Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Pop picking - part 2 (pop has soul)

Yesterday I picked a pop song from the 1970s... and to be honest I like so much 1970s music that I could probably keep picking pop from that decade from now until Xmas and not get near to running out of favourites. I suppose this is partly because it was the decade when I learned to love music (and pop music in particular). I was a kid then (born 1967) so in the '70s I listened with an open mind and I loved songs just because I liked the sound (not because it was cool, or uncool, or mainstream, or alternative, or because the singer was old or young or thin or pretty). OK, there may have been the odd case where my adoration for the pop star intervened too (Donny Osmond, my first love) but all in all I think it was the music I liked most and even now I will be out and proud and say that the Osmonds had a lot of good records, you know. I can listen to them still ('Crazy Horses', 'One Bad Apple'...).

I suppose it would make sense to move on to the 1980s today but instead I'm going to go backwards and pick a track from the 1960s. Because of older half siblings (who left records piled around the house) I listened to and loved a lot of '60s music too. Again there's a lot to consider but here's what I've chosen – a song by Mr James Brown (1933-2006). Sorry the clip cuts off when it does – it had the best visuals of all the clips I could see:

This song ('It's a Man's World') was released in 1966 and, according to the interweb, it was written by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome (you can read a little about it here). I've picked it for many reasons but partly because I find it interesting how we categorise music (and pop music especially). This song was a pop hit, as were many of Brown's releases, but do we describe him as a pop artist? I don't think we do very often - we're much more likely to describe his music as R & B or funk or soul. This doesn't only happen with black music of course (it happens with very white heavy rock/metal too... Motorhead had singles in the charts but we don't call them 'pop' very often) but it does mean that we end up with an idea that 'pop' music is blander, whiter and more samey than it really is (in fact popular taste is much wider than we give it credit for... though there are cynics who try to keep it narrow, I think). Sure there are black singers and musicians who do get the pop label (Michael Jackson...was he not the Prince of Pop or something?) and to an extent it has changed in recent years but these are just some thoughts... from a middle-aged music fan. I could be wrong.

Now I've got to rack my brains for a song from the 1980s for tomorrow. I hated so much '80s music (just the words Thompson Twins make my ears ache!) so it might be tricky!



Kat Mortensen said...

I've posted a song today that exemplifies exactly what you're saying here, Rachel. Although it has more of a country twang and feel to it, it was on the pop charts for quite some time.

I enjoyed the James Brown clip, but I have to tell you, even though I liked the post-punk stuff, I still enjoyed The Thompson Twins and I saw them live at a huge barn-like venue west of Toronto and they were great! (It was the danceability (may not actually be a word) factor that I liked best, I think.)


John baker said...

Difficult. The 80s was about shipbuilding for me.

Rachel Fox said...

I'll be over shortly, Kat. And I joke about '80s music but I've been remembering today how much of it I liked (and still do).

John - 80s is tomorrow! But yes, Elvis Costello is high on my list for tomorrow too.


Titus said...

Good post, great song. I've got to start this!

Totalfeckineejit said...

'Doctor, Doctor, can't you see I'm calling, calling'

Now why couldn't James Brown sing something like that?

Totalfeckineejit said...

Love the trio of synchronized, invisible football, footballers in the background!

Rachel Fox said...

I've blanked the T Twins out of my mind so much I had to look up that lyric to see who it was TFE!