Pop Life


Column by Brianna WillisAssistant Features Editor



The number of people I hear call “pop music” trash, fluff or a waste of time is truly astonishing. Given that “pop” music is a shortening of “popular,” I will even hear some people call their favorite musician a “sell out” when they make it onto the Top 40. Some members of an older generation, and even some of my own, call “pop culture” silly and frivolous. “You care about what the Kardashians are doing?” Why yes, yes I do.

What makes me angry and sad about this notion is that it assumes a hierarchy of music and culture. If it isn’t “fine arts” it isn’t worth it. If it isn’t “The Wire” or “Game of Thrones,” why are you even watching it? (Caveat: I love both of those shows.) If it isn’t [insert some fake deep rapper or some unknown indie artist], it’s trash.

I stand firm in my belief in the importance of pop culture and pop music and I am not an idiot or dense for liking things that are.

By participating in things that seem to be enjoyed by a large group of people, it allows people to connect in real and meaningful ways. One may see live-tweeting as a nuisance, but I see it as a way to connect with people who share similar interests with me who aren’t physically in the same room.

One may laugh at a sorority girl blasting Taylor Swift as she screams “HEY GIRL, YOU BETTAH WORK” at her passing friend. However, I see someone connected to Taylor Swift who loves her friend and is expressing herself through vernacular anyone can identify as positive.

Back in the day, Frank Sinatra was categorized as “pop” music. This shouldn’t be a shock given he was a popular musician in his time, performing standards and his own work in a style that was popular at the time.

Michael Jackson, the man, the myth and the legend, was a “pop” icon. He performed and weaved other genres into his own material but let’s call it what it is: pop.

I point out these two greats because I think we forget that being popular isn’t a bad thing. It is OK to like the hottest TV show. It is OK to enjoy the hottest hits radio station.

I am not ashamed to admit my interests and taste. Do I think it is important to be well-rounded? Yes. It is not enough to only like Bach, and it is not enough to only like Drake. There has to be middle ground.

However, whether it is someone’s guilty pleasure or something people carry with them with a deeper meaning than you could ever see at surface level, pop culture and music are here to stay. Trends may come and go, but the idea that people can come together over a shared interest and that interest can grow and affect other people on a global scale, is something to be admired and respected.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re a trendsetter or a follower; the idea we should all embrace is “don’t yuck my yum.” If you find yourself in a conversation with someone who likes the latest and greatest song or cool TV show, don’t judge him or her.

Instead, engage them in a conversation. You may be surprised to learn people have real thoughts, regardless of subject matter.