Rock and Pop: One Pointless Comparison vs Two Equally Amazing Genres (2023)

Rock and Pop: One Pointless Comparison vs Two Equally Amazing Genres (1)


Some minor research on the basic differences between rock and pop will leave you with some evasive opinions and lots of confusion. Most of the answers don’t differentiate between pop music and “popular music.” Answers on rock music come with a ton of time-consuming history and lots of names. If that wasn’t enough, rock music is considered to be better than pop music. Is this comparison necessary and is it really true?

To cut through all of the confusion, this article will discuss the basic differences and characteristics of the genres and prove that both are equally important, necessary, and enjoyable.

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Pop Music and Rock Music are Sub Genres of Popular Music – What?

Several dictionaries and establishments have tried to define the genres but have failed to capture them precisely because of the eclectic nature of both styles of music. One thing that confuses most people⏤be prepared for this mindbender⏤both pop music and rock music are sub-genres of popular music, but “pop” in pop music is also short for “popular.”1 Yes, you read that right; it’s really confusing, but this explanation should clear things up a bit.

Any music that appeals to a wide audience is categorized as “popular music.”2 The terms pop and popular are not supposed to be used interchangeably as popular music is a larger category, like classical and folk music, and similarly, several other sub-genres fall under the category, such as the bules, jazz, rock’N’roll, pop, country, etc.3

What are the Basic Differences Between Pop Music and Rock Music?

While there is no difference between the themes of the songs, most issues, experiences, emotions, etc., are covered more deeply in rock music when compared to the lighter, more moderate approach of pop music. You can pick a theme and easily find songs based on it in both genres with varying intensity and depth.

This is also why pop music has a wider audience. Pop songs just skim the surface of most issues and don’t engage their listeners more seriously. It has a broader audience since most people are just mildly aware and slightly interested in everything, and only have a few interests or issues that they take seriously depending on their personal experiences. When it comes to rock music, the themes go beyond the surface level and go a bit deeper, making the music appealing to a more specific audience, which also means fewer listeners compared to pop music.4

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What is Rock Music?

Rock music is usually performed by a group of music artists, and it is called a rock band. The genre is also well known for its use of instruments to create raw, expressive music. The creativity and artistic expression of the band members is usually prioritized more than the monetary aspects of the music business. Some other characteristics of this genre are as follows.

Instruments are just as important as the singer, if not more, in this genre. The guitar, bass, and drums are almost always a part of rock music. Electric guitars are the instruments that are most commonly associated with rock bands, and the bass is focused on playing the simple notes that are fundamental to rock music. Drums provide a steady beat that supports the other instruments and add impact to the sound of rock music.5

Rock music usually follows the 4/4 time signature aka the “common time,” as it is the most frequently used time signature. It refers to the rhythm of the song and the count of the musician’s strumming. Songs with a 4/4 time signature have 4 beats per bar or segment.6

Rock music has used the verse-chorus form in its songs since the 1960s. The verse/chorus structure is built around two repeating sections, comprising of the chorus and the verse. The most memorable parts of the melody are added to the chorus. The chorus is usually repeated several times throughout the song and has the same lyrics. The verses have different lyrics and are added between the chorus repetitions.

Rock music has lots of lyrical hooks or catchy phrases. These are found usually in the title of the song and are a part of the chorus or appear near the chorus most of the time.

Rock music is usually performed by a band, which is a group of artists. Each member possesses a musical talent or skill. Some members are good at playing instruments such as electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboard, etc., and others may have vocal skills necessary for singing.7

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What is Pop Music?

Pop music is known to be commercial and it caters to societal trends and their collective experiences. This genre is usually focused on vocals and is therefore often represented by solo artists. Here are some other characteristics of the genre.

Pop music prioritizes catchiness over deeper meaning.4 The songs are composed based on a tried and tested method called the “pop-music formula,” which gives the songs a good rhythm with a catchy melody and lyrics that make it easy to sing along. The chorus is usually repeated several times with two or more verses.8

Pop artists are usually solo performers, however if it is a pop music band, almost all of the group members are usually skilled vocalists and prefer singing over playing any instruments.7

Pop music is usually entertaining, light-hearted, and focused on easy listening.9 The genre rarely ventures beyond its dance-oriented themes as it is not meant to engage our minds with serious progressive issues or developments. It is mostly focused on revenue and there are several decision makers when it comes to the creative process of the artists, along with the artistic expression and impression of the final product on the market.10

These details should be more than enough to understand how both genres have their place and an audience. Moreover, most of us are drawn to more than one genre depending on our mental state, the occasion, or our circumstances. Sometimes we want to dive deep into emotions and prefer genres like rock, but sometimes when we need a break, we need fun music like pop.

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1. What is the difference between rock and pop music? (2006, January 21). The Times of India. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from
2. Popular Music Genres | Vocabulary | EnglishClub. (n.d.). English Club. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from
3. List of Music Terms | Vocabulary | EnglishClub. (n.d.). English Club. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from
4. McCall, I. (2021, December 16). Pop Vs. Rock: Which One is Better? – Music Voices. Medium. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from
5. THEWORDMAN, T. W. M. (2021, February 12). The Elements that make Rock Music Rock Music. HubPages. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from
6. Rock Music Characteristics That Make Music (2022 UPDATED). (2022, April 4). Gemtracks Beats. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from
7. Rock and Pop. (2011, February 21). Difference Between. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from
8. What is Pop Music? | Vocabulary | EnglishClub. (n.d.). English Club. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from,and%20two%20or%20more%20verses.
9. Rojek, C. (2011). Pop Music, Pop Culture (1st ed.) [E-book]. Polity. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from
10. Warner, T. (2003). Pop Music: Technology and Creativity: Trevor Horn and the Digital Revolution [E-book]. Ashgate Publishing. Retrieved May 12, 2022, from

Music, World of Music


What is the similarity and differences between pop and rock music? ›

1. Pop music focuses on vocals and beat while rock focuses mainly on instruments like bass and guitar. 2. Pop music's basic elements have not evolved much like rock which has evolved into sub genres.

Do you think that pop and popular music are two different genres? ›

Although popular music sometimes is known as "pop music", the two terms are not interchangeable. Popular music is a generic term for a wide variety of genres of music that appeal to the tastes of a large segment of the population, whereas pop music usually refers to a specific musical genre within popular music.

What is the Differnece between rock and pop? ›

The genre of rock is broad, and its boundaries loosely-defined, with distantly related genres sometimes included. Pop music, in popular and contemporary parlance, is a sub-genre of popular music.

What is the difference between different types of music? ›

A music genre or subgenre may be defined by the musical techniques, the cultural context, and the content and spirit of the themes. Geographical origin is sometimes used to identify a music genre, though a single geographical category will often include a wide variety of subgenres.

What makes pop music different from other genres? ›

Pop music grew out of a light entertainment/ easy listening tradition. Pop music is more conservative than other music genres such as folk, blues, country, and tradition. Many pop songs do not contain themes of resistance, opposition, or political themes, rather focusing more on love and relationships.

What is the difference between pop music and normal music? ›

Popular music is a style of music that is popular with the general public., while pop music is a specific type of popular music that has a certain sound or style. Pop music is often defined by its catchy hooks and melodic choruses, which are intended to appeal to a wide range of listeners.

What are 3 characteristics of pop music? ›

Songs that become hits almost always share certain features that are sometimes called the pop-music formula. They have a good rhythm, a catchy melody, and are easy to remember and sing along to. They usually have a chorus that's repeated several times and two or more verses.

What are the two most popular genres of music? ›

Pop is the most popular music genre worldwide, whereas hip-hop/R&B dominates the US market. Pop is the most favorite music genre for gym-goers, but most personal records are broken while listening to hip-hop/rap music. Hip-hop is the most popular music genre among listeners aged 12-35.

Why do people listen to pop music? ›

Why do people like pop music? Pop music usually has an engaging rhythm, repetitive lyrics, and an approachable musical style that is easy to sing-along. The ability to sing along is key for a lot of people who like to listen to lively music in the car while commuting and are basically killing time.

What makes rock music different from other genres? ›

Rock music is defined by rhythm, not melody. Rock is in 4/4 time with the heavy beats being 2 and 4. Rock and roll in the '50s has exactly this in common with all of your "sub-genres" that you consider to be "rock" today. It's that simple.

Is pop or rock more popular? ›

Leading music genres according to consumers in the United States as of May 2018
CharacteristicShare of respondents
R&B and Soul38.9%
9 more rows
8 Jan 2021

Why are pop rocks so good? ›

The release of trapped carbon dioxide trapped in the Pop Rocks is ultimately what causes them to pop and fizz when they're exposed to the heat and moisture in your mouth. Basically, Pop Rocks are just as cool as you thought they were.

What are the 4 types of musical? ›

Four basic types of musical forms are distinguished in ethnomusicology: iterative, the same phrase repeated over and over; reverting, with the restatement of a phrase after a contrasting one; strophic, a larger melodic entity repeated over and over to different strophes (stanzas) of a poetic text; and progressive, in ...

What are the 7 different popular music? ›

Popular Music Genres
  • Blues Music.
  • Jazz Music.
  • Rhythm and Blues Music.
  • Rock and Roll Music.
  • Rock Music.
  • Country Music.
  • Soul Music.
  • Dance Music.

Why do humans like different types of music? ›

People like different music for many different reasons, including their upbringing and culture, what mood they're in, and what the music reminds them of.

What genre is pop similar to? ›

Pop music. A genre of popular music that originated in the West during the 1950s and 1960s. Pop music is eclectic, often borrowing elements from urban, dance, rock, Latin, country, and other styles. Songs are typically short to medium-length with repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and hooks.

Why does pop music continue to remain powerful today? ›

Rhythms make us sing along and dance with the lyrics and beats of the music. Also, Pop Music usually repeats its patterns, rhythms, and lyrics as well because most of the songs revolve around the same themes and topics. All this makes Pop a popular genre among all.

What defines the pop genre? ›

Definition & Meaning. Pop music is a very broad term that describes music that is popular in the mainstream. The term “pop” refers to all kinds of genres, such as rock, country, rap, etc., but it generally has a catchy melody and lyrics.

Why is pop music so unique? ›

Pop Music Is Catchy and Easy to Remember

This makes it perfect for listening on the go or while doing other activities. In addition, pop music is often designed to be simple and straightforward, so you don't have to spend a lot of time puzzling over the lyrics or trying to understand what they mean.

Is pop music really a genre? ›

Yes, pop is a genre. Although it may seem as though no artist truly belongs under the pop umbrella, many well-known artists create pop music that adopts traits of the genres they root from.

What is the biggest fundamental difference between pop music and classical music what does it mean? ›

One key difference is that much of the classical repertoire was composed for societies influential and wealthy classes whereas popular music is written specifically for mass consumption.

What are the 3 main elements to music? ›

Virgil Thomson lists the "raw materials" of music in order of their supposed discovery: rhythm, melody, and harmony; including counterpoint and orchestration. Near the end of the twentieth century music scholarship began to give more attention to social and physical elements of music.

What is rock music characteristics? ›

Rock 'n' roll is a popular music genre that combines elements of rhythm and blues (R&B), jazz, and country music with the addition of electric instruments. Originally associated with youth revolt and transgression, the genre is known for energetic performances, catchy melodies, and often insightful lyrics.

What are 5 characteristics that identify Pop Art? ›

In this article we will define the characteristics of pop art, including everyday imagery, a merging of fine art with popular culture, a criticism of consumerism, bold colors, the use of pulp culture, humor, appropriation, repetition, monumental imagery, and regional differences.

What is the greatest music genre of all time? ›

The Top 10 Music Genres
  • Rock. Otherwise known as 'Rock & Roll,' rock music has been a popular genre since the early 1950s. ...
  • Jazz. Identifiable with blues and swing notes, Jazz has origins in European and West African culture. ...
  • Electronic Dance Music. ...
  • Dubstep. ...
  • Techno. ...
  • Rhythm and Blues (R&B) ...
  • Country. ...
  • Pop.

What are the 2 most important elements of music? ›

Next to Rhythm, the element of Melody is quite important. Often referred to as the “tune,” the melody is what you can “hum” or “sing. “ A skillfully crafted melody has the power to “stay in your head” for a long time. Therefore, it is safe to say; the melody is the most memorable of the elements of music.

What is the number 2 music genre in the world? ›

Deserving of its name, pop music is in fact the most popular music genre in the world. According to IFPI's latest Music Consumer Insight Report, 64 percent of the 19,000 consumers from 18 countries surveyed listen to pop music, edging out rock and dance/electronic music as the second and third most popular genres.

How pop music affects the brain? ›

Pop. Those who are fans of pop music are said to have high self-esteem and an outgoing attitude. This is because pop music is a stimulant that gets your blood pumping and emotions racing. When you listen to pop music, the auditory cortex relays the rhythmic beat to the brain, making you want to sing and dance.

What does pop music say about your personality? ›

Pop. Extroverted, honest, and conventional. Although pop music lovers were hardworking and had high self-esteem, researchers suggest that they are less creative and more uneasy than those enamored by other musical styles.

Why are pop songs so addictive? ›

According to the musician, pop music is inherently popular because it creates a sense of familiarity for listeners. Therefore, when they hear the same 'woop' throughout the genre, they're more inclined to ease into a piece of music they've never heard because it sounds familiar.

Why is it difficult to define rock music? ›

The difficulty of definition

Dictionary definitions of rock are problematic, not least because the term has different resonance in its British and American usages (the latter is broader in compass). There is basic agreement that rock “is a form of music with a strong beat,” but it is difficult to be much more explicit.

How does rock music make you feel? ›

It is easy to think of rock music as being angry and aggressive, but new research suggests that listening to hard rock could actually make you happier and healthier. Even heavy metal, which we associate with rage and mayhem, can provide balm for the soul and turn a bad mood into a positive one.

What genres are similar to rock? ›

Much like indie and punk, this genre born from rock could equally have its own article dedicated to it, where the many forms it takes includes thrash metal, gothic metal, speed metal, progressive metal, black metal, glam metal, death metal, industrial metal and even christian metal.

Are The Beatles more pop or rock? ›

The band's music is widely considered to be categorized as rock with elements of classical music and traditional pop; their albums have influenced the way people make music today.

What is the most popular music today? ›

Today's Top Hits
  • Unholy (feat. Kim Petras)Sam Smith, Kim Petras.
  • Anti-HeroTaylor Swift.
  • Made You LookMeghan Trainor.
  • As It WasHarry Styles.
  • CUFF ITBeyoncé
  • Rich FlexDrake, 21 Savage.
  • Calm Down (with Selena Gomez)Rema, Selena Gomez.
  • Tití Me PreguntóBad Bunny.

What is the most popular music genre 2022? ›

Mid-Year 2022: Hip-Hop's Still the Top Genre But Latin & World Music Are Making Gains. "Encanto," Bad Bunny and K-Pop fueled surges for different genres, though the established order remains in place.

Is it true that if you eat Pop Rocks and soda? ›

While neither you nor your stomach will explode when you digest Pop Rocks and soda, the excess amount of gas in your stomach will need to be released. So be prepared to burp…a lot! Now's your turn to submit a myth. Fill out our form and let us know what myth you want to see busted.

Are Pop Rocks just sugar? ›

Pop Rocks, also called popping candy, is a candy, owned by Zeta Espacial S.A. Pop Rocks ingredients include sugar, lactose (milk sugar), and flavoring. It differs from typical hard candy in that pressurized carbon dioxide gas bubbles are embedded inside of the candy, creating a small popping reaction when it dissolves.

Can Pop Rocks get you high? ›

In terms of recreational cannabis users, pop rocks have also been reported to give a high within 30 minutes of consumption. This is evidence of THC absorption through the mouth.

What are the 5 classifications of music? ›

They are:
  • Idiophones: Sound is produced by the body of the instrument. ...
  • Membranophones: A tightly stretched membrane produces sounds. ...
  • Chordophones: Sound is produced by the vibration of a string. ...
  • Aerophones: vibrating air produces sound. ...
  • Electrophones: electrification or amplification produce sound.

What are the 6 musical forms? ›

Common forms in Western music
  • Strophic form.
  • Medley or "chain" form.
  • Binary form.
  • Ternary form.
  • Rondo form.
  • Variational form.
  • Sonata-allegro form.

What is the least popular genre of music? ›

Some of the least popular music genres include death metal, free jazz, and avant-garde classical.

What do all popular songs have in common? ›

Popular songs typically have followed a verse-and-chorus organization. Song structure becomes more complex with the addition of bridges, intros and outros, pre- and post-choruses, and instrumental solo sections.

What are the five most popular songs of all time? ›

Top 10 Best Songs of All Time
  • 1 Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen. ...
  • 2 Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin. ...
  • 3 Imagine - John Lennon. ...
  • 4 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana. ...
  • 5 One - Metallica. ...
  • 6 Hotel California - Eagles. ...
  • 7 Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd. ...
  • 8 Hey Jude - The Beatles.

What music taste says about intelligence? ›

A preference for instrumental music indicates higher intelligence, research finds. People who like ambient music, smooth jazz, film soundtracks, classical music and similar genres without vocals tend to have higher IQs.

What we call a person who loves music? ›

melomaniac (plural melomaniacs) One with an abnormal fondness of music; a person who loves music. [

Does music taste change with age? ›

Research shows that musical tastes shift as we age are in line with key "life challenges." Teenage years were defined by "intense" music, then early adulthood by "contemporary" and "mellow" as the search for close relationships increases, with "sophisticated" and "unpretentious" allowing us to project status and family ...

Is pop rock and rock the same? ›

Pop rock music is the intersection of mainstream pop music with rock music, which is often driven by guitars and drums. The term "pop" can refer to all sorts of popular music, including hip-hop, country, R&B, bubblegum pop, jangle pop, folk, singer-songwriter, K-Pop, and kids music.

What are some similarities and differences between rock and hip-hop music? ›

Rock and Rap music are two very popular genres. Both feature loud, amplified music, and lyrics that can be vulgar, tasteful, and have an impact on one's life. Rock focuses more on guitar, drums, and singing, unlike rap with its fast talking slang sung over a drum & bass beat.

What is pop music similar to? ›

Definition & Meaning. Pop music is a very broad term that describes music that is popular in the mainstream. The term “pop” refers to all kinds of genres, such as rock, country, rap, etc., but it generally has a catchy melody and lyrics.

Is pop rock and rock and roll the same? ›

Originating in the late 1950s as an alternative to normal rock and roll, early pop rock was influenced by the beat, arrangements, and original style of rock and roll (and sometimes doo-wop). It may be viewed as a distinct genre field rather than music that overlaps with pop and rock.

Which is more popular rock or pop? ›

Data from Nielsen Music regarding the US market last year shows that rock music claimed 29% of total consumption across album and track purchases as well as streaming platforms. Pop was responsible 14.9% of consumption, with R&B/hip-hop taking 17.2% and dance music ('EDM') claiming 3.4%.

Is Bohemian Rhapsody rock or pop? ›

"Bohemian Rhapsody" has been affiliated to the genres of progressive rock (sometimes called symphonic rock), hard rock, art rock, and progressive pop.

Is Taylor Swift rock or pop? ›

Taylor Swift is an American pop and country music singer-songwriter.

What do rock and rap have in common? ›

Both are loud and provocative — visually and thematically. From a cultural lens, rap and rock similarly began as something to be feared: each genre began in the Black community, “threatening” white suburban parents. Because of this, both genres have been adopted by rebellious youth aiming to uproot the establishment.

What separates hip hop from other genres? ›

Hip Hop records are not made like other genres. In Rock, Pop, Jazz, etc., the song and the production are sculpted within the same framework. In Hip Hop the production is often made well before the song is ever imagined.

How is hip hop different from rock? ›

Rock is more on electric guitars accompanied by heavy drums (usually double pedal drums) and for others it produced noise rather than music. While Hip hop on the other hand has cool music that includes beat boxing behind the rapping.

Why is pop music so special? ›

Pop Music Is Catchy and Easy to Remember

This makes it perfect for listening on the go or while doing other activities. In addition, pop music is often designed to be simple and straightforward, so you don't have to spend a lot of time puzzling over the lyrics or trying to understand what they mean.

Why do so many people like pop music? ›

Why do people like pop music? Pop music usually has an engaging rhythm, repetitive lyrics, and an approachable musical style that is easy to sing-along. The ability to sing along is key for a lot of people who like to listen to lively music in the car while commuting and are basically killing time.

Is Miley Cyrus rock or pop? ›

Miley Ray Cyrus (/ˈmaɪli ˈsaɪrəs/ MY-lee SY-rəs; born Destiny Hope Cyrus on November 23, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Known for her distinctive raspy voice, her music incorporates elements of varied styles and genres, including pop, country pop, hip hop, experimental, and rock.

Who invented pop music? ›

The first stirrings of popular or pop music—any genre of music that appeals to a wide audience or subculture—began in the late 19th century, with discoveries by Thomas Edison and Emile Berliner.


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