A sequel to the 2016 movie “Trolls,” 2020’s “Trolls World Tour” goes more in depth with the background of these titular, musical creatures. As the premise goes for the second film, there are six different groups that are each devoted to a different genre of music. The six groups include pop, rock, techno, funk, country and classical (along with every other type of music in between). The protagonists from the first film, who hail from the Pop Tribe, make it their mission to reunite the divided groups and do what it takes to keep all music other than rock ‘n’ roll (where the film’s antagonists hail) from going extinct.
“Trolls World Tour” brings up the age-old debate over whether pop music has anything original to bring, at least in comparison to other genres. But that is not the only central conflict at hand, seeing as the movie also raises the issue of pop music’s cultural value compared to rock music, the supposedly “superior” genre.
As this argument comes more to the surface there are many flaws to be seen on both ends. Pop is a genre that is presented as musically narrow, yet seems to have the upper hand among the other tribes — they are a popular genre, after all — while rock plays the more convenient villain as it personifies all things rebellion.
The pop versus rock debacle shown throughout has two female rulers engaged in this battle over authenticity and frivolity with one pleading for a form of peace and simplicity that’s akin to the world they once knew, while the other strives to radically change the concept of music as the world knows it.
The antagonistic Rock Queen Barb (voiced by “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom) has an issue with each genre, giving a harsh critique to almost each and every one she comes into contact with. She downplays techno as mere button-pushing, while calling classical music boring. But pop music is the worst offender out of all of them, according to her.
This is due to its bland and repetitive elements that are full of empty lyrics that force themselves into a listener’s ears. Her arguments, while strong, are also very opinionated and can just as easily put a person off from rock ‘n’ roll in the same way she tries to put them off from other music.
Because of this, it is easy to understand the logic behind placing a rock persona in the role of the villain. Consider that the genre has been depicted as devilish in the past and one that’s not been as visible in the media recently, there would be no contest in picking this particular music genre as an antagonist.
And when it comes to the subject of pop music, there was a brief history of it in the movie taking over and becoming the primary music genre all the others either look up to, or try their best to discourage while they went on to do their own thing. Pop music follows this up by taking samples of the others and placing it into their own pieces that they can dance to. A pretty accurate representation of what popular music has become nowadays.
As with most of popular entertainment — especially with ones that also engage with the music world — it is easy to pick apart almost every detail “Trolls World Tour” gets wrong about mainstream music (and just music in general).
Ultimately, the movie says that the minor differences between the genres don’t matter in the entire scheme of things. “Trolls World Tour” does genuinely make the attempt to preach that embracing diversity can bring people together in an easily divided society.
Yet its lesson becomes a little more (unintentional or not) counterintuitive, as it has viewers instead wonder if it would probably be better if they couldn’t hear the differences among the different sounds that make up the world around them. In the end, however, everyone should realize that no one genre is better than the other, and that music fans should simply respect one another. The same respect should go for the genres they choose to listen to.
Amidst its colorful animation, high energy and songs to pump up the listener, “Trolls World Tour” also brings with it a tale as old as time — the pointless need to see which music genre is the best. When in reality, they wouldn’t thrive without the others. A decent message on culture for both kids and grownups to chew on in a world full of important diversity. Individualism doesn’t have to equate with intolerance.
“Trolls World Tour” features returning cast members Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake while also including other music stars such as Kelly Clarkson and Mary J. Blige. It has been available on demand since its release on April 10 and features plenty of recognizable songs to jam to from each respectable genre.