The new Volkswagen Beetle is quite cute but not as cute as the Mini Cooper which is a stunning remake of a classic car. How come all new cars look the same nowadays? There is less variation in modern designs than there used to be.
Personally I find that good pop tunes are stronger than the average jazz standard. A good pop tune is very straight to the point musically. Jazz, on the other hand, is a style you can wrap around almost anything, and that makes the core of the content less important. Having said that, I have to confess that I find 90% of modern pop instantly forgettable. I simply cannot artists apart, let alone songs. The emphasis is clearly on fashion and image nowadays, not on the music. There are exceptions, of course, but they are few and far between. It wasn't always like that...
The Beatles is arguably the most influential pop band of all times, and for a good reason. Their tunes are both catchy and original. Hey Jude (mp3) is just one of their many brilliant songs.
Another great composer to peak in the sixties is Burt Bacharach who supposedly has had an influence on Oasis front man Noel Gallagher (well, that guy certainly looks like he is under the influence of something, so who knows). Among his many hits is Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head (mp3, pdf, tef), the Oscar-winning theme tune from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
One of the most original pop stars to come out of the nineties is Seal. He makes a point out of preferring quality to quantity, and he has some genuine personality to back up his trendy image. Crazy (mp3) is one of his first major hits as a solo artist.
If you keep an open mind when you listen to pop music you will come across a lot of good tunes. Don't let the artist, or the style of the recording, put you off, the raw material might be of high quality. To make that point, I have included Live To Tell (mp3) by Madonna. I am not particularly keen on the original recording, which has a very mechanical feel to it because of the heavy use of sequencers, and I also find her arrangement somewhat longwinded. Nevertheless, the tune has a killer intro, and a nice uncomplicated melody line that makes it stand out in the crowd.
Finally, just to upset a few people, I have included Careless Whisper (mp3, pdf, tef) by George Michael. If you are into music, you are not supposed to be into George Michael. Nevertheless, I believe he has earned his fame.