Who is the Real King of Pop?

Photographed by Lily Redman

            On August 22, 2022, Rolling Stone magazine labeled British singer Harry Styles as the new king of pop. This title was formerly held by Michael Jackson, one of the greatest artists of all time. After analyzing all of Harry Style’s available songs, considering the production, vocals, instrumentals, and lyrics, I have determined that Harry Styles should not be labeled as this generation’s King of Pop. 

            It is insulting to Michael Jackson’s legacy and the other African American artists who have almost lived up to that title. I have found Harry Styles to be influential, but when discussing the title of King of Pop, analyzing the audience the artist reaches is key.  

            Style’s fan base is largely made up of teenage girls. Which is not bad; however, so is Taylor Swift and she isn’t named the Queen of Country or contemporary music. Jackson influenced the whole genre of pop and had a fan base consisting of all ages, races, and genders and even after his death, his fan base is still strong and diverse. Michael Jackson was also given this title for his influence on other artists. Artists such as Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Mariah Carrey have all notably said they were inspired by Michael Jackson and his music. This influence on the most popular artists is what keeps Michael Jackson’s legacy running. Harry Styles has made an influence on the male fashion industry with his bold choices and while Styles plays a significant role for the pop industry, he should not be named the king of pop simply just for his fashion choices. It is safe to say Styles is not changing the pop game but simply playing it.  

             In addition to the artist’s popularity and influence, I took into consideration their vocal capabilities when discussing the title of the the King of Pop. Jackson’s voice had a wide range of vocalization and style. He was remarkably diverse in all his songs when it came to both the subject of the song and the style. Styles does have a pretty voice; however, I’ve found it to be lacking in originality compared to Jackson or other influential pop artists. His instrumentals carry the weight of his songs and often drown out his vocals. His music is very catchy perhaps if I was in an elevator or walking through Old Navy. It can be argued that Style’s vocals and instrumentals appeal to our generation where we value catchy beats over vocal talent. Styles achieves this goal well but to give him the title of the ruler over an entire genre is extreme when he does not nearly meet the talent of the predecessor.  

           Styles has gained impressive popularity in his music career and has been influential as an artist. Styles has an impressive use of beats and instrumentals that has become loved amongst a lot of gen z teens. As a pop artist, his use of unique style and inclusivity has made an impression on other influencers and his audience. Nevertheless, to revoke Jackson’s title who had way more success and talent than Harry Styles is a terrible way to honor him and his influence in the music industry.