Pet Shop Boys (really just Neil Tennant), in a 1987 interview I remembered well and was happy to find on YouTubé (emphasis added):

Pop music is superficially more frivolous. It sets out to entertain – if it’s pop dance, to make you dance. It’s more of a song, probably. Most rock groups don’t really write songs. Pop people sing a structured song which has got a strong melody, normally, if it’s any good. And so I suppose it sets out to do something different.

Pop music isn’t “meaningless,” though, you know. I tend to think most of the songs that survive tend to be pop songs. I mean, you could probably count on one hand, or two hands anyway, the rock songs that survived from the 1970s. I mean, kind of “Name ten great rock songs of the 1970s.” You know, you’d get pretty stuck after sort of like “Layla” or something, wouldn’t you, you know? But if you wanted to name a hundred great pop songs of the 1970s, you wouldn’t really have very much problem, I don’t think….

There’s a slightly patronizing thing that people kind of set out to make pure pop, without really — I’m forever reading papers about “jangly” guitar groups that are making pure pop. When I listen to their records it’s not even pop music at all, I don’t think. I mean, sort of people kind of think about it too much in a way…. I mean, the Human League thought about it incredibly and it worked with them. But some people always do think about or theorize about it, and it can’t be fresh when you do that.

Ironically I think pop music is the music that tends to survive. It’s always a mistake to make pop or rock music, I think, with the aim that you’re making an important statement that will last forever. I think you should just set out to do something truthful, and to write something that’s for the moment, that satisfies you, that works musically, you know, and hope that it’s going to entertain, that people will dance, and not worry about the future….

A typical rock group is U2, which to me is pompous, and supposedly meaningful in a very unspecific way. That it’s stadium music, it’s music that sets out to be important but probably isn’t. On the good side of it, it’s meant to be music that brings people together by its strength or pomp or whatever. And I think music is best when it’s striving for something new and forging ahead rather than looking back.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2018.03.11 14:29. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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