I see pop music as an extension of folk music. The term "folk" just means people and it's simply music that is performed by and for "common folk."
Pop music generally has the following characteristics:
- Pop is readily embraced by a broad range of people, often by those who are new to the genre. It quickly crosses cultures and crosses over with other forms of pop music. In other words, it has an inherent appeal.
- Pop songs are almost always short, and employ a catchy chorus to anchor the song.
- Pop lyrics generally speak to the everyday experiences and concerns of the artist making the music.
- Pop is accessible and inspires a broad range of listeners to become artists themselves.
For me, the question is not "What is pop?", but rather, "What is NOT
pop music?" To my mind, classical music is probably the biggest example. While it is true that classical music is popular music (especially in past centuries, and in movies), calling it pop really says nothing about the music other than how many people listen to it. It would also be denying that there is a pattern and that classical music clearly falls outside of this pattern that is shared by what is commonly referred to as "pop" music.See question on Quora