Evolution of American Popular Music from the 1950's to the 1990's
(from Georgia Music School "Evolution of Music from the 1950's to the 2000's")
Music genres and styles have evolved over the decades, and many famous artists and bands have impacted it in so many ways. Without these talented musicians, music would not be what it is today.
Here is a look at the most influential and groundbreaking artists, bands, and technology through the decades that all contributed to the creative path music has taken up until the present.
This decade marked the creation of the rock’n’roll genre that is still popular today. One of the most popular, if not the most popular musician of the 1950's was Elvis Presley. Many know him as “the king of rock’n’roll," launching his career in 1954. He was adored by the young for his handsome looks, and his fantastic music could be heard in nearly every household in the 50's. During his career, he produced over 32 number one singles and 18 number one albums.
The swinging-sixties brought many firsts, from the first music video to the significant advance of racial integration in music.
Motown Record Corporation began its rise in the 60's. It was primarily owned by and featured African American Artists. Its first top ten hit was in 1960 for the song "Shop Around" by the Miracles. It peaked at number two of the Billboard Hot 100 and was Motown's very first million-selling record.
All girl group, The Supremes released their album, "The Supremes A Go-Go" in 1966 and reached the number one spot on the Billboard Album Charts. Motown Records also produced this album.
It was also in this century that Bob Dylan released the first music video for his single, "Subterranean Homesick Blues." He led audiences away from the days of audio and into the music video, even if it was just a one-shot short.
Other prominent artists of this time were The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Both of these bands influenced and continued to influence the music world today. They will forever be recognized as some of the greatest artists and most legendary bands of all time.
The 70’s were probably most famous for the leap into the rock era. Two of the most famous rock bands of the time were Aerosmith, officially formed in 1971 and KISS, officially formed in 1973.
KISS is most well known for taking the rock sub-genre to a whole new level with overly creative wardrobes, face-paintings, and acts like blood spitting and fire breathing.
The younger generation took a liking to this genre and related to the angst and aggression displayed in the band's song lyrics and performances.
The 1980's probably had the biggest music revelation to date, the start of MTV, or music television. Making its debut in 1981, this channel was created to show music videos, and it was prevalent in society during this time.
MTV's very first video featured The Buggles and their 1979 chart topping single "Video Killed the Radio Star."
Blondie's biggest hit, "Call Me" also peaked in the 80's. It held the number one spot for six weeks and was also certified gold for the one million copies it sold.
Additionally, sub-genres like heavy metal, hard rock, and glam metal became extremely popular in this decade with artists like Guns n’ Roses and Bon Jovi.
Hip-Hop also appeared on the scene with bands like Run-D.M.C who had a strong influence on the music industry. They were the first in their genre to reach gold record status and be nominated for a Grammy.
There were several diverse music genres on the scene by the time the 90's rolled around. What was classified as "grunge music" and similar sub-genres peaked in popularity during the early 90's? For example, bands like Nirvana had huge success, and this unique style is still associated with the early 90's.
Female pop icons, The Spice Girls, also rose to fame in the 90's in America and around the world. Their impact is most likely responsible for the invasion of all the teen pop acts that come in the coming decade, like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.