[[PlayingAgainstType A fairly realistically grounded drama]] from Creator/RalphBakshi, [[HeAlsoDid the maker]] of ''WesternAnimation/FritzTheCat'', ''WesternAnimation/HeavyTraffic'' and the animated ''WesternAnimation/TheLordOfTheRings'', ''American Pop'' focuses on the lineage of a family closely involved with the history of American popular music, from Swing and {{Jazz}} to {{Pop}}, Rock and [[PunkRock Punk]]. Though it's a different type of story than those that Bakshi is usually associated with (street dramas and fantasy films), it does exemplify Bakshi's unique vision for animation as a medium that could be used to tell any story, and in making a mature drama aimed at adult audiences, ''American Pop'' definitely breaks away from the perception that AllAnimationIsDisney. To this end, Bakshi was successful in making a film that can be appreciated by any viewer, not just those that are typically fans of animation.

The story focuses on a number of different time periods, offering a perspective on the different styles of music, as well as the family line that takes a strong involvement in the creation of this music, beginning with a JewishMother and her son escaping from a pogrom. The son begins working for a comedian at a burlesque house, and she dies in a sweatshop fire. The kid later marries a stripper and becomes involved with the mob, which continues to be associated with this family until the 1950s, when his grandson involves himself in beat culture and later writes lyrics for a PsychedelicRock band, fathering a blond haired, blue eyed son with a waitress in Kansas. [[spoiler:This son becomes a rock star by the end of the film]].

You might recognize several scenes from this film via Music/KanyeWest's music video "Heartless", which copied this film and its [[{{Rotoscoping}} Rotoscoped]] animation as a tribute. The film itself contains a [[Awesome/{{Music}} Crowning Soundtrack Of Awesome]], with songs by Music/JanisJoplin, Music/TheDoors, George Gershwin, Music/HerbieHancock, The Mamas & the Papas, Music/LouReed, Louis Prima, Music/PatBenatar and Music/JimiHendrix. Not to mention, Music/BobDylan songs are portrayed within the context of the story as being written by one of the main characters. ''American Pop'' is one of Bakshi's most acclaimed films as the result of its mature story, and its use of music.

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!''American Pop'' provides examples of the following tropes:

* AnImmigrantsTale
* EverybodyMustGetStoned - Tony is slipped LSD during a concert. He sees the crowd as live action actors rather than rotoscoped animation, falls and injures himself, and winds up in the hospital. After which, he becomes addicted to heroin and pain killers. Definitely not a good trip.
* {{Expy}} - Frankie Hart is essentially Music/JanisJoplin, right down to her death due to alcohol and heroin use.
** Tony has shades of [[PinkFloyd Syd Barrett]]. In one scene, while the band is rehearsing, he is seen sitting in a closet writing lyrics (quirky lyrics were Barrett's specialty). Then there's his mental deterioration from drug use starting with that one bad trip. Finally, his vanishing act altogether.
* GenericEthnicCrimeGang - It's not specifically stated what ethnicity most of the gangsters in this film are. Except for Zalmie, who's a Russian Jewish Immigrant. Being that the crime boss' last name is "Palumbo", it could be TheMafia, though the entire gang is not specifically Italian, and might be a mixed gang.
* GeneticMemory: Pete must have definitely felt something when he paused in front of the street synagogue, hearing the Rabbi's melodic litany.
* HookersAndBlow - Tony was once a songwriter for a successful rock band. After the band's singer dies due to drug and alcohol abuse, he finds himself dealing coke on the street with ''his son'' in tow.
* IJustKnew: Tony, upon seeing little Pete for the first time knew exactly who he was. [[spoiler:his illegitimate son from a one night stand with a blond, blue eyed waitress years ago in Kansas]]
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold - A ''stripper'' with a heart of gold, Bella, whom Zalmie marries and fathers a child with.
* JewishMother - Zalmie's mom exhibits this after he's been out working for Louie.
* LongSongShortScene - Looking for that awesome, piano-based alternate version of "[[Music/BobSeger Night Moves]]" (as opposed to the album version, which had more prominent guitars instead)? Yeah, you're not going to find it outside of this movie. It's not on the soundtrack album, and it was never released on any of Bob Seger's albums.
* {{Rotoscoping}} - Most of the film is this.
* SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll
* ShouldHaveThoughtOfThatBeforeX
-->'''Palumbo''': Don't you think it's time for a wedding?
-->'''Zalmie''': How can I ask her? I don't have a cent.
-->'''Palumbo''': You should have thought of that before you got her pregnant.
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