Like most genres of music, it can be hard to nail down any specific characteristics that apply to all pop music, although songs can tend to follow the same basic blueprint.
If artists continue to push the boundaries of the fields they are working in, then the specifics can become blurred. Genres are arbitrary and broad categories of music types.
However, pop music is the biggest genre and incorporates the aspects of a variety of other music types:
- Aims to appeal to a wide audience, rather than any subculture or ideology.
- Verse-chorus song structure.
- Recording and production is considered more important than live performance.
- Usually around 3 minutes in duration.
- Dance orientated rhythms.
- Attempts to follow current pop culture trends.
- Focus on melodies and catchy hooks.
- Chorus usually contrasts melodically and rhythmically with the verse.
Pop music is produced for the lowest common denominator, and to appeal to the broadest-possible audience. It's sole purpose is selling records, and not artistic merit or integrity - which can lead to bland, soulless music.
Also, and unlike other popular genres of music, pop music is generally provided from above by multi-million dollar record labels, and is not produced by people playing in their garage. It thus lacks any form of DIY aesthetic.