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‘To This Day Most ‘Pop’ Music Strikes Me as Very Teenagy.’

One musician describes his disillusionment with the popular genre and rediscovery of jazz, Bach, and Cole Porter.

PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!


May 14, 2014 - 7:00 am

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, crossposted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. Also check out last week’s writing prompts: 5 Geek Questions To Provoke Debates About the Future of Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

A  response to Monday’s PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates! question: How Did Your Music Tastes Change As You Grew Older?


A fascinating subject.

I do not think my personal journey is likely typical, but perhaps worth sharing none the less.

During the 1960s I was a working musician – one who entered the music scene a little ahead of the crowd (see and saw some small success But for me by the early 1970s that was largely over.

In part my loss of interest in much that is called “pop” came from overexposure and, I suppose, disappointed hopes.

I’d done some interesting work, even post Abstracts, including writing and recording for motion pictures. But even at the time, entering my twenties, so much pop music seemed shallow. In its stead I focused on two things:  A return to my early love of classical music, particularly the symphonies of Beethoven and the keyboard works of Bach — these to satisfy the mind — and a turning towards roots music, be it in the form of Delta blues or the more modern Chicago variety — these to satisfy the spirit.

To this day most “pop” music strikes me as very teenagy. So much so that I have trouble understanding how any adult can find it of interest.

Of late I have again started to listen to music once classified as “pop,” but it is from the days when such music was aimed, not a teenagers, but at adults. Music of the Gershwins, for instance, and that of Cole Porter.

And this is, I think, the difference. Today everything in the “arts” seems to be aimed at children.

Broadway is largely re-dos of Disney animated films and rehashing the lives and music of teen musicians.

Once serious orchestras are doing film scores accompanying projected pop film images. -Something that was once seen merely an adjunct. (Think Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops).

Art museums, too, it seems, have lost their focus on anything that might appear serious or worse, “classical,” preferring to focus on such things as automobile design and fashion.

Yes, my tastes have changed.  I long ago decided to allow myself to “grow up.”

Don Sucher,
Peterborough, NH

PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates Features a new prompt each weekday to weigh the good, the bad, the overrated, the unbelievable, and the amazing throughout the worlds of books, film, and TV. We can't figure out how to build a greater pop culture until we dissect the mess we already have. Want to contribute your perspective to the debate? Email PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle with your take: DaveSwindlePJM [@] Image via shutterstock/ DarkGeometryStudios

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All Comments   (8)
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"‘To This Day Most ‘Pop’ Music Strikes Me as Very Teenagy.’"

Um.... duh.

41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Diana Krall ♥ East of the Sun & West of the Moon
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
At some point you reach an age where you can longer identify with pop songs. If you're lucky, and you've been exposed to lots of different music in your life, you'll start exploring other genres. Once that starts, you are struck by the quality of play and composition in Big Band music, the interesting abstractions of Jazz, the timelessness of something like East of the Sun West of the Moon.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
"At some point you reach an age where you can longer identify with pop songs."

Reminded of a line from the series The Critic: "I can no longer tell the diference between cute and stupid."

The rise of rock & roll cut in on Spike Jones's output; he couldn't run parodies on what he didn't get. Meanwhile, Weird Al Yankovic seems to be hanging in there....
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think the big money music/arts marketing firms are on to something.

My experience is consistent with Don's. Most popular music today is targeted towards teens and Millenials, and perhaps the "Young at heart". I read this and wonder if this reveals a recent phenomenon of child influence: market to kids, kids spend their money or persuade their parents to spend money. I can't help but think this would not have worked prior to the last few decades.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well.........To this day, most Pop Music is bought by (and therefore marketed to) Teenagers. QED.
Adult...NO make that Grown Up Music runs more to Jazz, Blues (Rock & Roll for Grown Ups), Classical etc. With accent on performance rather than Angst and Mating Dances.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
As Paul McCartney said, "Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs. And what's wrong with that, I'd like to know." Pop music has always been aimed at the teenagy market; some of it turns out to be worthy of the term "classic." "Unchained", "Hallelujah", and "And So It Goes" are a few that I'd put in that category.
At our house, we play classical music during dinner and pop music or C&W most of the rest of the time. We enjoy many genres.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
We enjoy many genres.

The only way to do it.

The thought occurs that before the early 90s, you'd hear multiple genres played on the same radio station. The Beatles followed by Sergio Mendes; REM followed by Anita Baker. That's disappeared, such that today it's only a lone genre outlook. Kids today are more than a bit musically stunted, and the poorer for it.
41 weeks ago
41 weeks ago Link To Comment
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