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Pop Music Icons
By Sandy Cosser
Pop music is usually comprised of happy, upbeat rhythms with simple melodies and lyrics
that relate to love, relationships, sex and dancing. It is not a genre that is meant to
bring deep and serious world issues to the fore, nor is it meant to invoke introspection
and reflection. It's there simply to bop around to, and join in the rousing chorus at the
top of your lungs. Its feel good music, designed for fun and lighthearted entertainment.
Unlike other music genres such as rock and hip hop, where the songs are often written by
the artists themselves, pop songs are usually written by professional songwriters. In
order to generate as much exposure as possible, artists create music videos and stage
extravagant live performances to attract media interest. Music videos are particularly
important as they can enjoy international commercial success and thus reach an extremely
wide audience. This has made pop, arguably the world's biggest music genre.
"Popular music" has been around since the 50s, with people such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis
Presley falling into the category. Pop music, as most of us know it, really came into its
own in the 80s with the rise of artists such as Michael Jackson and Madonna.
Michael Jackson had nine no.1 singles in the US alone during the 80s, and sold over 136
million albums even though he only released two, Thriller and Bad. This ensured that he
became the most successful artist of the 80s and earned him the title "King of Pop".
Madonna was another emerging 80s artist who reached iconic status. Widely regarded as the
"Queen of Pop", Madonna has experimented by blending pop with a number of other music
genres and has sold over 230 million albums globally. Her album, Like a Virgin achieved
Diamond status; one better than Platinum and her single Vogue is one of the biggest
selling singles in history. It has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
The 90s was not a good decade for pop. It saw the emergence of boy bands and girl groups
resulting in the Backstreet Boys, N'SYNC and that fascinating UK phenomenon, the Spice
Girls. Groups were assembled more for their looks and appeal to teenage audiences than
any real singing talent. Towards the end of the 90s we saw a rise of bubble gum pop and
aspiring divas, Britney Spears and her competition, Christina Aguilera. Christina
experimented and evolved; Britney stagnated in the sex kitten look and had a breakdown.
Australia's Kylie Minogue, a former 80s icon, experienced a revival that carried her
through to the next century. Latin pop burst onto the scene with Ricky Martin swinging
his hips and Shakira shaking everything else.
The 2000s have seen a lot of artists take time off from their bands to record solo
albums such as Gwen Stefani, while others simply left their bands to pursue solo careers
like Justin Timberlake and Robbie Williams. We've seen the rise of Teen pop, who've been
given a boost by the Disney Channel, as well as Pop Punk like Fall Out Boy and pop rock
like Pink. The popular reality show American Idol has changed the way in which many people
achieve fame and commercial success in the music industry. Some artists have proved that
it is possible to successfully blend pop music and R&B, artists like Nelly Furtado and Rihanna.
Some modern day icons include:
Justin Timberlake, who rose to stardom on the tails of one of the more successful boy
bands, N'SYNC. He chose to leave the band and pursue an independent solo career and in
2002 released his debut album titled, Justified. After a break of about four years,
in which he recorded with other artists, began a movie career, started a fashion label,
William Rast, and established his own record label, Tennman Records, he returned to
the studio and released his second album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. He has sold over 15
million albums worldwide.
Nelly Furtado first came to our attention in 2000 when she released her debut album,
Whoa, Nelly. "I'm like a bird", her breakthrough single from the album, won her a
Grammy award and established her as an artist to watch. In 2003, after taking some
time off to have her first child, she released her second album, Folklore, which didn't
fare as well commercially as Whoa, Nelly did. However, her latest album, Loose, which
she released in 2006, has put her firmly back on the hit parade. It has had several
hit singles, most notably, "Promiscuous", "Maneater", "Say It Right" and "Do It". Nelly
is not afraid of experimenting with her sound and often incorporates different instruments,
sounds, languages and vocal styles into her music. She claims to have attributed her
new youthful sound on Loose to the presence of her two-year old daughter.
Kylie Minogue has one of the longest standing and most successful careers in pop music
history. She's seen out the 80s, the 90s and has enjoyed huge success in the 2000s. She
is primarily famous in Europe and Australia, although her popularity in the US is growing.
She is one of the world's most easily recognisable celebrities and earned herself
thousands of new fans by the brave manner in which she battled breast cancer and dealt
with her resulting hair loss. In January 2007 Madame Tussaud's in London revealed a new
waxwork of Kyle, the fourth one. The Queen is the only person in the world to have had
more models created.
This November Kylie will release her much anticipated 10th album, her first in four years.
For most of her career Kylie has been regarded as a gay icon, which she encourages with
good humoured comments such as this one, "I am not a traditional gay icon. There's been
no tragedy in my life, only tragic outfits." She acknowledges and appreciates her gay support
base by openly supporting AIDS and gay rights causes.
Sandra wrote this article for the online marketers Pop music news pop music news one of
the leading sources for pop music news on the Internet.
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