Billboard Chart Beat Chat Letter: POP ROCKS

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Date: Feb 23, 2001
Source: Billboard
Submitted By: Maria Sakhrani


Hi Fred,

I love your column and look forward to it each week. When is the hiatus from the trivia contest going to end?

I just had to respond to the letter from Gordon Pogoda regarding teen-pop because this is one of the things in the music industry today that really bugs me. Why is this a genre at all? It is just pop music.

Is the genre because of the age of the people making the music? Well that doesn't work -- some are teenagers but the members of the Backstreet Boys are all in their 20s and several are getting close to the 30s mark, and that holds true for others in this teen pop category. I think if we check back over the last few decades, music has always been filled with people this age making hits.

So is it teen-pop because that is who is buying it? That doesn't really work either -- are we suggesting that teenage consumers from the last four decades weren't largely responsible for the music that was successful? And I might add, I don't think teenagers are the only ones buying it either.

Since when do we need a new genre label based on the age of the performers or the age of the consumers (both incorrect in my opinion, I might add). If the music industry feels such a strong need to label it something other than pop music, why don't they look to the music to describe the genre?

I have to add my little bit about radio too and their eagerness to end this current "genre." When the Backstreet Boys CD was released and they didn't break 'N Sync's record, the DJ at my station commented that maybe this was a sign that interest was waning. I thought that was a slightly premature call since it sold 1.6 million in the first week which surpassed their "Millennium" first-week sales and was still a huge first week no matter how you look at it. As a child of the '70s, I'm just waiting for the record burnings (but maybe CDs don't burn).

The sad side though is that some of this music is really good pop music but as with anything successful everyone has to jump on the bandwagon to make a buck (or lots of bucks in this case) and make the same music over and over instead of creating something new. But we can all hope that Internet radio and music downloads can eventually change radio to be more reflective of the tastes of consumers.

Marilue Beverly Colorado Springs, Colo.

Dear Marilue,

True or false: the Trivia Contest returns next week after a winter hiatus. The answer is: True. Time for everyone to sharpen their wits!

I think "teen pop" refers more to the sound, and also to the primary (but not exclusive) audience. Look at all of the stars who have been designated "teen idols" over the years -- they weren't necessarily teenagers themselves, but teenagers were their primary fans.

There were lots of responses to Gordon Pogoda's letter, and I just wish I had room to run them all. But in the interest of time and space, we'll let you be the sole torch-bearer this week.

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