Here in our Brooklyn office, we have a tendency to… dismiss Top 40 pop music. It’s admittedly a bubble.

Many of our Jukely members are the same way. However, Top 40 pop is out there, and it’s popular for a reason. People like the songs. And full confession, I like some of the songs.

Of course, there are strategies to help other people diversify their music tastes, but they’re the majority and it’ll be a long while before they change their tastes.

Regardless as to whether you’re ready to admit that they’re kind of catchy or not, they’re certainly not going anywhere. So we’ve got to learn to live with the reality. And there’s a strategy to that that I’ve dubbed the Five Stages of Pop Music Acceptance after the Five Stages of Grief.

  1. Denial – Did Justin Bieber just drop the first single from his next album? Maybe this time it won’t be good. Wait, you know it won’t be good, but maybe this time people will realize it. It’ll be a long slow slide to irrelevance for Mr. Bieber. Hope he enjoys his retirement. Maybe he’ll move back to Canada! Maybe the world will replace him with [insert favorite obscure band here]. And maybe he’ll be joined by DJ Khaled, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, ………..
  2. Anger – It’s late and I can’t drive listening to NPR anymore. Let’s see what else is on… WHAT IS THIS CARLY RAE JEPSEN SONG DOING ON MY RADIO? It’s fine, it’s fine, I can just change the dial. *deep breath* *changes dial* HOW IS IT ON EVERY *changes dial* SINGLE *changes dial* STATION?! THIS SHOULDN’T EVEN BE POSSIBLE!!!
  3. Bargaining – Okay, how about this? Maybe we can strike a balance. Can we trade Shawn Mendes and Ed Sheeran for [insert slightly less obscure artist who you think is more popular than he/she/they actually is/are].  They sound like they’re Top 40-ish. Will they make you happy you unsophisticated masses?! (Worst bargaining ever.)
  4. Depression – it’s hopeless. people are addicted to terrible music. it’ll never change. the same music will be pumped into my ears by corporations for eternity. this is the end of civilized society. we won’t even use capital letters in this twisted dystopian world.
  5. Acceptance – Oh, I kind of like that song. Who’s it by? Wait, who? Really? Maybe this stuff isn’t so bad after all. Well, at least Chance the Rapper isn’t.

So, there you go! Let people like what they like. Just like they let you like what you like.  Maybe they can be convinced to listen to “better music” through music discovery, but it’s a process that has to come from a conciliatory and loving place. Welcome to the nirvana of pop music acceptance.

No, there aren’t unicorns in my fantasy world. Shut up.

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