Last week, Rutger's UK Acid playlist vibe reminded us all of our rave days ... for those of us that can remember.
This Monday, I wanted to get away from niche sounds and indulge in all my glorious NSYNC-fed Pop sensibilities, but without English!
Popular music has a special place in the music lexicon, and it probably means something different to everyone. For me, as an American growing up in the '80s and '90s, it's largely attached to a linguistic bias. At first blush, it didn't matter if a track with a catchy melody, ear-worm chorus, and memorable lyrics came on.... If it wasn't in English, my base instincts were to categorize it as "other."
With the assault of the J Balvins and the BTS' of the world already in the history books, I like to think I know better today. And so I decided to use this week to push that exploration toward more borders waiting to be crossed.
OK, OK, there's a bit of English here and there, but you get the idea.
I decided the easiest way to go about it was through our Artist List (with more than 2M+ artists), and simply filter for "Pop" first, which brought us to 65.3K artists tagged as such, globally.
Past that, a simple Artist Country filter dropdown brought me wherever I needed to go. A list of artists would magically appear, and I'd just go hunting for Pop vibes that resonated with me.
A few interesting things I found while out sonic hopping:
- Hong Kong Pop artists love dramatic, slow piano ballads. Soo much! But I was looking for more of a fun, up-tempo vibe at the time, so I decided on Khalil Fong's 2016 collab with Korean R&B greats Zion.T and Crush.
- Top Nigerian Pop artists are really leaning into English content. You only need to check out some of Mr. Eazi and WizKid's astute collabs around the world to hear that. But Falz' "IYABO" with GuiltyBeatz and Joey B really got me going, and from what Google tells me, it's in the Yoruba language.
- All Brazilian artists will forever be proud of their various forms of Brazilian Portuguese, so this is not an area of the world where native language use in the Pop vein is hard to find. (Interestingly, I found Norway and Finland hard places to find native language Pop content.) But let IZA's teaming with Ciara and Major Lazer pick up your energy.
- It's not lost on me that many of these tracks are collaborations. Spain's Pablo Alborán (teaming with Ava Max) is another one, and some of these artists are teaming with others with Pop standing at a global-level (Mexico's Jesse & Joy with Luis Fonsi of "Despacito" fame).
- Having said that, Turkey's Sena Şener and Indonesia's Raisa pull through with particularly strong solo work. To let you down into what I think is a beautiful, beautiful ballad, I end with Raisa's "Teristimewa." If you like R&B-tinged Pop ballads, you won't regret it.
As you can hear, Pop means a lot of things.... You can find Dancehall, Rap, R&B, Traditional, Indie Rock, and Electronic vibes all here. But Pop will forever be defined by the combination of other sub-cultures for mainstream consumption. You may disagree ... but it's all Pop for me. Hope you enjoy!