THROUGHOUT THE DECADES
Relationship of Music Throughout the Decades
Throughout the decades, music has seen a lot of changes. One thing that stayed the same is Rock. It was popular from the 60s all throughout the 2010s (Cox & Warner, 2004). It was the only genre to survive all five decades, and has constantly been reinvented. Many different artists saw their rise and fall throughout the decades; many have also made their comebacks in the 2000s. There are a couple of key artists that have made their name prominent in music history, changing the way people heard music (Cullen, 2001). The important eras were the ones that were accompanied by new technologies. Different media outlets have helped music gain worldwide reach. These are things such as music players, social media websites and websites where you can download music. Although the music industry will never die, many have complained that artists are being ripped-off their music with convenient means of obtaining albums (via online stream or download).
The end of the 50s up until the 60s saw a British invasion of music. This was known as beat music where flourishing culture started to emerge with the help of Beat music. Beat bands were heavily influenced by American music groups. During this time, there was an estimated 350 bands playing all around the United Kingdom, most of who were playing in garages and ballrooms all throughout the country. “Beat Music” is a term from which the Beatles got their name. This music movement was seen mostly in Liverpool.
The national success of the Beatles was during the year 1962 (Cox & Warner, 2004). Several performers from Liverpool were to follow them in the charts. There were also very successful bands from Birmingham and London during this time. The beat boom era saw bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Yardbirds, all coming from the United Kingdom. This British Invasion was heavily influenced by American music. Soul, rhythm and blues were standard American tunes during this time. These songs would play for dancers doing popular moves such as the “twist” (Cox & Warner, 2004).
The Beatles and The Rolling Stones achieved great success throughout Britain itself and throughout the rest of the Western World. By the year 1963, they had achieved commercial success in the United Kingdom. The British bands broke through mainstream popularity the following year. This movement was geared after the successful hit “I want to hold your hand” by the Beatles. This was the band’s first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1. Therefore, the start of the British Invasion for American charts were seen. During the mid 60s until the end of the era British Psychedelia was seen. Surreal lyrics which were influenced by mind-altering hallucinogenic drugs were popular. During this time, bands such as Pink Floyd, Cream and the Who began to emerge.
During this time, as with the civil rights movement, many protest songs came about. One song that could describe this era is “Go Tell It To The Mountains” by Peter Tosh. This was often played during the movement, as it has Biblical lyrics which were an analogy of Martin Luther King, Jr’s Movement.
The Western world saw a rise in disco music during this era. This was one of the biggest genres in the decade. This genre influenced the fashion industry and affected the lifestyle of those who were in the generation (Cox & Warner, 2004). The disco boom was seen during the mid to late 70s, especially in North America, Oceana and Europe. Aside from disco, funk, smooth jazz and jazz fusion also flourished. The rock scene was also very much alive, with punk rock making its was into mainstream music. There were also very important sub-genres of rock which emerged during the 70s. Music such as progressive rock, hard rock, art rock and heavy metal made the scene.
Although the 70s saw disco as the mainstream, there were other genres that broke through during this period. Reggae and hip hop also emerged during this decade, yet they were not recognized until the early 1980s and did not become significant until later on in the next decade.
For many individuals, the 1970s meant disco and funk. This was the music that was readily available during this decade. This genre appeared in night clubs and were played during parties (Cox & Warner, 2004). Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and Anita Ward were popular artists during this time. The most prominent sub-genre of rock came about during the 70s – hard rock. This age saw artists such as Van Halen, AC/DC, Kiss and Aerosmith. Psychedelic rock declined during this time after the death of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. The Beatles also broke up during the 70s, which contributed to the decline in popularity of the beat music era (Ertegun & Marcus, 2001).
Country rock and progressive rock made an outbreak, mostly in North America. After the commercialization of disco later on in the decade, many people started to dislike the genre, which lead to a backlash for the disco scene. The late 70s experienced something known as the “Demolition of Disco” which started in Chicago.
The 1980s was an important era for pop and New Wave music. Disco fell out of fashion during the decade’s early years, however rock music still prevailed during this era. Sub-genres of new wave and rock came about (Cox & Warner, 2004). This included glam metal, soft rock and shred guitar. During the 1980s, digital recording became common, this was associated with the use of synthesizers and other electronic equipment. Several major genres that included electronic equipment developed during this era in music.
Throughout this decade, hip hop and R&B were becoming more popular. Urban tunes were particularly popular in inner cities as well as metropolitan areas in North America (Cox & Warner, 2004). This was known as the golden age of hip hop and urban genres, more particularly rap.
The United States, during this era, saw the reinvention of Michael Jackson as well as the superstardom of Prince. Madonna, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson became successful during this time. Their success continued on until a decade after. Music videos and a permanent fixture on MTV became popular, which gained a mass audience all around the world.
Michael Jackson was an important artist during this era because he was the first African American to have a music video aired on MTV. His album, Thriller, which was released in 1982 became the best selling album of all time. It has been cited to sell over 110 million copies worldwide, excluding downloads.
Madonna was the best selling female artist during this time. Her music was compared to that of the Rolling Stones. With the song “Like a Prayer” being called the “closest pop can get to rock”. During this era, the emergence of Hard rock and heavy glam metal were seen. Queen became popular during the 80s and were known to cross over different genres.
Teen pop as well as dance pop trends were mainstream during the 90s. This carried on from the 80s, which included many artists from the previous decades (Ertegun & Marcus, 2001). Hip Hop grew prominently during this decade, along with it Contemporary R&B as well as rap. Throughout this decade, a blend of rap, soul, funk and jazz was seen. Different fusion and sub-genres also emerged from the 90s. Neo-soul, hip hop soul and g-funk were emerging during early to mid-90s.
Rock was still prevalent during this time (Cox & Warner, 2004). This genre was the only one to carry on from the 60s until present day. Although, unlike glam rock and heavy metal, alternative rock and grunge were increasingly popular. Electronic music, which grew in popularity during the 80s continued on this decade and rose to international success. House and techno music was very popular during this time.
Breakthrough bands such as Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction and The Red Hot Chili Peppers rose to stardom during this era (Ertegun & Marcus, 2001). There were numerous mainstream alternative rock bands that included Alice in Chains, The Offspring and No Doubt. These bands went on to make commercial success. U2, a band which broke out during the 80s reinvented themselves in the 90s and continued with their success.
Grunge picked up popularity during the early 90s (Cullen, 2001). It was a genre which had the culture marketed down to America, mostly Pacific Northwest states. Nirvana and Pearl Jam were the artists that lead this movement. However, there were a number of people who were uncomfortable with their success. This included some rock bands.
The 2000s was a peculiar time in terms of music trends (Cox & Warner, 2004). The pop trends fragmented and several attempts at revival were seen. Unlike past decades, the 2000s did not see any emerging genres, nor did it see artists break through into mainstream dominating charts as they did in previous decades. The popularity of such artists were fragmented and were for different culture groups.
Idie-related genres such as Emo and Liquid funk were short-lived. However, there were no distinguishable elements in those genres that could pass for anything remarkable. This decade saw elements that later contributed to mainstream music correction such as auto-tune. This decade saw the rise in downloads and internet music. Media programs such as iTunes and YouTube became very popular and changed the way people listened to music.
Pop sensations such as Britney Spears, N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys continued their popularity until mid-2000s. They crossed over international boarders and found popularity in other markets such as Asia and the Far Eastern music markets. Genres such as J-Rock and K-Pop became popular in the Western World and remained this way throughout the decade.
Melismatic favorites during the 90s and early 2000s started to lose flavor and are being outsold by new artists such as Kesha and Katy Perry. The use of autotune and other pitch-correcting equipment are becoming more and more popular. Mainstream music is a vague term that can describe a lot of different genres.
Electropop, dance rock and other different cross-genres are being formed. Indie rock and alternative music is still in existence and are becoming more popular. This decade recognized a different mix of music, which also includes Christian rock.
Many artists who were popular in the 90s still remain popular until this decade. A number of artists such as Aerosmith, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus are continually reinventing themselves to suit future generations’ taste in music. Many artists who were part of groups during the 90s have made their way into solo careers during this decade. This includes Beyonce, Gwen Steffani and Justin Timberlake.
Cox, C., & Warner, D. (Eds.). (2004). Audio culture: readings in modern music. Continuum.
Cullen, J. (Ed.). (2001). Popular culture in American history (Vol. 1). Blackwell Publishing.
Ertegun, A. M., & Marcus, G. (2001). " What'd I say?": the Atlantic story: 50 years of music.