Black music finely crafted and packaged for the masses.
The first thing to remember about pop/pop-soul (and, frankly, all genres) is not to get too hung up on the classification. The walls between genres are not hard and fast and are a simplification process to distribute and categorize acts into manageable portions by their dominant stylistic attributes. The attribute that best distinguishes pop-soul is that its primary goal is reaching the broadest possible audience while retaining the core elements of African-American music tradition, namely, gospel and blues-tinged vocals and a solid rhythmic backbeat. Producers of this form strived to smooth out the harder edges of rhythm and blues and combine that with hooks and themes that were more commercially viable. Pop-soul hit its apex in the mid-60s when Motown became known as "the sound of young America." Berry Gordy's label so perfected the format that Motown is a genre unto itself.
Many artists listed here could easily fit into other categories such as Motown, soul, rock & roll, and disco. The artists here range from heavily steeped in the core elements of gospel and blues-tinged vocalization with strong rhythmic percussion, like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston; to artists known more for their comforting melodies than pulsating dance rhythms, such as Johnny Mathis and Dionne Warwick.
What connects all Black pop/pop-soul artists is that they worked hard for crossover appeal and helped to tear down the walls of segregation through their music.
Johnny Mathis's Johnny's Greatest hits spent a then-record 490 consecutive weeks in the Billboard top 200.
Soul, R&B, and pop music's most sophisticated voice.
The soft-voiced romantic crooner who set hearts aflutter.
The most popular solo music artist of all time.
The 5 octave diva of highly polished soaring R&B/pop hits.
The term covers subgenres like hard bop and free jazz.
The sound of young America masterminded by Berry Gordy.
Combines rhythm & blues and gospel music styles.
Soul gets high.
Rock loses the roll but gains amplitude and attitude.