When they started using the hip-hop remix theme song on Sesame Street, I was devastated, but it made me look at what was happening to pop music.
First of all, pop music is not just top 40 stuff. The term "pop" has been around a lot longer than those long distance dedications to Sandra-Joe's sick puppy (who has been through a lot, as I understand.) "Pop" described swing, it described rock and roll, but its meaning has always been the same. It is simply the popular style of the day.
When people say "pop music" they automatically picture Britney's breasts (or in some cases her unusually perky eyebrows--I'm not alone here am I?) They think of the time-tested formatted bubblegum keyboard and cheesy vocals. Whisper "Backstreet Boys" and people jump at the systematic song production and lack of "talent," but then how much criticism does Destiny's Child get for the same offenses? The people are fickle. Personally, I think there are members of both groups who are talented and deserve some credit.
Does pop music have a purpose? Of course it does. While some of it is meaningful (check out the religious metaphors in NSync's "Space Cowboy" or Destiny's Child's pro-woman "Any of their songs") the majority of this printing press material is just for fun. It's dance music. It's not trying to change the world. It wants to complain about the ex-girlfriend or tell someone "I love you." Sound like familiar themes?
Still think that other genres are more respectable? What about "smooth jazz?" It has the same fodder count as any "pop" record I know... Now I'm getting a little agressive. Perhaps I should stop here.