Playa Cofi Jukebox

Free Oldies Music Portal

Select a Year

from the Menu Bar above

to start a random order play of

the top Popular Music Songs for that year.

Let the Oldies Play in the Background

while you continue to work

on other projects.

Our commercial free Popular Music collections

include the top chart-ranked songs

from each year from 1950 to 1999.

There are also 1/2 decade summary collections

of the top 20 chart-ranked songs from each year

1950 to 1954, 1955 to 1959, etc.

In the 1950s the charts addressed only

the Top 30, 40, and then 50 songs.

So we decided to include

additional songs

that were aired at the time. 

From 1961 on, the charts addresed

the top 100 popular songs,

and so do we.

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.


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Changes in American Popular Music over the Decades

(from Wikipedia article "Popular music")


In addition to many changes in specific sounds and technologies used, there has been a shift in the content and key elements of popular music since the 1960s. One major change is that popular music has gotten slower; the average BPM of popular songs from the 1960s was 116, while the average of the 2000s was 100BPM. Additionally, songs getting radio play in the 1960s were, on average, only about three minutes long. In contrast, most of the songs in the Billboard Top 5 in 2018 were between 3:21 and 3:40 minutes long There has also been a drop in the use of major keys and a rise in the use of minor keys since the 1960s; 85% of songs were in a major key in that decade, while only around 40% of songs are in a major key now. The subject matter and lyrics of popular music have also undergone major change, becoming sadder as well as more antisocial and self-centered since the 1960s. There has also been an increasing trend of songs' emotional content, key, and tempo not following common associations; for example, fast songs with sad subject matters or in a minor key, or slow songs with happier content or in a major key.


There are multiple possible explanations for many of these changes. One reason for the brevity of songs in the past was the physical capability of records. Vinyl record singles, which were heavily favored for radio play, only had room for about three minutes of music, physically limiting the possible length of popular songs. With the invention of CDs in 1982, and more recently with streaming, music can be as long or short as both writers and listeners wish. However, songs have gotten shorter again, partially due to the ubiquity of streaming. The average song length in 2018 was 3 minutes and 30 seconds, 20 seconds shorter than the average in 2014. The most probable cause of this is that artists are now paid per individual stream, and longer songs could mean fewer streams. As for the difference in songs' subject matter and emotional content, popular music since the late 1960s has increasingly been used to promote social change and political agendas. Artists since that time have often focused their music on current events and subjects relevant to the current generations. Another theory is that globalization makes audiences’ tastes more diverse, so different ideas in music have a chance to gain popularity.