“What is pop?”
That’s a pretty burdened question for even the most serious music fan, isn’t it? On the surface, one can note the obvious: Pop is a genre or genres of music that most appeals to the masses. However, the upcoming Netflix and Banger Films documentaries attempt to decipher the underlying notions of what pop really is: a microcosm of life and society through catchy lyrics and beats.
With an official release date of June 22nd, the eight-part documentary This Is Pop offers “an insight into pop music and some of the most significant moments of the genre” through in-depth research and insider interviews, and ultimately offers viewers a glimpse into the extensive program in the grab-bag -Style. Examining these significant moments – often touching on some hard-to-swallow pills, from the racial politics of boy bands (“The Boyz II Men Effect”) to the complexities of Swedish songwriting (“Stockholm Syndrome”) – viewers will feel fulfilled and be informed about the greatest stories in the music world.
Throughout the series, artists like Brandi Carlisle, T-Pain and Hozier, producers like Ludwig Göransson and Linda Perry, songwriters like Babyface and other music experts provide context for the periods and genres discussed and provide insights into the origins of these cultural moments greater than the sum their parts. For music fans who shudder at the thought of reading a little over five paragraphs, This Is Pop is the equivalent of a thorough oral story.
Series producer Amanda Burt of Banger Films explains to UPROXX that it was “wild” to come up with the stories to cover throughout the series. (“Where do you start when you look at the entire history of popular music?”) However, the delimitation of the main topics solidified after a common thread was recognized.
“When we talked about some of the big moments and biggest stars and their biggest hits, we found that most people saw pop music as the soundtrack to their lives,” she says. “That it was this song that was played as a slow dance at your prom, or that you played that song over and over during your first heartbreak. [We] all experience music as an emotional gateway to a feeling or a time in our lives. That made it easy to realize different themes rather than an approach behind the music. ”This Is Pop presents episodes that focus on the crossover sensations of country music (“ When Country Goes Pop ”), the spiritual freedom of music festivals ( “Festival Rising”) and the importance of the Brill Building in Midtown New York for songwriting (“The Brill Building In 4 Songs”).
As with many of the most talented artists of all time, the show’s ability to traverse the genre enables it to soar. In addition to highlighting no-nonsense pop music, it also highlights hip-hop, electronic, country, folk, and more, allowing fans of other genres to appreciate styles that they may not hear regularly. This Is Pop also combines cultural and historical facts about some of our favorite sounds and styles. Auto-Tune, for example, examines the connections of audio processors to electronic and hip-hop music and delves into how melisma (the art of changing the pitch of a syllable) is an important aspect of black and African American culture and musical vocalization.
The great strength of This Is Pop is that it takes an idea on some aspect of the subject and takes it a step further than expected. One of the strongest episodes of “What Can A Song Do?” aims to take a close look at protest music, from the message to songwriting approaches to performance. This Is Pop uses the Riot Grrrl movement to discuss music born in protest and how the scene provides a safe space for women at large gatherings. While movement is no longer as central to today’s culture, the sense of community that Riot Grrrl conveys is still prevalent at other major social events like the 2017 Women’s March. (“The gift of melody … helps people get to a place where they can access pain and trauma,” says Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter MILCK of the pairing of protest music and community during the episode.)
All in all, if you’re looking for a series to enjoy on ridiculously hot summer days when it’s too miserable to play outside, This Is Pop can give you that cool, refreshing (and informative) feeling you are after yearn. Burt notes that while critics and music lovers sometimes view mainstream music as unworthy of “serious consideration,” she believes the stories in this room are still artistically challenging and intriguing.
“If you look at the type of entertainment journalism surrounding the biggest pop acts of the last few decades, we know more about their scandals, their outfits and the gossip around them than about the music itself, what inspired it and how it fits in with them History of art and noise, ”says Burt. “We wanted to change that with this series – and I think we did.”
This Is Pop is out on Netflix today.