I notice that there is a distinction in german between E-Musik (serious music) and U-Musik (entertainment music), but the term "entertainment music" doesn't seem to appear in english. E-Musik is music that requires troubling oneself with, U-Musik is for easy amusement. But not all classical music counts as serious music. Johann Strauß senior was the first who used the term U-Musik for dance music, which was classical in his case. I think the term entertainment music is useful, because a lot of music is actually for singing and/or dancing without musical comprehension barriers much different from complicated classical forms. It happens to be that most popular musics are short songs instead of symphonies, sonatas or operas etc. But classical music also contains songs, dances, marches and other rather easy stuff like this.
So as a alternative to the distinction between high and low genres its maybe a good idea to distinguish between serious and light forms.
I have no problem with the idea that one composer might be communing with his heavenly mentor while another is looking to 'just' strum and entertain the kids. In fact, that's exactly what I am saying, and why comparing one form of music with another is odious. The composer's intent is not a sufficient ground on which to base a critical analysis of whether something is high or low, superior or inferior. By all means compare Stravinsky's Scherzo a la Russe and his Rite of Spring and call one high and one low if you wish. But they can be assessed on their own terms as engaging and enjoyable, satisfying the needs of listeners, exploring an aspect of the human experience ('fun' is just as important to us as 'serious' or 'deep') and both written for specific but different purposes.
Scherzo: "The only two conditions were: the piece had to be easy-listening and it had to fit on a 78 rpm disc."[4
Rite: "was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company"
(Both from Wiki)
^ Of course, kitsch can be fun and not a bad thing on its own. But I think I said appallingly kitsch or some such words. The adjective is the key word for my reaction to the artists in question.
I'm not sure I care to define high art - the looseness of the term seems fertile as far as discussion is concerned - but I can see that there might be a need to dispel and remove the prejudices (assumptions) you allude to.
The looseness of the term is partly what leads to infertile discussion. And the assumptions remain unchallenged while it is freely thought that classical music is not just 'high art' (but undefined and therefore unchallengeable) but superior art, and those who like it are superior beings.
While we're on definitions, it seems there's also a problem with what constitutes 'pop'. When it gets represented by a single act (Perry, Bieber, etc), you can be pretty sure that the writer is either taking the p!$$ or hasn't the faintest idea about either pop today or the full spectrum of what might be covered by 'Popular music'. It seems that if it ain't classical, it's mere pop, and all pop can be reduced to K-Pop, whether it's folk, rock, indie, alt etc etc
Some of the posts here are utterly incomprehensible to me. Talk of hierarchies breaking down or inverting and the implications for society...I don't know where to begin to object to such...stuff.
I suspect it goes in the other direction -- we find it aesthetically pleasing (or not) because we like it (or not), and we like it (or not) for reasons related to our social identities and desires -- at least occasionally.
I find music aesthetically pleasing because I find it aesthetically pleasing.
In my journey through music over time, there has inevitably been a social component to my choices, because I've not always been listening to music in a social vacuum, whether it was listening with my parents and siblings, teen peers at school, friends at college or my partner. When I meet with the members of my quiz team, we might compare notes and acknowledge the 'identifiers' of our generation (those albums that everyone has in their collection - or not), but we're well past liking music just because of its social implications.
Having said that, there may
be members here who want to tell us about their currently listening, and their top ten this or that because they seek some kind of social currency, but please let's not generalise about everyone.