Semester B Project

Pop Music Characteristics – Tempo

Pop Music is a genre of music that is popular and not appealing to the sub-genres of music culture. Pop music tends to use many many styles and themes borrowed from other genres. The main medium of pop music is the song, often between two and a half and three and a half minutes in length. The songs usually have a strong rhythmic and/or melodic element to them that the listener can grab on to straight away. Common variants include verse-chorus structure in a 32 bar form that has contrasting elements within the verse and chorus separated by catchy vocal hooks. The beats and instruments tend to be very simple with the focus on the vocal pattern. Production tends to focus on the vocals first and everything else after due to the vocal being the selling point.

The graph below is research into the Top 100 Billboard tracks of 2015 and mapping where they lie in terms of tempo. 120 bpm is the most common bpm of 2015, appearing the most times (6), the median value was also 120. I found this quite interesting that both Pro Tools and Logic open sessions at 120 bpm as a default. However, there is no correlation between song tempo and placement within the chart. As pop music focuses around the vocal, the tempo is not irrelevant, just not as important. However factors such as song tempo will bring a familiarity with the listener, which is important for pop music’s success. Interestingly, there is a direct comparison between a song’s tempo, its danceability and its commercial success. The more danceable songs were between 78 and 140 bpm. The top 9 most popular songs were between 108 and 150 bpm.

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