Modern pop music, despite being supposedly ‘popular’ by definition, really isn’t for everyone. For many, it’s repetitive, unimaginative and quite frankly boring. Obviously there are some exceptions, but it is undeniable that most of the pop music that is out there at the moment is lacking somewhat in originality. A report from Scientific American which claimed that the pitch content of music has decreased in recent years, stated that “Musicians today seem to be less adventurous in moving from one chord to another, instead following the paths well-trod by their predecessors and contemporaries”. Everyone is just recycling the same chords and song structures in order to produce ‘new’ music and whilst in many ways this could be considered a bad thing for the industry, some artists have been using it to produce imaginative and quality content.
For example, The Axis of Awesome, an Australian comedy rock band, featured a track called ‘4 Chords’ on their 2011 album, Animal Vehicle. The song was a medley of popular songs which all utilised the same 4 chord progression and jovially highlighted the fact so much of pop music is effectively just a musical rehash. Despite featuring very limited original material, the track was among the bands most successful, not least due to the music video being a massive hit on YouTube. The hugely popular video sharing site in general has become a hub for imaginative and creative musical content in recent years. In fact, the rise of YouTube has given way to much more than just a readily available library of music videos. From a capella artists such as Mike Tompkins, to the acoustic covers of Igor Presnyakov, there really is plethora of creators of unique content based on modern pop music currently featured on the site.
usually being released around the end of a calendar year, the videos serve as a musical summary of what the past year has had to offer
Daniel Kim, best known for his Pop Danthology mashup videos, is definitely one of those creators. The videos, which have been uploaded annually to the site for the last 6 years now, utilise how similar pop music has become by combining around 50 of the prior year’s biggest pop hits into a single 5-8 minute mashup. This takes a lot of work; it took Kim 180 hours to mix the 68 songs from the 2013 mashup just as an example, but the payoff is pretty incredible. Even for those who don’t enjoy pop music, listening to Kim’s work as he seamlessly merges songs such as Bruno Mars’ ‘Treasure’ with Justin Timberlake’s ‘Suit and Tie’ is truly satisfying, and the mashups do a great job of making the source material seem fresh and new in the most epic way possible.
Also, usually being released around the end of a calendar year, the videos serve as a musical summary of what the past year has had to offer. This is also refreshing as it makes use of songs that may have been hugely popular early on in the year but have since lost momentum. The 2012 version of Pop Danthology for instance featured not only mega hits such as Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ and Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’, but also made use of slightly older tracks such as Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’, which originally released in 2011.
“Pop Danthology is a glimpse into my utopian world where none of the boring filler stuff exists anymore”
In addition to the mashups, Daniel Kim also posted a video entitled “The Psychology of Pop Danthology” in which he explains his motivation for creating the videos. Kim stated, “I have very little patience for music that progresses slowly. Progressive house music drives me insane, I can’t stand how repetitive it is and how long it takes to get to the point. I am convinced that everyone who is able to tolerate this kind of music for a long period of time must be on drugs … Pop Danthology is a glimpse into my utopian world where none of the boring filler stuff exists anymore”. As it transpires, there are many who would agree with Kim with regards to his view of pop music as nothing but “boring filler stuff”; Kim is currently sitting at just under 900,000 subscribers and has scored over 160 million collective views on his videos. In addition, other YouTube channels such as DJ Earworm and Megamix Central have seen similar success with their pop mashups, further supporting Kim’s idea.
Daniel Kim has now uploaded the 2015 edition of Pop Danthology; in the form of two mashups this year, as opposed to the usual one. Featuring One Direction, Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, Charie Puth and many more pop artists, it is once again interesting to see what Kim has been able to produce in a year with so much mediocrity. As was the way with previous years, it isn’t half bad.