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What is The Pop Core?

The Pop Core is a primer in all things popular culture. We live in a post modern, pastiche, self-referential culture. It is hard to listen to music, watch television or watch films without experiencing direct or indirect cultural references. Whether it’s Star Wars borrowing scenes and icons from famous westerns, Mad Men’s opening sequence homage to Saul Bass or Lady Gaga’s complete impersonation of Madonna, if you aren’t familiar with the cultural past you are really only experiencing half of culture.

Having a grasp of popular culture used to be much easier. Growing up in the 1980s I had to understand Disco from the 70s, hippies of the 60s and happy days of the 50s and I could kind of get my head around most music that was out there. Of course, I quickly learned that music genres were much more nuanced than that, but those few temporal markers allowed me to build a framework of understanding to classify music as it was introduced to me. Today kids don’t have it quite as easy. For my daughter Kurt Cobain might as well be Elvis Presley. Trying to get your head around 6 or 7 decades of popular culture can be daunting.

The Pop Core started as a project to teach my daughter to appreciate good music.  Nearing teenage years, she began to be very aware of the popular (top 40) music. I wanted her to be exposed to more than that so that she could figure out what she liked and why. First I made playlists of music I liked, but after awhile I realized she was just liking what I liked and not really developing independent tastes. I started working on comprehensive playlists that would give her a broad survey of really good music. I figured if she listened to a range of early rock songs and decided that didn’t interest her, she could move on, but at least she would know who Buddy Holly was and could hear his influence in later music. On the other hand, if she did like the music the list would give her a broad enough exposure that she could easily explore more of that type of music with me or by herself.

As my lists developed I start to think of them less about what I liked or what I considered the best music and more as a core of music and artists that still have cultural significance. The music in these lists still have influence in today’s musical scene.

Let me know if you have any , questions or ideas.