What pop music have I been missing?
November 14, 2014 10:13 AM   Subscribe

My entire cosmology of music fell apart when I found out how much I love Taylor Swift. I grew up on cheesy 80's pop and still love it to this day. What music did I miss because I was haters gonna hating? Are there great songs by boy bands?
posted by advicepig to Media & Arts (33 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Several friends who are deep into music have pointed out that even though the performers are generally chosen for their faces and their dancing, pop music is generally arranged by people who have put their lives into creating music without the possibility of becoming superstars, and many of them are amazing.

I don't have particular artists to suggest, but I enjoy the heck out of Coverville, partially because it introduces me to a lot of popular music, but played by people who actually know which way up to hold their instrument (not that backing musicians aren't awesome, but pop idols rarely are).
posted by straw at 10:21 AM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

A while ago I went to a live concert by Rockapella, and it was a great time.

They're most famous for doing the theme song to Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego? but that's not all they do.

They're certainly not a "boy band" any more, but they were when they first started.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:22 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I consider myself a bright, intelligent woman with good taste in music. I appreciate jazz and bluegrass and musicals and opera. I hate current country music but like just about everything else.

[steeling myself for criticism and judgement]

I don't know if you are specifically looking for 80s, and I don't know if you are looking for only boyband music, but for the 90s/early 2000s...

Backstreet Boys have some properly fun, catchy songs that I LOVE like "Everybody (Backstreets Back)" and "Larger than Life". Avoid their slow songs, look to their peppy dancy songs.

N*sync also has some great ones. Most of their Pop album is frankly great, if you ask me. I still have a lot of those songs on my MP3 player ("Dirty Pop", "Space Cowboy", "Digital Get Down"...). You just have to go with it and really let yourself enjoy the songs. They are largely songs that are super fun to dance way too enthusiastically too while cleaning your house.

98 Degrees sucks uniformly across the board. There is nothing good to be found in their music and not worth any sort of investigation.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:35 AM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: As a former music snob who is a recent Taylor Swift convert, I can attest that Backstreet Boys I Want it That Way is pretty great, if a little dated sounding now. Also, I hate to say it, but One Direction's Story of My Life is good (I actually cringed while writing that). If you want more than just boy bands, I can also recommend Rihanna's Umbrella, a surprising number of Pink songs (I'll go with Just Like a Pill and Raise Your Glass to be specific), Nelly Furtado's I'm Like a Bird, Justin Timberlake's Rock Your Body, and Katy Perry's Roar. I also have an unabashed love of Blink-182, and they might as well be a boy band; almost all of their singles are like scientifically designed to be catchy.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:37 AM on November 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Sorry, advicepig, but as a committed metalhead the closest I can provide is a now-disbanded Aussie group called Savage Garden. My wife gave me their albums while we were courting, while I gave her albums by Savatage and Ayreon. Good times. :)
posted by starbreaker at 10:41 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Some recommendations based specifically on the knowledge that you like Taylor Swift: Sara Bareilles, The Civil Wars, Elizabeth & the Catapult.

Blue-eyed soul: Duffy, Adele, and of course Amy Winehouse! And then you've got dance-pop like Ellie Goulding, Robyn, La Roux, Rihanna.

I definitely love a lot of pop music just for the sky-high production values that elevate everything else, but I think a lot of that is going to work better song-by-song rather than recommending artists to you.
Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful
Hozier - Take Me to Church
posted by capricorn at 10:46 AM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Holy cow. Glad I'm not the only one who LOVES the BSB's "Larger Than Life." Kelly Clarkson's "Since You've Been Gone" (I'm at work, so I can't link to a playable version of the song) from several years back was HUGE hit, so much so that The Foo Fighters were covering it at their live shows.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:47 AM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: ... HUGE hit, so much so that The Foo Fighters were covering it at their live shows.

There's a decent amount of semi-ironic covers of pop songs now, even by major bands who don't generally perform that type of pop music. Britney Spears' Toxic comes to mind. But the original song is definitely one of my guilty pleasures.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:52 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I actually appreciated the Spotify Playlist of Pitchfork's Top 200 tracks of the 2010s so far, because it got me acquainted with what some people consider the best of contemporary pop and hip-hop, genres that I do not actively follow.
posted by matildaben at 10:53 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Also, how far away from pop music did you go? The definition of "pop" is pretty broad now, with some neo-R&B revival still going on post Amy Winehouse, with Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" being everywhere now, but definitely not your standard bubblegum pop. Then there's Nico & Vinz - "Am I Wrong" which pulls in African influences, but stays very modern and pop. But if you've listened to modern pop stations at all, you've heard both of these songs a hundred times already. In a 6 hour car ride, I heard both of those songs around 20 times total, and in a few instances, I'd hear "Am I Wrong" within minutes of the last time by simply hopping to a different station.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:57 AM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding is a really beautiful pop song.
posted by lunasol at 11:02 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nelly. It's Getting Hot in Here, Ride With Me and Just a Dream are ridiculously great pop songs.
posted by fshgrl at 11:06 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Boyz II Men one here.

Tony! Toni! Toné! one here.

Bell Biv DeVoe one here.

And I'm an old "metal" dude. I love the above.

Bonus track that may or may not qualify but is somehow linked contemporaneously in my memory.
US3 - Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)
posted by vapidave at 11:08 AM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: Jason Derulo has put out some great pop songs and lord knows the man is not afraid to get cheesy.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:08 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm also a recovering indie music snob. Welcome to the club! It's way better here.

"Bye Bye Bye" by 'N Sync is totally unstoppable and must always be played at an ear-splitting volume to fully appreciate how amazing it is. Ditto Kelly Clarkson's entire second LP, Breakaway -- "Walk Away" is my #1 jam for life and the video is most excellent.

This group was manufactured by P.Diddy in the late aughts to precisely zero critical acclaim, but I still spin their first record whenever I'm feeling down. Examples: "This is Me," "I Don't Like Anyone," "He Loves U Not."

This is less pre-fab and more low-key, but it's still a fantastic little pop song nonetheless: "Boys With Girlfriends" by Meiko.

And just to prove that you can take the girl out of the snob but you can't take the snob out of the girl: I love Avril Lavigne's "Complicated," but only as covered by Ben Gibbard.
posted by divined by radio at 11:17 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: So, basically, everything on this list: Max Martin discography :-)

(I think you can skip E Type and James Blunt, though)
posted by effbot at 11:24 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Max Martin is your man. He is a pop hit creating machine. He wrote Taylor Swift's Shake It Off, which threw me into a conflicted torment ("This Taylor Swift song is great! What is *wrong* with me?!?").

On preview, what effbot said.
posted by gox3r at 11:28 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One Direction's Little Black Dress could almost be a lost Big Star song, from its winding guitar lines to the long fade-out.
posted by nicwolff at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

He wrote Taylor Swift's Shake It Off,

Max Martin is great but songwriting credit for that goes to Swift, Martin and Shellback.
posted by zutalors! at 11:50 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think you would love Patrick Wolf. I especially like The City and The Falcons.

You might also enjoy The Killers: Human, Mr. Brightside, Somebody Told Me, Read My Mind

Other stuff, just from the top of my head:

From the *N Sync era:
Britney Spears - One Kiss From You
Mandy Moore - Candy
B*Witched - C'est La Vie
Avril Lavigne - Sk8er Boi
Willa Ford - I Wanna Be Bad

Nicki Minaj - Super Bass
most Lady Gaga - Paparazzi is my favorite
Kesha - Your Love Is My Drug

and there has got to be a Beyonce song in here somewhere, let's go with Crazy In Love

I'd think of more but I am supposed to be working and my job is not to throw dance parties at my desk, sadly.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:59 AM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm voting for early Mika, the stuff he does started as pretty cartoony albeit with a pretty wry sensibility - like Morrissey for the under 12's!
posted by Middlemarch at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: Some favorites in no particular order:

Avril Lavigne - Girlfriend
Outkast - Hey Ya
Justin Timberlake - Sexyback
Robyn - Do You Know (What It Takes)
Beyonce - Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
Daft Punk - Get Lucky
Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger
Katy Perry - Roar
Muse - Supermassive Black Hole

The Backstreet Boys love is warming 13-year-old me's heart. Also seconding Savage Garden, particularly I Want You.
posted by kassila at 12:35 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, remember that you are not alone. Swiftamine is there for you.
posted by oxisos at 12:36 PM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: My friend and I collaborated on a Spotify playlist called Boy Bands and Pop Princesses a while back. Not everything on there is great, but by god it is poppy and fun.
posted by zoetrope at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just as a blanket statement, Taylor Swift, Rhianna, Lady Gaga, even Robin Thicke are 100000x better and more tasteful song-writing than 00s pop. Oversimplifying, in the late part of the last decade Lady Gaga (and others [Beyonce] but mainly her) made art and skills in both song-writing, instrument-playing and singing way more important than it used to be. Pop-songsters had to step their game up. My Humps and Bye Bye Bye = bye bye. Hello personal lyrics, glittery/warm production, and interesting chord changes and song structure. Compare Justin Timberlake's recent Mirror with a second single like LoveStoned from his last breakout record in the 00s. The former is way more organic, less sexually aggro, more sweeping and optimistic (and musically more complicated).

Anyway, my point is, stick to pop from this decade. Especially Pharrell.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:23 PM on November 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

Nthing Max Martin. The guy is a genius.
posted by radioamy at 3:36 PM on November 14, 2014

Best answer: Girls Aloud really brought me back to pop music after a long absence:

Sexy! No No No...
Call the Shots
The Loving Kind

It has an understandable British slant, but usually I browse Popjustice to find the latest singles by established and upcoming acts.
posted by modesty.blaise at 4:18 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I consulted with an expert - my 17 year old daughter who is a devout Taylor Swift fan. The following are her recommendations and comments:

5 Seconds of Summer are a lot like One Direction, but edgier and from Australia. Don't Stop and She Looks so Perfect
MKTO isn't really a boy band, but they are two guys - Classic
Aly and AJ are a little like Taylor - not sure if they've done anything lately but everything on Insomniatic was great - especially Potential Breakup Song.
The first song by the Jonas Brothers was their best - and they look so young (she squeals!) - Year 3000
Weezer - they're definitely not boys, but If You're Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To) is very pop and the video is hilarious.
Cough Syrup by Young the Giant is kind of indie pop.
Joe Brooks is talented, cute, and British (again, she squeals!) - Superman and Kaleidoscope
posted by kbar1 at 11:08 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh cool, this is where I get to talk about how much I unabashedly, unironically like Smash Mouth. Their first album was more ska-influenced, but after that they tended more towards straight pop. You've probably heard All-Star, which, even I will admit (under duress) was the most overplayed song of the early 00s, not that that makes me like it any less. But I will also suggest Why Can't We Be Friends (cover of the 1975 War song), Can't Get Enough of You Baby, and Pacific Coast Party.

Other songs I like, not already mentioned:
Fuck You, CeeLo Green (Clean version: Forget You)
I Want You Back, N*SYNC
Me and My Broken Heart, Rixton
Special and When I Grow Up, Garbage
The Middle, Jimmy Eat World
The Impression That I Get, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Bad Romance, Lady Gaga
All the Things She Said, t.A.T.u.
AM Radio, Everclear
Counting Stars, One Republic
The Way, Fastball
Torn, Natalie Imbruglia

(P.S. I've never been great at distinguising musical genres, so it's possible some things have slipped into my list which might be a bit far afield from "pop.")
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:34 AM on November 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks y'all! I've got a ton of stuff you sift through. Perfect winter project!
posted by advicepig at 7:54 AM on November 15, 2014

late to the thread but I'm an obsolete teen gothy mope of the 80s and categorical loather of all things flannel, roots-rock and REM, yet I am also an unironical fan of Jimmy Eat World, Lorde and Lady GaGa. I loves me some lyrical, catchy pop music; I was a sucker for it back when it was the Sundays and Duran Duran, and IMO good pop never really went away, it just grabbed some glowsticks and went to the club / warehouse for about fifteen years or so.

Honestly I think one of the most amazing and liberating things to have happened to pop music in the recent decade (besides Beyonce who is just an astonishingly good musician) was the internet / crowdsharing viral effect that means the traditional A&R model can be somewhat bypassed in favor of more fun, potentially quirky stuff that might not have gotten past the corporate suits (stuff like LMFAO and OK Go! comes to mind).
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:48 PM on November 17, 2014

oh and +1 on everyone above who recommended One Direction. No, really. Yea ok they're a boy-band, but they're also really good at producing classically catchy pop tunes.

I have been digging the heck out of Pop Music Theory, and without it I would never have discovered Imagine Dragons (and their beautifully weird, intensely surreal and dreamlike video for Radioactive which puts anything Duran Duran ever did to shame)
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:57 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older How can I stop making myself miserable wishing...   |   If I like the Brothers Sinister series, what other... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.