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Pop music vs. Rock

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 7:39 pm
by Dayna
I can't remember if specific this question has been asked before or not, but why is Pop music sometimes looked at as sort of inferior to Rock music. I know Pop music today isn't that great, but some of the music from the past, I can't tell which is Rock or Pop really.

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 9:49 pm
by Des
Great question Dayna.

I find the older I get the more I value pop over 'rock' and begin to believe it is superior.

In the 70s I listened to serious 'rock' music but in retrospect the great pleasure I got from pop music has eclipsed the 'rock'.

A Beach Boys single or a really cheesy M'Pongo Love track gives me much more pleasure than a Genesis opus (although I still like early Genesis).

Perhaps it depends on the mood I'm in?

To conclude, no - a well-crafted pop song has all the quality of a 'rock' number and should not be considered inferior.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 12:19 am
by Rob Hall
It is a good question Dayna, and I'm not sure that I know the answer. But I will say this: I reckon that you can hear the birth of "rock" music as distinct from "rock and roll", on Dylan's "Royal Albert Hall" concert, the famous "Judas" concert (which was actually recorded at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, May 17th, 1966). There was pop music before and after that. There was rock and roll music before and after that. But I don't believe there was "rock" music before that, and when people talk about "rock" music, the only sense it's ever made for me is to plot it from that point forward.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 9:19 am
by Adam Blake
Interesting. I don't agree, Rob, I think that Dylan concert is still folk music played very, very loudly with elaborate arrangements. The first rock music was before that, when Ray Davies and Pete Townshend started writing songs that were based on very loud electric guitars playing blues riffs as parallel block major chords - "You Really Got Me", "All Day And All Of The Night", I Can't Explain", "My Generation" - where the vocal melody is subservient to the guitar riff. Pop music is always about the melody, rock is about the riffs.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 11:34 am
by Des
It's a bit more complicated than that though - rock was afforded an exalted status among critics and academics - 'intellectualised' - in the early days. Such a status had only hitherto (blimey I used another of my fave words!) been enjoyed by classical music and, latterly, Jazz. 'Pop' was considered trivial and not worthy of consideration.

Times have changed now of course - I have no doubt many a PhD thesis has been written on the music of Abba!

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:16 pm
by Adam Blake
I was just talking about it from a musical perspective. Sociologically, rock started getting taken way too seriously with the advent of Cream - a disastrous influence on pop/rock music (even though, paradoxically, I enjoy their records these days!)

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:40 pm
by Rob Hall
I won't argue the toss about whether Townsend and Davies were playing what we've come to know as rock before the Dylan concert, but your statement that it wasn't until Cream that it was taken seriously is, I think, a little anglo-centric. I suspect that our American cousins may have been a little ahead of us on that front. And I haven't done any research, but I'd be interested to learn of when people - anywhere - first started to call what they were playing "rock" as opposed to "rock and roll" or "pop".

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:46 pm
by Adam Blake
They were taking the likes of Dylan seriously - but I wouldn't really call that "rock". The Doors certainly got taken way too seriously, but they were slightly behind Cream. The Byrds were considered to be a pop group ('cos they had lots of hit singles) but they were another loud folk band. I think we WERE ahead of the Americans, for what it's worth, in terms of getting arty-farty and calling long boring solos with no appreciable groove or tune Art...

But hindsight has divided the wheat from the chaff quite neatly, I think.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:58 pm
by Rob Hall
Adam Blake wrote:The Byrds were considered to be a pop group ('cos they had lots of hit singles)


But The Kinks and The Who had lots of hit singles, yet you're happy to consider them as early practitioners of "rock". I know that when I was a kid in the 60s, I considered them to be pop groups. I'm still curious about when "rock music" as a label became common currency.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 4:27 pm
by Rob Hall
From "Sound Of The City":

"Then, in 1962, a new music began to emerge, played by people who both delved back and yet also kept familiar with present styles. In homage to its source of inspiration the music was generically called "rock", although as usual there were many distinct musical strains disguised under the single, simple category. A major source of the new music was Britain, which had made no previous significant contribution to popular music in the twentieth century. But in the years around 1962, Britain served the useful function of re-establishing popular music as a medium for personal expression rather than as a the raw material for mass-produced entertainment, which it once again had become."

It seems that Charlie agrees with your view that the English started it Adam. I'm off into the garden to eat worms.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 4:28 pm
by Des
Up to a point the fan demographic gives a clue. If students and hippies liked 'em, they were rock. If teenyboppers had a soft spot for 'em, they were pop.

Some bands sat quite comfortably between the two (figuratively speaking) - acts like Creedence Clearwater Revival had some massive pop singles yet they had a big student/hippy following and their albums reflected a more 'rocky' thang.

I could go on.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 6:10 pm
by Adam Blake
Rob Hall wrote:
Adam Blake wrote:The Byrds were considered to be a pop group ('cos they had lots of hit singles)


But The Kinks and The Who had lots of hit singles, yet you're happy to consider them as early practitioners of "rock". I know that when I was a kid in the 60s, I considered them to be pop groups. I'm still curious about when "rock music" as a label became common currency.


Yes, they all had lots of hit singles but I'm sure you'd agree that The Byrds were drawing their music from a very different well to The Who and The Kinks.

This is such a multi-faceted subject, that has probably been given too much attention already over the years. I think it's most interesting if looked at purely musically, but then you can't discount the social/ critical stuff either. And, yes, Des, I was thinking about Creedence too, and where did they fit. They were an updated 50s rock'n'roll band to my ears.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 6:28 pm
by Ian A.
The gut feeling I have is that it's when people started taking albums by pop groups too seriously (we were so much older then . . . ) Beatles/ Stones/ Who here, Jefferson Airplane/ Doors/ Grateful Dead etc there. And somewhere in the middle of it the influence of the blues-based guitar slingers & noodlers like Clapton, Page, Beck. My head won't do the chronology any more and I can't be arsed to look it up but 64-67 seems to be about the right period. All a big mistake if you ask me, and look where it all led by 68 . . . And we shouldn't get too sidetracked by "progressive" rock: that was just one of many sub-genres, wasn't it? (the most pompous, boring, overblown and stupidly attired . . . )
Adam Blake wrote:I think that Dylan concert is still folk music played very, very loudly with elaborate arrangements.

No, no, you can't call Dylan & The Hawks a loud folk band - I only remember them doing one traditionalish song (Baby Let Me Follow You Down), the rest was pretty inspiring new music based on Dylan's singer/songwriter stuff. Whichever yardstick you use to typecast things as "folk" (be it traditionally based, or the really-stretching-it US one of "anybody who plays an acoustic guitar"), it wasn't either of those things, which was of course exactly why those silly audiences chose to take offence. Regardless of that argument though, it can't have been the beginning of "rock" because lazy journalists then as now sometimes called it "folk/rock" so "rock" as a term must have already been understood.

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 6:49 pm
by Gordon Moore
See what you've done nonw Dayna, started another flippin discussion... hehe

Okay what was the first "rock" song?

I know this isn't it but as a starter: Status Quo - [Sweet] Caroline

1973 (crumbs thought it was older than that...

go on have a go...

hahaha

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 7:21 pm
by Rob Hall
According to another page in "The Sound Of The City" it was "Shakin' All Over" by Johnny Kidd & The Pirates:

"In retrospect, the most notable British act of the early sixties may have been Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, whose "Shakin' All Over" topped the charts during 1960. Altogether tougher and more abrasive than Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the group anticipated the emergence of a distinct "rock" strain of pop music, in which the rhythm - and particularly the guitar part - was integral to the construction of the whole song."