Aesthetics Wiki

Pop, also known as Popular or Popular Music, is a music genre that originally emerged in the mid-50s in the USA and the UK. Up until the 60s, the meaning also included rock 'n roll, but afterward came a proper definition and musical consolidation. It derived from folk, rock, and traditional Western popular music, which followed the canons of "The Great American Songbook". Pop is generally quite fluid and its' main focus is the appeal to the major audience. Nowadays, it often interlocks with other genres, such as R&B, urban, dance, Latin, country, and electro.


Visuals associated with the Pop genre are often reflective of the period that they exist in. For an example of this paradigm in action, one only needs to look at our Y2K and McBling pages to see this in action, as they are very indicative of the times of pop culture they are designed to emulate. These visuals will also vary between the different subgenres of Pop (for example, the visuals associated with Bubblegum Pop won't necessarily be the same as the visuals associated with Synth Pop).


Pop fashion is, much like the visuals, very reflective of the period where they come from and what themes they are trying to convey with their music. As a large part of Pop music throughout the years has always been in the presentation, the fashion and image of a particular Pop artist are just as important as the music itself to present a true audio-visual experience for the listener.


Album by Lady Gaga

Art Pop

Art pop (also typeset as art-pop or artpop) is a loosely defined style of pop music influenced by pop art's integration of high and low culture, and which emphasizes the manipulation of signs, style, and gesture personal expression. Art pop artists may be inspired by postmodern approaches or art theories as well as other forms of art, such as fashion, fine art, cinema, and avant-garde literature. They may deviate from traditional pop audiences and rock music conventions, instead of exploring ideas such as pop's status as commercial art, notions of artifice and the self, and questions of historical authenticity.

The boundaries between art and pop music became increasingly blurred throughout the second half of the 20th century. In the 1960s, pop musicians such as John Lennon, Syd Barrett, Pete Townshend, Brian Eno, and Bryan Ferry began to take inspiration from their previous art school studies. In North America, art pop was influenced by Bob Dylan and the Beat Generation and became more literary through folk music's singer-songwriter movement. Before progressive/art rock became the most commercially successful British sound of the early 1970s, the 1960s psychedelic movement brought together art and commercialism, broaching the question of what it meant to be an "artist" in a mass medium.

Holden traces art pop's origins to the mid-1960s, when producers such as Phil Spector and musicians such as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys began incorporating pseudo-symphonic textures to their pop recordings, as well as the Beatles' first recordings with a string quartet.

In a move that was indicated by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Phil Spector, and Frank Zappa, the dominant format of pop music transitioned from singles to albums, and many rock bands created works that aspired to make grand artistic statements, where art rock would flourish. Musicologist Ian Inglis writes that the cover art for the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was "perceived as largely responsible for the connections between art and pop to be made explicit". Although Sgt. Pepper's was preceded by several albums that had begun to bridge the line between "disposable" pop and "serious" rock, it successfully gave an established "commercial" voice to an alternative youth culture. Author Michael Johnson wrote that art pop music would continue to exist subsequent to the Beatles, but without ever achieving their level of popular success.

Notable Artists

  • Björk
  • Florence + the Machine
  • Lorde
  • Kate Bush
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • Τalk Talk
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Beatles
  • The Small Faces
  • The Who
  • Xiu Xiu

Avant Pop

Under Construction

Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish


Alt-pop, short for alternative pop, is a broad style of Pop music which combines chart pop conventions with an underground sensibility drawing from more modern types of Indie Pop like the orchestrated Chamber Pop and Indietronica, as well as the more serious Art Pop. Though stylistically diverse, alt-pop errs towards more minimal arrangements that put an emphasis on deep or quiet vocals, and frequently features a darker, dreamier, and more downbeat tone from other pop. The genre has also drawn from other contemporary popular trends, particularly the synth stylings of Electropop, the vocal delivery of Contemporary R&B, the atmospheric downbeat style of Alternative R&B and often Downtempo oriented sound. Lyrically, alt-pop tends to focus on more personal or autobiographical topics, touching on pop mainstays like love, heartbreak, and adolescence as well as darker topics like alienation and depression. The idea of concept albums has become one of the most recurrent aspects of the scene, where artists tend to develop their own narratives, sometimes playing a persona.

The term "alternative pop" has been around since the rise of Alternative Rock to popularity in the late 1980s, but the distinctive alt-pop sound would not emerge until the early 2010s. Early alt-pop remained much closer to its indie pop roots, with crossover hits like "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye which established the genre's more minimal and contemplative yet poppy and accessible sound. In the following years, singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey would release her debut album Born to Die and Lorde would follow her successful single "Royals" with Pure Heroine, and these artists would establish the genre as a phenomenon in its own right, buoyed by a young and dedicated fanbase on social media (particularly Tumblr). Their style moved further away from the genre's indie pop roots, dipping into more orchestrated and more electronic sound palettes to create eclectic and diverse pop albums. Producer Jack Antonoff (of fun., another early alt-pop pioneer) would be an important figure in shaping this sound, and would even bring some elements of alt-pop to his collaborations with more mainstream pop artists.

In the following years, a new generation would come up inspired by this movement, shifting the sound even further into electronic territory. In particular, singer Billie Eilish would come to represent a sound sometimes called "dark pop", blending low, breathy vocals with thick, bassy synths and modern electronic percussion, as well as a darker or even horror-themed atmosphere. This new wave would also include artists with stronger contemporary R&B influence like Melanie Martinez, Troye Sivan and Halsey, as well as the more organic sounds and live instrumentation of crossover artists from the intimate Bedroom Pop scene like Clairo and Rex Orange County. Though some of these artists have achieved mainstream success through traditional outlets like labels and radio play, others have remained independent and primarily release and promote their music through social media and online streaming services, challenging the traditional image of a "pop star".

Ambient Pop

Ambient pop is an experimental style of Pop that emerged out of Dream Pop and the fracturing Indie Pop scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While it typically retains the soft, melodic vocals and some of the live Rock instrumentation of dream pop and indie pop, ambient pop also draws heavily on the Electronic instrumentation of 1980s Synthpop and more atmospheric synthwork of Ambient (with reference to Progressive Electronic), as well as more modern styles like Downtempo, Trip Hop, and IDM. Ambient pop will often experiment heavily with song structure, incorporating the "motorik" rhythm of Krautrock, the studio effects of Neo-Psychedelia and more freeform jamming of the concurrent Space Rock revival, and the similarly atmospheric Post-Rock which it developed alongside and is sometimes considered a part of. Another major influence on the genre would be the more minimal 1970s and early 1980s Art Rock of Brian Eno (including the "Berlin Trilogy" with David Bowie), David Sylvian, and the band Talk Talk; and the post-minimalist Art Pop of Laurie Anderson.

The genre would rise to prominence in the indie scene in the mid-1990s, at first with more minimal rock-oriented artists like Stereolab, Slowdive (on 1995's Pygmalion), and Spiritualized in the UK, and The Sea and Cake and The American Analog Set in the US. The more electronic side to the genre would be championed by Laika in the UK and the American label Darla Records who started the Bliss Out series in 1996, releasing albums by more underground ambient pop projects that incorporated psychedelic electronica into a bedroom recording context like Flowchart, Orange Cake Mix, and Sweet Trip.

By the late 1990s, newer ambient pop artists would emerge with AIR and Broadcast incorporating elements of Space Age Pop into their trippy, downtempo and chillout-inspired take on the genre. The electronic side of ambient pop would come to be highly influential on the establishment of Indietronica in the 2000s, with the transition highlighted by German label Morr Music and the 2002 Indietronica: Pop + Electronica compilation that lent that genre its name. Though the genre became less prominent in the indie scene in the following years, there would still be a few notable appearances from M83, who influenced the development of Chillwave in the late 2000s, and the ethereal post-rock of Sigur Rós.


Bitpop is a style that fuses Bit Music with additional synths, beats, guitars and modern production values, emphasising highly catchy melodies and relatively fast tempos.

Emerging most prominently in the early 2000s, the style developed from the late 1980s/early 1990s Demoscene, a subculture where computer programmers would create tech demos featuring both graphics and sound clips. The particular 'bleeps' and 'bloops' of the bit music in these demos results from the limitations of the hardware used. Artists typically drew sounds from 8-bit (or Chiptune) and 16-bit video game consoles (including the Commodore 64, Game Boy, Atari 2600 and Nintendo Entertainment System), as well as Sequencer & Tracker textures. Early blueprints for bitpop were set by Synthpop group Yellow Magic Orchestra who utilised chiptune in some of their early releases, as well as later work by Welle: Erdball, who also incorporated elements of EBM into their sound.

Whilst mostly an underground/internet-dominated scene, some of the more well-known bitpop acts include Anamanaguchi, Slagsmålsklubben and Thermostatic.


Denpa is an underground Japanese Pop genre that aims to be bizarre yet extremely catchy, utilizing off-key vocals, strange or nonsensical lyrics, repetitive chants, onomatopoeia, elements of Radio Drama, and frantic, "off-kilter" production. Its most prominent style, "moe-denpa" (もえー電波) or the "moe song" (萌えソング), uses cutesy, high-pitched vocals and "moe" anime aesthetics to this effect as well. Denpa generally features Bitpop, Synthpop or Electropop-esque production, but has increasingly adopted elements of Electronic Dance Music, especially J-core, and sometimes pulls from Rock styles.

The genre began to take shape with Video Game Music -- particularly through eroge -- and the Desktop Music scene, and was influenced by J-Pop (which it exaggerates in a DIY fashion) and early synthpop. VGM composers like 細江慎治 [Shinji Hosoe] (and his Troubadour Record unit まにきゅあ団 [Manikyua-Dan]) as well as amateur DTM musicians played equally important roles in laying the groundwork for the genre. Denpa proper emerged in the early 2000s with acts like Under17 and Mosaic.wav (who called their music "Akiba-pop"). Denpa has remained popular since with groups like IOSYS and performers like ななひら [Nanahira].

The name "denpa" was taken from a Japanese term meaning "electromagnetic waves" (電波) used to describe quirky people that seem detached from reality, evoking imagery of the music "controlling," "poisoning," or being stuck in listeners' minds. The term initially came to common use in Japan as a derogatory term for people who seemed delusional, such as otaku, after the perpetrator of the 1981 Fukagawa Street Murders claimed electromagnetic waves had compelled him to do it. Though this connotation and its presence in denpa lyrics has lessened, denpa music initially had a connotation of creepiness that some songs played into, such as PROJECT"D"'s landmark track "お兄ちゃんどいて! そいつ殺せない!" (Big Brother Get Out of the Way! I Can't Kill Her!), which quotes a Japanese internet urban legend.

Denpa is deeply rooted in doujin and otaku culture. Releases are often distributed at conventions like Comiket and M3, and many songs parody anime or video games, such as Touhou Project, or rearrange music from them. (Many Touhou denpa songs, such as Silver Forest's "ケロ⑨Destiny" (Kero⑨Destiny) and IOSYS's "魔理沙は大変なものを盗んでいきました" (Marisa Stole the Precious Thing) and "チルノのパーフェクトさんすう教室" (Cirno's Perfect Math Class) have become parts of broader Japanese internet culture.) Denpa songs also appear in Japanese rhythm games like beatmania and Sound Voltex frequently, and many are created just for these games. Denpa has also been used in some anime and influenced J-pop acts such as denpa idol group でんぱ組.inc [].

Glitch Pop

Glitch pop is a niche and eclectic style of Indietronica that arose around the turn of the millennium. The genre typically retains indie sensibilities, frequently incorporating live vocals and instrumentation, Pop song structures, and a DIY attitude with a focus on consumer electronics. However, it is defined by its incorporation of newer forms of leftfield Electronic music, particularly the percussion and unconventional sound design of IDM (and Drill and Bass) as well as Glitch editing techniques similar to those found in Folktronica, as pioneered by Oval. Other common elements are the use of atmospheric, dreamy synth textures as found in Ambient Pop, Bitpop-inspired Chiptune-like synth leads, and the stuttery, syncopated breaks of Broken Beat. The use of clipped audio samples has also led to inspiration from and crossover with Mashup.

Early artists who incorporated IDM and glitch elements into a pop-oriented indie or Alternative Rock context included Radiohead (particularly on Kid A and Amnesiac), Max Tundra, múm, and Sweet Trip. This sound was then picked up and primarily popularised through the 2000s by way of German leftfield label Morr Music and the American Carpark Records, along with a burgeoning array of netlabels including En:peg Digital, laridae, and The tonAtom netlabel. Other artists approached the glitch pop sound from a more experimental angle, with The Books moving in a more accessible direction on later works. Dntel, another early glitch pop producer, would bring elements to the sound to greater prominence and critical acclaim within the indie scene through his duo The Postal Service.

Though it kept a fairly low profile for most of the 2000s, glitch pop would see renewed interest around 2010 as Sweet Trip started gaining a retrospective fanbase and new glitch pop producers like Baths put their own spin on the genre with more modern influences like Wonky and Glitch Hop. The genre would start to intermingle heavily with post-Dubstep influences through the 2010s, leading to crossovers with the emerging Alternative R&B sound like Clarence Clarity and FKA twigs. The label XL Recordings and its sister label Young became a hub for this sound and fellow travellers, featuring Radiohead (and Thom Yorke solo), The xx, FKA twigs, and the Deconstructed Club-influenced Arca (who had made more straightforward glitch pop as Nuuro beginning in the late 2000s). Despite this, some artists continue to pursue a more traditional indietronic sound, prominently including Devi McCallion and Katie Dey in their collaborations as well as solo.


-Lyrics-歌詞-가사-Letra- Silent Screamer - Tatsuro Yamashita 山下達郎 야마시타 타츠로

Silent Screamer by Tatsuro Yamashita


Kayōkyoku (literally meaning "pop tune" in Japanese) is a term used for the Western-influenced vocal Pop music which was popular in Japan during the latter period of the Shōwa era, approximately from the 1950s to the late 1980s. Though the term would come to cover a rather wide variety of styles over the decades, kayōkyoku overall is characterised by the incorporation of Western instrumentation and musical styles into the characteristics of Japanese popular music. It typically features simple lyrics intended to be broadly appealing and relatable, and is commonly sentimental in mood.

The term has its roots as a name for imported Western Lieder in the early 20th century. However, it would rise to prominence as another name for the Ryūkōka style, which blends Min'yō with elements of Vocal Jazz and Western Classical Music and was primarily popular from the 1920s to the 1950s. As the music evolved, losing more of its traditional Japanese elements and becoming more Westernised after World War II due to the Allied occupation of Japan, the term kayōkyoku would overtake ryūkōka and come to refer to the new style specifically. The kayōkyoku of the 1950s and 1960s would build on ryūkōka's jazz influence and Traditional Pop, as well as Easy Listening, and was typically slow or midtempo. This period would also lead to the rise of Mood kayō, a jazz-oriented subgenre that brought in compositional influence and instrumentation from Hawaiian Music and various types of Hispanic American Music. Kayōkyoku would be characterized during the early 1960s as popular singers like 坂本九 [Kyu Sakamoto] and groups like ザ・ ピーナッツ [The Peanuts] debuted.

Kayōkyoku entered another major period in the 1970s. The decade's early years brought the advent of Idol kayō, which focused around "idol" singers who were marketed for their personality and image. This new style pulled kayōkyoku even further from its Japanese roots with new influences from Soul and light forms of Pop Rock. At the same time, the Folk Rock of はっぴいえんど [Happy End] and orchestrated stylings of Brill Building would form the basis of the more down-to-earth New Music movement of Singer-Songwriter artists. Later in the decade, the emergence of Disco would have a heavy impact on all forms of kayōkyoku, with idol kayō picking up a more upbeat and dance-oriented sound that would carry the genre to massive popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In addition, the new music movement would use these influences to develop into the lush and funky City Pop sound in the mid 1970s, that incorporated elements of Jazz Fusion, Exotica and Funk in its representation of Japan's bustling urban life.

The 1980s would be the height of idol kayō's popularity, with singers like 松田聖子 [Seiko Matsuda] and 中森明菜 [Akina Nakamori] taking the helm of the "Golden Age of Idols" and several dozen new idols premiering each year. Plus, influential Synthpop group Yellow Magic Orchestra would pioneer the new synthesizer-laden Techno kayō sound early in the decade, composing and producing for a number of idol singers with their new sound.

The Shōwa era ended in 1989 with the death of Emperor Hirohito, and by this time kayōkyoku had already begun to fade from prominence. The term "J-Pop" was coined in 1988 to refer to new developments in the sound of idol singers and groups that incorporated techno kayō and more straightforward synthpop and Dance-Pop, and this term swiftly overtook kayōkyoku and remains the most common term for Japanese pop to the present day. The remaining singers with a more traditional kayōkyoku-based sound would come to be seen as a form of Enka, a parallel development from ryūkōka that retains more Japanese compositional influence.

Idol kayō

Idol kayō is a style and period of Kayōkyoku which began in the early 1970s, named for its focus on "idol" singers. In contrast with earlier forms of kayōkyoku like Mood kayō, idol kayō often has a more upbeat and overtly Westernised sound, combining Vocal Jazz-informed singing and orchestrated Traditional Pop roots with newer American styles like Soul and Disco, and light forms of Pop Rock like Soft Rock and Yacht Rock. Idol kayō was typically performed by idol singers, young men and women with a carefully cultivated personal image who are marketed by talented agencies to create a dedicated young fanbase which "idolises" them.

The genre would explode in popularity in the 1970s, led by young female singers like 山口百恵 [Momoe Yamaguchi] and 桜田淳子 [Junko Sakurada], and groups like キャンディーズ [Candies]. The 1980s subsequently would come to be known as the "Golden Age of Idols" due to the massive popularity of idol singers like 松田聖子 [Seiko Matsuda] and 中森明菜 [Akina Nakamori], and at the height of its popularity there were several dozen idols premiering every year. At this time idol kayō would both influence and take influence from the funky, urban sound of City Pop, and would also have crossover with the more synth-oriented Techno kayō in the mid-1980s.

The term "J-Pop" would be coined in 1988 at the very end of the Showa era, just as idol kayō singers and groups were moving further from their kayōkyoku roots. By the early 1990s, this slicker style of Pop would become dominant in the mainstream, replacing idol kayō entirely. However, the genre has had a lasting impact through its associated idol culture, which has become a defining feature of the modern J-pop industry.

Mood kayō

Mood kayō was one of the earliest forms of the type of Japanese popular music called Kayōkyoku. It began in 1951 as a result of the end of the 7-year Allied occupation of Japan following the end of WWII. Because the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers had strict control over the Japanese media during the occupation, Western influence became more apparent in Japanese music.

Mood kayō has influences of Hawaiian Music, Jazz, and Hispanic American Music. It is distinguished by the "mood chorus," a unique melody based on those 3 major influences.

Techno kayō

Techno kayō is a Japanese Pop genre that developed as the Idol kayō scene was growing in Japan in the early 1980s. The genre is recognizable by its Synthpop production, more commonly known as 'テクノポップ' (technopop) in Japan, and its incorporation into the idol pop scene. It originated during the transition from Kayōkyoku as the dominant form of pop music in Japan to what would later be known as J-Pop and, as such, it takes influence from a wide variety of pop music produced during this time period. Because of this, techno kayō - along with idol kayō - are generally regarded as the direct precursors to J-pop.

Aside from being known for being populated near-exclusively by idols, its songs were also mostly written or produced by third parties, many of these being the members of Yellow Magic Orchestra. Following a lull of City Pop, techno kayō brought about the commercialization of synthesizers on a wide scale to the Japanese music industry (itself following the attention drawn to synthesizers by Tomita) that helped city pop artists add new sounds to their music.

In 1999, P-Vine Records released their Techno Ca-Yo series that, while not a definitive compilation as it notably leaves out artists from For Life Records and CBS / Sony Records, compiles a good portion of techno kayō artists from their popular eras.

Korean Ballad

Korean ballad is a style of Pop power ballad that came to prominence in South Korea during the 1980s. Evolving out of Trot, Korean ballad is defined by the fusion of more traditional forms of Korean popular music with western influences such as Blues, Synthpop, Soul and Contemporary Folk with lyrics typically being focused on love. While it continues on from trot, Korean ballad deviates from it by emphasizing simpler songwriting and performances for a more easy-listening oriented style.

The genre started seeing development around the late 1960s with artists such as 혜은이 with her hit "You Wouldn't Know". However, it only became prominent in the 1980s to early 90s with artists such as 이문세 [Lee Moon-sae], 이선희 [Lee Sun-hee] and 김현철 [Kim Hyun-chul] garnering mainstream success.

Korean ballad is a style of Pop power ballad that came to prominence in South Korea during the 1980s. Evolving out of Trot, Korean ballad is defined by the fusion of more traditional forms of Korean popular music with western influences such as Blues, Synthpop, Soul and Contemporary Folk with lyrics typically being focused on love. While it continues on from trot, Korean ballad deviates from it by emphasizing simpler songwriting and performances for a more easy-listening oriented style.

The genre started seeing development around the late 1960s with artists such as 혜은이 with her hit "You Wouldn't Know". However, it only became prominent in the 1980s to early 90s with artists such as 이문세 [Lee Moon-sae], 이선희 [Lee Sun-hee] and 김현철 [Kim Hyun-chul] garnering mainstream success.


Shibuya-kei is an eclectic Pop scene from Japan, originating in the late 1980s and popularised through the early 1990s. The name, translating literally as "Shibuya-style", specifically refers to the Shibuya shopping district of Tokyo, an area which at the time was considered the epicentre of fashion with its throwbacks to Western retro and kitsch culture, particularly of the 1960s. Also central to the Shibuya district and its culture were its record stores, stocked with import records from Europe and the United States, whose musical styles would form the basis for a Shibuya-kei movement which reflected the fashion styles popular in the district.

The early pioneers of what would come to be known as Shibuya-kei were Pizzicato Five, drawing heavily from Lounge and Bossa nova, and Flipper's Guitar, whose sound was initially based off that of "neo-acoustic" groups, a Japanese term for a blend between Indie Pop and Jangle Pop. As newer artists like Takako Minekawa, Fishmans, and Kahimi Karie became part of the scene in the following years, influences as broad ranging as Yé-yé, Psychedelic Pop, Exotica, Jazz, Dub, Funk, and Disco were thrown into this melting pot of retro styles. Other artists like FPM and Towa Tei brought in the influence of electronic styles like House and Downtempo. By the mid-1990s, this wide-ranging melting pot would include styles as disparate as the experimental, dancy rock of Buffalo Daughter, the arty dub-influenced Hi-Posi, and Cornelius of Flipper’s Guitar, founder of the influential Trattoria label, who brought in elements of Psychedelic Rock, Shoegaze, Indietronica, and Neo-Psychedelia on his later solo releases. As the 1990s went on, Pizzicato Five and Cornelius would gain international notoriety on the Matador Records label, influencing the contemporaneous and similarly retro Chamber Pop style in Europe and North America.

The Shibuya-kei scene would be declared "dead" in 1998 by British musician Momus, who had worked with several of its prominent artists, after the release of Cornelius’s genre-bending Fantasma album and the slow dissolution of Pizzicato Five. However, even in the late 1990s, the sound of Shibuya-kei was pushed forward by groups like Spank Happy, Qypthone, and Paris Match. Another wave of younger musicians who had grown up with the first wave emerged in the early 2000s and were marketed as "neo-Shibuya-kei" by labels and the press, with Capsule the most prominent and commercially successful of these artists. Their producer, 中田ヤスタカ [Yasutaka Nakata], would lead the way in blending Shibuya-kei’s retro elements with J-Pop, in Capsule as well as the early music of idol group Perfume. Other post-millennium artists like Plus-Tech Squeeze Box and Sonic Coaster Pop sped up the sound and brought in elements of Chiptune to create a substyle sometimes known as Picopop. Though even this neo-Shibuya-kei movement has faded with the end of the 2000s, the Shibuya-kei movement’s investment in and repurposing of retro Western pop styles still influences mainstream Japanese pop and underground artists in the country alike.


Picopop is a niche style of Pop that originated in the early 2000s as part of the "neo-Shibuya-kei" second wave of the Japanese Shibuya-kei movement when artists like Plus-Tech Squeeze Box and Strawberry Machine introduced more prominent "bleepy" Electronic elements and faster tempos to their update of the sound, building on the sonic experimentation of Cornelius's landmark 1997 album Fantasma. This would be paired with a more distinctly cute, child-like or cartoonish aesthetic to the music and album artwork, compared to the earlier Shibuya-kei scene. The Usagi-Chang and Contemode labels featured most of the scene's prominent artists, with their Usagi-Chang Superstar!! Vol.0001 and Contemode V.A. compilations acting as a general overview of the sound. Though the picopop scene was rather small, the duo Capsule would see some chart success, and their producer (and Contemode founder) 中田ヤスタカ [Yasutaka Nakata] would go on to produce for J-Pop idol group Perfume whose earliest singles dabbled in this style.

The genre's name was coined by Western fans in the late 2000s from "ピコピコ" (pico pico), a Japanese onomatopoeia for the Chiptune-like computer sounds that are often an element of the style. It was also known as future pop in its native Japan, named for the "Future Pop" column which ran in the Japanese Marquee magazine in the mid-2000s that followed these more electronic-oriented artists in the neo-Shibuya-kei scene. This name would also be used for the "Future Pop Lounge", a series of showcase concerts for the scene which ran annually for a few years in the late 2000s, featuring other prominent artists like EeL, Hazel Nuts Chocolate, and The Aprils.


As EBM began to decline in popularity, a more modern version of the genre began to emerge in its place in the mid/late '90s. It features a danceable sound with heavy Synthpop influences, and has become popular mainly in clubs throughout the world, particularly in Europe. Futurepop retains the apocalyptic worldview of EBM and Industrial (a more distant predecessor) but generally adds the more melodic elements of Synthpop and some club-friendly Trance influences. The progenitors of the genre are usually considered to be VNV Nation, Apoptygma Berzerk, and Covenant.

Techno kayō

Techno kayō is a Japanese Pop genre that developed as the Idol kayō scene was growing in Japan in the early 1980s. The genre is recognizable by its Synthpop production, more commonly known as 'テクノポップ' (technopop) in Japan, and its incorporation into the idol pop scene. It originated during the transition from Kayōkyoku as the dominant form of pop music in Japan to what would later be known as J-Pop and, as such, it takes influence from a wide variety of pop music produced during this time period. Because of this, techno kayō - along with idol kayō - are generally regarded as the direct precursors to J-pop.

Aside from being known for being populated near-exclusively by idols, its songs were also mostly written or produced by third parties, many of these being the members of Yellow Magic Orchestra. Following a lull of City Pop, techno kayō brought about the commercialization of synthesizers on a wide scale to the Japanese music industry (itself following the attention drawn to synthesizers by Tomita) that helped city pop artists add new sounds to their music.

In 1999, P-Vine Records released their Techno Ca-Yo series that, while not a definitive compilation as it notably leaves out artists from For Life Records and CBS / Sony Records, compiles a good portion of techno kayō artists from their popular eras.


Emo-pop is a style of music that had its origins in the Midwest Emo movement of the 1990s. Taking cues from artists such as The Get Up Kids, The Promise Ring, and Jimmy Eat World (Bleed American in particular), emo-pop took the sentimental crooning of Emo and crafted it into a sound with more mainstream appeal. As a result, the songs are more pop-oriented than those of earlier movements associated with emo, utilizing such elements as high production values, reliance on hooks, simple structures, and high-pitched melodies and singing. The simplistic and youthful nature of Pop Punk also played a huge role in crafting the sound of emo-pop. In addition, the genre distances itself from the hardcore-based Emocore movement of the 1980s, both musically and philosophically. Lyrics tend to be confessional in nature, often delving into topics such as heartbreak and love.

The genre achieved mainstream success in the early 2000s with the release of such albums as Tell All Your Friends and The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most. Since then, several artists associated with the genre have gone on to release platinum-certified albums, including Fall Out Boy and The All-American Rejects. Emo-pop reached its commercial peak in the mid-2000s, with many artists being prominently featured on MTV, but the genre has since declined in popularity. Other popular artists commonly associated with the genre include Saves the Day, Something Corporate, and Senses Fail.


Digicore is a form of Hip Hop that developed in the late 2010s. The genre name was coined by artist and record label founder, Lonelee of Teardrop Digital. It is characterized by synthesized, bombastic, and glamourous production, commonly featuring layered, maximalist synth work and noisy basslines and rhythms/percussion derived from Trap, all of which serve to accompany highly melodious, auto-tuned, and hi-pitched vocal performances, usually done with breathy voice singing and sing-rapping. It frequently, though not always, features a distinctive style of vocal "glitching" or "stuttering", a vocal production technique/effect that takes the form of chopped-up, heavily processed vocal bits cut into short parts and pitched up in accordance with the melody. Furthermore, vocalists of the genre commonly utilize fast-paced, animated, and frenzied flows, resulting in a distinct, highly energetic sound. Producers often take influences from a wide, eclectic array of Electronic Dance Music genres (with many of the genres' producers having previously produced 2010s EDM) or even from Rock and Pop.

Having mostly emerged from previous underground SoundCloud-based rap trends like Drain Gang's Cloud Rap style, the genre independently emerged both in the works of David Shawty and Yungster Jack, as well as in the music of Bloodhounds-affiliated artists such as Kid Trash, Kurtains, pitfall, Kuru, and Saturn. Some artists involved in the emerging wave were also deriving influences from 100 gecs's style of vocal manipulation and eclectic mish-mash of genres, as well as from the melodic vocal deliveries and layered production of PluggnB. The genre would be further popularized and developed by other then-upcoming artists like Dolly, blackwinterwells, midwxst, twikipedia, quinn, and ericdoa, and a short-lived TikTok visual style known as "glitchcore", meant to accompany the genre's off-kilter, "glitchy" sound, would further assist its growth, and the name "glitchcore" was used to also describe the genre's vocal glitching and art style.

Digicore grew alongside the Hyperpop wave, a contemporaneous pop buzz that similarly emphasizes over-the-top, electronified vocals, and noisy production, though the two are ultimately distinct styles with different origins; digicore typically relies much more on its hip hop origins in production and vocal inflections, in contrast with hyperpop's prominent EDM leanings, where the genre ultimately has its roots. Regardless, digicore takes heavy influences from pop styles, commonly crossing over with Pop Rap. It may be additionally mixed with other trap-related styles like Plugg, Trap Metal, or even Drill, Bop, and HexD. Despite their differences, some producers and vocalists of the SoundCloud scene have often described their music and output as decidedly hyperpop and not digicore (or glitchcore, which some musicians distinguish from digicore), sometimes in an attempt to dissociate themselves from the TikTok wave of popularity that led to the genre's name. Some of the genre's main artists would create divergent styles following its explosion into popularity, such as dltzk's eclectic blend of EDM and digicore vocals or the more polished, cleaner sound of glaive and ericdoa.

Intentionally low-effort and oversaturated, DIY cover arts, often depicting video games and online pop culture references (Roblox and Minecraft in particular), are common in the genre. These visuals are coupled with many artists' habit of releasing only singles, with many even deleting and changing their material after release. Large collectives dominate the scene, with groups such as Novagang, the aforementioned Bloodhounds, Helix Tears, and GoonnCity containing many of the genre's biggest musicians. Lyrically, artists tend to focus on themes of betrayal, self-doubt, mental health, and other personal and psychological matters, though braggadocio and other more traditional hip hop lyrical subjects are common as well. Emo Rap-inspired production and vocals, such as prominent guitar samples and Emo-influenced crooning are occasionally present too.

For more information on this topic, please check out our Glitch page.

Bedroom Pop

Bedroom pop is a style of Indie Pop which arose in the 2010s, named for solo producers and singer-songwriters who created intimate, "authentic" music in their own homes, outside of a traditional studio environment. The genre is generally characterised by a warm, reverbed, and hazy or sleepy atmosphere inspired by the psychedelic and nostalgic sounds of Hypnagogic Pop as well as elements of its intentionally lo-fi recording aesthetic, though in bedroom pop this is often done out of necessity. Other key parts of the sound come from styles that are pastiched by hypnagogic pop, such as the surreal and sometimes comical elements of Psychedelic Pop, Sophisti-Pop's focus on complex chords and influence from Soul and Jazz, and the synthesizer-driven sound of Synthpop and Synth Funk. Also sometimes included are elements from music popular in the 1990s alternative scene, like the subdued, reverbed sound of Dream Pop and the smooth and nocturnal atmosphere of Trip Hop.

In contrast to the often experimental and anti-commercial hypnagogic pop, bedroom pop typically remains within more accessible bounds, and pulls all these influences into a more conventional and modern Pop direction with melodic songwriting and vocal styles often informed by Contemporary R&B (and particularly Alternative R&B). Though some bedroom pop artists use acoustic instruments reminiscent of Indie Folk or electric Rock-based arrangements, many make prominent use of Electronic instrumentation, pulling from 2000s Indietronica and especially the dreamy, summery, washed-out sound of Chillwave, which in mood acted as a direct precursor to the bedroom pop sound. Lyrically, bedroom pop focuses on more personal and confessional songs, sometimes sung in hushed tones to create a more intimate atmosphere, or with a laid-back and lethargic sound to match the music.

The term "bedroom pop" has been in use for decades to describe all manner of home recording projects and DIY artists, particularly those associated with Lo-Fi / Slacker Rock. However, the first hints of a distinct musical style by this name would not emerge until the early 2010s, when the term gained traction with artists surrounding the Orchid Tapes label, including Alex G, Elvis Depressedly, and Ricky Eat Acid, with a sound that was lo-fi, dreamy, and even occasionally inspired by Ambient. At the same time, Mac DeMarco would carve a niche of his own that, while still rooted in rock, combined the laid-back sound of those artists with retro elements from hypnagogic pop that would serve as the genre's foundation. Newer artists like Clairo, Rex Orange County, and Boy Pablo would take and run with this sound in the mid-2010s, with greater R&B and electronic influences that would help to establish bedroom pop as an even more distinct sound. These artists would become popular on the internet through platforms like YouTube, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud which allow independent artists to upload their own music, as well as Spotify, whose "Bedroom Pop" playlist would group these artists and help to define the sound.

Brill Building

Brill Building (also known as Brill Building pop or the Brill Building sound) is a subgenre of pop music that took its name from the Brill Building in New York City, where numerous teams of professional songwriters penned material for girl groups and teen idols during the early 1960s. The term has also become a catchall for the period in which those songwriting teams flourished. In actuality, most hits of the mid 1950s and early 1960s were written elsewhere.

Britpop band, Blur


Britpop is a subset of Alternative Rock that developed in the United Kingdom during the early 1990s. It has been commonly perceived as a reaction not only to the angst-ridden American Grunge movement but also to the ethereal, noisy Shoegaze style that found some success during the early '90s in the UK. Britpop marked a return to a more traditional Rock music structure, characterized by guitar-driven melodies, catchy Pop-based hooks and a commercial-friendly sound, while also displaying the influence of a wide range of styles that had been popularized by earlier British artists, such as Beat Music, Psychedelic Pop, Mod and Garage Rock from the 1960s (primary focal points being The Beatles, The Kinks and The Who); Glam Rock, Punk Rock and New Wave from the 1970s; and Jangle Pop from the 1980s. Other common musical characteristics include heavily-reverbed lead guitar (influenced by shoegaze, but designed to inject more of an 'anthemic' quality), breezy strummed acoustic guitar, simple chord sequences, accompanying string arrangements, bounding piano parts and jaunty, singalong melodies. The popularity of the Baggy scenes in the late 1980s and early 1990s would serve as an important precursor to the genre, though Britpop tended to lack Alternative Dance rhythms. Additionally, in both lyrics and image, Britpop artists were emphatic in displaying elements of the life and culture of the British working and middle classes, a feature that notably limited its commercial appeal in the USA.

Bands like Oasis, Pulp, Blur, Supergrass, Suede, Dodgy and Cast were responsible for developing and popularizing Britpop during the mid-1990s. The genre would experience a steady commercial and critical decline from 1997 onward, largely related to the long-term poor reception of Oasis's third album, Be Here Now and Blur's decision to move away from their Britpop-oriented sound. The attention of the British press and audience thus began to focus on acts like Radiohead and The Verve, which had been less successful during Britpop's peak of popularity. Nevertheless, newer bands formed during the late 1990s and early 2000s such as Coldplay, Starsailor and Travis, were heavily influenced by the Britpop sound while having less British-oriented lyrical themes and an altogether softer, more introspective style.

For more information on this subgenre, please check out our Britpop page.


Bubblegum, (also called bubblegum pop) is pop music with an upbeat sound that is considered to be disposable, contrived, or marketed for children and adolescents. The term also refers to a pop subgenre, originating in the United States in the late 1960s, that evolved from garage rock, novelty songs, and the Brill Building sound, and which was also defined by its target demographic of preteens and young teenagers. The Archies' 1969 hit "Sugar, Sugar" was a representative example that led to cartoon rock, a short-lived trend of Saturday-morning cartoon series that heavily featured pop rock songs in the bubblegum vein.

Producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffry Katz claimed credit for coining "bubblegum", saying that when they discussed their target audience, they decided it was "teenagers, the young kids. And at the time we used to be chewing bubblegum, and my partner and I used to look at it and laugh and say, 'Ah, this is like bubblegum music'." The term was then popularized by their boss, Buddah Records label executive Neil Bogart.

Most bubblegum acts were one hit wonders (notable exceptions included the Partridge Family and Tommy Roe) and the sound remained a significant commercial force until the early 1970s. Commentators often debate the scope of the genre and have variously argued for the exclusion or inclusion of dance-pop, disco, teen pop, boy bands, and especially the Monkees. During the 1970s, the original bubblegum sound was a formative influence on punk rock, new wave, and melodic metal.

Occasionally invoked as a pejorative, the "bubblegum" descriptor has several different applications. The 2001 book Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth rules out teen pop or boy bands as inherently bubblegum and defines the term as:

  1. "The classic bubblegum era from 1967-1972"
  2. "Disposable pop music"
  3. "Pop music contrived and marketed to appeal to pre-teens"
  4. "Pop music produced in an assembly-line process, driven by producers and using faceless singers"
  5. "Pop music with that intangible, upbeat 'bubblegum' sound."

The artists were typically singles acts, with songs commonly featuring singalong choruses, seemingly childlike themes and a contrived innocence, occasionally combined with an undercurrent of sexual double entendre. Comparing bubblegum to power pop, Mojo writer Dawn Eden said: "Power pop aims for your heart and your feet. Bubblegum aims for any part of your body it can get, as long as you buy the damn record." Music critic Lester Bangs described the style as "the basic sound of rock 'n' roll - minus the rage, fear, violence and anomie".

City Pop

City pop is a predominantly Japanese genre which originally became popular with the blooming economy of the country during the 1970s-1980s, mostly having a relation with the everyday urban and luxury life of Japanese metropolitan areas. It often aimed at a more adult audience than J-Pop and had a more contemporary and Western sound than Kayōkyoku and Enka.

The notable precursors of the original city pop sound included はっぴいえんど [Happy End]'s warm blend of Folk and Pop Rock and kayōkyoku's more chilled-out Jazz vibes. These elements were taken in the mid-1970s for the genre's blueprint with Happy End's successor ティン・パン・アレー [Tin Pan Alley] and Sugar Babe. Adding to that was the presence of urban and romantic lyrical themes, clean production, longer structures, and more specifically, the upbeat grooves from Funk and Disco. This is when city pop began to develop itself, being diverse in nature by changing between upbeat and mellow styles. By the late 1970s there was also an increased influence of Jazz Fusion, Lounge and Exotica, with some tracks taking the form of instrumentals (occasionally covering up an entire album, an example being 角松敏生 [Toshiki Kadomatsu]'s Sea Is a Lady).

The second wave of city pop began when Yellow Magic Orchestra's Synthpop and Techno kayō became popular across the country in the late 1970s-early 1980s and caused the commercialization of synthesizers. Newer productions of the genre were more connected with the danceable sounds of Synth Funk and Boogie, which caused the construction of its trademark 'J-Funk' sound while still switching between pop and ballad formats. Meanwhile, the rise of idols in the country caused acts like 杏里 [Anri] and EPO to become well-known in the genre.

City pop declined in 1990 with the rise of asset prices in Japan and Shibuya-kei (which was more indie and DIY influenced but still based on the Japanese urban life) replaced its popularity. The genre then acquired a renowned interest later in the 2010s through strong internet coverage, as an underground revival surfaced with acts like idol group Especia and singer 一十三十一 [Hitomitoi] having major popularity.

For more information on this genre, please check out our City Pop page.

Speak Now by Taylor Swift

Country Pop

Country pop is a subgenre of Country and Pop which combines the two genres in order to appeal to a larger audience by taking Traditional Country elements and adding styles and structures from the pop music of multiple eras.

Nashville Sound is considered to be the first effort in blending country and pop, pioneered by Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley. Dominated by artists from Nashville, Tennessee, it resulted in many songs removing traditional instrumentation such as fiddle and banjo and challenged the Honky Tonk dominance in music charts with smoother choruses and more sophisticated production. Such music helped artists like Patsy Cline and Glen Campbell gain acceptance from both country and pop fans, but upset country purists.

Country pop continued to remain popular in the late 1960s and 1970s, with Countrypolitan becoming a new term to refer to a popular Nashville Sound offshoot during this period, implementing lush string arrangements, background vocals and more elementary subject matter. The genre faced competition from Progressive Country and Outlaw Country in an effort to return to the genre's roots.

The dawn of the 1980s saw the popularity of the movie soundtrack Urban Cowboy and, in turn, resulted in the genre Urban Cowboy, which saw the genre develop into a sound more influenced from late 1970s pop, including elements of Disco which was popular at the time. No longer based in Nashville, many of these artists originated from the West Coast. However, in the succeeding years, country pop had to contend with more traditionalist country subgenres, namely Americana and Neo-Traditionalist Country, once again another reaction in an effort to return the genre to its roots.

Country pop continued to evolve its sound in the 1990s and 2000s, with popular artists such as Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, LeAnn Rimes and The Chicks becoming among the best selling country artists of all time during this period. Such popularity can be attributed to the proliferation of country music to the FM radio dial, and the use of new marketing strategies, with many artists taking the sound of Contemporary Country and developing a much more radio-friendly style.

In the 2010s, Bro-Country began to form by taking subject matter and mass audience appeal of country pop and applying Hip Hop, Contemporary R&B and Electronic musical influences.

7 Rings Music Video Screenshot - Ariana Grande

Dance Pop

Dance-pop is a popular music subgenre that originated in the early 1980s. It is generally up-tempo music intended for nightclubs with the intention of being danceable but also suitable for contemporary hit radio. Developing from a combination of dance and pop with influences of disco, post-disco and synth-pop, it is generally characterized by strong beats with easy, uncomplicated song structures which are generally more similar to pop music than the more free-form dance genre, with an emphasis on melody as well as catchy tunes. The genre, on the whole, tends to be producer-driven, despite some notable exceptions. It's very mainstream and is very easy to mix with other genres

Notable Artists

  • Ariana Grande
  • Backstreet Boys
  • Britney Spears
  • Cher
  • Christina Aguilera
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Katy Perry
  • Lady Gaga
  • Madonna
  • Paula Abdul
  • Rihanna
  • Selena Gomez
  • Spice Girls
  • Taylor Swift

Dream Pop

Dream Pop is a subgenre of alternative rock that is characterized by its ethereal sound landscape and breathy vocals. It emerged in the 1990s alongside with Shoegaze. Effects that may have been used are reverb, echo, tremolo, and chorus.[1]
The term is interchangeable with Shoegaze and Noise Pop. However, the prominent distinction between the three genres is dream pop emphasized more on a less intense wall of noise and a lighter driving guitar[2]. Compare Astrobrite to Beach House.
Notable artists include Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins, A.R. Kane, and Galaxie 500. Modern musicians include The Radio Dept. and Fazerdaze.


Electropop is a form of Electronic Pop music that emerged in the 2000s. Electropop is characterized by dense, layered, and compressed production, usually coupled with a distinct fuzzy and "warm" low-frequency synthesizer style. Electropop's production is derived from and inspired to varying degrees by Electronic Dance Music genres like Electro House, as well as by Electroclash and Synthpop. Despite borrowing major elements from synthpop, the two differ in a number of major ways: electropop's crisp and crunchy production traits are often contrasted with synthpop's reliance on more traditional 1980s production methods; electropop's crackly, warm, and even distorted synth textures are contrasted with synthpop's more dreamy, sparser space-like synth sounds, which are often played live on a synthesizer and accompanied by live instruments, contrasting with electropop's focus on fully digital production. Despite that, the two genres have commonly crossed over and influenced each other throughout their history. Electropop crosses over more frequently and commonly features influences from Pop Rap and Contemporary R&B that are usually lacking in synthpop.

Electropop has its origins in a number of previous scenes: early 2000s artists who were influenced by electroclash, like Ladytron and Goldfrapp, traded some of the genre's gritty, harsh production and vocals for more radio-ready and catchy pop songwriting; EDM-based artists and producers like The Knife began to write pop music that borrowed major elements from popular EDM genres of the time. The genre was also inspired to a lesser extent by the Japanese technopop genre of artists like Yellow Magic Orchestra, which was also named electropop. Despite its origin in underground electronic scenes, electropop would quickly receive popularity from the wider pop market, featuring on albums both by veteran pop artists like Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, and Robyn and then-up-and-coming pop stars like Lady Gaga and Kanye West.

Electropop's popularity would continue into the 2010s, inspiring a decade with many EDM and pop crossovers, though many of them wouldn't fall under the electropop style. Underground pop artists like Grimes and CHVRCHES would develop divergent styles directly inspired by 1980s synthpop, and records like Porter Robinson's Worlds helped to launch a wave of dreamy, lush, EDM-derived electropop. The influence of many 2000s electropop icons would develop, through a self-aware and satirical approach and a post-internet aesthetic, into Bubblegum Bass, which took the genre's warm production to new extremes. This strand would eventually result in the emergence of a poppier, more accessible, and eclectic genre known as Hyperpop, which similarly built on 2000s/2010s electropop traits.

Experimental Pop

Experimental pop is pop music that cannot be categorized within traditional musical boundaries or which attempts to push elements of existing popular forms into new areas. It may incorporate experimental techniques such as musique concrète, aleatoric music, or eclecticism into pop contexts. Often, the compositional process involves the use of electronic production effects to manipulate sounds and arrangements, and the composer may draw the listener's attention specifically with both timbre and tonality, though not always simultaneously.

Experimental pop music developed concurrently with experimental jazz as a new kind of avant-garde, with many younger musicians embracing the practice of making studio recordings along the fringes of popular music. In the early 1960s, it was common for producers, songwriters, and engineers to freely experiment with musical form, orchestration, unnatural reverb, and other sound effects, and by the late 1960s, highly experimental pop music, or sounds that expanded the idea of the typical popular song, was positively received by young audiences.

Folk Pop

Folk pop is a genre originating from the 1950s which blends Pop music with Contemporary Folk. It has many similarities with Folk Rock of its era and many folk pop bands have been defined as such, as they both tend to use backing bands and pop structures. However, folk pop is characterized by a more commercial sound, with less reliance on electric guitar, a larger presence of harmonized and catchy melodies, and shorter, softer songs. The genre's popularity was at its largest from the mid 1960s to early 1970s, with the success of artists such as Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Donovan, and Cat Stevens.

1000 gec Album by 100 gecs


Hyperpop is music characterized by an absurd and maximalist take on pop music. Associated artists are inspired by such themes as cyberculture, hyperreality, and gender. According to Pitchfork critic Chai Ravens, hyperpop is primarily influenced by the PC Music label and includes "neon-brushed characters like Dorian Electra, Rina Sawayama, and 100 gecs". Writing for American Songwriter, Joe Vitagliano described "hyperpop" as a movement that flourished throughout 2020. He added that he was uncertain whether it should be considered a genre.

For more information, see our page on Hyperpop.

Hypnagogic Pop

Hypnagogic pop (abbreviated as h-pop) is pop or psychedelic music that evokes cultural memory and nostalgia for the popular entertainment of the past (principally the 1980s). It emerged in the mid to late 2000s as American lo-fi and noise musicians began adopting retro aesthetics remembered from their childhood, such as radio rock, new wave pop, lite rock, video game music, synth-pop, and R&B. Recordings circulated on cassette or Internet blogs and were typically marked by the use of outmoded analog equipment and DIY experimentation.

The genre's name was coined by journalist David Keenan in an August 2009 issue of The Wire to label the developing trend, which he characterized as "pop music refracted through the memory of a memory." It was used interchangeably with "chillwave" or "glo-fi" and gained critical attention through artists such as Ariel Pink and James Ferraro. The music has been variously described as a 21st century update of psychedelia, a reappropriation of media-saturated capitalist culture, and an "American cousin" to British hauntology.

In response to Keenan's article, The Wire received a slew of hate mail that derided hypnagogic pop as the "worst genre created by a journalist". Some of the tagged artists rejected the label or denied that such a unified style exists. During the 2010s, critical attention for the genre waned, although the style's "revisionist nostalgia" sublimated into various youth-oriented cultural zeitgeists. Hypnagogic pop evolved into vaporwave, with which it is sometimes conflated.

For more information on Hypnagogic Pop, please feel free to check out the section for it on our Vaporwave page.

Indie Pop

Indie pop is a genre characterized by Pop conventions and structure, and a melodic, lighthearted sound. Artists generally use typical Rock instrumentation (drums, guitar, bass, vocals), although some artists deviate from this, sometimes including electronics, piano, strings, or even eschewing guitar altogether.

Indie pop artists tend to have a seemingly primitive and simplistic approach to music, taking many cues from punk's DIY ethos. The genre is inspired by the music of The Velvet Underground, 1960s pop music, Power Pop, and Post-Punk.

The genre came to fruition thanks to bands such as Television Personalities and The Go-Betweens, and gained momentum thanks to C86. Important UK bands include early Primal Scream, The Smiths, Belle and Sebastian, The Field Mice and many artists on Sarah Records.

In the mid-1980s, indie pop began to gain a following in the United States of America. Key indie pop bands popped up thanks to this, including Beat Happening, The Magnetic Fields, and Tiger Trap, and labels specializing in indie pop such as K Records began to appear.

Jangle Pop

Jangle or jingle-jangle is a sound characterized by undistorted, treble-heavy electric guitars (particularly 12-strings) played in a droning chordal style (by strumming or arpeggiating). The sound has featured mainly in pop music and is often associated with 1960s guitar bands, folk rock, and 1980s indie music. It is sometimes classed as its own subgenre, jangle pop. Music critics usually deploy the term to suggest brightly-evocative guitar pop.

Despite forerunners such as the Searchers and the Everly Brothers, the Beatles and the Byrds are commonly credited with launching the popularity of jangle. The name derives from the lyric "in the jingle-jangle morning, I'll come following you" from the Byrds' 1965 rendition of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man". Although many subsequent jangle bands drew significantly from the Byrds, they were not necessarily folk rock as the Byrds were.

Since the 1960s, jangle has crossed numerous genres, including power pop, psychedelia, new wave, post-punk, and lo-fi. In the 1980s, the most prominent bands of early indie rock were jangle pop groups such as R.E.M. and the Smiths. Around this time, the term "jangle pop" was sometimes conflated with "college rock".

New Wave

New Wave is a broad music genre that encompasses numerous pop-oriented styles from the late 1970s and the 1980s. The term derived from the unrelated "French New Wave" and was originally used as a catch-all for the music that emerged after punk rock, including punk itself, but may be viewed retrospectively as a less challenging counterpart of post-punk.

Although new wave shared punk's DIY philosophy, the artists were more influenced by the lighter strains of 1960s pop while opposed to mainstream "corporate" rock, which they considered creatively stagnant, and the generally abrasive and political bents of punk rock. Common characteristics of new wave music include the use of synthesizers and electronic productions, and a distinctive visual style featured in music videos and fashion.

For more information, see our page on New Wave.

Noise Pop

Noise Pop is a pop music, added with abrasive and experimental distortion. It is a subgenre of Alternative/Indie Rock which emerged in the mid-1980s. The forerunner of the genre was The Jesus and the Mary Chain, specifically typified by their album, Psychocandy. Noise Pop made a major influence for the later noise rock and shoegaze/dream pop bands, such as Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and My Bloody Valentine. Some noise pop bands incorporate with many other genres, including their own genre successors Dream Pop and Shoegaze.
Notable musicians include The Pavement, Yo La Tengo and The Verve. Modern musicians include Weatherday.

Operatic Pop

Operatic pop (or popera) is a subgenre of pop music that is performed in an operatic singing style or a song, theme or motif from classical music stylized as pop. According to music historians, operatic pop songs became most prevalent with the rise of Tin Pan Alley musicians during the early 1900s. One influence was the large influx of Italian immigrants to the United States who popularized singers such as Enrico Caruso and inspired the creation of "novelty songs" using Italian dialect. The songs often used operatic repertory "to make a satirical or topical point". Popularized by American Vaudeville, musical comedies, jazz and operettas, examples include Irving Berlin's That Opera Rag, Billy Murray's My Cousin Caruso and Louis Armstrong's riffs on Rigoletto and Pagliacci. The subgenre subsequently dwindled after the 1920s but revived during the rock music era with albums such as The Who's Tommy and Queen's A Night at The Opera.

In 1986, operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti had a hit with the Lucio Dalla song "Caruso", which helped to spark a recent flourishing of operatic pop. Other singers, including Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, and Katherine Jenkins, also recorded the number. Bocelli, in particular, soon became a leading representative of the subgenre. In the 2000s, singers and singing groups devoted primarily to operatic pop built on this renewed success. Groups like Il Divo and Amici Forever have achieved popularity with the mix of "contemporary pop with operatic style" characteristic of operatic pop. The subgenre is often performed by classical crossover singers and acts, although that field is much broader in the types of music it encompasses. "Popera" performances, such as those by the Three Tenors, have reached larger audiences and brought in greater profits than typical for operatic music.

Orchestral Pop

Orchestral pop is pop music that has been arranged and performed by a symphonic orchestra.

During the 1960s, pop music on radio and in both American and British film moved away from refined Tin Pan Alley to more eccentric songwriting and incorporated reverb-drenched rock guitar, symphonic strings, and horns played by groups of properly arranged and rehearsed studio musicians. Many pop arrangers and producers worked orchestral pop into their artists' releases, including George Martin and his strings arrangements with the Beatles, and John Barry for his scores to the James Bond films. Also in the 1960s, a number of orchestral settings were made for songs written by the Beatles, including symphonic performances of "Yesterday" by orchestras. Some symphonies were specifically founded for playing predominantly popular music, such as the Boston Pops Orchestra. Nick Perito was one of orchestral pop's most accomplished arrangers, composers, and conductors.

According to Chris Nickson, the "vital orchestral pop of 1966" was "challenging, rather than vapid, easy listening". Spin magazine refers to Burt Bacharach and the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson as "gods" of orchestral pop. In Nickson's opinion, the "apex" of orchestral pop lay in singer Scott Walker, explaining that "in his most fertile period, 1967–70, he created a body of work that was, in its own way, as revolutionary as the Beatles'. He took the ideas of [Henry] Mancini and Bacharach to their logical conclusion, essentially redefining the concept of orchestral pop."

Infinity On High by Fall Out Boy

Pop Punk

Pop-punk is a music genre that combines punk rock with pop music. It has the textures and fast tempos of punk rock and the melodies and chord progressions of power pop. Pop punk has existed since the inception of punk rock and has thus covered a lot of sonic and lyrical ground, so is often hard to define. For instance, many pop punk bands embrace a fun, light-hearted image, where as others adopt the opposite, an overly melancholic and serious sound.

The earliest pop punk band is often considered to be Ramones. Other bands from the 1970s to embrace a more pop-influenced sound include Buzzcocks and The Undertones. Pop punk became more of a defined sound in the 1980s with the growing Melodic Hardcore and Skate Punk sounds. Bands from this era include Screeching Weasel and The Queers. Pop punk began to break through into the mainstream in the 1990s with bands such as Green Day, Blink-182, and The Offspring. In the mid 2000s the mainstream success of pop punk began to wane and was eventually subsumed by the rising popularity of Emo-Pop. In the 2010s, bands like The Wonder Years and Joyce Manor ushered in a new wave of pop punk with Emo influences.

Notable Artists

  • blink-182
  • Fall Out Boy
  • Fastbacks
  • Green Day
  • New Found Glory
  • Paramore
  • Rancid
  • Red Kross
  • Supergrass
  • The Donnas
  • The Offspring
  • Weezer

Planet Her by Doja Cat


Pop rap is a loosely defined term that refers to the fusion of Hip Hop's rapping with Pop elements such as melodious vocals and light, catchy tunes. While tracks often vary in sound, most of them stick to simple verse-chorus pop structures and lyrics are often more lighthearted and radio-friendly than other hip hop genres.

Such fusions can be found as early as the early 1980s, like the successful single "Wot! / Strawberry Dross". Certain early pop rap artists made hip hop with pop appeal by telling humorous stories in their lyrics, notably DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, and others, like Heavy D & The Boyz, brought hip hop's aggressive and macho lyricism to a more family-orientated place. Despite the presence of early examples, pop rap only became a prominent and established hip hop genre in the 1990s and towards the end of the millennium, with artists such as Vanilla Ice and M.C. Hammer becoming increasingly popular. As hip hop broke out into the mainstream, more artists turned to pop rap and started incorporating sung hooks and lighter lyricism, including Hardcore Hip Hop artists like The Notorious B.I.G., Ja Rule, and 2Pac. This turn resulted in plenty of rappers and hip hop acts in the 2000s, including Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, 50 Cent, and Missy Elliott enjoying extreme chart success and wide mainstream attention. Around that time rapping itself would increasingly become a common, regular element of popular music, often appearing in various genres even outside the context of pop rap and other genre fusions.

In the 2010s pop rap became more popular, with many pop artists collaborating and working with rappers to create hits. Other key factors in the growth and musical evolution of pop rap include the introduction of auto-tune, a production technique that corrects singing, and the influence of artists such as Kanye West and Drake who experimented and expanded the realms of pop rap. As a result, pop rap maintains prominence in both underground and mainstream scenes, where it's often combined with genres like Trap and Contemporary R&B. Many pop rap artists both sing and rap in their music. Pop rap would also diversify into specific, smaller niches characterized by distinct production traits and vocal stylings, as in Chicago's Bop and Atlanta's Futuristic Swag.

Pop Rock

Pop rock is a fusion genre used to describe standard verse-chorus Pop music that can also be categorized under Rock for its use of guitars, drums, and propulsive rhythms. The genre manifested at the tail end of the 1950s as a more radio-friendly alternative to Rock & Roll and R&B, consisting mainly of white performers such as Roy Orbison and Del Shannon. Over the next decade, pop and rock continued to mix together and create new subgenres like Vocal Surf and Beat Music. In the 1970s, pop rock became both rougher (Power Pop) and smoother (Soft Rock); in the 1980s–90s, it fused with some Alternative Rock to make Jangle Pop and Britpop. Today, pop rock remains an active, wide-ranging genre with much crossover between other pop styles.

Progressive Pop

Progressive pop is a genre known by a few characterizations. One places the genre as a precursor to Progressive Rock. When the two terms appeared in the 1960s, they were roughly interchangeable, referring to a particular style of Pop or Rock music that was more complex and personalized than had been normal for AM radio. Another characterization, most often associated with the 1970s–80s, is thought to bridge the musical elements of progressive rock and pop together. In short, the instrumental virtuosity and expansive structures found in the former are combined with the catchiness, oftentimes simple melodies, and accessibility of the latter, to bring a sound distinct from both.

To properly distinguish this genre, progressive pop is best viewed as a comparatively milder (or "pop") counterpart to progressive rock. Like in prog rock, the term "progressive" refers to the genre's attempts to break with standard music formulas. In the case of progressive pop, this means the standards of pop music prior to the mid to late 1960s, which was often short, simple, and had instrumentation that either involved guitar, bass and drum combos or traditional orchestrated arrangements for vocalists. In contrast, progressive pop usually contains more eclectic (sometimes quasi-symphonic) instrumentation, song times longer than the average 2.5 minutes, unorthodox harmonic structures (for pop), and/or abnormal timbres and textures.

In comparison to Art Pop, which subverts/deconstructs/synthesizes pop music in various ways, progressive pop focuses more on relatively complex, melodic, yet palatable songwriting. Progressive pop should also not be mistaken for "experimental pop" or "avant-pop" styles, as it never overindulges in challenging avant-garde forms.

Progressive pop music was jump-started by the sectors of 1960s Psychedelia which contributed significantly to the emergence of prog rock, beginning with Pop Rock groups who aspired to elevate their music from teen entertainment to artistic statement. The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds was one massively influential example, containing several pop songs that drew from Western Classical Music while experimenting with arrangement, production, form, and tone colors. Progressive pop subsequently lived on for the rest of the decade mostly as an undercurrent within early prog/Art Rock like The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed, whereas others, like Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle, embraced full-on progressive pop with little to no rock influences.

By 1970, the notion of "progressive" pop music was seen as somewhat antiquated, and was spiritually succeeded by the prog/art rock movements. Later in the decade, some artists formerly associated with prog rock brought the genre closer to its 1960s pop rock roots. These included Electric Light Orchestra ("Mr. Blue Sky"), Supertramp ("The Logical Song"), and The Alan Parsons Project ("I Wouldn't Want to Be Like You").

Psychedelic Pop

Psychedelic pop is a genre that bridges the musical elements of Psychedelic Rock, Psychedelic Folk, and Pop to bring them together. The sound produced is often intended to emulate the way music sounds while under the effects of psychedelic drugs. It differs from other psychedelia-related genres by emphasizing catchy pop hooks and vocal harmonies similar to Sunshine Pop. However, unlike sunshine pop, psychedelic pop always retains a quality of surrealism, usually achieved with abstract lyricism and/or the liberal use of tape effects like slapback echo, reverb, or flanging. The instrumentation itself somewhat follows that of Pop Rock, but in most cases, is supplemented by instruments considered unorthodox for pop recordings in the early-to-mid 1960s, such as theremin, zither, or tack piano.

The genre was largely a studio creation. The Beach Boys and The Beatles heralded the approach early on, particularly with the albums Pet Sounds and Revolver. Other examples which soon followed include The Zombies' Odessey and Oracle, The Millennium's Begin, and Billy Nicholls' Would You Believe.

After the early 1970s, the genre ran into a steep decline. In the 1990s, psychedelic pop saw some revival with bands such as The Flaming Lips, The Olivia Tremor Control, and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. It also formed some of the basis of the Neo-Psychedelia movement which emerged in the same era as a more modern style of psychedelic music.


Sophisti-pop is a retrospective term for a style of Pop music that incorporates influences from Jazz, classic R&B and Soul along with a slick, polished production style. The genre arose in the United Kingdom in the mid-1980s, with acts such as The Blue Nile, Scritti Politti, and Prefab Sprout. Informed by a renewed interest in 1960s Blue-Eyed Soul, these New Wave, Synthpop, and Pop Rock artists introduced complex harmonic progressions, jazzy acoustic guitar leads, and the accompaniment of saxophones and brass alongside synthesizers. Another influence was the lush pop stylings and focus on fashion of New Romantic, with these original sophisti-pop groups taking on a clean-cut, "sophisticated" image to reflect the music. The early 1980s work of Bryan Ferry with Roxy Music is cited as foundational to the style.

Artists like The Style Council, Sting, and Sade (who blended sophisti-pop with Smooth Soul) would find huge chart success with a sophisti-pop sound through the 1980s, but the style's popularity would fade with the 1990s as other styles dominated the charts and some artists moved on to Adult Contemporary, further removed from their new wave roots. The genre also left its mark on Japanese pop music in the 1980s and 1990s, with City Pop often featuring similar jazz influences and the later Shibuya-kei scene incorporating sophisti-pop into its retro sound.

Sophisti-pop would see something of a revival in the 2010s as part of a 1980s nostalgia trend, with Rhye and Blood Orange displaying influence from Contemporary R&B and popular artists like The 1975 and Haim dabbling in the style.

Space Age Pop

Space Age pop, also known as bachelor pad music, was inspired by the optimism of the Space Age of the 1950s and 1960s and its excitement about mankind's space exploration. Space Age pop is especially related to Lounge music, and could be seen as an early occurrence of space music.

The music varies in style, rhythm and arrangement, but shares enough similarities. Space Age pop often uses a string orchestra (or simulated strings) to apply warmth and color to the sound, combined with a Hispanic American Music percussion section. Keyboard instruments (both traditional ones, and later also electronic) are frequently used, as well as the theremin for its eerie out-of-this-world sound. The arrangements often convey a sense of humor, placing it in close relation to later futurist or space-themed novelty music - a closeness furthered by the album cover artwork often displaying space or modernist themes.

During the early 1990s, Space Age pop, largely forgotten after 1965, regained some of its popularity.

Sunshine Pop

Sunshine pop (originally called soft pop) is a subgenre of pop music that originated in Southern California in the mid-1960s. Rooted in easy listening and advertising jingles, sunshine pop acts combined nostalgic or anxious moods with "an appreciation for the beauty of the world". Sunshine pop enjoyed mainstream success in the latter half of the decade, with many of its top 40 hits peaking in the spring and summer of 1967, especially just before the Summer of Love.

Sunshine pop originated in California in the mid to late-1960s, beginning as an outgrowth of the California Sound and folk rock movements. Rooted in easy-listening, advertising jingles, and the growing drug culture, the music was characterized by lush vocals and light arrangements similar to samba music. Most of the acts were lesser-known bands named after fruits, colors, or cosmic concepts who imitated more popular groups.It shares some similares with baroque pop, folk-pop and Brill Building styles. It may be seen as a form of escapism during rough times. The lyrics are often nostalgic with a feeling of happiness and content, which can remind someone of samba.

Notable Artists

  • Association
  • Beach Boys' Brian Wilson
  • Curt Boettche
  • Millennium
  • Sagittarius
  • The 5th Dimension
  • The Mamas and the Papas, John Phillips
  • The Turtles
  • Yellow Balloon

Light & Magic by Ladytron


Synth-pop (short for synthesizer pop; also called techno-pop) is a subgenre of new wave music that first became prominent in the late 1970s and features the synthesizer as the dominant musical instrument. It was prefigured in the 1960s and early 1970s by the use of synthesizers in progressive rock, electronic, art rock, disco, and particularly the "Krautrock" of bands like Kraftwerk. It arose as a distinct genre in Japan and the United Kingdom in the post-punk era as part of the new wave movement of the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.

Electronic musical synthesizers that could be used practically in a recording studio became available in the mid-1960s, while the mid-1970s saw the rise of electronic art musicians. After the breakthrough of Gary Numan in the UK Singles Chart in 1979, large numbers of artists began to enjoy success with a synthesizer-based sound in the early 1980s. In Japan, Yellow Magic Orchestra introduced the TR-808 rhythm machine to popular music, and the band would be a major influence on early British synth-pop acts. The development of inexpensive polyphonic synthesizers, the definition of MIDI and the use of dance beats, led to a more commercial and accessible sound for synth-pop. This, its adoption by the style-conscious acts from the New Romantic movement, together with the rise of MTV, led to success for large numbers of British synth-pop acts in the US during the Second British Invasion.

"Synth-pop" is sometimes used interchangeably with "electropop", but "electropop" may also denote a variant of synth-pop that places more emphasis on a harder, more electronic sound. In the mid to late 1980s, duos such as Erasure and Pet Shop Boys adopted a style that was highly successful on the US dance charts, but by the end of the decade, the 'new wave' synth-pop of bands such as A-ha and Alphaville was giving way to house music and techno. Interest in new wave synth-pop began to revive in the indietronica and electroclash movements in the late 1990s, and in the 2000s synth-pop enjoyed a widespread revival and commercial success.

Notable Artists

  • Alphaville
  • Depeche Mode
  • Duran Duran
  • Japan
  • Kraftwerk
  • Ladytron
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
  • Pet Shop Boys
  • Soft Cell
  • Spandau Ballet
  • Tears for Fears
  • The Human League
  • Ultravox
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra

Teen Pop

Teen pop is a subgenre of pop music that is created, marketed and oriented towards preteens and teenagers. Teen pop incorporates different genres such as pop, R&B, dance, electronic, hip hop, country, latin and rock. Typical characteristics of teen pop music include autotuned vocals, choreographed dancing, emphasis on visual appeal (photogenic faces, unique body physiques, immaculate hair styles and fashion clothes), lyrics focused on teenage issues such as love/relationships, finding oneself, friendships, teenage angst, teen rebellion, coming of age, fitting in and growing up (regardless of the artists' age) and repeated chorus lines. Teen pop singers often cultivate an image of a girl next door/boy next door.

According to AllMusic, teen pop "is essentially dance-pop, pop, and urban ballads" that are marketed to teens, and was conceived in its contemporary form during the late 1980s and 1990s, pointing out the late 1990s as "arguably the style's golden era."'s Bill Lamb described teen pop sound as "a simple, straightforward, ultra-catchy melody line [...] The songs may incorporate elements of other pop music genres, but usually they will never be mistaken for anything but mainstream pop. The music is designed for maximum focus on the performer and a direct appeal to listeners." Some authors deemed teen pop music as "more disposable, less intellectually challenging, more feminine, simpler and more commercially focused than other musical forms." In Music Scenes: Local, Translocal and Virtual, author Melanie Lowe wrote that teen pop "is marked by a clash of presumed innocence and overt sexuality, a conflict that mirrors the physical and emotional turmoil of its primary target audience and vital fan base: early-adolescent middle-and upper middle-class suburban girls."

Pop Around The Globe

Mr. Tyger, a C-Pop Group

C-Pop (Chinese Pop)

C-pop refers to the broad range of popular music originating from Chinese countries and communities, transitioning from the Shidaiqu music popular in the 1930s-60s that was mainly produced in the Hong Kong area since then. Composers and artists from both Mandarin and Cantonese speaking regions began exchanging shidaiqu's vintage elements with Western structures, scales, chord progressions and styles of music. It took into the mainstream since the 1970s as artists 鄧麗君 [Teresa Teng] and 許冠傑 [Samuel Hui] took part of this development, both considered today among the most important Chinese musicians.

Today C-pop collects various popular music from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, as well as countries with Chinese minority such as Malaysia, the United States and the Philippines. Ballads are very common, but recent songs have also been influenced by Pop Rock, Dance-Pop, Hip Hop and Contemporary R&B. Other songs tend to mix contemporary arrangements with Chinese Folk Music instruments such as the erhu, dizi and gusheng: this trend of C-pop has been connected to the term "zhongguo feng" (中国风).

Since the late 2000s, a number of Chinese and Taiwanese idols and idol groups rose into stardom to parallel with K-Pop's popularity and diverse contemporary stylings, including crossover groups managed by South Korea such as Super Junior-M, EXO and 威神V [WayV].

C-pop is divided into two main branches: Mandopop, sung in Mandarin and covering most of the Chinese speaking region (Mainland China, Taiwan), and Cantopop, which is mainly performed in the Cantonese-speaking areas of Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau. C-pop also encompasses music performed in other local dialects; most specifically the Hokkien pop scene mainly active in Taiwan, as well as other acts performing songs in the lesser-spoken Hakka and Teochew dialects.

For more information on this topic, please check out our C-Pop page.


Cantopop is a substyle of C-Pop in which songs are performed in Cantonese. The majority of Cantopop is produced in Hong Kong and Macau, where Cantonese is the primary regional language. Historically, the stylistic choice of sound has closely followed contemporary Western Pop trends, with the ballad format being the most popular.

The earliest Cantopop compositions to be made into records were the theme songs of popular Cantonese-language films of the 1930s and 1940s. The songs most closely resembled Traditional Pop, but the sound had not entirely divulged from Cantonese Opera. After Imperial Japan invaded Hong Kong in December 1941, the production of Cantonese films and records was halted, and nothing was released until after the territory’s liberation in January 1945.

The popularity of Cantopop rose throughout the late 1940s and 1950s. In 1949, many Shidaiqu singers in mainland China fled to Hong Kong following the establishment of the People's Republic of China, whose government restricted the promotion of Westernized pop music. Public radio stations such as 香港廣播電台 (Radio Hong Kong), founded in 1948, helped spread the sound, as did record labels such as 和聲唱片 (Harmony Records), founded in 1952, and EMI Records, who opened a Hong Kong office the same year.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, local singers and bands often performed styles of music that were popular in the West at that time, such as Traditional Pop, Rock & Roll, and Beat Music. Singers either performed songs in the original English or wrote Cantonese renditions.

In the 1970s, TV dramas became very popular and numerous, and Hong Kong television studios were eager to sign new talents to sing the theme song, act, or often both. In 1971, the Hui Brothers Show, starring 许冠文 [Michael Hui] and 許冠傑 [Samuel Hui], premiered. The content consisted primarily of sketch comedy, but many of the guest stars were Cantopop singers, and the program would always end with Samuel Hui performing a song. Hui’s songs would invariably become hits and propel him to stardom; he is considered the first of the Cantopop superstars and was dubbed the "God of Song" by contemporary media.

By the 1980s, Cantopop artists were able to find success separately from the television programs and films whose promotion they had been dependent on for so long. Most of the big-name singers still gained or maintained relevance through acting either on television or in blockbuster films, but it was no longer a necessary connection to produce a hit song. Singers such as 張國榮 [Leslie Cheung], 譚詠麟 [Alan Tam], and 梅艷芳 [Anita Mui] and songwriters such as 顧嘉煇 [Joseph Koo] are among the most prominent artists of this decade, considered to be the golden age of the genre. As the stars of the 1980s began to retire, they were replaced primarily by four unaffiliated singers who became known as the "Four Heavenly Kings": 張學友 [Jacky Cheung], 郭富城 [Aaron Kwok], 黎明 [Leon Lai], and 劉德華 [Andy Lau]. They found great popularity throughout the 1990s, but by the latter half of the decade, Cantopop as a business declined: record sales had dropped from HK$1.853 billion in 1995 to HK$0.916 billion in 1998. In 2017, sales numbered only HK$200 million.

Cantopop’s decline can be attributed partially to the sound falling out of fashion, but also to the rise of digital media, as well as suppression of non-Mandarin-language music and programming by the Chinese Communist Party.


Europop emerged throughout mainland Europe in the early 1970s, referring to slick, highly commercial Pop songs that emphasise sugary melodies and light, bouncy instrumentation. The vast majority of the music was made in the continent due to the incorporation of minor influences from various European Folk Music and pop styles, including Schlager, Polka, Klezmer and Glam Rock. The term is often used with negative connotations, highlighting 'fluff' and silliness of music described as such as well as unfavourable associations with the Eurovision Song Contest.

By far the most famous and internationally successful Europop act are Swedish group ABBA, whose 1974 Eurovision winner and transnational No. 1 "Waterloo" was a major milestone in Europop's history and later success. The group set the general template for Europop: memorable hooks and refrains; Rock instrumentation plus piano, synthesizers and strings (artificial or live); basic major-key harmonies; key changes for later choruses and a steady dance beat.

By the late 1970s, the style was frequently influencing and overlapping with Euro-Disco, including records by ABBA, Boney M., Luv' and Baccara. Europop had a large impact on the pop music climate of the 1990s, with the success of Ace of Base and numerous Eurodance acts later on in the decade (notably Aqua and Eiffel 65). It was also an influence on UK and US Boy Bands and girl groups such as Spice Girls, Take That and Backstreet Boys, whilst 1980s Europop was a focal point for a wave of K-Pop acts in the late 2000s.

Indian Pop

Indian pop is a popular music of India and other South Asian countries, based on an amalgamation of South Asian folk and classical music with influences of music from different parts of the world, especially American and European pop and rock music.

Indo-Pop (Indonesian Pop)

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Italian Pop

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J-Pop (Japanese Pop)

J-pop is a contemporary type of Pop music from Japan established during the transition to the Heisei period in 1989. Whilst originally evolving from early Kayōkyoku and City Pop, as well as the Idol kayō movement, J-pop has since adopted a much broader, slicker, westernized style of music, distancing itself from the more traditional styles of pop music in Japan. Today it is often made with an Electropop, Dance-Pop or Synthpop production, although crossovers with Pop Rock and sometimes Visual kei aren't too uncommon.

J-pop is largely driven by the idol business, formed largely of solo stars, Boy Bands or girl groups with a strong marketable image. Separately, singer/songwriters have been cropping more frequently in the business achieving major label success, such as the cases of Hikaru Utada and Ayumi Hamasaki, who also take charge in producing their music.

J-pop songs are frequently implemented as opening, ending or insert songs for anime and soundtracks for Japanese movies, videogames and TV series, which are easier to market to international audiences.

NCT Dream, a K-Pop Band

K-Pop (Korean Pop)

K-pop is the abbreviated name for a contemporary pop scene in South Korea. Separating itself from the hippie-influenced Psychedelia that took over the country during the 1970s, the original Korean pop business originated in the 1980s, when there was a rise of Korean Ballad singers including 이문세 [Lee Moon-sae] and 변진섭 [Byun Jin-sub]. Over the years, K-pop started to change and develop on its own thanks to the emergence of Seo Taiji and Boys in 1992, which incorporated elements of Hip Hop, Contemporary R&B and Rock to the popular audience of the country.

The foundations of modern K-pop took place when 이수만 [Lee Soo-man] founded SM Entertainment in 1996, which led other music entrepreneurs to develop their own entertainment companies — YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment opened nearly in the same period. H.O.T. was one of the first boy bands developed in South Korea and inspired other groups of the genre — Baby V.O.X and S.E.S. were important on the girl group side.

K-pop since the 1990s had been marketed at other Asian countries through performers rereleasing songs on translated languages such as Mandarin and Japanese, or by writing original songs with them. The genre finally came to international fame during the 2000s; a consequence of the so called Korean wave, when the country stablished itself as a cultural exporter and there was a surge of popularity around its media products. At the time, the K-pop scene incorporated developments from Electropop and Dance-Pop alongside its previous influences. This evolution in sound was led by 東方神起 [TVXQ!] in 2004, but other groups such as BIGBANG, Super Junior, SHINee and 소녀시대 [Girls' Generation] followed through with it.

Recent contributions to the rising popularity of K-pop were the international success of Psy's song "Gangnam Style", as well as the success acquired by BTS and BLACKPINK in the United States.

While the industry is largely dominated by the idol girl group and boy band scene, there are also popular solo artists like BoA, IU and 비 [Rain].

For more information on this topic, please check out our Hallyu page.

Latin Pop

Latin pop is a term applied to different styles of Pop music influenced by traditional Latin American musical styles and known for their use of Latino clichés. Before the 1980s, Latin pop was strongly influenced by Canción melódica, and most popular performers were crooners that incorporated light and traditional arrangements, frequently performed by orchestras.

Following the establishment of Miami as the capital of Latin pop, artists like Julio Iglesias and Miami Sound Machine started to incorporate more international mainstream references while reinforcing some stereotypical elements of Latin music, such as exoticism, as heard in the popular songs "Hey!" and "Conga". Since the 1990s, Latin popular music saw the emergence of two strong stylistic currents. These include Spanish-language Pop Rock music (such as Shakira's first two major releases—Pies descalzos and Dónde están los ladrones?—Julieta Venegas, Natalia Lafourcade, and more recently, Mon Laferte), and a style based on Latin American Dance music, especially incorporated contemporary music fusion (an example being American singer Selena, who fused Cumbia and Tejano music with pop). In 1999, a boom saw several Latin pop artists turn into worldwide sensations with international hits like Ricky Martin's "Livin' la vida loca" and Enrique Iglesias' "Bailamos".

The genre experienced another boom in the mid-to-late 2010s due to the integration of various strains of Latino culture into the worldwide mainstream, especially with the approach of Reggaetón to a more global pop appeal. The latter genre's prevalence resulted in the success of Luis Fonsi's "Despacito" and the popularity of new generation artists such as J Balvin and Maluma, who routinely collaborate with mainstream US acts.

M-Pop (Malaysian Pop)

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Mexican Pop

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Moroccan Pop

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P-Pop (Filipino Pop)

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Pakistani Pop

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Thai Pop

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Turkish Pop

Contemporary Turkish popular music started in the late 1950s, when Turkish artists started to write their own lyrics to Western popular tunes. Since its inception, Turkish pop music has drawn influences from various musical genres of Western and Turkish origin, including Traditional Pop, Dance-Pop, Arabesque and Turkish Folk Music.

V-Pop (Vietnamese Pop)

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Russian Pop

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Scandipop (Scandinavian Pop)

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