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I apologize for the ambiguous “tu ti ta ti”, but that’s the best way I could describe it. I’m not a fan of modern pop in general, but my observation has been that Most modern pop songs are of 4/4 time signature and utilize a “trap beat”. Not sure what it’s called, but it sounds like a synthesized, digital 4-beat pattern that sounds like a drum, but not quite. The beat starts with a heavier sound, before advancing to a cymbal-like noise, then a similar sound to the opening beat but slightly different, then the cymbal. Just today I was subjected to half an hour of pop, and all nine songs (or so) made use of this beat. Is there a reason for this I’m not aware of?

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    Lack of any ingenuity whatsoever? 20 years of stagnation? Fear that if any track doesn't fit exactly inside the specific genre aimed for, then people will stop listening to the act? Take your pick.
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 26, 2020 at 15:57
  • All valid answers - thank you. In general the industry is still suffering from this similarity
    – user73300
    Nov 26, 2020 at 16:05
  • Audiences like it? Nov 26, 2020 at 19:17
  • @DaveJacoby apparently they do - as these are the songs that garner billions of views
    – user73300
    Nov 27, 2020 at 6:17
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    can you post an example just so those of us who do not listen to pop can understand.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Dec 10, 2020 at 20:28

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For the same reason every other pop song started using dubstep elements a few years back, why every pop song started sounding like it was being played on a beach in Ibiza in the late '90s/early '00s, why everything started sounding like it was a 'House' (or Portishead) track before that and why every song will use elements of whatever underground style comes to the fore next: it's fashionable - and fashionable sells. Trust me, on this I'm an (underground) DJ and it's my 'job' to know what new genre(s) will be popular long before they ever hit the mainstream charts (if I don't, I stop getting booked). So I've seen this happen time and again for decades now. People go to underground events and bring the sound back with them. Their friends hear it and some of them are wowed by it and start listening to it themselves, some of their friends like it in their turn and so it spreads. Meanwhile the club DJs pay attention to what becomes popular and start incorporating it into their sets, so even more people start hearing (a watered down version of) it. When enough people have taken notice of it, producers start making it because either they like it themselves anyway, or else they think it will get them 'street cred' or because they view it commercially and know that it's (going to be) popular and will sell. It really is that simple and that really is all there is to it - it's fashionable because it's fashionable and it will be superseded by whatever sound bubbles up next just as soon as it does and you'll be wondering why every other pop song seems to sound like it.

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My guess (though I'm not up on pop music), is that it's an emulation of the bongo martello pattern. Much of older pop (from the 50s) uses (explicitly or implicitly) the son clave as an organizing principle (sometimes called the "Bo Diddly Beat"). The martello meshes rather well with a son clave. A 4/4 underlying structure is divided into eighth notes with a 3-3-2 distribution with accents like AuuAuuAuAuuAuuAu repeated. The "dicky-ducky-dicky-docky" sound of a bongo helps keep things aligned.

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  • Hmm... if this is the case, what might be the reason that it sounds a little more "catchy" and is used a lot more often?
    – user73300
    Nov 27, 2020 at 6:16
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This came to mind when I was listening to some Trap with my son this afternoon. The bass is very sparse, like just a bass drum and a snare drum with the snare disengaged, once or twice a measure to provide the beat with lots of room for the vocals. But that, as said, is sparse. Add the trap hi-hat (or as Rick Beato calls it, the "Cicada") and you have something that 1) provides more rhythmic interest and 2) is high enough to be out of the rapper's/singer's frequency band.

I haven't talked to T.I. about this, so I don't know if that's why they started doing this, but listening to it, it makes sense to me.

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