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Pop music

Depending on context, pop music is either an abbreviation of popular music or a term for a sub-genre of it.

The subgenre of pop is perhaps the most widely crowd-pleasing form of popular music. As a rule, pop music features simple, memorable melodies with catchy, singalong choruses, and instrumentally features heavy use of synthesiser backing. It is instantly accessible to anyone culturally initiated, even the musically uninitiated. Successful pop music (and successful pop music is usually measured in terms of its commercial success without any pretence to broader artistic goals) is usually performed by charismatic performers who may or may not be musically talented but who look attractive and may dance well. Songwriting and arranging may be performed by anonymous but well-paid producers.

Producer Frank Farian briefly experimented with the notion of having one party sing a song, and another lip-sync to it. The result was called Milli Vanilli and was hugely successful, until people discovered what was going on.

Pop music is often criticized for being entertaining while lacking serious musical value and artistic significance. This is believed to be primarily due to financial considerations being placed above artistic considerations by recording companies in their selection of artists and songs. Companies often judge that their profits will be maximized by selling music that has the broadest possible appeal (some works of popular music have sold tens of millions of copies). Such music is often unsatisfying to more discerning listeners. This is also at least partially why genres that manage to attain a certain level of credibility as styles in their own right are often no longer considered "pop".

In most of pop music, the record producer is a major contributor, sometimes more important than the artist, through choosing the songs and shaping the sound of the music.

The image of pop performers is often regarded as being as important as their actual music. Consequently, pop performers and their managers make elaborate efforts to project the desired image through their clothing, music video clips, manipulation of the popular press, and similar tactics. Indeed, many pop acts are formulated around achieving the desired image, with music considered later. Boy bands and girl bands are particularly carefully organised in this manner, with members chosen and groomed to fill certain stereotypes to appeal to different personalities of fan.

A particular style of song particularly associated with the pop genre is the love ballad, a slow song in which the performers sing usually highly sentimental songs about various aspects of romantic love.

Well-known pop musicians include Madonna and Michael Jackson (the self-styled "King of Pop") and from earlier days Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand, Paul Whiteman, and Rudy Vallee. List of popular music performers.

See also: Cantopop, Pop culture, Synth pop, Traditional pop music, J-POP