Quora Answer : Are the producers of modern pop music giving the people what they want, or are they deciding what music should sound like for us?
It's somewhere between the two.
What producers of pop always do, is try to make something that's similar enough to music that has been a recent hit that they think it will also be a hit. But different enough that it doesn't sound tired.
That doesn't mean that there's zero originality in pop. Pop producers are always experimenting with bringing in a new sound or rhythm or vibe or performer that's blowing up in more underground or subculture music. Pop will steal from EDM or hip-hop or country or darkwave or anything else that seems to have a new idea or be getting traction. A pop artist might be willing to experiment with a new sound or technology just because they think adds excitement or makes their sound stand out just a little bit more.
But all of this innovation is heavily constrained. The pop producers won't stray too far from what they think is working.
The result of this is a kind of low-level but constant evolution, at the edge of perceptibility. This year's pop hits sound very like last year's pop hits. But not very much like the pop hits of ten years ago.
This is different from more "genre" musics. Where something new might be radically innovative. But might also closely copy something 10 or 20 years old.
So go to pop music for a sense of excitement, and glamour, and, perhaps zeitgeist, but don't go looking for quirky individuality or artistry or radical rule breaking. Sometimes something disruptive makes it into the charts. But that's an accident. Professionals are basically trying to stay one step, but no more, ahead of the zeitgeist.
Quora Answer : If pop music is so "happy" and mainstream, why does Gen Z seem so depressed?
Have you actually listened to mainstream pop music recently?
Where the hell do you get the idea that it's "happy" from?
This is pumped up ... and 80s retro style. But it's about being lonely and missing someone. (Not a radical theme in pop, but definitely not a "happy" one)
This is pretty downbeat. And the video looks like a suicide pact
Drake is making a whiney song about dancing alone. It's very relevant to COVID lockdown, it's intimate and I suppose "romantic" but it's hardly cheery. (Not that Drake and "cheery" appear in the same universe very often)
Even Dance Monkey which is a great upbeat tune, still manages to have a video which is ... ambivalently "bitter-sweet", to say the least. Yes, it's "old people dancing around having fun". But there seems to be an awful lot of emphasis on "one last time". Which given the state of care homes for the elderly in the year of COVID, it's likely to be.
Frankly if it weren't for Doja Cat we'd all be slitting our wrists.
There are lots of reasons not to be mad with joy in 2020.
COVID is a sad and scary time. Everyone has a right to be depressed right now.
But even before COVID, generation Z had got a bum deal. A decade of austerity, spiralling inequality, crap dead-end jobs for most people who aren't born fairly privileged; stressed societies with seemingly insoluble political divisions; rising tensions and prejudices; spiralling disconnect between the fantastical lives seen online and reality.
What can generation z hope for in their futures? COVID dragging on and strangling social life for months if not years. More economic crisis. More dysfunctional politics.
We have to not let ourselves be defeated or downcast by COVID. And eventually we'll get through it. And we'll get through this wave of incompetent and abusive right-wing populist leaders who are failing us over it.
But we shouldn't complain or criticise that people are suffering mentally. They have every reason to be.
Quora Answer : Is "About you now" by Sugababes the greatest pop single and song ever to have been released?
It's not even as good as "Push the Button".
The production is interesting, but the melody is pretty bland.
And it's not like there was a dearth of great British pop around at that time :
For my money, any of these is a "more perfect" pop song than About You Now.