Is Pop a Genre?

Pop is a genre of music that’s characterized by catchy melodies and repeated choruses. It also places a significant emphasis on rhythm. 

Pop is certainly a genre of music, but it’s a very broad one. Continue reading to find out more about pop music, why people like it, some different forms of it, and the reason why some think it’s not a music genre!

What Is Pop?

Pop music is a popular style of music that’s played all over the world. 

The earliest works of pop music started appearing in the 1950s. The genre originated in the United States and the United Kingdom, with the emergence of artists like Bing Crosby. Crosby was nicknamed “King of Popular Music” and “King of Song”.

At that time, rock ‘n’ roll was considered a subgenre of pop music. However, starting with the late 1960s, the 2 genres separated from each other. Back then, the term “pop music” described a music genre that’s accessible and commercial. 

Pop music gained influences from other genres in the 60s. It borrowed instrumentation from rock music, rhythms from hip-hop music, backing from electronic music, and harmonies from soul music. 

The British Invasion of the 1960s had a major impact on the development of pop music. During that period, British titles topped the U.S music charts. The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones are some of the most notable names that popped up during the British Invasion. 

Over time, pop music has evolved into a plethora of subgenres.

Why Do People Like Pop Music?

People like pop music for a multitude of reasons. For starters, pop music is super easy to sing along to. The lyrics are simple, and the melodies are catchy, which is all you need to sing along to a song. 

Additionally, pop songs are usually quite relatable. Most pop songs feature themes like love, joy, and heartbreak, which are relatable for most people. Everyone likes to listen to songs that they can relate to as it touches their feelings. 

On top of that, pop music is quite uplifting; it’s all about the energy!

Some Popular Pop Stars

Beyoncé, Adele, and Justin Bieber are some of the most widely-acclaimed pop stars. Each of them has made it to the top charts more often than I can remember. 

Other notable artists include Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift. Of course, I also have to mention big names like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Whitney Houston. 

Some Popular Sub-Genres of Pop Music

Pop music has branched into lots of subgenres over the years. Some of the most notable pop subgenres include art pop, dance pop, orchestral pop, country pop, indie pop, and bubblegum. 

Art Pop

Art pop is a bit loosely defined, but there’s no denying that it gained influence from pop art’s combination of high and low culture. Drake, Kanye West, and Lana Del Rey are a few notable art pop music artists. 

Dance Pop

As for dance pop, you’ve probably guessed it already; it’s a subgenre of pop music that’s intended for people to dance to. Some of its characteristics include prominent hooks, simple lyrics, and upbeat nature. 

Madonna and Michael Jackson are 2 of the most notable names in the world of dance pop music. Other popular artists encompass Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga. 

Orchestral Pop

Orchestral pop is known for its complex vocal harmonies and strings. The subgenre also heavily focuses on texture and melody. Henry Mancini, Yuki Kajiura, The Irrepressibles, and Kylie Minogue are among the names that contributed to orchestral pop. 

Country Pop

Country pop borrows the folk harmonies and string instruments of country music and blends them with the catchy melodies and choruses of pop music. Some of the most widely acclaimed country pop artists include Kacey Musgraves, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, and Billy Currington. 

Indie Pop

Indie pop is basically a toned-down version of indie rock with less abrasion and a more melodic approach. Some artists that influenced indie pop music encompass Florence + The Machine, MGMT, The Postal Service, and Vampire Weekend. 


Bubblegum music is defined by childish lyrics, harmonized vocals, and simple chords. The greatest bubblegum artists of all time comprise 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Archies, The Monkees, and Ohio Express. 

Why Do People Dislike Pop Music?

Not everyone is a huge fan of pop music. In fact, a considerable number of people dislike pop music. One reason why some people dislike pop is that it’s too corporate. In other words, many pop stars are restricted to what their music labels want them to do, preventing them from getting creative. 

Additionally, due to the corporate nature of the pop music industry, the majority of pop tracks are overproduced, resulting in “fake perfectionism”. 

Not to mention the heavy use of autotune, which makes things even worse. A little bit of autotune is fine, but many studios abuse it to the point that the artist sounds like a singing robot. 

Another possible reason why people have mixed feelings about pop music is that song structures, and chord progressions often get too generic. Not to mention, almost all pop hit songs are overplayed. You’ll hear them literally everywhere until you want to kill yourself!

Pop Music vs Popular Music

Pop music is pretty popular, which has led many people to believe that the terms “popular music” and “pop music” can be used interchangeably. 

However, there are vital differences between the two. Popular music is simply any genre or style of music that’s popular in the current period. It can be anything. For example, if almost everyone suddenly falls in love with metal music and it’s being played everywhere, then this is popular music for the meantime. 

In other words, popular music can be used as an alternative name for any style of music that has gained mass popularity. 

The interchangeable use of the terms pop music and popular music is one of the primary reasons some people believe it isn’t a genre. 

When Did Pop Music Start?

There’s so much controversy about the exact time pop music started out. Some say that the genre started as early as the late 19th century. One title that’s often credited for being the first-ever pop song is “My Gal is a High Born Lady” by St. Louis Ragtimers, released in 1896.

Others argue that the genre only evolved into its modern form later in the mid-1950s. 


Whether you love it or dislike it, pop music covers some of the main music of our generation. It’s the style of music that you’ll hear playing almost everywhere you go.

And to answer our main question, yes, pop is a genre, period. It’s a very broad one, which has led many people to think that it’s not a genre because almost everything is pop. 

However, that’s not the case. Pop songs may sound different, but they all share some fundamental characteristics that make pop music what it is. 

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

I’ve been a writer with Musician Wave for six years, turning my 17-year journey as a multi-instrumentalist and music producer into insightful news, tutorials, reviews, and features.

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