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Student’s TEDx talk to explore what makes pop songs so popular

Photo: Marta Kierkus

There’s a reason why we hit repeat on a pop tune. 

“Uptown Funk,” the wildly catchy song by Mark Ronson,  featuring Bruno Mars, has recently taken pop culture by storm and one University of Ottawa student thinks we can learn a lot from it.

Abenezer Abebe, a third-year business student, will present his ideas at TEDxUOttawa on March 29 at Alumni Auditorium.

“‘Uptown Funk’ is a special song that I feel like everybody has fallen in love with, from grandparents to little kids,” he says, having also fallen in love with it himself.

When he found himself drumming along to “Uptown Funk” a few days after its release, Abebe started to wonder why exactly the song was so catchy and exciting.

“I started to realize everybody around me was also really feeling the song, so I said OK, this is worth exploring,” he says.

Abebe is hesitant to give away his entire concept before his TEDx talk, but he did share a few of the reasons behind the catchiness of “Uptown Funk.”

“The composition was geared to be catchy,” and its frequent use of pop culture references propels the song into the mainstream even faster since the majority of listeners can relate, he says.

“It’s different than a lot of songs right now and I’m going to highlight some of those differences in my presentation.”

The U of O student is no stranger to performing. As a musician and producer who plays a range of styles, including jazz, hip-hop, and alternative rock, Abebe has performed for crowds of up to 700 people.

In his TEDx presentation, he hopes the audience will be entertained but also informed.

“What I would hope is to allow the audience to listen to songs more critically,” he says.


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