The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The new kings of pop

The+new+kings+of+pop

While music fans can argue between Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, Sabrina Carpenter, and Madison Beer as the new reigning female pop icon, the competition for the title of the new king of pop seems to be scarce nowadays. It isn’t necessarily that men don’t participate in the pop world, but most of them don’t have the clear star power that their female counterparts possess. 

However, recently there has been some noise among the men in this genre, and we might see the rise of the next male pop star. We had Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake, but now a new contender may be on the rise. Here are the top four choices I believe could be our next reigning man of the pop world.

Troye Sivan

Story continues below advertisement

Troye “Gay Famous” Sivan is an Australian Youtuber turned pop star and actor who rose to prominence for his songs that focus on love and queerness. Recently, he has emerged back into the spotlight with his newest album “Something To Give Each Other.” The album is strikingly different from his freshman release “Blue Neighborhood,” opting for an electronica feel in lieu of the slower 2010s beats. 

From the high-tempo club beat “Rush” to the slower and lovelorn “One Of Your Girls,” Troye Sivan offers something that many of his counterparts can’t give: unabashed male queerness. Sivan represents the fidelity of lusting over a guy you’ll forget about when you leave the club in “Got Me Started.” But he is also able to cover the feeling of thoughtfully yearning over your 3-month-long Hinge situationship in “How To Stay With You.” Through catchy melodies and restrained yet honest lyrics, Sivan examines the gay male identity in all of its dimensions: the good, the bad, and the poppers. 

image courtesy of Rolling Stone

Harry Styles

Although definitely the biggest name on this list, Harry Styles is not my pick for the current king of pop. After One Direction disbanded in March 2015, Styles established himself as the most experimental out of his former bandmates. His solo career began with the slow, contemplative “Sign of Your Times” — a David Bowie-inspired song that contrasted the bubble-gum pop he was known for. In his 2022 album, “Harry’s House,” he opted for a dreamier sound, mumbling words to a drum pad and keys. 

As famous as Styles is, his solo career continues to lack a certain identity. Who is Harry, outside of One Direction, his romance with Taylor Swift, and his ugly androgynous clothing? Does Harry himself even know? His music mirrors better artists who actually have a distinct sound. His musical stylings change with every album, but there’s no consistency to certify him as an actual pop icon. There is a lack of genuineness to Styles. Hopefully, his acting career is more consistent than his discography (“Don’t Worry Darling” and the after-credits scene in “Eternals”). 

Image courtesy of British GQ

Ross Lynch

The one person on this list who I know little to nothing about, Ross Lynch, first made his way into the hearts of young people when he starred in the Disney Channel show “Austin and Ally” and the Disney Channel original movie “Teen Beach Movie.” Other than being a former child actor, Lynch has regained prominence beyond sheer nostalgia by becoming a certified sex symbol — his windswept blond hair, his charming smile, and THOSE ABS. 

However, do handsome looks constitute a successful music career? Maybe it’ll be enough to launch Lynch into the limelight for a bit, but his music needs to be catchy enough to keep him afloat. As a general music consumer, I have no idea what Lynch is doing. Yes, an artist’s looks are important for a pop icon, but Lynch needs to develop a chart-topping hit to really be considered for the position. At the moment, he seems to be elevated by the sheer nostalgic power he elicits, but other than that he probably won’t make it as far as the other three have on this list. 

Image courtesy of StubHub

Jungkook

Jungkook, a former member of the K-pop sensation BTS and current serviceman in the South Korean army, is my main choice for the new king of pop. Other than being hot (lip piercing!), Jungkook’s sound evokes the grandiose yet suave tone of previous male pop legends. He oozes sex appeal in his single with Jack Harlow “3D.” Not only that, but Jungkook also has the sheer fluid physical talent as a dancer to compete with his predecessors. In his movements, Jungkook seems to demonstrate the early Timberlake vibe, simultaneously sex-driven and emotionally passionate. His performance of “Standing Next To You” in Manhattan is a perfect example of this.

However, the legitimacy that Jungkook needs has always been ripped out of his hands. The continued ridicule he and other K-pop artists find themselves the victims of — that they’re speaking nonsense or that they’re overly feminine — are examples of the ugly anti-Asian discrimination that has persisted throughout history. Jungkook could be the most talented artist in the world, but he would still face obstacles because of his race. 

Still, once Jungkook is finished with his military service, I’ll be on the lookout for his new music. Even if Jungkook never ends up as the new king of pop, he will always be the king of my heart.

Image courtesy of Pragativadi

Featured graphic’s images courtesy of Hiclipart, DeviantArt, PNG edits Tumblr

View Comments (1)
About the Contributor
Kaitlin Lee
Kaitlin Lee, News Editor
Haiku: Me, senior, crazy! Major?: Cognitive Science Send me cat TikToks
More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$2505
$5000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (1)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    AnonJan 8, 2024 at 12:42 am

    “We had Justin Bieber” is a weird comment to make considering he is currently outstreaming and has more listeners than every single one of these listed artists on every platform as we speak. We HAVE Justin Bieber, who’s last album was a massive success and spawned some of the biggest global hits of the decade

    Reply