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1980s: Rock v Pop?

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    1980s: Rock v Pop?

    I think pop beats rock in the 80s due to weight of great acts: Soft Cell, Human League, Adam & The Ants, Depeche Mode, etc. Rock was going through its decadent phase and would have only brief comebacks with artistic merit (such as Nirvana).

    The Smiths were really rock (Byrds, Patti Smith) but did have some pop via the fact that Morrissey and Marr loved girl groups and 60s pop generally (a cover of I Want A Boy For My Birthday by Goffin and King was one of their first demos) and Marr was a big Nile Rodgers fan.

    I don't mind U2 at all and occasionally they were fantastic but the bombast is too much.

    Where do you put The Specials and Madness? The Specials' social themes were too dark to be pop but there are no lead guitars because its roots are Jamaican. Madness are really pop.

    #2
    In the latest issue of Electronic Sound, Bob Fischer says an act are “pop” if you can imagine them having a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

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      #3
      I think pop and rock are largely marketing terms and audience identities.

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        #4
        Only in the UK, if there

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          #5
          I think in the US that's partly for reasons that are racist, whereby rock was stolen from R&B acts whose black successors were then segregated as soul, funk or whatever despite having the same R&B roots as the white rock acts.

          Purely in musical terms there's a continuum. Motown was more on the pop end of the spectrum whereas Hendrix (obviously) was at the rock end but they both had roots in the blues.
          Last edited by Satchmo Distel; 21-07-2021, 12:21.

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            #6
            Originally posted by HeavyDracula View Post
            In the latest issue of Electronic Sound, Bob Fischer says an act are “pop” if you can imagine them having a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

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              #7
              Originally posted by Satchmo Distel View Post
              I think in the US that's partly for reasons that are racist, whereby rock was stolen from R&B acts whose black successors were then segregated as soul, funk or whatever despite having the same R&B roots as the white rock acts.

              Purely in musical terms there's a continuum. Motown was more on the pop end of the spectrum whereas Hendrix (obviously) was at the rock end but they both had roots in the blues.
              I don't think it's all quite as linear as that. Rock & Roll was a hybrid of many influences, with different artists borrowing from different genres in different degrees. Blues, jump, country, western swing, black gospel, white gospel, rockabilly, folk, jazz (especially the crooners of Sinatra's cut), Latin dance and so on. If you want to set a hierarchy of influences, then R&B and country are the chief progenitors.

              Elvis was very much a country musician who drew from R&B (and white gospel). For his first hit, Maybelline, Chuck Berry reworked a song by western swing musician Bob Wills. There was country music made in the 1930s hat sounds a lot like the rock & roll of the 1950s. The influences were shared widely. The idea that white people stole black music to invent rock & roll is a fallacy.

              The exploitation of black songwriters and performers, and the practice of white acts recording songs by black performers to have hits in the white market, is a different subject, of course.

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                #8
                Originally posted by G-Man View Post
                There was country music made in the 1930s hat sounds a lot like the rock & roll of the 1950s.
                Someone on a podcast pointed out recently that Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley is—shall we say—not a million miles away from Move It On Over by Hank Williams.

                And he was right. And I can't believe that I'd never hitherto noticed.

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                  #9
                  Chuck Berry also borrowed from "Move It On Over", for "Roll Over Beethoven".

                  Haley, of course, came from a country and western swing background. "Rock Around The Clock" is pretty much a rockabilly number, though on the original label, it was categorised as a Foxtrot.

                  And if anyone is interested, here's some stuff on the lesser-known originals of Rock & Roll classics, such as "Rock Around The Clock", "Shake Rattler And Roll", "See You Later Alligator", "While Lotta Shaking Going On", "Blueberry Hill", "Rave On", and a bunch others.

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                    #10
                    Simple Minds would have dragged Wham! into the car park and given them a right shoeing. Although maybe not Pepsi and Shirley, actually, now I think about it. They'd have had Jim Kerr up over the bonnet of a Ford Capri while repeatedly kicking him in the bollocks while Andrew Ridgely shouted"leave him, he's had enough".

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                      #11
                      So many eighties acts cusped both worlds that it’s pretty much a moot point.

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                        #12
                        Pop
                        Pep
                        Pap
                        Pup
                        Pip

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                          #13
                          Has anyone ever provided a cohesive credible argument as to what divides pop from rock? Even within context of opening thread the lack of any agreed threshold is difficult. Were Depeche Mode pop to start with-young band with young audience,synth stuff produced that you could just about dance to,lyrics written on back of fag packet-but later rock-young audience having developed contemporarily with young band, synth stuff produced with no intention of dancing to, lyrics still written on back of fag packet but not so obviously. Or where they always a band that cant be accommodated so easily.
                          Would also put Smiths as pop rather than rock but that again is meaningless in the absence of recognised defined parameters.
                          Last edited by ale; 21-07-2021, 21:19.

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                            #14
                            The general description when , when these things mattered, is that Pop was singles based and Rock was Lp based.

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by elguapo4 View Post
                              The general description when , when these things mattered, is that Pop was singles based and Rock was Lp based.
                              I have always liked this definition. The Sex Pistols made 4 of the greatest singles ever made. They definitely a pop band. As were most of the original punk bands. Things muddy later-Joy Division also only released 4 singles but they are not defined by them rather the two studio albums.

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                                #16
                                Originally posted by ale View Post

                                I have always liked this definition. The Sex Pistols made 4 of the greatest singles ever made.
                                4?

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                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by G-Man View Post

                                  I don't think it's all quite as linear as that. Rock & Roll was a hybrid of many influences, with different artists borrowing from different genres in different degrees. Blues, jump, country, western swing, black gospel, white gospel, rockabilly, folk, jazz (especially the crooners of Sinatra's cut), Latin dance and so on. If you want to set a hierarchy of influences, then R&B and country are the chief progenitors.

                                  Elvis was very much a country musician who drew from R&B (and white gospel). For his first hit, Maybelline, Chuck Berry reworked a song by western swing musician Bob Wills. There was country music made in the 1930s hat sounds a lot like the rock & roll of the 1950s. The influences were shared widely. The idea that white people stole black music to invent rock & roll is a fallacy.

                                  The exploitation of black songwriters and performers, and the practice of white acts recording songs by black performers to have hits in the white market, is a different subject, of course.

                                  Yeah, the "they stole it from Black R&B guys" oversimplifies it a lot.

                                  I recall hearing that Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' is ripped off of Muddy Waters: 'You Need Love.'

                                  I don't think they sound remotely alike except in their general structure and tempo, which I'm sure Muddy Waters picked up from somewhere else. Ultimately, it's a rhythm that repeats over and over in nature and daily life - people working. A beating heart. Fucking, perhaps.


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                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Rogin the Armchair fan View Post

                                    4?

                                    Anarchy In The UK, God Save The Queen, Pretty Vacant & Holidays In The Sun.

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                                      #19
                                      In the years since I have understood some complexity of music (1978>), the term pop has always been used to reference music targeted to make the Top 40. Uses of the term "pop" in the UK don't match what happens in the US (well, everyone except academics who study popular music). So, pop would be Michael Jackson, Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey. Rock would include stuff that is now often called Classic Rock (Stones, Who, Zeppelin) and stuff like Smiths, Cure, Bunnymen, Nirvana. Of course, alternative rock provided some distinction between The Stones and Stone Roses. Although the phrase "indie pop" started to emerge in the early 90s to describe stuff like Sarah Records or later to distinguish between indie rock (guitar driven/college rock) and something less heavy, I would be shocked if average music fans could distinguish to such degrees. I think people with less interest in the nuances of music, would maybe go with pop, rock, and maybe something like alternative rock to distinguish among rock bands. Rap, Jazz, Classical.

                                      But the distinction among pop and rock that SD describes wouldn't hold in the US. All the good stuff would be rock and all the shit would pop. Haha.
                                      Last edited by danielmak; 22-07-2021, 01:54.

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                                        #20
                                        That definition leaves us with a Beatles conundrum.

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                                          #21
                                          Anyone who disses Cosh the Driver as the great Pistols single: see me after school

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                                            #22
                                            There was no pop/rock distinction when The Beatles started out, although they were clearly a lot rockier than Cliff Richard, even in 1963 (e.g. 'Twist and Shout). It probably started when The Rolling Stones wanted to distinguish their purist blues work from the pop that was being produced by The Beatles, Searchers, etc. The album/single distinction probably starts with Led Zeppelin (1969) and the rise of FM radio in the US (and Radio 1 would be singles during the day and albums in the Peel slot). It then expanded with prog and the new wave of heavy metal.

                                            New Wave broke down that distinction to a degree (were Blondie pop or rock, for example?) and I think The Smiths subverted it completely because they had a rock backing group (lead guitarist, bass guitarist and drums) fronted by an asexual singer who blended New York Dolls, Johnnie Ray and 1960s girl groups into his style with lyrics that were gender ambiguous and sensitive, at least in the first year of their recording career (Spearmint Rhino made this point when he was posting here so I must credit him with that idea).
                                            Last edited by Satchmo Distel; 22-07-2021, 11:04.

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