There were no popular song musicians before the Pittsburg’s Stephen Foster revolution in 1848 when his song "Oh! Susanna" gained exceptional popularity. The songs sung by Foster and his peers were the sentinel parlor songs. These songs were performed in the musical shows, and entailed theatre productions that involved singing coupled with comic performance and dancing. Such type of songs attracted popular audiences.
Tin Pan Alley songs emerged during the mid-1980s. Besides the youth, these musical compositions targeted the middle-aged and the old. Alley songs were therefore adult-oriented providing guidance to the young and reassuring the middle-aged and the old. Such music communicated stories and imparted important life lessons. They were informative and embodied a life lesson regarding youth and targeted the middle class audience. The songs also inculcated a sense of nationhood and the shared values were evidenced by the United States’ attainment of the world power status. During this period, songs encouraged nationalism and embodied political themes (Husock 54).
Between early 1900s and the World War II saw the advent of the Broadway songs which comprised theatres focusing in musicals. This saw the emergence of musicians such as Irvin Berlin who composed enjoyable songs. These songs became popular among the upper-class during the 19th century. Although these songs were initially composed during the turn of the century, they became popular much later. They took the form of believable narratives rather than amorphous stories of earlier compositions. Consequently, the inclination towards developing national values was reflected in the songs (Husock 56).
Accordingly, ragtime music came into being in the early 20th century and was a form of dance music which was established around a keyboard by use of modified rhythms. Initially, the songs were used in minstrel shows then transformed to vaudeville performances. This music was mostly enjoyed by the African Americans. This made people to consider the initial style of American popular music to actually be black music. Such music was composed and retailed as sheet music. However, the general style of ragtime music was mostly played informally across the America. The musicians continued to perform free flowing type of ragtime music which formed a considerable effect on jazz.
Jazz was developed in the 1920s. It is a form of music that is comprises a hybrid of swing dance, blue notes, and rhythmic improvisation. It was initially a type of dance music but later came to be regarded as a form of popular sophisticated music. Some genres of this form of music were particularly popular among the rural audiences.
In the 1950s, there was the advent of rock music. It had audience of all ages but was most popular with the young. The lyrics of rock music coupled with exclusive performances led to youthful fantasies, pleasure-seeking, and misery. Attraction among the youth and glorification of sex through rock music led to open teenage rebellion and eventually to pessimism.
It is noteworthy that the introduction of television in the 1950s ensured that popular music was played in television hence an increased audience to popular music. This aspect led to splintering of popular music on the basis of blacks and the White Southerners in big cities. The white Americans enjoyed a combination of swing, pop rhythm and blues associated with the rich white Americans. The melodies, beats, and the messages of rock music were a preserve of the specialized radio audience in 1950s.
Husock, Howard. “Popular Song." The Wilson Quarterly (1976-) 12. 3 (1988): 48-65. Print.