This article is about a specific music genre. For popular music in general, see Popular music. For other uses, see Pop music (disambiguation).
"Pop song" redirects here. For other uses, see Pop Song.
genre of music
Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom. The terms popular music and pop music are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many disparate styles. During the 1950s and 1960s, pop music encompassed rock and roll and the youth-oriented styles it influenced. Rock and pop music remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.
Although much of the music that appears on record charts is seen as pop music, the genre is distinguished from chart music. Identifying factors usually include repeated choruses and hooks, short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), and rhythms or tempos that can be easily danced to. Much pop music also borrows elements from other styles such as rock, urban, dance, Latin, and country.
Definitions and etymology
David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop music as "a body of music which is distinguishable from popular, jazz, and folk music". According to Pete Seeger, pop music is "professional music which draws upon both folk music and fine arts music". David Boyle, a music researcher, states pop music as any type of music that a person has been exposed to by the mass media.  Most individuals think that pop music is just the singles charts and not the sum of all chart music. The music charts contain songs from a variety of sources, including classical, jazz, rock, and novelty songs. As a genre, pop music is seen to exist and develop separately. Therefore, the term "pop music" may be used to describe a distinct genre, designed to appeal to all, often characterized as "instant singles-based music aimed at teenagers" in contrast to rock music as "album-based music for adults".
Pop music continuously evolves along with the term's definition. According to music writer Bill Lamb, popular music is defined as "the music since industrialization in the 1800s that is most in line with the tastes and interests of the urban middle class." The term "pop song" was first used in 1926, in the sense of a piece of music "having popular appeal". Hatch and Millward indicate that many events in the history of recording in the 1920s can be seen as the birth of the modern pop music industry, including in country, blues, and hillbilly music.
According to the website of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the term "pop music" "originated in Britain in the mid-1950s as a description for rock and roll and the new youth music styles that it influenced".The Oxford Dictionary of Music states that while pop's "earlier meaning meant concerts appealing to a wide audience [...] since the late 1950s, however, pop has had the special meaning of non-classical mus[ic], usually in the form of songs, performed by such artists as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, ABBA, etc."Grove Music Online also states that "[...] in the early 1960s, [the term] 'pop music' competed terminologically with beat music [in England], while in the US its coverage overlapped (as it still does) with that of 'rock and roll'".
From about 1967, the term “pop music” was increasingly used in opposition to the term rock music, a division that gave generic significance to both terms. While rock aspired to authenticity and an expansion of the possibilities of popular music, pop was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible. According to British musicologist Simon Frith, pop music is produced "as a matter of enterprise not art", and is "designed to appeal to everyone" but "doesn't come from any particular place or mark off any particular taste". Frith adds that it is "not driven by any significant ambition except profit and commercial reward [...] and, in musical terms, it is essentially conservative". It is, "provided from on high (by record companies, radio programmers, and concert promoters) rather than being made from below ... Pop is not a do-it-yourself music but is professionally produced and packaged".
According to Frith, characteristics of pop music include an aim of appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology, and an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal "artistic" qualities. Besides, Frith also offers three identifying characteristics of pop music: light entertainment, commercial imperatives, and personal identification. Pop music grew out of a light entertainment/ easy listening tradition. Pop music is more conservative than other music genres such as folk, blues, country, and tradition. Many pop songs do not contain themes of resistance, opposition, or political themes, rather focusing more on love and relationships. Therefore, pop music does not challenge its audiences socially, and does not cause political activism. Frith also said the main purpose of pop music is to create revenue. It is not a medium of free articulation of the people. Instead, pop music seeks to supply the nature of personal desire and achieve the instant empathy with cliche personalities, sterotypes, and melodrama that appeals to listeners. It is mostly about how much revenue pop music makes for record companies. Music scholar Timothy Warner said pop music typically has an emphasis on recording, production, and technology, rather than live performance; a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments; and seeks to encourage dancing or uses dance-oriented rhythms.
The main medium of pop music is the song, often between two and a half and three and a half minutes in length, generally marked by a consistent and noticeable rhythmic element, a mainstream style and a simple traditional structure. The structure of many popular songs is that of a verse and a chorus, the chorus serving as the portion of the track that is designed to stick in the ear through simple repetition both musically and lyrically. The chorus is often where the music builds towards and is often preceded by "the drop" where the base and drum parts "drop out". Common variants include the verse-chorus form and the thirty-two-bar form, with a focus on melodies and catchy hooks, and a chorus that contrasts melodically, rhythmically and harmonically with the verse. The beat and the melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment. The lyrics of modern pop songs typically focus on simple themes – often love and romantic relationships – although there are notable exceptions.
Harmony and chord progressions in pop music are often "that of classical European tonality, only more simple-minded." Clichés include the barbershop quartet-style harmony (i.e. ii – V – I) and blues scale-influenced harmony. There was a lessening of the influence of traditional views of the circle of fifths between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, including less predominance for the dominantfunction.
Development and influence
Technology and media
In the 1940s, improved microphone design allowed a more intimate singing style and, ten or twenty years later, inexpensive and more durable 45 rpm records for singles "revolutionized the manner in which pop has been disseminated", which helped to move pop music to "a record/radio/film star system". Another technological change was the widespread availability of television in the 1950s with televised performances, forcing "pop stars had to have a visual presence". In the 1960s, the introduction of inexpensive, portable transistor radios meant that teenagers in the developed world could listen to music outside of the home. By the early 1980s, the promotion of pop music had been greatly affected by the rise of music television channels like MTV, which "favoured those artists such as Michael Jackson and Madonna who had a strong visual appeal".
Multi-track recording (from the 1960s) and digital sampling (from the 1980s) have also been utilized as methods for the creation and elaboration of pop music. During the mid-1960s, pop music made repeated forays into new sounds, styles, and techniques that inspired public discourse among its listeners. The word "progressive" was frequently used, and it was thought that every song and single was to be a "progression" from the last.Music criticSimon Reynolds writes that beginning with 1967, a divide would exist between "progressive" pop and "mass/chart" pop, a separation which was "also, broadly, one between boys and girls, middle-class and working-class."
The latter half of the 20th-century included a large-scale trend in American culture in which the boundaries between art and pop music were increasingly blurred. Between 1950 and 1970, there was a debate of pop versus art. Since then, certain music publications have embraced the music's legitimacy, a trend referred to as "poptimism".
Throughout its development, pop music has absorbed influences from other genres of popular music. Early pop music drew on the sentimental ballad for its form, gained its use of vocal harmonies from gospel and soul music, instrumentation from jazz and rock music, orchestration from classical music, tempo from dance music, backing from electronic music, rhythmic elements from hip-hop music, and spoken passages from rap.[verification needed] In 2016, a Scientific Reports study that examined over 464,000 recordings of popular music recorded between 1955 and 2010 found that, compared to 1960s pop music, contemporary pop music uses a smaller variety of pitch progressions, greater average volume, less diverse instrumentation and recording techniques, and less timbral variety.Scientific American's John Matson reported that this "seems to support the popular anecdotal observation that pop music of yore was "better", or at least more varied, than today's top-40 stuff". However, he also noted that the study may not have been entirely representative of pop in each generation.
In the 1960s, the majority of mainstream pop music fell in two categories: guitar, drum and bass groups or singers backed by a traditional orchestra. Since early in the decade, it was common for pop producers, songwriters, and engineers to freely experiment with musical form, orchestration, unnatural reverb, and other sound effects. Some of the best known examples are Phil Spector's Wall of Sound and Joe Meek's use of homemade electronic sound effects for acts like the Tornados. At the same time, pop music on radio and in both American and British film moved away from refined Tin Pan Alley to more eccentric songwriting and incorporated reverb-drenched rock guitar, symphonic strings, and horns played by groups of properly arranged and rehearsed studio musicians. A 2019 study held by New York University in which 643 participants had to rank how familiar a pop song is to them, songs from the 1960s turned out to be the most memorable, significantly more than songs from recent years 2000 to 2015.
Before the progressive pop of the late 1960s, performers were typically unable to decide on the artistic content of their music. Assisted by the mid-1960s economic boom, record labels began investing in artists, giving them the freedom to experiment, and offering them limited control over their content and marketing. This situation declined after the late 1970s and would not reemerge until the rise of Internet stars.Indie pop, which developed in the late 1970s, marked another departure from the glamour of contemporary pop music, with guitar bands formed on the then-novel premise that one could record and release their own music without having to procure a record contract from a major label.
The 1980s are commonly remembered for an increase in the use of digital recording, associated with the usage of synthesizers, with synth-pop music and other electronic genres featuring non-traditional instruments increasing in popularity. By 2014, pop music worldwide had been permeated by electronic dance music. In 2018, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, concluded that pop music has become 'sadder' since the 1980s. The elements of happiness and brightness have eventually been replaced with electronic beats making pop music more 'sad yet danceable'.
International spread and crosspollination
The story of pop music is largely the story of the intertwining pop culture of the United States and the United Kingdom in the postwar era.
— Bob Stanley
Pop music has been dominated by the American and (from the mid-1960s) British music industries, whose influence has made pop music something of an international monoculture, but most regions and countries have their own form of pop music, sometimes producing local versions of wider trends, and lending them local characteristics. Some of these trends (for example Europop) have had a significant impact on the development of the genre.
According to Grove Music Online, "Western-derived pop styles, whether coexisting with or marginalizing distinctively local genres, have spread throughout the world and have come to constitute stylistic common denominators in global commercial music cultures". Some non-Western countries, such as Japan, have developed a thriving pop music industry, most of which is devoted to Western-style pop. Japan has for several years produced a greater quantity of music than everywhere except the US.[clarification needed] The spread of Western-style pop music has been interpreted variously as representing processes of Americanization, homogenization, modernization, creative appropriation, cultural imperialism, or a more general process of globalization.
One of the pop music styles that developed alongside other music styles is Latin pop, which rose in popularity in the US during the 1950s with early rock and roll success Ritchie Valens. Later, as Los Lobos garnered major Chicano rock popularity during the 1970s and 1980s, musician Selena saw large-scale pop music presence as the 1980s and 1990s progressed, along with crossover appeal with fans of Tejano music pioneers Lydia Mendoza and Little Joe. With later Hispanic and Latino Americans seeing success within pop music charts, 1990s pop successes stayed popular in both their original genres and in broader pop music. Latin pop hit singles, such as "Macarena" by Los del Río and "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi, have seen record-breaking success on worldwide pop music charts.
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The History Of Pop Music In 5 Defining Decades
Record Player © Assillo / Flickr
Originally consisting of whatever was popular music at the time, pop music has grown into its own ever-evolving genre. Some believe the pop music genre to be shallow, with simple songs about nothing more than partying, drinking, and sex. But the genre has always been so much more—it’s the melting pot of music, a place where sounds of all sorts have been blended together, connected by the melody and structure of traditional pop. And its eclectic sound has not shied away from tackling topics, like love and loss and life—the emotions that sit at the heart of every kind of music.
It began in the age of rock ‘n roll. In the ’50s, the music of the previous decades—including swing music and crooning vocals—was being replaced. Rock was growing, and at the same time as it did, the beginning of true pop music was growing too, out of the creations of producer Mitch Miller. Miller worked at the most successful label of the time, Columbia Records, and he working with the label’s big artists to create a sound that was not confined to one simple genre. He was combining country, blues, and folk music with the mainstream rock sounds that everyone was listening to, and the result was something that took the focus away from the large, sweeping orchestras of the previous decades, and placed it on the emotion of the music, evident in the sounds of artists like Johnnie Ray, Frankie Laine, and Guy Mitchell — all of whom worked with Mitch Miller. This decade was also one of celebration for Elvis Presley, who came around in 1953, and whose songs, like “Hound Dog” were some of the most loved of the time.
Through its beginning, pop had been characterized by its largely teen fan base, and in the ‘60s, when the portable radio was introduced, it became even easier for teens to take their tunes wherever they went. Pop was traveling, and picking up influences — from the beaches of California, bands like the Beach Boys were taking the harmonies from traditional pop songs and layering them with the “surf rock” rhythm that they became known for. But the true driving force of pop in the ‘60s came from across the Atlantic, with Beatlemania and the British Invasion into the American charts. The British Invasion brought rock and pop music and bands to the U.S., where they became wildly popular. The Beatles were among these acts, and their mix of beat, rock, and pop ballads immediately took over American pop charts. Other bands that took part in this invasion included the English pop rock group, The Dave Clark Five. Their single, “Over and Over” was number one on American charts in 1965, beating out the Beatles. Through all of this, the pop genre was forming into something not solely defined by the American solo-pop artists of the previous decade. Now, bands were introduced into the fray, and pop was splitting into sub-genres that included Bubblegum pop—defined by its upbeat sound and its direct aim at teen audiences—and Baroque pop, which blended pop and rock and baroque music together.
Those subgenres of pop began towards the end of the ‘60s, but died out in the ’70s. In their place came the subgenre of power pop, a mix of punk rock and pop, defined by bands like the Romantics, and Cheap Trick. At the same time, country pop was emerging, which stemmed from country artists’ attempts to reach a more mainstream audience. Suddenly, the hooks and melodies of pop were intertwining with the twang and drawl of country music. But the biggest thing the ‘70s did for pop music came in the form of a pop-rock sound: this was the beginning of the era of the Jackson 5, Elton John, and Queen. Elton John, with his repertoire of diverse sounds ranging from pop ballads to arena rock songs, became one of the biggest pop stars of the time. “Bennie and the Jets” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” are regarded today as musical classics. Meanwhile, Queen was venturing from their hard rock song into the arena rock and pop rock that was so popular on the radio at the time, and the Jackson 5 was becoming a pop phenomenon with their own hit singles, like “I Want You Back” and “ABC”.
Digital recording became huge in the ‘80s, and the possibilities it offered allowed pop music to grow even more. Suddenly, synthesizers and electronic sounds could be put into pop music, and as this kind of dance-pop developed, so did genres like techno. And the artists who emerged in these years were revolutionary for pop—Michael Jackson’s Thrilleris still the best-selling album of all time. Jackson was becoming the biggest pop star of the decade, followed closely by Prince, who had his own pop stardom to claim. His music, which pulled from pop, rock, funk, and so much more, coupled with his extravagant and flamboyant presence catapulted him into a spotlight never truly faded away. Female pop powerhouses were also coming into play, like Whitney Houston and Madonna. The latter became the most successful female artist of the decade, with songs like “Like A Virgin”. The ‘80s was creating a pop-music culture like no other decade had before it, a culture that would carry through in the decades to come.
While the ‘90s saw pop continuing much as it had been in the past, what it introduced to the genre was girl groups. The decade saw the British Girl group, The Spice Girls, emerge into the American market and become the most commercially successful British Group in North America since the Beatles. They were also the most successful female-pop group, and one of the most successful pop-groups ever, with their single “Spice Up Your Life”. The next ten years would see teen pop groups and singers pop up all over the charts, including the Backstreet Boys with “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)”, and Britney Spears with “Baby One More Time” — one of the best-selling singles of all time.
By the 2000s, pop was a genre with endless roads for artists to travel down, each with its own flair and twist to the classic traditions of pop music. Teen pop was existing in the music of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera; pop rock and power pop were making a comeback in the sounds of Blink 182’s “All the Small Things”, opening up a gate for the musicians that would come to be pivotal within the pop-punk genre, like Simple Plan and Fall Out Boy. Towards the end of the first decade of the 2000s, pop was again being influenced with hip hop and R&B sounds through Rihanna’s music, and electronic sounds made themselves known in Lady Gaga’s sounds from her album, Poker Face, which went on to win two Grammys. Pop music had become an electric melting pot of subgenres and sounds that all shared the common tropes of a pop song.
Pop has become so much more than a catchy melody and repeated verses—it’s a representation of the way music and musical trends has evolved throughout the years, gathering up sounds that shouldn’t have worked together, but did, and did so in a way that was immensely loved. Today, pop music is as diverse and rich as it is because of the influences on its evolution. Pop is a complicated, wondrous genre of music where the possibilities feel endless, and the sounds feel like all of your favorites coming home to play.
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You may associate pop music with that polished, bubble gum sound, but it’s actually a combination of genres and influences that are popular at any given time. They are then presented in an accessible, easily digestible pop format and song structure that is enjoyed by a large portion of the public.
Pop is constantly evolving, building on and blending together influences through different eras, while also reflecting the social and political situation. In this article, we attempt to show a pop music history timeline in the west, including some pivotal changes. Keep in mind, however, that there are many artists that shaped the course of popular music and we will be showing overarching trends and highlights that brought us to where we are today.
The origins of pop music
During the mid to late 19th century, many households gathered around the pianos in their homes and enjoyed hearing members of their family play music. This is where we can trace the beginnings to pop music as we know it. To meet the demand for sheet music, the publishing industry was established. They were looking for popular artists and printed their music for sale, making it available for other musicians to perform. In the early 1900s, when the phonograph was introduced, this evolved to listening to recorded performances, kickstarting physical sales of music.
1920s – 1940s: the birth of Jazz, Blues and R&B
The first notable era of our pop music history timeline was characterised by jazz. Up until the 1920s, the western population had enjoyed classical music, church hymns and ballads, so jazz really introduced something new to the scene, while shocking the audiences. Its undeniable influence has been adapted by other genres that followed like blues, r&b and hip hop. Blues evolved from jazz, laying meaningful foundation for rock’n’roll.
1950s – 1960s: Rock ’n’ Roll takes over
In the 1950s, pop musicians started to take influences from jazz and blues and the unique blend of genres birthed one of the most important revolutions in pop music history. Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London noted that by early 1960s, dominant seventh chords, typically found in jazz and blues started to die out. Instead, more of a rocky sound was adapted by musicians, pioneered by the likes of Ike Turner and Muddy Waters and then accelerated by bands like The Beatles and Rolling Stones, causing the so-called ‘British Invasion’ in North America. Other notable artists of this era included The Who, Elvis Presley and Led Zeppelin. It’s important to note, that while British bands of this time were instrumental in popularising the rock’n’roll genre, the trend towards rock music actually originated before them. Another crucial development in the 1960s was the accessibility of a portable radio, enabling music lovers to travel with their favourite tunes, which made picking up different influences much easier.
1970s – 1980s: Funk, Disco and Stadium Rock
Funk evolved during the mid 1960s and was popularised throughout the 1970s. Prominent artists include James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Kool & The Gang and Earth, Wind and Fire. Funk was accompanied by protest movements and here, again, we can pick up influences of soul, jazz and R&B. The use of minor 7th chords became popular and it hasn’t been eliminated since. 1970s were also defined by pop rock artists like Elton John and Queen. With the advancement in music technology and digital recordings, another wave of revolution of pop music was born. Synthesisers, samplers and digital drums were available, paving the way for genres like disco, electro, techno and house. Digital equipment was used heavily in pop music and artists like Michael Jackson and Prince defined the genres at this time. Meanwhile, rock took on a different form with glam rock, hair metal and stadium rock, featuring the likes of KISS, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Interestingly, researchers have found that the popularity of arena rock coincided with a lack of diversity in pop music. That, of course, was set to change with early introduction of hip hop in the 1980s.
1990 – 2000s: Hip Hop, Pop and Grunge
Hip Hop introduced the third and the most influential revolution of pop music since rock’n’roll and digital instruments. Mainstream companies and record labels didn’t want to welcome rap and hip hop onto the scene, but once the wider public caught onto the movement, it was clear – hip hop is here to stay. According to scientific research, it truly revolutionised the pop music genre. For the first time, harmony wasn’t the main characteristic of popular music, in fact, hip hop uses smaller amounts of harmony and puts emphasis on rhythm and speech. Meanwhile, other, existing genres of music also experienced a shift in the 1990s. Grunge and punk bands rose to prominence, overshadowing the popularity of stadium rock, changing the game for rock musicians. Pop bands and artists such as Spice Girls and, later, Britney Spears, S Club 7 and Backstreet Boys became a sensation among teen audiences, defining the trend of boy bands and girl bands. As we enter 2000s, these influences are still present. More commercial, pop-sounding rock and punk rock is popularised by bands like Simple Plan, Blink 182 and Fall Out Boy. The popularity of rap and hip hop shows no signs of slowing down with artists like Eminem, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Missy Elliott and many more dominating the charts. As always, there were musicians taking influence from different genres like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit who blended rap and rock together.
Popular music today
As evidenced in our pop music history timeline, popular music is ever-evolving. This is thanks to innovation in technology and the creativity of musicians, taking influences from many different genres and putting their own spin on them. The music we listen to, throughout history, also represents political and social issues at the time. As we close the 2nd decade of 2000s, we can still see the influence of hip hop, r&b and soul, as well as electronic music dominating the charts. Although many predicted rock and guitar music to die out, there are still plenty of artists that have adapted this genre and keep reaping the rewards. If chart music isn’t your cup of tea, this is the best time in history to explore many different artists and genres. Today, more people than ever, have access to endless libraries of music and, while pop music is still highlighting overarching trends, we can now find musicians that we want to listen to that fit outside of the constraints of pop music. These artists are also able to find their audience and build a platform, without getting their music into top 40, which is really empowering for musicians and listeners. Many of us also have access to making music from home, with very little equipment, which means more people are able to innovate, experiment and release music than at any other given time in history.Tags: Evolution of popular music
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Pop music, a genre of popular music, has, over the decades, grown into an independent ever-evolving form of music. Finding its roots in America and the UK, pop music is popularly known for being a composition of various styles of music.
Although most people identified it as a genre associated with sex, drinking, and party, pop music has spread across multiple cultures with a wider scope of usage.
Nevertheless, you may be wondering, ‘What does pop music mean?’ or ‘When did pop music start?’ Lista Discoteca provides you all the insights into the history of pop music.
What is Pop Music?
Due to the genre’s ever-changing nature, the definition of pop music is dynamically pliable. In its application, pop music is a version of popular music that runs the highest hits. Pop is basically a form of contemporary music that distinguishes itself from folk, art, and classical styles of music.
Some of the elements that create a variance between pop music and the subgenres of popular music include repetitive structure, simple melodies, and danceable rhythm. Instruments used in pop music have a defining force of what goes around the genre.
What Instruments are Used in Pop Music?
Over the decades, music has had dynamic incorporation of a wide range of instruments, and pop has not been an exception. If you have been to a pop gig or concert, you must have noticed instruments such as electric keyboards, electric pianos, electronic organs, cymbals, guitars, and drums.
The types of guitars used in pop music include electric, acoustic, and bass guitars. Occasionally, orchestral string instruments such as violin and wind instruments such as trumpets and saxophones will be featured in various versions of pop music.
Types of Pop Music
Pop is one of the few forms of music that come with multiple variances based on geographical location and application. These types include adult contemporary pop, orchestral pop, Christian pop, Arabic pop, Latin pop, Baroque, dance-pop, Mexican pop, and pop-rap.
The fact that pop music is ever-changing means that the list of various versions of pop music cannot be exhausted. More types of the genre are likely to pop up over time.
Origin of Pop Music
Pop music originated from the USA and the UK. The genre started as a mix of various music styles that were popular around the early 50’s. Some of the music types that led to the genesis of pop included jazz, country, bebop, rap, and rock ‘n’ roll.
Sheet music was popularly used in the pop genre, where musical sheets were published as guides to play an instrument.
At the beginning of the 20th century, pianos saw their way into the phonograph, resulting in new renditions of pop music. Here is a highlight of insights and events that shaped pop music.
Who Started Pop Music?
In 1954, Elvis Presley became the first artist to play pop music, comprising of a fusion of the blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and country music.
Pop Music in the 1950s
Traditional pop music started playing in the 1950s when rock ‘n’ roll was the rhythm of the day. Regardless of the barriers that the pioneers of pop music experienced, the genre did not lose traction.
The success of pop in this decade is attributed to labels such as Columbia Records, which combined the music genres of this time to produce pop music.
Pioneer singers of the 50s pop songs such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, and Bill Haley took pop music to an entirely new level.
Pop Music in the 1960s
With the 50’s background of pop music, it became quite easy for young stars to diversify pop music. This is one of the reasons why pop music received a large teen fan base.
With the portable radio coming into play around this decade, pop music gained a wide scope of influence across Europe and America.
During this time, the historical British Invasion and Beatlemania movements took over the American pop music charts. This saw pop grow into subgenres that included Baroque pop and Bubblegum pop.
70’s Pop Culture
This decade saw a replacement of subgenres developed in the 60’s by more advanced varieties of pop music, such as country-pop, power pop, and punk rock.
However, the greatest revolution that took place in pop music over this period was the uprising of the pop-rock sound.
Artists such as Elton John, Queen, and Jackson 5 were the stars of the 70’s pop songs.
80’s Pop Artists
The 80’s was the decade when pop music experienced a true revolution of its kind. Digital recording came into play, making pop music grow exponentially. Legendary pop artists rose into the pop scene, including Michael Jackson and Prince.
Michael Jackson would later be declared the ‘King of Pop’ due to his legendary pop performances. The pop culture the artists of this decade created was to have an influence on generations to come.
2000’s Pop Hits
Early 2000’s pop music was already a refined and well-defined genre. Pop had become a fusion of sounds and subgenres that all expressed the nature of a pop song.
Musicians such as Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Ms. Jackson would shape the 2000’s pop culture.
The genre was, by this time, experiencing influence from R&B and hip-hop artists. Back then, a good number of the best pop songs 2000’s dominated the airwaves, including ‘Bye Bye Bye,’ ‘Try Again,’ ‘Poker Face,’ ‘Lose Yourself,’ and ‘All the Small Things.’
Clubs in Barcelona: Where to Dance Pop Music in Barcelona
Barcelona is known for having the best clubs and discotheques in the region to satisfy the needs of nightlife lovers. If you are looking for clubs where you can dance to some good pop music, you can be sure that Barcelona never disappoints. Here are some of the clubs you should consider visiting:
To get the most out of these clubs, ensure that you join the clubs’ guestlists. Being on the guestlist offers you a free entrance into the club for up to around 2 am for most of the nights. In Lista Discoteca we give you the best tips to partying in Barcelona!
Origin pop music
6.1 The Evolution of Popular Music
The first stirrings of popular or pop music—any genre of music that appeals to a wide audience or subculture—began in the late 19th century, with discoveries by Thomas Edison and Emile Berliner. In 1877, Edison discovered that sound could be reproduced using a strip of tinfoil wrapped around a rotating metal cylinder. Edison’s phonographA 19th-century sound reproduction machine that originally recorded onto a tinfoil sheet wrapped around a cylinder. provided ideas and inspiration for Berliner’s gramophoneThe U.S. brand name for the phonograph; the gramophone used a disc instead of a cylinder., which used flat discs to record sound. The flat discs were cheaper and easier to produce than were the cylinders they replaced, enabling the mass production of sound recordings. This would have a huge impact on the popular music industry, enabling members of the middle class to purchase technology that was previously available only to an elite few. Berliner founded the Berliner Gramophone Company to manufacture his discs, and he encouraged popular operatic singers such as Enrico Caruso and Dame Nellie Melba to record their music using his system. Opera singers were the stars of the 19th century, and their music generated most of the sheet music sales in the United States. Although the gramophone was an exciting new development, it would take 20 years for disc recordings to rival sheet music in commercial importance.
In the late 19th century, the lax copyright laws that existed in the United States at the beginning of the century were strengthened, providing an opportunity for composers, singers, and publishers to work together to earn money by producing as much music as possible. Numerous publishers began to emerge in an area of New York that became known as Tin Pan AlleyA term used to refer to the area in Manhattan in which singer-songwriter and publisher teams worked in the early 20th century.. Allegedly named because the cacophony of many pianos being played in the publishers’ demo rooms sounded like people pounding on tin pans, Tin Pan Alley soon became a prolific source of popular music, with its publishers mass-producing sheet music to satisfy the demands of a growing middle class. Whereas classical artists were exalted for their individuality and expected to differ stylistically from other classical artists, popular artists were praised for conforming to the tastes of their intended audience. Popular genres expanded from opera to include vaudevilleA popular form of variety entertainment in the early 20th century that included singing acts, magicians, comedians, and acrobats.—a form of variety entertainment containing short acts featuring singers, dancers, magicians, and comedians that opened new doors for publishers to sell songs popularized by the live shows—and ragtimeA jazzy style of piano music characterized by a syncopated melody that was influenced by offbeat dance music and music., a style of piano music characterized by a syncopated melody.
The Tin Pan Alley tradition of song publishing continued throughout the first half of the 20th century with the show tunes and soothing ballads of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin, and songwriting teams of the early 1950s, such as Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. By hiring songwriters to compose music based on public demand and mainstream tastes, the Tin Pan Alley publishers introduced the concept of popular music as we know it.
The Roaring 1920s: Radio versus Records
In the 1920s, Tin Pan Alley’s dominance of the popular music industry was threatened by two technological developments: the advent of electrical recording and the rapid growth of radio.
During the early days of its development, the gramophone was viewed as a scientific novelty that posed little threat to sheet music because of its poor sound quality. However, as inventors improved various aspects of the device, the sales of gramophone records began to affect sheet music sales. The Copyright Act of 1911 had imposed a royalty on all records of copyrighted musical works to compensate for the loss in revenue to composers and authors. This loss became even more prominent during the mid-1920s, when improvements in electrical recording drastically increased sales of gramophones and gramophone records. The greater range and sensitivity of the electrical broadcasting microphone revolutionized gramophone recording to such an extent that sheet music sales plummeted. From the very beginning, the record industry faced challenges from new technology.
Composers and publishers could deal with the losses caused by an increase in gramophone sales because of the provisions made in the Copyright Act. However, when radio broadcasting emerged in the early 1920s, both gramophone sales and sheet-music sales began to suffer. Radio was an affordable medium that enabled listeners to experience events as they took place. Better yet, it offered a wide range of free music that required none of the musical skills, expensive instruments, or sheet music necessary for creating one’s own music in the home, nor the expense of purchasing records to play on the gramophone. This development was a threat to the entire recording industry, which began to campaign for, and was ultimately granted, the right to collect license fees from broadcasters. With the license fees in place, the recording industry eventually began to profit from the new technology.
The 1930s: The Rise of Jazz and Blues
The ascendance of Tin Pan Alley coincided with the emergence of jazzAn improvisational style of music that emerged in New Orleans in the 1930s, characterized by syncopation and heavily accented rhythms. in New Orleans. An improvisational form of music that was primarily instrumental, jazz incorporated a variety of styles, including African rhythms, gospel, and blues. Established by New Orleans musicians such as King Oliver and his protégé, Louis Armstrong, who is considered by many to be one of the greatest jazz soloists in history, jazz spread along the Mississippi River by the bands that traveled up and down the river playing on steamboats. During the Prohibition era in the 1920s and early 1930s, some jazz bands played in illegal speakeasies, which helped generate the genre’s reputation for being immoral and for threatening the country’s cultural values. However, jazz became a legitimate form of entertainment during the 1930s, when white orchestras began to incorporate jazz style into their music. During this time, jazz music began to take on a big band style, combining elements of ragtime, black spirituals, blues, and European music. Key figures in developing the big jazz band included bandleaders Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, and Glenn Miller. These big band orchestras used an arranger to limit improvisation by assigning parts of a piece of music to various band members. Although improvisation was allowed during solo performances, the format became more structured, resulting in the swing style of jazz that became popular in the 1930s. As the decade progressed, social attitudes toward racial segregation relaxed and big bands became more racially integrated.
At the heart of jazz, the bluesA 12-bar musical form with a call-and-response format between the singer and his guitar that originated in the Mississippi Delta at the turn of the 20th century. was a creation of former black slaves who adapted their African musical heritage to the American environment. Dealing with themes of personal adversity, overcoming hard luck, and other emotional turmoil, the blues is a 12-bar musical form with a call-and-response format between the singer and his guitar. Originating in the Mississippi Delta, just upriver from New Orleans, blues music was exemplified in the work of W. C. Handy, Ma Rainey, Robert Johnson, and Lead Belly, among others. Unlike jazz, the blues did not spread significantly to the Northern states until the late 1930s and 1940s. Once Southern migrants introduced the blues to urban Northern cities, the music developed into distinctive regional styles, ranging from the jazz-oriented Kansas City blues to the swing-based West Coast blues. Chicago blues musicians such as Muddy Waters were the first to electrify the blues through the use of electric guitars and to blend urban style with classic Southern blues. The electric guitar, first produced by Adolph Rickenbacker in 1931, changed music by intensifying the sound and creating a louder volume that could cut through noise in bars and nightclubs. By focusing less on shouting, singers could focus on conveying more emotion and intimacy in their performances. This electrified form of blues provided the foundations of rock and roll.
The 1920s through the 1950s is considered the golden age of radio. During this time, the number of licensed radio stations in the United States exploded from 5 in 1921 to over 600 by 1925. The introduction of radio broadcasting provided a valuable link between urban city centers and small, rural towns. Able to transmit music nationwide, rural radio stations broadcast local music genres that soon gained popularity across the country.
The 1940s: Technology Progresses
Technological advances during the 1940s made it even easier for people to listen to their favorite music and for artists to record it. The introduction of the reel-to-reel tape recorder paved the way for several innovations that would transform the music industry. The first commercially available tape recorders were monophonic, meaning that they only had one track on which to record sound onto magnetic tape. This may seem limiting today, but at the time it allowed for exciting innovations. During the 1940s and 1950s, some musicians—most notably guitarist Les Paul, with his song “Lover (When You’re Near Me)”—began to experiment with overdubbing, in which they played back a previously recorded tape through a mixer, blended it with a live performance, and recorded the composite signal onto a second tape recorder. By the time four-track and eight-track recorders became readily available in the 1960s, musicians no longer had to play together in the same room; they could record each of their individual parts and combine them into a finished recording.
While the reel-to-reel recorders were in the early stages of development, families listened to records on their gramophones. The 78 revolutions per minute (rpm) disc had been the accepted recording medium for many years despite the necessity of changing the disc every 5 minutes. In 1948, Columbia Records perfected the 12-inch 33 rpm long-playing (LP) disc, which could play up to 25 minutes per side and had a lower level of surface noise than the earlier (and highly breakable) shellac discs. The 33 rpm discs became the standard form for full albums and would dominate the recorded music industry until the advent of the compact disc (CD).
During the 1940s, a mutually beneficial alliance between sound recording and radio existed. Artists such as Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald profited from radio exposure. Until this time, music had primarily been recorded for adults, but the popularity of Sinatra and his contemporaries revealed an entirely untapped market: teenagers. The postwar boom of the 1930s and early 1940s provided many teenagers spending money for records. Radio airplay helped to promote and sell records and the recording artists themselves, which in turn stabilized the recording industry. The near riots caused by the appearance of New Jersey crooner Frank Sinatra in concert paved the way for mass hysteria among Elvis Presley and Beatles fans during the rock and roll era.
The 1950s: The Advent of Rock and Roll
New technology continued to develop in the 1950s with the introduction of television. The new medium spread rapidly, primarily because of cheaper mass-production costs and war-related improvements in technology. In 1948, only 1 percent of America’s households owned a television; by 1953 this figure had risen to nearly 50 percent, and by 1978 nearly every home in the United States owned a television. The introduction of television into people’s homes threatened the existence of the radio industry. The radio industry adapted by focusing on music, joining forces with the recording industry to survive. In an effort to do so, it became somewhat of a promotional tool. Stations became more dependent on recorded music to fill airtime, and in 1955 the Top 40 format was born. Playlists for radio stations were based on popularity (usually the Billboard Top 40 singles chart), and a popular song might be played as many as 30 or 40 times a day. Radio stations began to influence record sales, which resulted in increased competition for spots on the playlist. This ultimately resulted in payolaThe illegal practice of receiving money from record companies for playing particular songs on the radio.—the illegal practice of receiving payment from a record company for broadcasting a particular song on the radio. The payola scandal came to a head in the 1960s, when Cleveland, Ohio, DJ Alan Freed and 8 other disc jockeys were accused of taking money for airplay. Following Freed’s trial, an antipayola statute was passed, making payola a misdemeanor crime.
Technology wasn’t the only revolution that took place during the 1950s. The urban Chicago blues typified by artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and B. B. King surged in popularity among white and black teenagers alike. Marketed under the name rhythm and bluesA combination of blues and jazz that was a precursor to rock and roll., or R&B, the sexually suggestive lyrics in songs such as “Sexy Ways” and “Sixty Minute Man” and the electrified guitar and wailing harmonica sounds appealed to young listeners. At the time, R&B records were classified as “race music” and their sales were segregated from the white music records tracked on the pop charts. Nonetheless, there was a considerable amount of crossover among audiences. In 1952, the Dolphin’s of Hollywood record store in Los Angeles, which specialized in R&B music, noted that 40 percent of its sales were to white individuals.
Although banned from some stations, others embraced the popular new music. In 1951, Freed started a late-night R&B show called The Moondog Rock & Roll House Party and began referring to the music he played as rock and rollA blend of rhythm and blues, country and western, folk, and gospel music that developed in the 1950s.. Taking its name from a blues slang term for sex, the music obtained instant notoriety, gaining widespread support among teenage music fans and widespread dislike among the older generation. Frenetic showmen Little Richard and Chuck Berry were early pioneers of rock and roll, and their wild stage performances became characteristic of the genre. As the integration of white and black individuals progressed in the 1950s with the repeal of segregation laws and the initiation of the civil rights movement, aspects of black cultures, including music, became more widely accepted by many white individuals. However, it was the introduction of a white man who sang songs written by black musicians that helped rock and roll really spread across state and racial lines. Elvis Presley, a singer and guitarist, the “King of Rock and Roll,” further helped make music written by black individuals acceptable to mainstream white audiences and also helped popularize rockabilly—a blend of rock and country music—with black audiences during the mid-1950s. Heavily influenced by his rural Southern roots, Presley combined the R&B music of bluesmen B. B. King, John Lee Hooker, and Howlin’ Wolf with the country-western tradition of Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, and Jimmie Rodgers, and added a touch of gospel. The reaction Presley inspired among hordes of adolescent girls—screaming, crying, rioting—solidified his reputation as the first true rock and roll icon.
The 1960s: Rock and Roll Branches Out From R&B
Prior to 1964, rock and roll was primarily an American export. Although U.S. artists frequently reached the top of the charts overseas, few European artists achieved success on this side of the Atlantic. This situation changed almost overnight, with the arrival of British pop phenomenon the Beatles. Combining elements of skiffle—a type of music played on rudimentary instruments, such as banjos, guitars, or homemade instruments—doo-wop, and soul, the four mop-haired musicians from Liverpool, England, created a genre of music known as MerseybeatTerm used to describe the music of bands originating in the Mersey area of England during the 1960s, e.g. the Beatles., named after the River Mersey. The Beatles’ genial personalities and catchy pop tunes made them an instant success in the United States, and their popularity was heightened by several appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. When the Beatles arrived in New York in 1964, they were met by hundreds of reporters and police officers and thousands of fans. Their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show a few days later was the largest audience for an American television program, with approximately one in three Americans (74 million) tuning in.Beatlemania—the term coined to describe fans’ wildly enthusiastic reaction to the band—extended to other British bands, and by the mid-1960s, the Kinks, the Zombies, the Animals, Herman’s Hermits, and the Rolling Stones were all making appearances on the U.S. charts. The Rolling Stones’s urban rock sound steered away from pop music and remained more true to the bluesy, R&B roots of rock and roll. During their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Stones were lewd and vulgar, prompting host Ed Sullivan to denounce their behavior (although he privately acknowledged that the band had received the most enthusiastic applause he had ever seen). The British Invasion transformed rock and roll into the all-encompassing genre of rock, sending future performers in two different directions: the melodic, poppy sounds of the Beatles, on the one hand, and the gritty, high-volume power rock of the Stones on the other.
The branching out of rock and roll continued in several other directions throughout the 1960s. Surf musicCarefree, hedonistic music that developed around the California surf culture in the 1960s and is characterized by twanging, distorted electric guitar sounds., embodied by artists such as the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and Dick Dale, celebrated the aspects of youth culture in California. With their twanging electric guitars and glossy harmonies, the surf groups sang of girls, beaches, and convertible cars cruising along the West Coast. In Detroit, some black performers were developing a sound that would have crossover appeal with both black and white audiences. Combining R&B, pop, gospel, and blues into a genre known as soulA blend of R&B, pop, gospel, and blues music., vocalists such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Wilson Pickett sang about the lives of black Americans. Producer and songwriter Berry Gordy Jr. developed soul music through the creation of his MotownSuccessful record label founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in Detroit; the Motown sound is characterized by smooth, soulful R&B tunes. label, which would become one of the most successful businesses owned by a black individual in American history. Capitalizing on the 1960s girl-group craze, Gordy produced hits by the Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, and, most successfully, Diana Ross and the Supremes. For his bands, he created a slick, polished image designed to appeal to the American mainstream.
In the late 1960s, supporters of the civil rights movement—along with feminists, environmentalists, and Vietnam War protesters—were gravitating toward folkUnpolished genre of music based on oral traditions and often associated with the social protest movement of the 1960s. music, which would become the sound of social activism. Broadly referring to music that is passed down orally through the generations, folk music retained an unpolished, amateur quality that inspired participation and social awareness. Carrying on the legacy of the 1930s labor activist Woody Guthrie, singer-songwriters such as Joan Baez; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Bob Dylan sang social protest songs about civil rights, discrimination against black Americans, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Having earned himself a reputation as a political spokesperson, Dylan was lambasted by traditional folk fans for playing an electric guitar at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. However, his attempt to reach a broader crowd inspired the folk rockFolk music played with electric instruments. genre, pioneered by the Los Angeles band the Byrds. Even though many fans questioned his decision to go electric, Dylan’s poetic and politically charged lyrics were still influential, inspiring groups like the Beatles and the Animals. Protest music in the 1960s was closely aligned with the hippie culture, in which some viewed taking drugs as a form of personal expression and free speech. Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and the Doors believed that the listening experience could be enhanced using mind-altering drugs. This spirit of freedom and protest culminated in the infamous Woodstock festival in the summer of 1969, although the subsequent deaths of many of its stars from drug overdoses cast a shadow over the psychedelic culture.
The 1970s: From Glam Rock to Punk
After the Vietnam War ended, college students began to settle down and focus on careers and families. For some selfish views took the place of concern with social issues and political activism, causing writer Tom Wolfe to label the 1970s the “me” decade. Musically, this ideological shift resulted in the creation of glam rockExtravagant, self-indulgent form of rock that incorporated flamboyant costumes, heavy makeup, and elements of hard rock and pop., an extravagant, self-indulgent form of rock that incorporated flamboyant costumes, heavy makeup, and elements of hard rock and pop. A primarily British phenomenon, glam rock was popularized by acts such as Slade, David Bowie, the Sweet, Elton John, and Gary Glitter. It proved to be a precursor for the punk movement in the late 1970s. Equally flamboyant, but rising out of a more electronic sound, discoCommercialized dance music that became popular in the 1970s and is associated with extravagant glittery costumes. also emerged in the 1970s. Popular disco artists included KC and the Sunshine Band, Gloria Gaynor, the Bee Gees, and Donna Summer, who helped to pioneer its electronic sound. Boosted by the success of 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, disco’s popularity spread across the country. Records were created especially for discos, and record companies churned out tunes that became huge hits on the dance floor.
Reacting against the commercialism of disco and corporate rock, punkMinimalist, angry form of rock that includes simple chord structures and often includes politically motivated lyrics. artists created a minimalist, angry form of rock that returned to rock and roll basics: simple chord structures, catchy tunes, and politically motivated lyrics. Like the skiffle bands of the 1950s, the appeal of punk rock was that anyone with basic musical skills could participate. The punk rock movement emerged out of CBGB, a small bar in New York City that featured bands such as Television, Blondie, and the Ramones. Never a huge commercial success in the United States, punk rock exploded in the United Kingdom, where high unemployment rates and class divisions had created angry, disenfranchised youths. The Sex Pistols, fronted by Johnny Rotten, developed an aggressive, pumping sound that appealed to a rebellious generation of listeners, although the band was disparaged by many critics at the time. In 1976, British music paper Melody Maker complained that “the Sex Pistols do as much for music as World War II did for the cause of peace.” Punk bands began to abandon their sound in the late 1970s, when the punk style became assimilated into the rock mainstream.
The 1980s: The Hip-Hop Generation
Whereas many British youths expressed their displeasure through punk music, many disenfranchised black American youths in the 1980s turned to hip-hopUrban culture that incorporates activities such as break dancing and graffiti art with the musical techniques of rapping, sampling, and scratching records.—a term for the urban culture that includes break dancing, graffiti art, and the musical techniques of rapping, sampling, and scratching records. Reacting against the extravagance of disco, many poor urban rappers developed their new street culture by adopting a casual image consisting of T-shirts and sportswear, developing a language that reflected the everyday concerns of the people in low-income, urban areas, and by embracing the low-budget visual art form of graffiti. They described their new culture as hip-hop, after a common phrase chanted at dance parties in New York’s Bronx borough.
The hip-hop genre first became popular among black youths in the late 1970s, when record spinners in the Bronx and Harlem started to play short fragments of songs rather than the entire track (known as sampling). Early hip-hop artists sampled all types of music, like funk, soul, and jazz, later adding special effects to the samples and experimenting with techniques such as rotating or scratching records back and forth to create a rhythmic pattern. For example, Kool Moe Dee’s track “How Ya Like Me Now” includes samples from James Brown’s classic funk song “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” The DJs would often add short raps to their music to let audiences know who was playing the records, a trend that grew more elaborate over time to include entire spoken verses. Artists such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five added political and social commentary on the realities of life in low-income, high-crime areas—a trend that would continue with later rappers such as Public Enemy and Ice-T.
In the early 1980s, a second wave of rap artists brought inner-city rap to American youths by mixing it with hard guitar rock. Pioneered by groups such as Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys, the new music appealed to black and white audiences alike. Another subgenre that emerged was gangsta rapControversial form of hip-hop that highlights gang violence., a controversial brand of hip-hop epitomized by West Coast rappers such as Ice Cube and Tupac Shakur. Highlighting violence and gang warfare, gangsta rappers faced accusations that they created violence in inner cities—an argument that gained momentum with the East Coast–West Coast rivalry of the 1990s.
The 1990s: New Developments in Hip-Hop, Rock, and Pop
Hip-hop and gangsta rap maintained their popularity in the early 1990s with artists such as Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Snoop Dogg at the top of the charts. West Coast rappers such as Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg favored gangsta rap, while East Coast rappers, like the Notorious B.I.G. and Sean Combs, stuck to a traditional hip-hop style. The rivalry culminated with the murders of Shakur in 1996 and B.I.G. in 1997.
The shooting deaths of gangsta rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. caused a shift in the hip-hop industry toward less violent music.
Along with hip-hop and gangsta rap, alternative rock came to the forefront in the 1990s with grunge. The grungeSubgenre of alternative rock named for its characteristic sludgy, distorted guitar sound. scene emerged in the mid-1980s in the Seattle area of Washington State. Inspired by hardcore punk and heavy metal, this subgenre of rock was so-called because of its messy, sludgy, distorted guitar sound, the disheveled appearance of its pioneers, and the disaffected nature of the artists. Initially achieving limited success with Seattle band Soundgarden, Seattle independent label Sub Pop became more prominent when it signed another local band, Nirvana. Fronted by vocalist and guitarist Kurt Cobain, Nirvana came to be identified with Generation X—the post–baby boom generation, many of whom came from broken families and experienced violence both on television and in real life. Nirvana’s angst-filled lyrics spoke to many members of Generation X, launching the band into the mainstream. Ironically, Cobain was uncomfortable and miserable, and he would eventually commit suicide in 1994. Nirvana’s success paved the way for other alternative rock bands, including Green Day, Pearl Jam, and Nine Inch Nails. More recently, alternative rock has fragmented into even more specific subgenres.
By the end of the 1990s, mainstream tastes leaned toward pop music. A plethora of boy bands, girl bands, and pop starlets emerged, sometimes evolving from gospel choir groups, but more often than not created by talent scouts. The groups were aggressively marketed to teen audiences. Popular bands included the Backstreet Boys, ’N Sync, and the Spice Girls. Meanwhile, individual pop acts from the MTV generation such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince continued to generate hits.
The 2000s: Pop Stays Strong as Hip-Hop Overtakes Rock in Popularity
The 2000s began right where the 1990s left off, with young singers such as Christina Aguilera and Destiny’s Child ruling the pop charts. Pop music stayed strong throughout the decade with Gwen Stefani, Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga achieving mainstream success. By the end of the decade, country artists, like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, transitioned from country stars to bona fide pop stars. While rock music started the decade strong, by the end of the 2000s, rock’s presence in mainstream music had waned, with a few exceptions such as Nickelback, Linkin Park, and Green Day.
Unlike rock music, hip-hop maintained its popularity, with more commercial, polished artists such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, and OutKast achieving enormous success. While some gangsta rappers from the 1990s—like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg—softened their images, other rappers—such as 50 Cent and Eminem—continued to project a tough image and to use violent lyrics. An alternative style of hip-hop emerged in the 2000s that infused positive messages and an element of social conscience to the music that was missing from early hip-hop tracks. Artists such as Common, Mos Def, and the Black Eyed Peas found success even though they didn’t represent traditional stereotypes of hip-hop.
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