There is a severe lack of communication among music fans, connoisseurs, afficianados, and just plain freaks that leads to altercations, fist fights, and ankle-biting. It involves a lack of understanding and general concensus on certain musical terms.
Terminology associated with any kind of media changes and evolves over the years, but as we English majors can attest, there is a difference between term evolution and meaning degradation, that being that one is language changing to adapt to new tech or genres or situations, such as the creation of new terms like “Grunge”, and the latter being people forgetting what a fucking word means and using it anywhere, or creating a new word because you don’t know the real word that already exists, like “conversate.” IT’S FUCKING “CONVERSE”! JUST SAY “TALK” FOR FUCK’S SAKE.
So, I’m going to clear up some things, redefine some things, and assign specific meanings to some music terms, so that we can not get into arguments because we don’t know we all agree on something.
1. Emo – this is the most contested term in the music handbook, some using it to mean any post-punk they like, others using it as an umbrella over any and every type of music they hate, including bands that have nothing to do with punk rock. Let’s get this term degradation straight, shall we? Emo is a term nearly as old as the punk rock label, and has nothing to do with how many words you have in your band name or how nasal your lead singer is. It comes from the word “emotion”, and refers to PUNK ROCK music that is about an emotional situation rather than a political situation or anti-establishment motif. Elvis Costello was once considered emo, and yes is an evolution of punk aesthetic, but nonetheless, The Ramones are the first emo band, and because they are the first major punk band as well, EMO CAME FIRST. Sex Pistols are just punk rock, and The Clash are a punk band who wrote emo songs every once in awhile. This means you can scream gutterly all you want, but if your song is about a girl, you’re fucking emo, asshole. Staind are not emo, because they are not punk, they are metal. Emo is not Good Charlotte, because emo is not synonymous with suck. Actual examples are: Ramones, Elvis Costello, Weezer, Violent Femmes, Tegan & Sara.
2. “Pop” – Pop music comes from “popular music”, referring to any music that is liked by the majority of music listeners at any time. Past pop includes The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Beach Boys, etc. Pop also refers to a specific genre of music, usually categorized by extreme over-production, bands built of studio musicians, entire groups assembled, written for, and manufactured by a major music label for the sole purpose of being popular, or selling the most amount of product, usually to teenage girls and impressionable adults. This pisses me off, because the second term invades the first term’s connotations and uses its associations to boost itself, and the second group should be shot, if the world were just, which it most certainly is not. So, for the sake of clarity, we will be reassigning some words here. Pop will now exclusively refer to any and all popular music, only a genre insomuch as most of it shares certain qualities, because it is the origin of the term so it gets to keep it. Pop music manufactured for sales will be a subcategory called “bubblegum” (which serves this purpose already, but will henceforth serve without pop’s implication of popularity), which will also be a prefix added onto any genre when a band or artist seems to be mimicking an aesthetic to appeal to a market rather than being a rightful member of the scene. Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, etc. will now be called “Bubblegum Punk” rather than emo. Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears will now be called “Bubblegum Rhythm” rather than “Pop”.
3. R & B – Modern R & B will no longer be called R & B, because the term comes from Rhythm & Blues (a synonym for Rock & Roll), and there is no fucking blues represented. It will henceforth be known as Rhythm.
4. Rap/Hip-hop – These terms began synonymous, but there has been a growing trend to use the words to refer to two different subcategories of the Rap movement. I would like to solidify this difference. From now on, Rap will refer to gangsta rap and any rap that objectifies sex, violence, and capital gain spent in an ill-advised fashion as a status symbol to other poor, disenfranchised minority youth. Hip-hop will refer to “alternative rap”, that with intelligent lyrics, complex beats and samples, attempts to stretch the limitations of the genre, and all “classic” hip-hop from the creators of the genre through public enemy. Rap artists will include any members of NWA and their disciples, Biggy, Nas, and eminem. Hip-hop will include The Roots, Grandmaster Flash, Sugarhill Gang, Black Eyed Peas, Tonedeff, Atmosphere. Puffy, DMX, Vanilla Ice, Juvenile, Master P, and any of their crews will be known as “Bubblegum Rap”, and anything by Black Eyed Peas or the Roots post- 9/11 will be referred to as “Bubblegum Hip-hop”.