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Progressive pop

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Title: Progressive pop  
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Subject: Pop music, Chrisye, Born to Laugh at Tornadoes, American pop, Pop music automation
Collection: 20Th-Century Music Genres, Pop Music Genres, Progressive Rock, Rock Music Genres
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Progressive pop

Progressive pop is a form of pop music that is loosely defined. It was first used as an early name for progressive rock.[1] During the late 1970s, the term was roughly interchangeable with rock music.[2] Years later, it has been used to describe music deemed too mild for classification under progressive rock.


  • Early uses 1
  • Later uses 2
    • Retroactive uses 2.1
  • References 3
  • Sources 4

Early uses

"Surf's Up" was first attempted by the Beach Boys in 1966, but was not completed until 1971. Its title is an ironic nod to their associations with surf music.

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In the mid-1960s, British newspapers were referring to American rock band the Beach Boys' 1966 album Pet Sounds as "the most progressive pop album ever".[3][4] The Beach Boys continued to be associated with progressive pop for their 1971 album Surf's Up, for which Rolling Stone called a "wed[ding of] their choral harmonies" to the genre.[5]

Writer Nik Cohn in his 1969 piece Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock believed that the pop music industry had been split "roughly eighty percent ugly and twenty percent idealist", with the eighty percent being "mainline pop" and the twenty percent being "progressive pop [developed to] an esoteric feel". He prophesied: "In ten years, its practitioners will probably be called by another name entirely, electric music or something, and they'll relate to pop the way that art movies relate to Hollywood."[6] In its 1970 revision, Cohn amended: "I had guessed that progressive pop would shrink to a minority cult and it hasn't. Well, in England, I wasn't entirely wrong ... But, in America, I fluffed completely — the Woodstock nation has kept growing and, for all his seriousness and pretensions to poetry, someone like James Taylor has achieved the same mass appeal as earlier stars."[7]

Eventually, the term "progressive pop" was supplanted by the more common name "progressive rock".[1]

Later uses

By 1977, "progressive pop" was roughly interchangeable with rock music.[2] In 1985, Simon Reynolds noted that that the "new" pop music "involved a conscious and brave attempt to bridge the separation between 'progressive' pop and mass/chart pop – a divide which has existed since 1967, and is also, broadly, one between boys and girls, middle-class and working-class."[8]

In a 1988 review of erstwhile Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson's debut solo album, Deborah Wilker called its closing eight-part piece "Rio Grande" "the kind of immensely fulfilling progressive pop with which art-rock bands such as Yes and Genesis formerly toyed, but rarely brought to satisfying completion."[9]

Retroactive uses

Supertramp's "The Logical Song" was one specific example of progressive pop named in Night Moves.[10]

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In the book Night Moves: Pop Music in the Late '70s, it is stated: "From 1976 onward, progressive rock waned; that is, the sprawling moody electronic suites that had fueled FM rock radio during the early seventies disappeared, or sold poorly ... Into the void created by prog rock's misfortunes sailed a host of new, milder 'serious' bands ... This new, leaner breed of pomp rock deserves a name–let's call it progressive pop."[10] It proceeds to include the following artists with regard to the book's definition of progressive pop during the 1970s:


  1. ^ a b Moore 2004, p. 22.
  2. ^ a b Shepherd, Virden & Vulliamy 1977, p. 201.
  3. ^ Leaf 1985, pp. 76, 87–88.
  4. ^ Sanchez 2014, p. 40.
  5. ^ Gaines 1986, p. 242.
  6. ^ Cohn 1970, p. 242.
  7. ^ Cohn 1970, p. 244.
  8. ^ Reynolds 2006, p. 398.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Breithaupt & Breithaupt 2000, p. 68.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Breithaupt & Breithaupt 2000, p. 70.
  12. ^ Breithaupt & Breithaupt 2000, p. 69.
  13. ^ Breithaup & Breithauptt 2000, p. 70.
  14. ^ a b c d Breithaupt & Breithaupt 2000, pp. 68–69.
  15. ^ Breithaupt & Breithaupt 2000, p. 71.


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