Originally Posted by dybbuk
I've went around and around with Apoleb (RIP) in here so I just can't be bothered to rehash all my arguments. Apoleb and I basically ended up with a semi-agreement and I think we basically agreed, just viewed it from different angles. I have nothing against pop music, and I listen to pop music far more than I listen to classical music. My argument was always just against pop snobbery that places artists like say Led Zeppelin or Joy Division at or near the pinnacle of music and innovation, and trashes "mainstream pop" as derivative and simple. When at the heart of it, the pop song format (which basically every single rock, pop, R&B, etc act uses) is at it's heart relatively simplistic compared to other forms of music. This is by no means a knock on it; I have nothing against it and enjoy the pop song form. But some people lack self-awareness to such an extent they can honestly take Joy Division and not realize their music is comparatively simple in form and substance.
As I said with Apoleb, of course you can think Kate Bush does the pop song far, far better than someone like Katy Perry, but you can do it without the snobbery of "Sigh, music reached it's pinnacle in the 60s/70s/80s/90s! Now everything is simple-minded trash!" as if all musical history led up to the pure, innovative genius of 70s punk or something.
A personal pet peeve of mine. I know it was just an example to prove a point, but punk was not a purely innovative movement at all. Musically, punk was rockabilly sped up. Aesthetically, punk was dada in the '70s. Politically, it was anarchism. It's always funny to me that punk is hailed as a purely innovative movement, when it's not. It was a pure movement only in the sense that it wanted to simplify (purify) music.
So I would agree with the part of your argument about the relative simplicity of pop music (whatever one's conception of it may be) compared to classical music. I don't think that's negotiable. You actually chose a great example of a pop music genre to illustrate this point (punk). A punk song will not have more than three chords because Punk wanted to simplify music after progressive rock, which of course had its roots precisely in classical music. You listen to a band like Gentle Giant and you can really understand why punk emerged when it emerged. Kind of how grunge wanted to simplify music after the pompousness of the '80s.
I don't think there's anything to the argument about pop's "derivativeness." How far back would you have to go to get to a truly "non-derivative" music genre? Surely, you will not find it in the 20th century. Jazz comes from ragtime. Soul comes from Negro spirituals. Rock comes from R&B and doo-wop. Etc. It's just pointless to call pop "derivative" in the pejorative sense.