Sunday 20 May 2018

Pop path through Thicke and skin

If one thing characterised chatter about pop in 2013, it was concern over how much flesh was bared. From Miley Cyrus and Rihanna to the success of and backlash towards Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines clip, there's plenty of discussion about pop nudity.

It's obvious there's a degree of sexed-up carry-on young female stars are still made to play into in the pop arena. When Lily Allen unveiled the parody music video Hard Out Here she garnered attention for skewering how women's bodies are used in music videos. She also got flack from certain groups about her handling of race in the visual and sending up the things she's talking about by showing them.

Either way it had people talking and fed into the larger perception of pop music, that it's all throwaway lyrics and hollow materialism. It's a widely held belief but a quick glance at what has sold this year would suggest it's not strictly true. Sure, Blurred Lines and Get Lucky are both party-ready pop songs and hugely successful.

But the shadow of Adele still looms over the charts, with her partner in ballad-pop Emeli Sandé continuing to outsell many of 2013's album releases, even after a hugely successful 2012. Passenger, The Lumineers, Bastille and Ed Sheeran are all peddling a folk-pop faintly indie sound that's eaten up the charts.

Irish band Kodaline honed a radio-ready sound that shows a market for guitar-driven pop is as evergreen as the one for Pitbull rapping about the club.

One Direction and Gary Barlow are both riffing on Mumford & Sons with their current hits, not David Guetta.

The idea of being "authentic" and "real" pervades pop music as much as hollow partying does but only one of those things will continue to face derision.

Conor Behan

Irish Independent

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