Pop singers sing what’s popular. Artists redefine what’s popular.
Pop singers imitate. Artists originate.
Pop singers need to be consistently good. Artists must be, at least occasionally, surprisingly brilliant. Performance may vary.
People enjoy pop singers who meet expectations. People love artists who blow expectations apart.
It’s enough for a pop singer to do something you enjoyed another pop singer doing. An artist has to do something you believe only they could do. That is what defines them.
The best pop singers are also artists, but let’s be clear on the difference and tension between these two things: seeking popularity and originality won’t push you in one clear direction, it will more likely pull you apart. That’s why the great pop artists are always so difficult and interesting, and all but the strongest stop before long.
The good news? We can grow from one thing into another, in music or any other activity we choose to approach artfully. Here’s a musical example: Idol loser and Eurovision winner Loreen
2004: pop singer