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Pop music is never just pop music
August 2, 2012 8:40 AM   Subscribe

The 'About' page of UK music website Popjustice also doubles as a pop fan manifesto.
posted by rollick (26 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Finally, people who take pop music almost as seriously as I do.
posted by Flashman at 8:54 AM on August 2, 2012


I tend to dislike just about all the music Popjustice loves and writes about, but I totally support their enthusiasm. I love scholarly music criticism and commentary, but giddy fan excitement is fun too. And Popjustice seems to have an abundance of giddy fan excitement.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:58 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I learned more from a three minute record than I ever learned from a 4,000-word manifesto" --Bruce Springsteen [paraphrased].
posted by chavenet at 8:59 AM on August 2, 2012


Yeah, well, what the fuck has Bruce Springsteen ever known.

I'm not big on pop but I'm glad this exists.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:35 AM on August 2, 2012


Yeah, well, what the fuck has Bruce Springsteen ever known.

Pop music.
posted by chavenet at 9:43 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


No mention of how Autotune has infested pop music!
posted by BentFranklin at 9:55 AM on August 2, 2012


I've recorded my 4,000-word manifesto as a three-minute song. Come at me, Bruce!
posted by Sangermaine at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Popjustice, Poptimists, ILX, The Singles Jukebox are some of my favorite sites that take pop music seriously. They also happen to share a lot of the same writers.
posted by subdee at 10:12 AM on August 2, 2012


I recently finished The Last Party, a book chronicling Britpop and, to an extent, its links with New Labour. Two things struck me:

1) The music industry in the 90s was making an absolute fortune to the point where they were handing out record contracts to guitar pop bands like mints imperial at a Chinese takeaway. Menswear, a band who at this point had three songs written, were driven down the coast in a vintage car by one courting record company, had a case of vintage champagne sent to them by a second, and were told by a third that they would be flown anywhere they wanted in the world if they would sign with them. Their publishing rights were negotiated at 3% over industry average, making them £70,000 a song. They eventually released one album that did OK, freaked out about the teenage girls screaming at them instead of Boyzone, and wrote a commercial disaster for the second. Their lead singer now works in IT sales.

2) Guitar bands were treated like popstars, not rockstars, for the first time in a long time. And some of them could play the game, and some of them couldn't. There's little room for a manufactured band to be able to get into drugs or revolutionary socialism, but there's more for guitar bands because of the circles they mixed in. The gossip rag/sidebar of shame/everything-instantly-on-the-internet culture wasn't there yet, but bands that weren't young and pretty and hadn't been schooled on how to deal with it by Simon Cowell/Tom Watkins/whoever were being paparazzied and interviewed by Smash Hits and it broke a lot of them eventually. Popstars know how to play this end of the media game. Rock stars, rock bands, usually don't get it.

You underestimate teenage girls and the gays at your peril.
posted by mippy at 10:15 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bruce Springsteen is not a pop star.
posted by mippy at 10:15 AM on August 2, 2012


Bruce Springsteen is not a pop star.

Bruce Springsteen is also a pop star.
posted by chavenet at 11:01 AM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Needs and editor.

I recommend their Year 10 English teacher.

Awarded an extra point for the term bellendery, though.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:09 AM on August 2, 2012


Needs and editor.

*sigh* Evidently, so do I.
posted by Herodios at 11:11 AM on August 2, 2012


There's little room for a manufactured band to be able to get into drugs or revolutionary socialism, but there's more for guitar bands because of the circles they mixed in.

I think there's a middle ground between organic and manufactured bands: the refurbished band (or act). I.e., an act who are picked up by the industry as a talent acquisition (though the talent may be musical or it may be stage presence) and rebuilt into something with far more commercial potential. Examples include Bananarama (who started off as three journalism students who formed a post-punk band who wrote songs about date rape), Dubstar (originally The Joans, refurbished into EMI's Saint Etienne competitor) and Ellie Goulding (originally an acoustic folk singer-songwriter, remanufactured into an electropop act placed as the mid-range HTC Android phone to Lady Gaga's iPhone).
posted by acb at 11:54 AM on August 2, 2012


I don't know who these folks are, but their manifesto makes me want to add them to my media consumption.
posted by immlass at 12:04 PM on August 2, 2012


Popjustice is about loving pop and shouting it from the rooftops. If anyone tells you their favourite pop tune is a guilty pleasure tell them to fuck off. Guilty pleasures have no place on Popjustice.

I like these guys. Very much of the "liking things is more interesting than not liking things" school of thought, which I heartily approve of.
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Early Bananarama were great. They had a few good singles after SAW took them over - Robert De Niro's Waiting for example - but it was reminiscent of an old Stephen Wells review 'you can repackage, commercialise and moisturise Sleater-Kinney. But then they wouldn't be Sleater-Kinney.'

Same thing happened with Sugababes in the 00s - another band who formed, got signed, then got marketed. They survived the loss of one original member, but once two had gone they should have changed the name and had done with it. I wonder if the loss of an original member is what did for Bananarama and their slide into blandness too?

I did not know about Dubstar! The Last Party mentioned a band called Thurman, who sounded like a photocopy of Menswear, and how they were rumoured to once be a metal band before they decided to take the route that would get them signed.

Ellie Goulding's still a folky singer-songwriter - her version of Your Song, from a John Lewis ad, was massive here. They keep trying to repeat the trick though - Sunday Girl appears in the odd colour supplement but never actually bothers the charts.
posted by mippy at 1:02 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bruce Springsteen never made the cover of Smash Hits that I recall. Mind you, the Jesus and Mary Chain did, and East 17 and Robbie Williams graced the NME in the 90s, so frankly fuck knows.
posted by mippy at 1:04 PM on August 2, 2012


Bruce Springsteen never made the cover of Smash Hits that I recall.

Will centerfold do?
posted by chavenet at 2:32 PM on August 2, 2012


Blimey, it's as if Born In The USA was a feelgood hit!
posted by mippy at 3:29 PM on August 2, 2012


Smash Hits had Neil Tennant writing for it in its heyday, so it wasn't all pabulum.
posted by acb at 3:33 PM on August 2, 2012


I did not know about Dubstar!
They were rather Saint Et-esque. The frontwoman ended up in an electroclash project named Client. Dubstar are reuniting for a gig in Newcastle.

The Last Party mentioned a band called Thurman, who sounded like a photocopy of Menswear, and how they were rumoured to once be a metal band before they decided to take the route that would get them signed.

I once read that Michael Bolton was in a metal band before he noticed which side his bread was buttered on. And the Swedish R&B-pop producer (Max Martin, I think) who produced hits for Britney Spears, NSync and and the Backstreet Boys also came from a metal background.
posted by acb at 3:37 PM on August 2, 2012


It never was all pabulum. It was a smarter magazine than the detractors who never read it give credit for, with a deliciously zany house style that was half Private Eye, half pop Polari. They featured the Manics when they were still a Welsh agitprop G+R tribute act, asked Andy Bell from Erasure about where he last had sex at a time when Clause 28 suggested any mention of homosexuality would turn teenagers into raving gayers, interviewed Lee and Herring (Richard's vice: 'onanism', Stewart's vice: 'auto-didactism' - I remember because I had to look them both up) and putMargaret Thatcher.

It was a fabulous publication until Kate Thornton took over the editorship in the mid-90s, stripped the eccentricities away and started featuring whatever blandness the major labels wanted teenagers to part with their pocket money for rather than the bit of everything approach. Get yourself some late '80s copies on eBay and enjoy Black Type, Dame David Bowie and the foxtress popstrels that were.

acb - I remember Dubstar (and their album with the vagina pencil case on the front that they had to get reprinted). Not the change of style though.
posted by mippy at 4:33 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now I am sad because there is no imperial phase Smash Hits and no Digitiser.
posted by mippy at 4:37 PM on August 2, 2012


I saw Dubstar live and stole the poster of the pencilcase for someone.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I like most about Popjustice is the fact that it exists as a very solid defense in the ongoing war against pop.
posted by panboi at 4:14 AM on August 3, 2012


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