Pop Music Through The Decades
- Pages: 12
- Word count: 2992
- Category: Music
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The 1950’s where so called the birth of popular music. The first half of the decade was run by popular music, or classic pop. This more vocal driven music had replaced the earlier big band style. Artists such as Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra where the leaders of this age of traditional pop. Often the most popular musicians that play this genre also played very well on the television and sometimes they would be featured on music special shows, or perhaps even have a music variety of their own. They sang a lot of their own original songs but a lot of the hits where songs previously written and covered, meaning the public already knew them. Most songs in this genre where just described as been very simple and melodic, some even ballad like. The whole genre was influenced by previously done jazz, swing and big band.
As well as this, there was the development of other genres. The 1950’s saw the rise of Rock ‘n’ Roll, artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley dominated the scene as well as Carl Perkins. Perkins was seen as a pinoeer in the creation of rock and roll, he describes his music often as “Rockability” because it sounds like a combination of country and R&B with rock influences. Perkins wrote the chart topping Blue Suede Shoes in 1955 which was then covered by the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” who enjoyed even more of its success. Elvis Presley was then a huge part of the popular music scene in the 50’s, he was a cotoversial performer, with his famous hip gyrations appearing on the Milton Berle show in 1956, a performance that shock the conservative adults, but at the time drew in the youth. Its important not to forget the african-americans who created the genre but could never fund recordings, Little Richard, Chuck Beryy and Chubby Check, to name a few.
Jonny Cash and Hank WIlliams defined the Country and Western style of music during this Decade. Cash’s music had a very country sound with some rockability influences, his music often revolved around as certain theme, life, sorrow, relationships, this made his music very relatable for many of his listeners. Because of his respect and compassion for his fellow human, this resulted in Cash playing in prison across america, His most famous
performance been in Folsom Prison.
Rhythm and Blues emerged from jazz in the 40’s and was the term used for music that was slightly more upbeat and contained jazz, doo-wop, blues and gospel to create a unique sound during the decade. Many artists, after enjoying time on the Rock and Roll chart where somewhat pushed into the R&B genre as the music industy was making way for the big shot white rock and rollers. Some of the most notable R&B artists of the decade include Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and Sam Cooke. 1960’s
The first of the 60’s was still dominated by the later half of the 50’s, until 1963 artist such as Elvis and Ray Charles where still topping the charts. Post 63, a number of social influences would shape popular music, and give us the diversity we see today.
The British invasion was perhaps the most key area of the 60’s, This is the time in the early/mid 60’s in which many Britsish rock bands and pop artists found mainstream sucess in the US and worldwide. These bands where influenced by the US rock and roll scene, then went on to create there own unique and vary styles. The band that mainly comes to mind here is The Beatles, the band that changed and shaped pop music, broke the Us music scene in 63 but then really hit it big in 64 when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan l The Beatles then continued to dominate world charts until they broke up in 1970. The scene surrounding The Beatles was known as Beatlemania, which caused many up and coming band to try and create the “liverpool sound”. Other Bands linked to the British invasion would be The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Animals, some of these reached comparable success of The Beatles and influenced music in a very different way.
The Motown and R&B where very significant in this decade in terms of the Civil Rights movement and intergration in the American society. Motown begun as a Detroit based record label but quickly grew as it signed African-American groups singers and songwriters breaking the barriers of segregation. Two of the most influential groups where Miracles and Diana Ross and the Supremes, both of which had as much chart success as any of the rock groups. Motown also paved the way for other popular artists, such as Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.
Whilst rock was big in the 50’s, it really came into its own in the 60’s, creating many subgenres which would keep developing rock in itself. Surf Rock was a southern Californian type of dance music that was mostly instrumental until the arrival of the British invasion, and the genre grew to lyrics about girl and cars. The band that defined this genre was The Beach Boys, whose vocal harmonies and well-crafted composition came to define the genre of surf rock.
Psychedelic rock was also very popular, more so in the later half of the 60’s in which it reached its peak. Psychedelic rock was assosicated with hippie culture and hallucinogenic drug use, it was created with the intention of enhancing the experience of listener who where using LSD or other mind-altering substances. There was much experimentation in the sound and much of it was influenced by Eastern and Indian music. Many popular rock bands experimented with this genre, including The Beatles, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hard rock took the elements of rock ‘n’ roll and made them heavier as the genre formed in the middle of the decade. The sound is characterized by more aggressive tones and delivery. Hard rock vocalists are identified by their higher range and distinct and often raspy voices. The music was influenced heavily by blues rock, garage rock, and rhythm and blues. This style became associated with rebellious youth and an anti-authority demeanor, with a few acts even destroying their own instruments on stage (like The Who).
The 1970s created a perfect musical bridge from the rebelliousness of the 1960s and the happy songs that are characteristic of the 1980s. Following the counterculture of the 60s, the 70screated a trend of relaxing music as well as dance music. If ever a musical style defined a decade, Disco was the definition of the 1970s. Although its popularity was relatively short-lived, the genre hosted a great deal of songs and artists that people are still dancing to today and had a large influence on the fashions of the decade, too.This style of music became so popular that well respected artists like Rod Stewart and Diana Ross jumped on the bandwagon by adding Disco elements to their new music or creating their own disco albums. Unfortunately, it did not take long for the public to see disco’s silliness and commercialization – something that they had just rebelled against a few years earlier. Youths rebelled against the genre as well and it was not uncommon to see a few music fans sporting “Disco Sucks” T-shirts.
Progressive rock was another popular genre during the 1970s. This type of music was typically characterized by rock music combined with another genre, such as classical or opera, to create a hybrid genre. Songs from this genre were often longer and bands tended to be more spontaneous and experimental while they were playing live. Many progressive rock albums were also concept albums, meaning that they followed a theme throughout the entire album or series of albums. The band Pink Floyd were known for their concept albums and were considered some of the best in the genre.
The punk rock genre also emerged in the 1970s. This was a style that continued on the legacy of the 60’s but with a more upbeat and harder style. Heavy guitar riffs and more decibels helped to motivate those who were still upset about the status quo in the country. The Ramones are often referred to as the original punk band. This band consisted of a group of family members that based their image on The Beatles but their music was much harder.The Sex Pistols also enjoyed a short-lived success as a punk rock band of the 1970s. Band members heavily used drugs and alcohol which eventually led to their dissolution shortly after forming, but not before releasing two hit albums, “God Save the Queen” and “Never Mind the Bullocks”, that created a wave of rebellion throughout the United States and the UK.
Funk music came out of the R&B, Jazz and Soul music of the late 1960s after artists added more beats and psychedelic tones to their songs. This genre saw the height of its popularity encompass the 1970s with artists like James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly and the Family Stone and Kool and the Gang dominating the music charts. Funk was known for its danceable beats, strange costumes, outrageous personalities and often socially conscious lyrics. James Brown, “the hardest working man in show business”, is often thought of as the creator of funk music and his 1967 album Cold Sweat is thought to feature some of the first main stream funk songs.
The 1980s saw the emergence of pop, dance music and new wave As the term disco fell out of fashion in the decade’s early years, genres such as post- disco, Italo disco and euro disco. The 1980s saw the reinvention of Michael Jackson, and the discovering Whitney Houston and madonna and who were all arguably the most powerful musicians during the time. Their videos became a permanent fixture on MTV and gained a worldwide mass audience. Michael Jackson’s Thriller album from 1982 is the best selling album of all time it is cited as selling as many as 110 million copies worldwide. Being the biggest selling artist of that decade he was indisputably the biggest star of the 1980s. Beginning in 1983 and peaking in success in 1986-1991, the decade saw the resurgence of hard rock music and the emergence of its glam metal subgenre. Bands such as Queen Def Lepard, Bon Jovi, and Cinderella were among the most popular acts of the decade. The 1980s saw the emergence of wildly popular hard rock band Guns ‘n’ Roses and the successful comebacks of Aerosmith and Alice Cooper in the late 1980s.
The success of hard rock act Van Halen spanned throughout the entire decade, first with singer David Lee Roth and later with Sammy Hager. Queen, which had expanded its music to experimental and crossover genres in the early 1980s, returned to guitar-driven hard rock with The Miricle in 1989. By 1984, a majority of groups signed to independent record lables were mining from a variety of rock and particularly 1960s rock influences. This represented a sharp break from the futuristic, hyper rational post-punk years. Throughout the 1980s, alternative rock was mainly an underground phenomena. While on occasion a song would become a commercial hit or albums would receive critical praise in mainstream publications like Rolling Stone alternative rock in the 1980s was primarily relegated to Independent record lables, fanzies and college radio stations.
Alternative bands built underground followings by touring constantly and regularly releasing low-budget albums. In the case of the United States, new bands would form in the wake of previous bands, which created an extensive underground circuit in America, filled with different scenes in various parts of the country. Although American alternative artists of the 1980s never generated spectacular album sales, they exerted a considerable influence on later alternative musicians and laid the groundwork for their success. Encompassing graffiti art, break dancing, rap music, and fashion, hip-hop became the dominant cultural movement of the African American communities in the 1980s. The Hip hop musical genre had a strong influence on pop music in the late 1980s which still continues to the present day. During the 1980s, the hip hop genre started embracing the creation of rhythm by using the human body, via the vocal percussion technique of beatboxing Pioneers such as Doug E Fresh, and Buffy from the Fat Boys made beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using their mouth, lips, tongue, voice, and other body parts. “Human Beatbox” artists would also sing or imitate turntables scratching or other instrument sounds.
Popular Music in the 1990s saw the continuation of teen pop and dance pop trends which had emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. Additionally, hip-hop grew and continued to be highly successful in the decad. Aside from rap R&B and urban music in general remained extremely popular throughout the decade; urban music in the late-1980s and 1990s often blended with styles such as soul funk and jazz resulting in fusion genres such as new jack swing and neo soul, and hip-hop soul, which were popular.
With the breakthrough of bands such as Nirvana and the popularity of the grunge and Britpop movements in the 1990s, alternative rock entered the musical mainstream and many alternative bands became commercially successful during the 1990s. By the start of the 1990s, the music industry was enticed by alternative rock’s commercial possibilities and major labels actively courted bands including Dinosaur Jr, and Nirvana In the early 1990s, bands like Rage Against The Machine, 311 and Cypress Hill brought a fresh sound by combining rap and rock with much success. These bands laid down the blueprints of nu metal. In the middle of the decade this style, which contained a mix of grunge, metal, and hip hop, became known as nu Metal.Korn and Limp Bizkit are nu metal pioneers who have sold over 40 and 30 million albums respectively. Some bands, such as Slipknot, employed a more shocking sound and image. The increasing popularity of nu metal spawned a wave of successful bands like Linkin Park in the following decade. Urban Pop became and stayed popular throughout the 1990s, but was overshadowed by more pop-rock and dance music by the second half of the decade. Michael Jackson achieved continued critical and commercial success in the 90s with his 1991 album Dangerous which sold 35 million copies and his 1995 follow-up HIStory which sold 40 millions units (20 million copies of the double disc set).
Jackson’s debut single from the former album Black or white was one of the best selling singles of the 1990s and the debut single from the latter album you are not alone became, on September 2, 1995, the first single to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. British girl group The Spice Girls managed to break the American market, becoming the most commercially successful British Group in North America since The Beatles. With the explosive growth of computers, music technology and consequent reduction in the cost of equipment in the early 1990s, it became possible for a wider number of musicians to produce electronic music. Even though initially most of the electronic music was dance music, the genre developed in the 1990s as musicians started producing music which was not necessarily designed for the dance-floor but rather for home listening and slower paced music which was played throughout chillout rooms—the relaxation sections of the clubs.
The 2000s were for the most part, nondescript, with the earlier part of the decade retaining characteristics that dominated the 1990s, and styles from previous decades being revived later in the period. Unlike many past decades, the 2000s did not see the creation or emergence of many styles, with the exception of a few indie-related genres such as Emo and electronic subgenres like UK Funky. Convergence of different styles was one of the more defining features of the decade, as seen with the creation and commercial success of the British Grime genre. The popularity of teenage pop carried over from the 1990s with acts such as Britney Spears and Christena Agulea dominating the charts in the earlier years of the decade. R&B which was very successful in the early years of the 2000s, saw a steep decline in popularity throughout the decade. This was in part due to the rise of hip hop and subgenres such as crunk and snap music, even though a fusion of these styles with R&B in crunk&B and snap&B saw success in the mid-to-late 2000s. During the early 2000s, a new wave of metal began with interest in the newly emerging genre nu metal and genres of a similar style such as rap metal and the later mainstream success rap rock.
The popularity of nu metal music carried over from the late 1990s, where it was introduced by early work from bands such as Korn, Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot and Coal Chamber, into the early 2000s with the similar genre, rap rock, bringing in a wave of monster-hit artists such as System of a Down, Evanescence, Staind, Papa Roach, and Disturbed. Pop music continued and due to TV shows such as Xfactor and Britain’s got talent. It seemed the music industry was assesable for almost everyone, this is clear from the example of One Direction, 5 average singers put together on Xfactor that are taking over the charts with their love orientated songs written for them. My Opinion.
I have decided to conclude this journey through the history of pop by adding in my own opinion. Personally I think music is constantly evolving, and will continue to do so, in so ways this isn’t so good because the music industry is becoming flooded, and a dream of been famous and a household name is becoming harder to reach. Also this is good as it allows new and different genres to emerge.