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What the fuck is pop music? More than any other year, 2015 forced us to grapple with what we mean by the term. Do we mean the word's historical roots in "popular," as one radio DJ helpfully mansplained to me on the phone a couple weeks ago? Do we mean the way these songs sound--big, glittery, sharp, packed with the youthful approximations of exultation and wonder? Or do we mean celebrities superpowers, artists whose...
I first heard about Justin Bieber from Alicia, one of my coworkers at Nordstrom who kept gushing about some new child star who was Usher's protege. When I was in college we worked together in the BP clothing section (read: teen) of Nordstrom in Thousand Oaks, California. This was the phase of my life when I was still fully rockist—like, listening-to-The-Eagles-as-loud-as-they'd-go rockist. I drove back through the canyons home to Malibu after work that day,...

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