The World of Pop Music

Today’s happiness: We’ve got a great lecturer at the moment – he can really teach rather than just stand there and talk at you for an hour or two while you try not to zone out every five minutes. We were discussing popular music today and why so many songs in the charts sound so similar. In particular we looked at Jessie J and Katy Perry and their songs, Domino, Teenage Dream and Last Friday Night, focusing on their musical similarities. The upshot is (unsurprisingly!) that they’re incredibly similar, down to the very keys and chord progressions used. Just listen to the opening 5-10 seconds of the first two and you’ll see what I mean! I’m not a fan of either and, in fact, when I started the module I’d only just about heard Katy Perry’s name and definitely couldn’t name anything she’d done. Jessie J’s Price Tag was played so much when it came out that I think you’d have to live under a rock to not have heard it – even my parents liked and downloaded it – and so I knew her for that song only!

Anyway, the discussion ended with this really astounding mash up, which features the vocals of Last Friday Night over the musical material of Domino. As someone who knew neither of the songs, if I had had to listen to the mash up, I’d have thought it was the actual song, it fits so well. Have a look here…

After the lecture had ‘finished’ and all necessary information had been covered, we watched part of this great video by Axis of Awesome and called 4 Chords which explored the popularity of the chord sequence I, V, VI, IV in popular music. It’s a really funny watch and enlightening too – who knew so many pop songs were based on the same chord structure. The accompanying video also adds to the amusement, of course!

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