– Above photo taken by Autumn Miller
Starting with the obvious, 2016 has been something else. With political disparity, bad memes, and injustice across the globe, it’s hard to look back on the year and find an abundance of positives. However, being the realist-who’s-more-the-optimist that I am, I try finding at least a shred of hope that the year behind us has held. 2016 did in fact make an important and wonderful point: it’s shown the world that pop music isn’t dead, and doesn’t plan on dying out anytime soon.
In the past 10 or so years, pop has been given the reputation of having bubblegum-flavored beats that tweens bop to as their moms drive them to school. It’s seen as immature, uncool, and utterly shameful to listen to. While I am also guilty of holding this belief for far too long, 2016 is the one thing that’s helped me changed my view on this. During the past 12 months and in the latter end of 2015, several artists have released vibrant and quality albums that, surprisingly, fall under the category of pop.
The genre itself is more complex than it’s made out to be. While I figured it solely consisted of top-40 radio hits, it encompasses so much more than mainstream sounds. Take dream-pop, for example. While still holding conventional structure, it puts an emphasis on the song’s atmosphere and texture, typically giving it an ethereal feel. There’s also synthpop, which as you likely guessed, pays a good deal of attention to the usage of a synthesizer. However, these two alone just barely skim the surface as to what pop music is in actuality, and don’t give it the justice it deserves.
Artists during the past year have been eating up the concept of developing pop albums for the most hardcore, self-proclaimed “music snobs.” Back in December 2015, Australian singer Troye Sivan released his debut LP, Blue Neighbourhood, a concept album detailing the life of a young man’s inner psyche as he’s trying to make it out of suburbia. In February 2016, Manchester natives, The 1975, came out with their mouthful of a record, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It, which features tunes that are dripping with contradictory sounds of angst and dreaminess. As the year progressed to September 2016, the band who makes your go-to party music, Grouplove, dropped their third album, Big Mess, which makes the essential soundtrack for those Saturday nights that turn into Sunday mornings. These three albums, while being wholly phenomenal on their own, just skim the surface as to what’s been collectively released the past year that falls into a subgenre of pop that restores my faith in everything wonderful.
So, 2016’s been on the crappier side of crappy years. But 2017 is lurking just around the corner, teeming with hope and and the sight of possibly more new and streamable records. As you look back on the past 365 days of your life, do so with the knowledge that 2016 wasn’t a total flop. Just make sure to dance to some quality pop while doing so- I mean, all the cool kids are.