Redefining “POP” – Music that you won’t hear on the radio (but should!)

Michael Buono – “Hero”
-Listen to the spoken word in the opening of this track. Buono is explaining how he wrote the song in so many words. I dig the nostalgic elements of the track. Something about it reminds me of a guy I love on YouTube called Mike Tompkins. Buono’s got that same kind of uptempo positive vibes driving a good, classic pop tune.

East of June – “I can’t feel it”
-Take a dash of synth, some funky guitars, and a quality lead vocal and you’ll come away with a sound that feels like a mashup of the last forty years of music. This is East of June, a dynamic pop genre blending sound that feels like big hair and a fun night out. The lyrics even feel like that vintage late 80s vibe for some reason. Get these upbeat but bluesy pop vibes in your playlist.

Michael Barrow and the Tourists – “No Such Thing (As Getting Over You)”
-If you’re looking for some pretty straightforward pop rock, give this track a spin. The energy is there. You can tell this band has spent some time learning classics from bands like Springsteen’s E-Street Band. The full sound is balanced and sounds ready to get the crowd rocking (and drinking). Dig on this pop rock track for more optimistic vibes and bluesy lyrics.

Neon Dreams – “Turn Back Now”
-If pop music means positive vibes and a danceable vibe to you, you’ll definitely get a kick out of this track from Neon Dreams. I love the beat, the lyrics, and the overall flavor. It feels like warm days and cruising with friends for some reason. Any track I can listen to that gives me flashbacks of 20 years ago (wow how old AM I?) is definitely making it onto my playlist. Dig it!

Shade – “Brain Suck”
-The members of Shade are probably writing a strongly worded email in response to me putting their music on a “POP” list. They are clearly an alt rock band in the vein of that good, dark rock that dominated the charts in the early 90s. But that’s exactly my point! If this track “Brain Suck” from Shade got massive airplay on pop radio, people would love it. The melancholy turns in the lyrics and chord structure work perfect. I feel like I need a hackysack and a hemp necklace. Let’s go!

Jake Isaac – “New York”
-If you’re looking for a quality vocal that commands a room, put Jake Isaac on your radar. He is an exceptionally talented singer. He sings these lines about a lost love in New York with significant depth. It’s pop meets soul, with blues at its core. I appreciate the throwback sincerity of this track. It’s one of those songs that could have been a hit in the 50s, but with some updated mixing and instrumentation, is every bit a viable pop song in the 21st century as well.

Mute Choir – “Shadowboxing”
-The energy of this track really pulled me in from first listen. I can’t quite put my finger on a specific element that makes it stand out, but the overall vibe just hits me right. I’m a huge fan of the way the vocals are mixed here. If you weren’t in the mood to get moving, this track will do it for you. Perfect for a workout playlist or just for some “let’s go” vibes for that mid-afternoon work grind.

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