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Pop Music in 2018: Is it Still Worth Listening to?

The short answer? Yes. Here’s the long answer.

When did saying you like pop music become a bad thing? Suddenly, if you enjoy a song that plays on the radio, you are too mainstream to understand real music. When asked your favorite genre of music, the only acceptable answers are alternative or indie. You always had to be on the lookout for the new and undiscoverable songs and artists. Once you found them, you had to make sure they remained low-key and underground because the fear of liking the same thing as a large population was terrifying. With the all the amazing pop music produced in 2018, ignoring it becomes a sin all on its own. Leave the shame behind because there is nothing shameful in appreciating the art that these “pop” artists are endlessly creating.

It would be wrong to not credit the queen of modern pop herself, Ariana Grande, first. “Sweetener” came out this year, giving us song after song of drama, smooth melodies, and killer vocals. Refusing to stop, Grande released the record breaking “thank u, next” and then the equally groundbreaking music video. With high quality productions, evident in the “God is a Woman” music video matching the flawless musical compositions, it would be shameful to not regard her genius. With the Sweetener tour occurring next year, another single snuck in before the year closed, and the hinting at another album coming soon, Grande exemplifies every reason why pop music continues to be innovative and thoughtful.

Moving away from the obvious, other artists have been making similar strides to Grande in their pop revolutions. Notably, Troye Sivan and Alessia Cara both released their sophomore albums this year. The young sensations represent the spectrum that pop music reaches. Sivan’s funky ballads and transformative melodies balance out Cara’s raspy notes and R&B vibes. Both remind us of the nuances possible in pop music and how the young people of today are modernizing the music industry. They remind us of their unique voices and talents of all of their work thus far and give the promise of more changes to come.

Moving outside of the United States, the genre of the girl group did not die with Camila Cabello’s departure from Fifth Harmony. Retaining all four members, Little Mix has been pushing girl power and insane vocals for over seven years. With the latest release of their fifth album, they tackle misogyny and discrimination in the music industry with an album of anthems that spill over with confidence and assurance of being a strong woman. Each individual member offers a unique and powerful voice that when mixed together creates something truly magical (you should hear them sing acapella). They prove the longevity of the girl band and the triumph of women in an industry that tries to silence them.

With the stigma surrounding pop music, certain bands and artists may be hesitant to describe their music as pop. Fortunately, the 1975 are described as a “pop, punk band,” so they fit our conversation. Their newest release, “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships,” combines upbeat singles, depressing ballads, and interludes fit with social commentary – nothing less than fans would expect from the always surprising and satisfying band. The group never fails to challenge the limits of music in general, showing the true limitless nature of pop music. A genre where Ariana Grande and the 1975 can live together comfortably (and even cover each other’s songs) seems like a perfect choice for your favorite type of music.

The list of pop artists doing amazing things recently goes on and on. Lana Del Rey came back to life with an explicit nine and a half minute single. She promises a reintroduction of genre in her upcoming, equally explicit album, even dabbling in country music. New artists are unafraid to challenge the norms of music and genre, very Freddie Mercury pitching Bohemian Rhapsody-esque.

To miss out on the pop anthems being released everyday because pop is too “mainstream” or “lame” is just terribly sad. The wave of pop music is constantly changing and evolving and with all the amazing releases this year, it is the perfect time to jump on board. Do not be so quick to judge what you hear on the radio. Sometimes all you need is another context to realize that song you have heard four hundred times is actually good. 2018 was the year of pop releases, promising more in the following years that would be shameful to miss out on.

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Senior at NYU studying English and Journalism. Big fan of conspiracy theories, superheroes, and good coffee.
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