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There is a scourge on modern music. As time goes on, this scourge seems harder and harder to escape. It is a scourge that has completely ruined a reputable genre of music. A genre that has been ruined by the likes of Britney Spears, N sync, various other bands consisting of singers that you can only tell apart when you see their videos. And that’s if you’re lucky. What is this scourge? I’m glad you asked. (I don’t you didn’t, but play along with me here, you know you wanna.) That scourge is Bubblegum Pop. It is nothing that new; it has been around since the time of Ricky Nelson all the way back in 1953, and continued by the New Kids on the Block in 1986. It has only been viewed as a primary lasting vehicle through the past ten years or so through the works of various “boy bands” and slutty virgins.

My main problem with Bubblegum Pop exists not through its presence. That can be ignored the same way that the bad music at a frat house can eventually be tuned out, or how I can almost convince myself that country doesn’t exist. No, my main problem is this: when you hear the word pop, what comes to mind? The Cars? Good Charlotte? The Artist Formerly Known As the Artist Formerly Known As Prince? Or is it more along the lines of Britney, Christina, and that chick from American Idol?

Perhaps my point still isn’t clear. I grew up listening to rock. My first full sentence was “Born in the U.S.A.” My first memory of music is driving around listening to “Like a Song” by U2. The first thing I purchased with money from my first job was a Squier Stratocaster. My first guitar tutor was Eddie Van Halen…or at least his works. I never even considered the possibility of being a pop fan. Why? Because when I was listening to this music, NKOTB (as they proclaimed themselves well after people stopped caring) was huge. When American was complaining that J. Lo said “nigger” in one of her songs, I was complaining that Pearl Jam wasn’t getting the publicity they deserved. I grew up, basically, with the understanding that if you liked rock, pop was a four letter word, usually described with other four letter words.

It wasn’t until less than a year ago that I was convinced otherwise. I was standing in a Pizza Hut, when from the radio should come Huey Lewis & the News. I listened to the song and thought back to better times in my life. I remembered my uncle’s poster in his closet of Huey & the boys. I found that after a short time, I was dancing, or at least trying to. I hate dancing. I feel like an ass when I’m dancing. And here I found myself dancing and NOT CARING. Then it dawned on me. Huey Lewis & the News was pop!

I quickly went through a rolodex of other bands I listened to in that time period. INXS, BoDeans, John Mellencamp, The Cars, R.E.M., The Police, even my beloved U2 and Van Halen were either pop bands of had released some pop music! Even recent music of mine – Everclear, Matchbox 20, Vertical Horizon – could be considered pop. At that moment, I had a revelation. I like pop! When it’s done right, pop can be a very powerful instrument.

There are two things which I feel prove this point. One is from an anonymous source, simply because too much time has gone for me to remember who said it. “Most of our music is rock. It’s rock until people like it. Then it becomes pop.” My second point comes from the great Art Alexakis of Everclear. When Everclear first came out, they made mostly heavy, straight-forward guitar rock. Then eventually Art found some things that were really worth singing about. Points that he felt were really important to the public and that as many people needed to hear as possible. He realized that pop sells better that rock, so he wrote the lyrics he wanted to write and then made them pop songs. As a result, Father of Mine became the official song of a very prominent Anti-Deadbeat Dad organization. And I almost never listened to it because I thought it was too poppy. I used to be upset that rock and pop were combined into rock/pop in music stores. Now I almost wonder why there are 2 names to begin with.

Where am I going with this? I don’t know. But I do know this. If you are a fan of rock music, that fine. But don’t get too wrapped up in it. You could be missing out on some great music simply because of the label that’s been put on it that has been spoiled by a subcategory. Not all pop consists of overdone harmonies sung by guys of questionable sexuality and inspirational hoes. Just because you listen to Godsmack, Metallica and Nirvana doesn’t mean you’re too cool to listen to pop. Some pop actually rocks. You think I’m wrong? Fine. Let’s see you tell Michael J. Fox that Huey Lewis sucks.

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The following comments are for "The Stage: Huey the Revelator"
by E.G. Evans

For a while i was thinking of giving up this column thing because nobody seemed to read or care about my last installmesnt of it. Thanks for renewing my faith.

( Posted by: E.G. Evans [Member] On: March 15, 2004 )

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