Is all Rock also Pop, or is there overlap?

This post got me wondering: “Rock Book: Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop” (I’d link to it, but it’s near-impossible on an iPhone).

So, if you drew a Venn diagram of Rock and Pop, would Rock be a smaller circle entirely enclosed within a larger circle of Pop, or would the two be overlapping circles?

My first thought would be that they are overlapping. Rock and Pop are similar in the sense that they both usually are songs of a few minutes each, consisting of a few verses, repeating chorus and sometimes a bridge. But I think of Pop to be “softer”, more hook-heavy and generally more facile and accessible (it’s short for “popular” after all), whereas Rock is harder-edged and not necessarily trying to appeal to the widest, lowest-common-denominator audience. I don’t think Punk Rock or Death Metal could be considered Pop. I think early Beatles fit in the Pop category but not The White Album, or anything by Led Zeppelin. Or could it? It was certainly “popular”.

So what do you think- Rock as a subset of all Pop, or overlapping entities?

Definitely overlapping entities. There is rock that definitely isn’t pop (like much of the aforementioned punk and metal), and rock that definitely is pop influenced, and some easily accessible rock that is nonetheless not that much influenced by pop as a genre and so is difficult to classify as pop or not (a lot of hair metal and popular grunge, for instance.)

Yeah, this is one of those question where you ask two people, you’ll get three answers. I use the term “pop” very loosely, and, for me, all rock would be a subset of “pop.” But there are people who argue whether, say, the Beatles were rock or pop who consider pop to be more like the softer side of rock or whatnot. I just try to avoid the term altogether.

IMHO, “Pop,” like “Classical,” can be used in a broad or a narrow sense. In its broad sense, Classical Music encompasses everything from before Bach to beyond Stravinsky, but in its narrow sense, it refers to the particular era and style of Mozart and Haydn. Likewise, in its broad sense, Pop Music encompasses many popular genres, including rock, but there’s also a more narrow meaning that’s probably along the lines of what the OP is referring to. (But it’s also era-dependent. The White Album’s “Honey Pie,” for example, would certainly be pop, but pop of an earlier era.)

Maybe not in their pure forms, but there do exist Pop-Punk and Pop-Metal (if not Pop-Death-Metal) that are like the “real thing” but more catchy and accessible.

I like the Venn approach. Overlapping, but neither circle including the other. There are many other circles in that diagram, too. Almost every genre I ever heard of has some intersect points with Rock in at least one of its guises. Same for Pop. Too broad as category names to mean all that much stand-alone.

For instance, in my opinion anyway, there’s at least as much overlap with either Pop or Rock as there is between the two of them in any of these types of music:

New Age

… the list goes on…

I prefer the term pop/rock. A simple way out of this.

Right, however, in my opinion, pop-punk is not necessarily pop despite having pop in its name (I don’t know enough stuff described as pop-metal to have an opinion on it.)

To me, the “pop” in pop-punk describes the popularity and accessibility rather than the genre. However, there is also pop-punk that is also pop, for instance some stuff by All American Rejects and All Time Low, because they are influenced by the pop genre. And by the “pop genre” I mean a focus on singing melody and percussive groove with very little heavy guitar.

I’d have to agree with overlap, but plenty of area in both that doesn’t fall into the overlap.

There’s lots of rock out there that’s based on the idea of being in conflict with the audience. That’s not very poppy. Similarly, there’s pop out there that was originally created in order to fill some urge of the artist unrelated to it’s pop sound. I think that gets to be pop, but overlaps other styles, too.

There’s always musicians making music with an avant garde bent. This music certainly doesn’t fall under pop (though often the things they experiment with will find its way into pop music in a few years).

This avant garde type stuff usually gets lumped in with rock, because to pop audiences its loud and noisy and strange, but I personally wouldn’t be opposed to the idea that its neither rock nor pop.

But “Swing” is a subset of “Jazz,” specifically the larger ensembles of the 1930s into the early '40s. Fletcher Henderson, Count Basie, Jimmie Lunceford, Benny Goodman bands, for example. Although there were great small-group swing musicians, like the John Kirby Sextet, the Nat King Cole Trio, and the Artie Shaw Gramercy Five, who specialized in chamber jazz.

And since “Swing” was the predominant form of popular music at that time, so it was also “Pop,” and the last time in history that “Pop” was “Jazz.”

Oh, God. Hats off to Charlie Parker for saying “…it’s all just music, man.”

Once again I find an occasion to link to which is by no means complete but which serves as a reminder of how fine you can slice things – Charlie Parker notwithstanding! :smiley:

Hmm…according to that music “master genre list”, pop appears to be a subset of rock, not the other way around.

Pop is just short for popular. I’m not getting how you could say “pop” is a genre as the word it’self is just a descriptor OF a particular genre.

What am I missing here? Pop and Rock are categories based on different criteria; they can and do overlap. But it is kind of like how the groups “Trees” and “Stuff in the Pacific Northwest” overlap.

  • Pop = Music on the Charts.
  • Rock = A category of Music that can end up on the Charts. Characterized as a blend of blues/R&B/country/gospel/folk, etc., typically guitar-based, with a backbeat and with some danger.

Now, on an evolutionary basis, folks have come to understand the attributes that typically help a song land on the Pop charts. Beats, verse/chorus structure, melodic hooks galore, etc. So any subgenre can have a Pop subcategory if they applies those characteristics with their music style. Pop Rock, ElectroPop, Pop/Hair Metal - in “classical” genres you have those Pop attempts, like Bond the hottie string quartet who Pop-ifies their stuff, or Il Divo, Simon Cowell’s opera boy band.

Pop is trans-genre. You can have Pop Rock, Pop R&B, Pop Country, etc. Back in his day, Mozart was considered the equivalent of what we call “Pop” now.

Quite so! There’s not even a Pop category! :frowning: Something’s screwy here and I’m curious if there’s been a serious attempt to bring this old list up to date. Best I can tell, this was archived as much as a decade ago.

ETA: There’s at least


I do think that pop can be somehow qualified as a genre, with it’s own characteristics, like the emphasis on a chorus.

I define “pop” as music that’s easy to listen to, that’s intended for the broadest of audiences, and there’s lots and lots of rock that is intended primarily for trained ears. Yet pop at the same time does rely on a set of conventions that are true of any tune that sounds poppy from any genre. the Stones are a blues/ rock band, yet a lot of their songs take a more pop structure.

So, overlapping.

Not really. He was more like the death metal of classical music, with a set of highly devoted fans and a lot of infuriated purists who hated him.

I’m not so sure about that. I’m tempted to say that pop music is necessarily a phenomenon of the era of broadcast and recorded music.