Bop, banger, jam: a contemplation on musical forms

Photos courtesy of Spotify.

Music is near and dear to my heart, as I imagine it is for most people. Music is more than just a sound, though. It is a feeling in your heart. And that feeling comes in three different forms. Those forms can be labeled as a “bop,” a “banger” and a “jam.”

A bop is typically a top-40 pop song that is light in message, a feel-good song that when engaging with the lyrics, the artist isn’t saying much of anything with substance. Regardless, it moves your soul in a way you can’t help but enjoy. A bop, oddly enough, is a song that will make you bop your head mindlessly as the tunes flow through the speakers. Bops typically aren’t your heartsongs (i.e., a song that speaks directly to your heart and soul), but you don’t mind them. A bop is a song that’s good enough in the moment for you.

A banger is a song that, well, bangs. A banger is not to be confused with a bop. A banger is a song that speaks to your current situation, a song you hear that narrates everything you’re feeling and evokes deep emotions within you. Similar to a bop it is a song for the moment, not lifelong.

The difference between the two is the level of emotion felt when listening to the song. You don’t casually enjoy or hear a banger. A banger is subject to make you cry or become over excited or experience overwhelming feelings of joy and happiness.

A jam is the strongest feeling one can have in terms of music. This type of song is timeless. No matter where you are, the stage of life you’re in or the situation you’re going through, when your jam comes on it moves your soul in an unspeakable way. It makes you warm, it makes you safe, a jam is your home within a song. A jam can take you back instantaneously to the first time you heard it and the way it made you feel. A jam is your personal anthem.

I have spent years arguing the validity of each of these terms with regard to music.

Just as no two people can identically experience the same event, no two people hear a song the same way. My bop might be your jam, which might be someone else’s banger. Or my jam might be someone else’s bop, which could be your banger. And as far as heartsongs go, they cannot be explained. A heartsong is predetermined for you. You don’t pick your heartsong, your heartsong picks you.

Here are some examples of personal bops, bangers, jams and my heartsong:

  • Bops: “The Middle” Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey; “Sorry Not Sorry” Demi Lovato; “Closer” Chainsmokers, Halsey
  • Bangers: “The Feeling” Justin Bieber, Halsey; “Close” Ryan Kinder; “Love’s on the Way” Sebastian Kole
  • Jams: “Good to be Alive (Hallelujah)” Andy Grammar; “Remembering Sunday” All Time Low; “Landslide” Fleetwood Mac
  • Heartsong: “The Beatitudes” The Kronos Quartet

By: Abrena Rowe ~Op-Ed Editor~