artists’ music. It all boils down to this, pop music is all about “corporate culture” and rock is the real thing.
Lyrical content is another major difference between rock and pop. Pop music is full of bubble gum lyrics that are usually of a shallow nature. Pop artist sing about puppy love and crushes. The topics they sing about are very light in content. Very rarely do they write their own music. That job is left up to professional song writers. The only responsibility of the pop artists’ is to look good and be a puppet for the record companies. Rock songs are of a deeper level. The artists usually write their own lyrics and music. Nothing is off limits for them to write about, whether it be of a political nature, abortion, suicide, or drugs. Yes, they also write about being in love, but also about the betrayal and the hurt that comes from relationships. The bottom line is that pop music is happy and optimistic, while rock is cynical and pessimistic.
Rock bands have lasting ability while pop groups are here today, gone tomorrow. A pop group that lasts five years is considered to have had a long career. On the other hand twenty-five years is not unusual for a rock band. Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones have been around for at least that long and are still going strong. Imagining where N*Stink, as I so affectionately call them, will be extinct. Rock and roll will live forever, while pop will die a slow fading death.
Rock and pop music will continue to have its similarities, but mainly differences. There will always be a debate on which is better, but the bottom line is that rock is real and from the heart, while pop is contrived and empty of substance.
Rock and roll will never die!
Rock and Roll Will Never Die
ENC 1101- 6:30
30 September 2001