Music Feature

Confessions of a Pop Fan

photo courtesy of google images

Part One

Chad W. Lutz
No, this isn't just a summer thing or a passing phase; I'm not drunk and I don't take any mind-altering medications. The truth is, my name is Chad Lutz and I love pop music.

I was raised on Madonna, The Beatles, Linda Rondstadt and Michael Jackson. Sunday mornings were an opportunity for my father to blast The Doobie Brothers, Genesis, and his all-time favorite, Three Dog Night, throughout the house as he went about his weekly chores. When Seal released "Kissed by a Rose", you best believe I had my boom box set to record on a Maxell cassette tape, and I listened to it over and over and over and over. When Eiffel 65 showed us just how blue European pop dance trance music could be I went head over heels for that, as well. I was a "Cowboy" for Kid Rock. I was a "Slave" for Britney. I thanked Alanis (even though I wasn't invited), entertained buying the rights from OMC, and got knocked down by Chumbawumba's "Tubthumper" (but I got up again).

If you were to meet me, say five years ago, or even two years ago, you would have thought the idea of Chad Lutz liking anything but stoner, hippy music and off-beat indie jam bands insidiously mad. I had a falling out. I was disillusioned by the lack of instrumentalism and depth of thought in modern music. I became madly swept up in the beauty and pageantry of three or four or five or even ten people coming together and being able to harmoniously sink up with guitars and drums and flutes and mold them with natural, un-manipulated voices. Beginning my senior year of high school and on through my entire college career, I tried to deny most of my childhood musical tastes; the Hanson, Backstreet Boys, *NSync, 98* and any other number of other musical acts that stood popular during my formative years. But deep down I always loved pop music, and continue to, in more ways than I ever really realized or probably wanted to.

Sure, when you get right down to it, pop music is flashy, short-changing, and mostly for show. Will Taylor Swift ever provide me with sound advice on how to handle putting my parents into a nursing home if life ever comes to that? Probably not. Will Rihanna ever give me sound resume building advice in one of her songs? No, that's pretty highly unlikely. I know that Ke$ha is a vile testament to Western Culture, but damnit, "Die Young" makes me wanna get out and dance. Isn't that what music is supposed to do, at some basic level? And, when you get to the heart of this thing, this living breathing yet ever-offending and often misunderstood genre called pop, isn't it only meant to make us dance and maybe brighten our days with easily digestible lyrics anyway? We aren't asking for Lady Gaga to belt out themes and ideas on par with Tolstoy's War and Peace or Justin Beiber to reproduce Preface to a Lyrical Ballad in musical form. We simply want something fun, catchy and easy to listen to when we get home from work or back from a bad date.

I realize it's a stretch to lobby for the necessity of Backstreet Boys in comparison to say that of Beethoven or Sebastian Bach. But bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Allman Brothers Band, Dave Matthews Band, all of these bands, at one point or another, were regarded as pop acts. What is the pop genre but the root word from which it is derived? Popular. Each of the aforementioned bands, Zeppelin and Floyd and The Allman brothers held the Billboard ranking spots with a song(s) or an album(s) at one point or another in their careers. These are just examples of "better" pop acts that were able to withstand the test of time. The truth is there will always be Chumbawumbas and Christina Aguileras and Alex Clares. Time will forever reveal Black Eyed Peas and Nicki Minaj incarnates. And for every Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake and John Mayer, history will churn out the DMBs, Maroon 5s, Tools, and Muses. And perhaps even the Timberlakes and Mayers will pump out a few good songs, and maybe even a few good albums, if we're lucky.

So, is it slightly weird that a 27-year old man runs marathons, not to blistering guitars, thundering drums, and shrill and shrieking vocals or fat, thick beats and catchy rhymes, but to Alanis Morrisette thanking India? Perhaps. Is it weird that I belt out “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time” in the car on my way to work or catch myself humming “Edge of Glory” or that I try to match Frank Ocean’s croon whenever possible, if only under my breath? Maybe. I’m willing to admit that. But I’ve never been much for social norms, and regardless of what people think of me, I’m going to keep on dancing, to Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, Ke$ha and the like, until the world ends.

No sympathy for my 18-year old self