Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist, decided to give his opinion on pop and rap music in his recent interview for the Telegraph, which focused on the upcoming release of the Rolling Stones’ new album. “I don’t like to hear people yelling at me” is what the musician said about rap and he called pop “rubbish” and “cheap”. He stated that he enjoys many musical genres, but cannot stand those two, as he thinks that pop “always sounds the same” and considers rap too aggressive.
Thinking about these words of the artist, they seem to be portraying an overly negative image of the current state of the music industry. After all, pop was the most popular amongst teenagers in 2018, with 64% of listeners from 18 countries. Does it mean that, according to Keith Richards, our generation is doomed to listen to bad music?
Does it mean that, according to Keith Richards, our generation is doomed to listen to bad music?
With the increasing popularity of social media, it is easy to feel surrounded by the most popular hits and hear them everywhere. The demand for making fast, catchy songs is common nowadays, as going ‘viral’ has become a priority in many cases. That would align with Richards’ opinion that pop cannot be seen as valuable, because the industry is based on making money and nothing else. However, with pop being such a broad genre with so many artists distinguishing themselves as pop singers having unique voices and artistic creativity, the words of Keith Richards might sound simplistic and ignorant.
What the musician seems to omit in his statement is what the term “pop music” really means. ”Pop” is an abbreviation of “popular” and dates back as far as the 19th century. It is used to describe the most famous genre at a particular time in history. For example, The Beatles are considered to be a rock band, but they were mainstream at the time and have influenced a lot of modern pop. In the case of rap, it has a cultural importance for the working-class African-Americans and has a history of representing an oppressed group, mixing cultural traditions with social commentary.
The role of pop and rap in the history of music should not be underestimated
It is important to bear in mind that those are the most original purposes of pop and rap and that now they have evolved, but, like with every music genre, it is important to distinguish artists that produce valuable music from those who make it only for the money and popularity. Examples of “cheap artists” can be found in every genre. The statement of Keith Richards should be treated as his personal opinion, and the role of pop and rap in the history of music should not be underestimated.