In a recent discussion with Consequence, Dave Mustaine, the frontman for the metal band Megadeth, proposed an interesting perspective on how we categorize and label music.
In delving into the intricate subcategories within the metal genre, Mustaine expressed his reservations about the casual application of the term ‘metal’ as a blanket categorization for any music exhibiting a certain level of heaviness.
He reflected upon the often ambiguous nature of genre labeling, using bands like Blink-182, Green Day, and Pearl Jam as examples.
These bands have frequently been referred to as ‘alternative metal’—a term Mustaine finds somewhat misleading. In his view, the ‘pop’ genre is a more fitting label for these groups.
“Look at it this way,” he explained, “Metal has been used as a generic tag to represent any music that carries a degree of heaviness.
But if you listen to bands like Blink-182, Green Day, or even Pearl Jam, would you really classify them as alternative metal? Or aren’t they closer to being pop bands?”
Dave Mustaine then proceeded to dissect what ‘pop’ as a genre actually means.
He illustrated his point by questioning whether being called ‘pop’ should necessarily have a negative connotation, and whether it merely represents music that has achieved popularity. Pop, he clarified, is simply a short form for ‘popular.’
Dave Mustaine argued, “People might frown at the term ‘pop,’ but what does it truly stand for? Pop is nothing more than an abbreviation for ‘popular.’
If a Megadeth album, let’s say ‘Countdown to Extinction,’ gains significant popularity, wouldn’t that make it a pop record?”
He highlighted the band’s highly successful album ‘Countdown to Extinction,’ mentioning that it achieved triple platinum status and is likely to receive further recognition soon.
This success, he suggested, made it a ‘pop’ album in the most literal sense of the term.
“So if you look at it that way, ‘Countdown to Extinction’ was a highly popular, and therefore a ‘pop’ album. Do you see the oddity in these classifications?”
Continuing the conversation, Mustaine also shared his observations on the interconnections between different metal subgenres, such as thrash and glam metal.
He drew attention to the similarities between the initial two albums of Metallica and Mötley Crüe.