I don't know anymore. People have so diverse tastes these days. 10 years ago it was almost unheard of people liking both hard core and dance music, so you had to choose. Those who didn't choose had to go with whatever the major record labels spoon fed them at any given moment.
Also what is pop music these days anyway? There are many talented pop artist which isn't that very popular. For instance Santigold.
I agree that much of the music backed by major labels are sort of speculative when it comes to riding on the waves of something they sense are particularly popular at the time, such as dub-step in recent memory, and that that of course has to do with the desire to earn money. But I also think it arise from the fact that those artists that they push get to pick and choose from the top shelf when it comes to producers and other techs. People with often immense talent and broad experience.
Whether the artists who rely on such extensive assistance are expressive themselves, I think it depends. I consider Nicki Minaj very expressive, in creating a character at least. She's kind of like a punch in the face for all those work for the cause of gender neutrality, to which girls shouldn't be portrayed in a dolled up manner in any way. Still I think she looks absolutely ridiculous.
I think it is different with every artist and song. There certainly is dubstep that is artistically expressed, almost all rock, a lot of screamo is, country is, so is most rap.
I'd have to say it depends on what pop music you are listening to. I don't think Nicki Minaj is artistically expressing herself at all. However Elton John did and he was pop. So it truly depends. In my opinion Katy Perry doesn't express herself, but my friend loves her and he would disagree heartily.
I don't see how innovation and expression are at all related. The vast majority of art does not innovate the medium, but that doesn't mean it isn't expressive. Doing something because it's innovative can be just as inexpressive as doing something because it's popular.
There's an artist who painted the same still life over and over for his entire artistic career, and there are street artists who paint nothing but the Eiffel Tower to sell to tourists. I would consider the former expressive, and the latter not. Not because there was anything innovative about his still life, but because he was doing it for himself.
(I'm talking about visual artists, but I think it applies to musician too.)
Do you know popular musicians aren't making their music for themselves?
I think that is pretty nicely said. I was going for something similar, but lost my chain of thought ;)
I feel many artist begin with the desire to express themselves but as they lose themselves in the fame and fortune their music reflects that in that it becomes more and more stereotypically pop.
I think it depends on the artist, like I think Pink originally wasn't expressing herself but as she gained popularity and her label gave her more free reign she because extremely expressive. I love pop music, but a lot of times I see it as just for fun, there's some that gets me and some that doesn't. But in the end I think the best answer is that pop music has the potential to be artistic expression.
Well when you start getting paid a shit-load to do something or something brings you fame, humans generally perform that job a bit more poorly. Money and fame are sort of a distraction for us, I suppose. Not to mention, people are generally more passionate the less comfortable their lives are. When you're poor and desperate, and working on making music that is your only positive outlet in life, then you're going to be far more passionate than when you're wealthy and distracted by fame and constant attention. Some people are above this but it's a general rule of thumb.
Usually though, even if the artist is able to maintain integrity, the record label they're signed to is not. In cases such as this, the artist might leave the record label and go indie but other times they won't. All of this stuff depends on the person.
For the record though, I'm way too cool to listen to pop music. That might mean I don't know what I'm talking about, who knows?
Just like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, music can be referred to in the same fashion. I enjoy most music, mainly live music. If the artists enjoys the music they make and seem passionate about it, I will at least listen. I would say generally all music is artistic, whether or not you like what it expresses is up to you.