Why so (pop)ular?

Story Highlights

  • Sydney Jordan opens up about passion for singing
  • A closer look at current, hot pop artists
  • Opinions from students on Miley, Beyonce, One Direction & Justin Timberlake

Featured Artist: Pop singer Sydney Jordan

“Music has a way of explaining the things we can’t possibly say in words.  It changes my life every single day, and I want to share the power of music with as many people as I can.”

Artists have a unique outlook on life– one that can’t necessarily be put into words. For Cal Poly communication studies sophomore Sydney Jordan, music is both her art and her passion.

Jordan has found comfort in singing her whole life, and discovered her talent earlier than most. At the young age of 10, she began to feel passionate about singing and dreamt of a pop music-related career.

“The earliest musical influence I had was probably from my dad, he always had music playing in the car when he drove my sister and I to school every single morning,” Jordan said. “As a result, I memorized dozens of songs by his favorite artists.”

“The lyrics, the rhythms, the notes: every part of music instills some kind of emotion and feeling in everyone it reaches, and that’s what I love about it,” Jordan said. At the young age of 19, Jordan is constantly jumping at opportunities to spread her music throughout the Cal Poly community.

As music became consistently influential in her life, Jordan ultimately found her role model on television show “American Idol,” which she watched with her family growing up.

“When I was 10 I became obsessed with Kelly Clarkson, the first American Idol winner.  I would sit in my room and listen to her CD over and over, singing every single song in front of my mirror and making plans to audition for American Idol someday myself,” Jordan said. 

This  competition in particular inspired Jordan, and gave her the idea that if she worked hard and began to audition she could get somewhere with her singing.

“[Kelly Clarkson’s] music inspired me to sing in my school’s talent show in 5th grade, and after hearing so much positive feedback from teachers, friends, and  my family, I realized maybe I was pretty good at singing,” Jordan said.

As Jordan transitioned into high school, she auditioned for a prestigious choir program which gave her an opportunity to sing all over the country. The group traveled to festivals to perform for judges in places like Chicago, San Francisco, and New York.

By senior year, Jordan taught herself how to play guitar, and continued to perform for talent shows, open mic nights, and various productions. She found performing exhilarating because she viewed music as a medium that could connect her to any audience.

“The reason I am so passionate about music is because I have come to consider it a language, something that connects people universally, like a smile,” Jordan said.

As a college student, Jordan has a popular youtube channel, Facebook page, and even Instagram account to display samples of her music. Her most popular video, a cover of “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, has almost 5,000 views on Youtube.

“[Music is] a wonderful gift and everyone should appreciate its beauty.”

Though Jordan is currently focused on her schoolwork, she still dreams of a music career and hopes to always have some sort of involvement in the field.

“I definitely hope for a career centered around music, I honestly cannot imagine what it would be like not to be around it constantly,” Jordan said. “It’s really the only thing I’ve ever been passionate about, and I want to impact the music world in whatever I can, however big or small.”

An aspiring artist, Jordan plans to continue sharing her music online in hopes of being discovered. No matter where she ends up, music will continue to be both a hobby and a passion of hers.

“Though the chances of me becoming a professional artist myself are incredibly slim, I hope to work for a record label or entertainment company in the music department,” Jordan said. “My dream job is to be a talent scout for a record label doing A&R (Artist & Repertoire), or doing Public Relations work for a label or company.”

Hot Pop Artists

Miley Cyrus

Though she has been deemed rather controversial, it is undeniable that Miley Cyrus has caught the public eye–particularly in the past year.

A former disney star, Cyrus has had five number-one albums on the U.S. Billboard 200, and has received countless awards and nominations through her music career.

In just the past few years, Cyrus reached her peak in fame by being recognized as:

  • #13 on Forbe’s Celebrity 100 in 2010
  • The “Most Charted Teenager” in the 2011 Guinness World Records
  • “Artist of the Year” by MTV in 2013
  • #1 in “Maxim’s Hot 100” in 2013

Just last year, Cyrus left Hollywood Records and signed a recording contract with RCA Records. Not long after, she released album Bangerz, which is currently fourth on the iTunes top pop albums.

Cyrus’ controversial image has increased with this most recent album, featuring popular songs such as “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball.” Both songs came out with a rather provocative music video, but received positive feedback from fans. “Wrecking Ball” even became Cyrus’ first number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

According to Cal Poly biology junior Ranjeet Mann, Cyrus has become a revolutionary artist through her new image.

“I know she is controversial, and to the younger set somewhat inappropriate, but Miley has made a name for herself and has managed to pull herself out of the label of a ‘Disney star,'” Mann said. “That’s not an easy thing to do.”

Though some view Cyrus as having a “negative image,” it is undeniable that her songs are played everywhere, whether it be the radio, television, etc.

“I make fun of my friends who bash Miley,” Mann said. “I always say ‘you can’t deny that you listen to her music and know all of the words.'”


Always a crowd favorite, Beyoncé Knowles is a renowned artist who has produced both sensational and influential music.

After rising to fame as the lead singer of group “Destiny’s Child,” Beyoncé established herself as a solo artist in 2003 with her debut album “Dangerously in Love.” Since then, she has released several albums and has even dabbled in acting.

Beyoncé has received:

  • A Golden Globe-nominated performance in Dreamgirls in 2006
  • A grammy for “Song of the Year” for hit song “Single Ladies”
  • Billboard number-one singles for “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy”
  • A total of 17 grammy awards in 16 years
  • An award from The Recording Industry Association of America recognizing her as the “Top Certified Artist in America during the 2000s decade”
  • Recognition in Time Magazine in their list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2013

Her most recent album, titled Beyoncé, was critically acclaimed and awarded by fans for its display of darker themes. It also took fans by surprise when she released the album without warning– but nonetheless it has received positive feedback and is currently the number one pop album sold on iTunes. 

Beyoncé is well known and well respected for reflecting moral values through her music, as well as her portrayal of female sexuality and empowerment. According to Cal Poly business student Sarah Islas, the positive messages Beyoncé has expressed have ultimately lead her to her success.

“She does not produce records to make money but to allow her lyrics to promote a positive movement for society on gender equality and sexuality,” Islas said.

An avid Beyoncé fan, Islas appreciates her music in particular because of the personal experiences that are displayed in her songs.

“I think Beyonce connects much more intimately with her fans by allowing them into her personal life,” Islas said. “I think it’s her ability to share these emotional things with her fans that makes her stand out as much more than an artist or celebrity.”

For many reasons, Beyoncé has acted as a role model for Islas, who thinks all women should listen to the empowering words in her lyrics.

“Beyoncé’s message to her fans is to be happy with themselves through the equality of the genders and one’s sexuality because at the end of the day how you value yourself is more important than other’s standards,” Islas said.

One Direction

One Direction is often made fun of for being a “cheesy boy band”– but what most people don’t know is that these boys were contestents on the “X-Factor,” where each of them separately auditioned and got put together by judge Simon Cowell who immediately wanted to sign them.

They didn’t know each other, all had individual talent, and have become best friends and world-famous artists.

According to Cal Poly communication studies sophomore Larissa Foggiano, One Direction is unlike any other boy-band she has seen.

“I was a fan right when I first saw them all audition for the X-Factor,” Foggiano said.

Foggiano, who has been to several concerts, believes that each member of One Direction genuinely cares about their fans and all of those who support their music.

“Their concerts are all about their fans,” Foggiano said. “They don’t dance at their concerts and instead spend their time interacting with the audience.”

Foggiano received the unique opportunity to meet the band after winning an esteemed radio contest. She referred to this experience as the most exciting night of her life.

“They were really nice and I was at a loss for words,” Foggiano said. “Especially considering Harry Styles now has my phone number, told me he loved me and called me ‘babe.'”


(Photos courtesy of Larissa Foggiano)
From left: Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Larissa Foggiano, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles. Foggiano reflects on the moments before meeting One Direction, where she wrote her phone number on a scrap of paper, planning on giving it to Styles. “I have never been so nervous,” Foggiano said.

Not only does One Direction have a following of girls drooling over them, but their music has carried them to great fame. Their achievements include:

  • 2 Brit awards
  • 4 MTV Video Music Awards
  • Being named “Top New Artist” by Billboard in 2012
  • Album “Midnight Memories” ranked #1 on the UK Albums Chart

The second wealthiest musicians in the UK under age 30, One Direction has swept the top charts and is starting to be viewed as more than just another boy band.

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake, otherwise known as JT, has been legendary ever since his days in boy band NSYNC in the late 90’s. A lead vocalist, Timberlake was the youngest member of the band, and an absolute crowd favorite.

By 2002, Timberlake released his first solo album,”Justified.” Just a few years later, Timberlake came back with popular album “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” featuring  hit songs “SexyBack” and “My Love.”

Though Timberlake focused on his acting career from 2007-2012, his music career came back into play in 2013 when he released albums “The 20/20 Experience” and “The 20/20 Experience– 2 of 2.”

Timberlake has received 9 Grammy Awards, 4 Emmy Awards, and “The 20/20 Experience” was one of the best-selling records of 2013.

According to sophomore business student Mackenzie Teutsch, Timberlake has the full package when it comes to fame and job opportunities.

“I think the fact that he can sing, dance, and act has kept him famous throughout the years, there is always a new opportunity for him,” Teutsch said. “He also is creative and is consistently making new music that becomes popular.”

Timberlake is one of the few artists that has maintained ample fame for over a decade, and is debatably more famous now due to all of his accomplishments.

“I think  people respect him more as an artist now, he is no longer a part of a formulaic boy band and he’s making music that is different and matters to him,” Teutsch said. “I think he also gained respect by showing that he can act too. He also has a lot of charisma that has always benefitted him.”

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