September 9, 2023
Music HistoryMusic Industry

The Millennial Whoop: Continuing to Make Pop Music All Sound the Same

A lot of people complain about music today always sounding the same and there being no originality anymore. In reality, pop music has been that way for quite some time, with songwriters discovering what chord and note progressions that the mainstream population enjoys listening to and sticking to that. Listen to Axis of Awesome’s “4 Chords” for some proof.

Plus, let’s be real, a lot of music in general uses the same chord progression. Classical music used a lot of the same chord progressions up until the mid-to-late Romantic era when composers like Wagner started to throw some more interesting and dissonant chords into the mix of tonics, subdominants, and dominants. However, there is proof that pop songs have been losing diversity over the decades.

The latest trend in pop music, though, is a quite specific trope. From Quartz:

“The same exact whooping, melodic sequence has been showing up in a surprisingly high number of recent pop songs. The phenomenon was first noticed by musician and product manager Patrick Metzger”.

Metzger dubbed it “The Millennial Whoop” on his blog. Basically, it’s an alternating pattern, usually with eighth notes, between the fifth and third notes in a major scale. Commonly starting on the fifth, sometimes the pattern begins on the downbeat and other times on the upbeat. Often the singer uses a “wa-oh-wa-oh” pattern.

It really is obvious once you hear it. Quartz uses the example of Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Good Time”. The first instance is right at the [0:04] mark, but is also heard several other times throughout the song.

It’s also in Demi Lovato’s “Really Don’t Care” at [1:00].

Quartz does note that this phenomenon is not entirely new:

“While millennials may have popularized the whoop, it seems to have roots as far back as the 1980s, in songs like Morris Day and the Time’s ‘Jungle Love’ (0:38) and Baltimora’s ‘Tarzan Boy’ (1:44)”.

Here’s the list that Metzger and his commenters came up with, including the time where the whoop occurs:

If you have any more to add to the list, let us know!

Also, now I’m going to be hearing this everywhere, like I did with Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” after watching Rob Paravonian’s “Pachelbel Rant” on YouTube.

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