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The humanization of international pop music

Plastic in the ocean of music: some say that international pop music is plastic and repetitive. Even though we can no longer make a well-defined cut of what is or is not pop music due to all the boundaries that have fallen between musical genres in recent years, many of these criticisms do not take into account the intentionality in creation – the purpose – whether it by the artist or by the structures that raise his stardom.

Robotic voices, distorted instruments combined with more organic sounds, choruses with structures that repeat themselves and build an apparently known territory – the cliché of pop-dance music. A good piece of the pie in this genre has been swimming in this for years, but we have seen artists who seek to work on some form of humanization in the midst of synthesizers (or away from them), especially after the collision of the pop and indie universes.

To make this a little clearer, when I talk about humanizing the music or making it more organic/authentic, I'm referring to instruments, lyrics, input timing and other elements that I'll discuss in this article. Come with me!

DIY Music – Do It Yourself

I start by saying that perfection does not exist. Even the best-trained artist in the world makes mistakes: a badly played note, a voice that doesn't sustain the bass or that releases a poorly projected high note, a beat slightly out of time, an early or late entry into the song.

To err is human, as the saying goes. And when these “errors” are controlled, we have the perception that whoever sings or plays is not a perfect and unattainable person – a model of fame that Hollywood studios created and which is perpetuated even in music. She is simply human. Human like you and me. And she lives by the feeling she wants to convey, by the truth, by the sincerity about her own abilities and by the wisdom of accepting her mistakes without wanting to be the best, but with the desire to challenge herself to improve.

When a pop artist allows himself this type of path, identification is immediate. The DIY philosophy in music – common in the indie world – gives the impression that little was done there, just enough to let the feeling take over.

That's why we've seen so many artists diving into Country It is folk in recent years, by trend or not: Lady Gaga, with her album “Joanne”, Miley Cyrus, returning to her origins with “Younger Now”; Taylor Swift, with “Folklore”, Halsey, with “Manic”, and so on. What we see in common between them on these albums is the distant sound of the synthesizers and the voices that let themselves flow as they are.

I can add Beyoncé to the list above (who has heard “Daddy Lessons“, from the album “Lemonade”?). And I'll go deeper into this: as incredibly talented as Beyoncé is, in her songs since “Beyoncé”, she doesn't seem to care so much about keeping the pulse of the music under control at all times, but letting her voice sew and break through any convention of time and voice imposition that exists.

This is the type of music that sounds like a good production or home recording, without big producers or so many hands there, but amazingly: “Lemonade” alone was produced by 23 big names in the music industry; “Beyoncé”, for 22; “Manic”, 17 producers; “Joanne” had 5 music producers and 2 executives; and “Folklore”, 2 producers.

It seems like a lot of people collaborating on this kind of music, but two heads are better than one. Already 23 heads I don't even need to comment! As “simple” as the song may seem at first listen, it is carefully thought out to achieve the expected result.

But, doesn't a production in this context move away from the initial idea of what would be a more organic music? The answer is no It is perhaps! For us listeners, no. We are on top of everything, we know what we hear and, at most, what the artists deliver in interviews. The result is there, authentic or planned, it is there and you can feel it. For those involved in the creation process, perhaps. We will never know the true context of musical production within a studio.

The questions you should be asking yourself are:

  1. Where does the individuality of the artist whose name stands out on the album go when there are so many other individualities involved?
  2. And why have many artists followed this path?

I already gave some tips above, so you should already be able to predict them. But, I'll explain it better:

Marketing and pop music mainstream

The changes in the ways of doing Marketing, felt from market analysis to the relationship with international pop music consumers, are the main turning point for this type of choice.

In recent years, it has been possible to notice a change in what people have been looking for: they no longer just want to feel the value, what music or whatever product has to offer their lives, but what their experience will be like with it. . They want to identify, human to human, and connect on a scale never seen before.

This has probably occurred due to changes in lifestyle habits. With technology, everything becomes easier and faster - from the dynamics in human relationships to dating apps to listening to music -, but on a large scale, this ease also makes everything seem superficial and almost worthless (in general, what is easy, not recognized). This is where the need for acceptance comes in, for making things deeper, for sincerity above ecstasy, as a form of compensation.

Is there anything more sincere than a song about a real situation or feeling, written by an independent composer on his guitar, in his own room? How many interventions are made in this type of music in order to make it more authentic? Maybe none.

This change of direction also affected the Marketing of large companies – relaxed speech, interaction with the public, the use of emojis to express emotions, as if the company were a natural person interacting with us. We see strong examples of this type of relationship in NuBank and Netflix's social media, support, and email communications. And to give you an idea, this was such a great public perception of need that the Curitiba City Hall website itself made strong use of this communication and positioning strategy a few years ago.

In international pop music, several indie artists brought intrinsic ideas, instruments, compositions and creative processes in order to give the tone of humanization unconsciously desired by the public. And many of them were severely disappointed when they realized that in such a large industry, the logic that applies is that of a corporation: the room becomes a large studio, the music on the guitar follows to the letter the path that long market research traces and the real situation or feeling becomes a profit-oriented strategy.

Visual albums themselves, which came back with a bang after “Beyoncé”, are a reaction to audiences’ need for immersive experiences and deep connections. And, although this all seems cold, it is also fantastic:

On the one hand, the manipulation of our inclination to purchase – something that has existed for decades and happens all the time; on the other, meeting a repressed demand in us for beautiful music and video clips and encouraging the audiovisual market – in waves, artists of all sizes are seeing the need for a good video clip to serve the markets, and this has had an impact on music itself Brazilian pop and audiovisual producers (see the quality of national music videos that have been released in recent years).

For us, independent musicians in the capital system: either we live utopia in small bars or we accept to be part of this chess game, looking for something bigger. But without losing hope and without stopping fighting for it, especially because Many indie artists have managed to combine satisfaction and mass dissemination of their work during their careers.

That's it, regardless of the choices in the backstage (and as long as the artist accepts to be part of it without feeling disposable), we still love listening to music that seems more natural, bold, unusual and creative. And you can send plastic/farofa music too! In the end, music is music. 💖