Introduction to Pop Music: What Is Pop Music and How Has It Evolved?
Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in the mid-1950s. It is generally characterized by a certain sound, style, or production technique. It may draw from a variety of different musical styles including rock, hip hop, funk, disco and soul. Over the years, it has evolved dramatically and continues to do so today with new styles emerging every few years.
At its heart, pop music is about taking complex topics and making them accessible and enjoyable for mass audiences. The most successful artists are often capable of delivering catchy hooks coupled with timeless messages that appeal to both young and old fans alike. Over time, this combination of commercial success and broad appeal has cemented pop’s role as one of the most important genres in modern history.
Pop music can be divided into two main categories: mainstream pop and underground pop. Mainstream pop consists of the hits you hear on popular radio stations around the country day in, day out – think Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” or Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” Underground pop takes more experimental approaches to songwriting while still maintaining an ear-friendly quality – think Lorde’s “Royals” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank).” While artists from both genres have found success commercially over time, only mainstreamers tend to dominate the charts year after year due to their strong focus on marketability and catchiness.
As audiences have changed over time so too have their preferences for certain types of music: sounds come and go; different decades favour different beats; what works for one artist may not necessarily work for another if they occupy similar spaces musically. This is why we talk about “the evolution”of any given genre – because it has morphed in many ways since its formative days! In some ways then Pop Music stands at something like a crossroads between societal tastes – presenting a malleable entity that acts as both mirror reflecting cultural attitudes at any given moment but also offering itself up as something which can impact how those same attitudes shift and develop over time depending upon which artist chooses to take center stage next…
1950s – The Early Days of Pop Music
The 1950s saw a revolution take place in the world of music. It wasn’t rock and roll, jazz or R&B — it was Pop Music. Pop music is defined as a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in 1950’s America with influence from rhythm and blues, country, folk, and classical music styles. The songs presented were new and fresh but at the same time nostalgic – they had elements of the genres that preceded it including jazz, blues, crooner ballads and gospel. Pop pioneers like Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly drove these more intricate sounds directly into mainstream consciousness thus igniting a profound cultural phenomenon in the process.
Pop culture during this era spoke to teenagers in particular inspiring a newfound sense of individualism that helped propel pop music forward as its own stand-alone genre–one to shape all others after it. The arrival of this formative musical movement was due largely to the popularity of radio programs such as American Bandstand which broadcasted new singles every week exposing them to millions across America’s airwaves for the first time. This brought an extraordinary level of access allowing fans everywhere to connect with their favorite artists’ discographies within minutes–a trend ultimately resulting in millions of record sales each year paving the way towards what would eventually become “rock”n’roll” .
The 50’s offered up an assortment of novel sounds from disparate cultures around Europe adding breadth and depth to pop’s variety whilst simultaneously inspiring original acts on both sides of Atlantic such as Bill Haley & His Comets (Rock Around The Clock), Johnnie Ray With The Four Lads (Cry), Fats Domino (Blueberry Hill) et al proving that despite space/time borders no genre should bend under creative constraint only continued pioneering ideas fueled by human curiosity alone! Spurring forward this curious culture even further radio stations like Radio Luxembourg introduced entire nations to exciting new English acts laying true foundations for international expansion beyond wishful thinking into pop superstardom locked within every success-story from now onwards!
1960s – Motown and the British Invasion
The 1960s marked a revolutionary era in music, with the rise of Motown and the British Invasion. From Detroit to London, these two separate musical movements blended styles, broke racial and socioeconomic barriers, and changed the shape of popular music forever.
Motown began its rise to prominence in 1959 when Berry Gordy founded Motown Records out of Detroit. Over the next decade, some of the most iconic artists in popular music would emerge from this record label – from The Supremes to Martha & The Vandellas; from Smokey Robinson & The Miracles to The Temptations. This was considered ‘The Sound of Young America’ during this time period – soulful R&B rhythms mixed with genre-crossing pop melodies that everyone could sing along to. By 1965, Motown had become one of the biggest hitmakers in any genre and its influence is still heard in contemporary music today.
At approximately the same time as Motown’s popularity was rising in North America, a very different revolution was beginning across the ocean. In 1964, the world first heard four lads from Liverpool when they appeared on Ed Sullivan’s show singing ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. The group known as The Beatles quickly became synonymous with Beatlemania seemingly overnight and sparked a whole new music trend throughout Europe and across much of North American known as The British Invasion. Iconic bands such as The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, Yardbirds, Kinks followed shortly after which propelled British rock n’ roll into household name status internationally.
The artistic boundaries that both Motown and Britain questioned provided modern listeners with an interesting dichotomy – inspiring social consciousness among their messages throughout their hits such as ‘My Girl’ (The Temptations) or ‘(Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ (Rolling Stones). At best though, what really blossomed during this time period is that it had developed an international sense of connectedness through music: people shared culture by listening to songs they all knew regardless of language barriers or nationality – Music was now a universal language wouldn spoken by all. So it comes as no surprise why many generations still enjoy these giants today – be it classic rhythm-and-blues stations playing old favorites like ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ or classic rock airplay providing solace for ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting).
1970s – Disco Revolution
The 1970s saw a dramatic shift in popular music as the “Disco Revolution” rolled in. This new genre of dance music was characterized by its heavy use of percussive beats, four-on-the floor rhythm patterns, string instrumentation, and catchy pop vocal hooks. Disco brought a certain level of glamour to musical entertainment with luminescent club scenes and elaborately costumed performers on stage.
A key factor driving the success of disco was its ability to bring people together in ways that had never been seen before. It offered an escape from everyday life, allowing clubs goers to forget their worries while on the dancefloor. The tempo also encouraged dancers to let go and express themselves through movement – something that was not typically done in other genres of music at the time.
Signature elements such as electric guitar solos were gradually tweaked out for more club friendly synthesizers, samples and drum machines; making it perfect for a steady dancefloor ambiance all night long. Choreographed dances also became an integral part of disco culture – think ‘The Hustle’ & ‘Saturday Night Fever’. Big name stars like Gloria Gaynor & Chic kept feet shuffling around the world while small independent labels continued to fuel regional variants within the scene like Detroit Techno or LA’s Boogie Funk sound.
By the end of the decade disco had spread across continents, amassing millions of fans along the way though its popularity waned as tastes shifted towards emerging genres such as punk and new wave in 1980s. Despite this roller coaster ride through popularity – disco has left a lasting impact musically socially and continues to influence musical trends today!
1980s – MTV Leverages Music Videos
The 1980s marked a significant shift in the music industry with the launch of MTV, the world’s first 24-hour video music channel. Through its unique blend of rock, rap, pop and other genres, MTV quickly became a major influencer in the entertainment industry. As a result, artists began to leverage music videos as a way to market themselves and their songs. Music videos provided an opportunity for viewers to engage with their favorite songs on a deeper level by providing them with visuals beyond just hearing it on the radio or playing it live.
Music videos also allowed fans to connect with the songs they were listening to on an entirely different level; they could watch how the performers presented their music visually. Music videos were used to create iconic characters or storylines that allowed viewers to appreciate not only what was being said but also body language and other characteristics of each star’s performance which gave them fame back then and regardless even today For example Michael Jackson became known for his iconic dance moves that can be seen over and over again in his “Thriller” video from 1983 which essentially made him one of 70-80’s most influential pop stars!
In addition to Jackon and others like Madonna who popularized provocative styles on MTV during this era, giving rise to new trends in fashion and style which still endure today . Not sitting still however MTV kept progressing from simply playing existing content from known bands/celebrities by pushing boundaries by introducing new concepts such as first listening parties where viewers gave direct feedback as soon as song premiered in order get an immediate response and start generating buzz around upcoming releases before they hit store shelves.. This technique proved effective at driving album sales through mass promotion via tv apparatuses helping successful artists secure platinum album status quicker than ever before.
MTV revolutionized how we see our favorite musicians over 30 years ago and it is no surprise why it continues to influence musicians today!
1990s- Noughties and Today’s Contemporary Pop Scene
The 1990s and early noughties can be seen as a time of transition in popular music culture. While the era was dawning with the emergence of grunge, rap, and electronica music, it still drew much influence from iconic acts from the 70s and 80s such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, U2 and Bruce Springsteen. These figures laid down a blueprint for what mainstream pop could be and their success had a lasting impact on contemporary pop music. From bubblegum pop anthems to boybands churning out intense love ballads, harmonic one-hit wonders driven by crushing guitars through to rhythmic hip-hop jams, there truly was something for everyone during this time period.
However while these artists still have a purveyor in today’s times, in recent years there has been considerable changes from what was commonplace previously. The success of Bruno Mars has seen dance oriented funk rise up to the forefront of popular culture with songs like “Uptown Funk” which seemed more centred around having fun instead of being angsty all the time. Artists like Drake are blending genres together, going beyond current boundaries by mixing contemporary rap with melodic R&B – creating unique sounds and modern classics alike. We are also seeing artists harness electronic capabilities via auto-tune as Kanye West did on his landmark album “808s & Heartbreak” – marking one of hip hops evolutionist periods that pushed boundaries both musically and lyrically. Additionally on the horizon we have artist such as Billie Eilish who draws influences from genres like jazz styling her singing over moody dark trap beats leaving her audiences captivated and elevating her status strongly above others coming out right now within those genres along with new styles emerging all together such as Latin Pop (Antonio Pausini). All signs point to it being an exciting future ahead as musicians immerse themselves into different sonic riskier territory further pushing music culture forward into unimaginable spaces!