Being the avid follower of pop music charts that I am, the last few years have proven to be the most unpredictable, in terms of what I believe will go No. 1 vs. what actually hits the top.
Whether it’s on iTunes or the Billboard Hot 100 chart, there has been an unsteady flow in trends. In contrast to what’s considered to be pop music now, the charts five years ago or so seemed to have a lot more diverse music. There were a bunch of music groups, such as Danity Kane, the Pussycat Dolls and the Black Eyed Peas, as opposed to the influx of singles artists we have today.
The popular charts were also more different in terms of “genres,” differing from the general consensus of what is perceived to be “pop,” such as Blink 182, Akon, Simple Plan and 50 Cent, just to name and compare a few that are on different spectrums from one another. We have diversity on the charts today, but I don’t think that we have the overall group diversity that we once had.
When I think of “pop” today, I think of mainly the top female artists of the day, such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry. For males, the first that come to mind are Justin Bieber, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and One Direction.
I think part of the reason there are many new artists, especially female artists, are becoming successful more quickly than it would take in the past is because they are the ones breaking into the industry with fresh new ideas and attitudes.
Rihanna always stuck out to me because of her attitude, in a good way, because she was so confident and it came across in her songs. When Lady Gaga first made her debut with “Just Dance” off of ‘The Fame,’ many radio stations wouldn’t play it on the radio because it was considered a electronic/dance song, and stations were more genre specific. But Z100 was one of the first to play the single, and it soon became a hit.
From there on out, radio stations followed suit and began to play songs that go against the grain, and are constantly looking for the newest and hottest thing. I think that’s what so special about today’s music. With music so accessible by a few taps on our phone screens, we are all so hungry for all different types of music, and a personalized and customized playlist to call our own.
I think even though there are less diverse “groups,” the music records they are bringing to the industry all have a unique sound, making the industry diverse in a whole new way.
The music industry in general has also drastically changed and it continues to change day by day. With the increased influence of digital sales, an artist can have a single or an album become a hit within hours and make headlines overnight.
In an interview in this month’s issue of The Fader, Mac Miller went back a few years and discussed when his debut album was released and how it had a “surprising” success, and within the first few days of its release he was rushed on a tour that lasted for two and a half years.
Yet some artists have made their debut into the charts by going against the trends, which to my surprise were new and unpolished artists setting the counter-trends. Lana Del Rey made her debut in 2011 with the melancholy melodies of “Born To Die” selling over 5 million copies worldwide.
This year’s charts have been more than receptive to newly budding artists trying to make their marks, such as Ariana Grande, who debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 Chart, and most recently Lorde, a singer/songwriter from New Zealand who is rising to fame at the mere age of 16.
Since 2008, there has been fresh female faces rising and remaining on the charts bringing a new outlook onto pop, and breaking the norms of an industry pummeled with the stigma of having male dominance.