Ongoing History Daily: “Pop” music

Here’s a question: why do we call it “pop” music?

A little research suggests that the world was first used in 1949 in an article in a defunct British music paper called Melody Maker. It was deep in a gossip column item on big band leader Benny Goodman, which referred to him as a “consulting director of pop music” on (for whatever reason Russian language radio programs.)

The word really caught in 1953 and 1954 when 7-inch 45 rpm records really started to take hold in the marketplace. Albums were for adults; singles were for kids. By this time, there were several charts keeping track of the best-selling singles. These charts kept track of “popular” music–or “pop music” for short.

The last Ongoing History Daily post had something to do with a really interesting album offer.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Ongoing History Daily: “Pop” music

  • June 17, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    I’m pretty sure it goes back further than that. I think it was originally used to differentiate between “serious” classical music, and that played for the masses at the matinees.


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