What Does ‘POP’ Stand for in Music?

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


If you’re a music lover, you’ve probably heard the term “POP” used to describe different genres of music. But what does “POP” actually stand for?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of the term “POP” and how it’s used to describe different types of music today. We’ll also provide some examples of popular songs in each genre so you can see for yourself how the term is used.


‘POP’ is a term used in the music industry to describe popular music. It is usually a genre of popular music that has a catchy tune and is easy to sing along to. The term ‘POP’ can also be used to describe a style of music that is popular at a particular time or place.

Origins of the Term

The term “pop music” was first used in British English in the late 1940s, specifically to describe records in the 78rpm format. The exact etymology of the term is uncertain, but it is thought to be derived from either “popular” or “populist”. In American English, the term “pop music” evolved into what is now known as “contemporary pop music” or simply “pop”.

The origins of pop music can be traced back to the late 19th century, when a form of popular music called “light classical” or “light opera” became popular in Europe and North America. This genre was a mix of classical music and popular songs, and was often performed in dance halls and theatres. Light opera quickly lost favour with the general public when it was replaced by more versatile and innovative forms of popular music, such as jazz and blues.

In the mid-20th century, as television and radio became more common household items, pop music began to be disseminated more widely and evenly across social classes. This helped to create a stronger sense of shared identity among listeners, and made pop music an increasingly important part of mainstream culture. Today, pop music is enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life. It remains one of the most popular genres of music in the world.

The Meaning of the Term

The music industry is full of acronyms and abbreviations, and “POP” is one of the most commonly used. But what does “POP” stand for in music?

There are actually a few different meanings for the term “POP,” all of which are used frequently in the music industry.

1. “POP” can refer to any genre of popular music. This is the most common usage of the term, and it simply means that a particular song or artist is popular with the general public.

2. “POP” can also refer to the actual sound of a particular song or artist. In this sense, “POP” music is usually characterized by having a catchy melody and/or a heavy beat that is easy to dance to.

3. “POP” can also be used as an abbreviation for “popular.” This usage is most common in the world of fans and critics, who will often refer to a particular song or artist as being “POPular” (i.e., popular with them).

So, there you have it! The next time you hear someone use the term “POP,” now you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about.

The Use of the Term

The term “POP” is used in a variety of different ways within the music industry. In general, “POP” refers to popular music that is accessible and catchy, often with a strong commercial element. However, the term can also be used to refer to specific genres or subgenres of pop music.

Some people might use the term “POP” to refer to any popular music, regardless of genre. Others might use it specifically to refer to pop music that is charting or commercially successful. Some people might even use the term pejoratively, to describe music that they think is too mainstream or formulaic.

At its core, “POP” is a general term that can be used in a variety of ways. Whether you’re using it to describe a specific genre of music, or simply referring to any popular music, the term can be helpful in understanding the vast landscape of popular music.

The Impact of the Term

First used in the early 1950s, the term “popular music” became common by the mid-1960s, when radio stations were quick to adopt it as a way of describing the new wave of rock and roll that was beginning to emerge. By the 1970s, “popular music” had become a catch-all phrase for anything that was popular at the moment, regardless of genre or style. Today, “popular music” is still used as a broad term to describe mainstream chart hits, but it has also come to be associated with certain subgenres, such as pop rock and pop punk.


In conclusion, “POP” can mean different things in different genres of music. In general, however, the term is used to describe popular music that is catchy and easy to listen to. Thanks for reading!

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