I totally disagree. You needn't look far in pop music through the ages to find some great guitar parts and guitar tones.
You're pretty spot on and exact in fact!I didn’t say they are bad tones, the overall level of production and musicianship is typically top notch. Typically bigger budgets overall etc.
It’s just that the tones, IMO, aren’t at the forefront, they sit in the mix well, and do just what they were meant to do, support the singer.
I mean, does any specific guitar tones come to mind from a Britney Spears album ? Bruno Mars ? Justin Beiber ? Justin Timberlake ? Etc....
Again, spot on production, some of the best session musicians in the business, but I for one can’t think of any specific guitar tone from any Justin Timberlake song that made me think “that’s a sweet tone”
Now maybe I have some bias based upon music I personally play, but there are many other genres where I do think that. Who didn’t listen to Anarachy in the UK and not think Steve Jones guitar just sounded massive ? Gilmour, SRV, Slash, Brian May, etc etc, guitar rock, where the guitars where front and center, as were the guitarist.
I couldn’t even tell you who plays guitar for Justin Beiber. Doesn’t mean they aren’t great players, but a lot of pop music is solo artist, not a band, your not supposed to know who the other people on stage are, your just supposed to know the pop star.
So in summary, I stand by my original point, that if you need to play on a pop album, you could probably do pretty well with most any Fender, or Vox etc sound in an Axe preset