1950 Popular Music The decade of the fifties gave birth to Rock & Roll. When Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’ became popular in 1955, the nation learned to swing to a whole new sound. The feel-good innocence of a lot of the Fifties music reflects on the post World War 2 optimism in America. The young people of the time, an emerging force called teenagers, hadn’t struggled through the war years. They were looking for something more exciting. They discovered that Vitality in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
‘Rock Around The Clock’ was the groups biggest and is considered to be one of the most important records in rock ‘n’ roll history. Sales of ‘Rock Around The Clock’ started slow but eventually sold an estimated 25 million copies and marked the arrival of a cultural shift.
Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog – Elvis Presley
The song was recorded in 1956. The song is currently ranked at the 92nd greatest song of all time as well as the 5th best song in 1956. The single pairing of ‘Don’t Be Cruel with ‘Hound Dog’ ruled the charts for 11 weeks.
Great Balls Of fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
The song was recorded on the 8th October 1957 in the Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. It reached no.2 on the Billboard Pop charts, no.3 on the R&B charts and no.1 on the country charts. It also reached no.1 on the UK Pop Charts. The Jerry Lee Lewis rendition was ranked as the 96th greatest song ever by The Rolling Stones.
1960 Popular Music During this period, the Beatles became the most popular band of the 1960's. In the 1950's, the Beatles were also known as Johnny and the Moondogs and then the Moonshiners. They first became known as the Silver Beatles. They brought about the renewal of rock and roll, starting in Liverpool, England. John Lennon led the Beatles as the lead singer and songwriter. Also writing the songs for the Beatles was Paul McCartney, George Harrison added to the sounds of the Beatles. In 1962, Ringo Starr became the drummer for the band. They were now known as The Beatles,(the Fab Four).
The song ‘Beyond The Sea’ was released in 1960 and is a jazzy English version of Charles Trenet’s French hit song ‘La Mer’( The Sea ) . It Reached No.8 in the charts. Darwin’s recording has been used in many films, TV shows and video games.
We Can Work It Out – The Beatles
The song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and was released on the 3rd December 1965 by The Beatles as a ‘Double A-sided’ single with ‘Day Tripper’, The first time both sides of a single were so designated in an initial release. Both songs were recorded in Rubber Soul sessions. The song is an example of Lennon/McCartney collaboration which happened rarely after they wrote the hit singles of 1963.
The Twist – Chubby Checker
‘The Twist’ Is a twelve bar blues was written and originally released by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. However ‘The Twist’ was popularised in 1960 when it was covered by Chubby Checker, reaching no.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the 19th September 1960 which lasted for 1 week.
1970 Popular Music This decade saw the division of rock into subdivisions beyond the general categories of hard rock (extremely loud and electrically amplified) and mellow rock (softer, and with acoustic instruments). Rock blended with reggae, which emerged from Jamaica around 1972, and is a mix of rock, soul, calypso, and other Latin rhythms. Other styles emerging in the 70's were punk rock, bubble gum music, and heavy metal rock which continued the hallucinogenic approach of acid rock, but using loud volume, electronic distortion, and vulgar stage antics. Some bands expressing these feelings were Kiss, Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin.
Rod Steward’s ‘Tonight’s The Night’ reached no.1 in 1976. The song was considered to be incredibly hot listening in the mid 1970’s and was never released as a single in England because it was banned on British radio stations due to suggestive lyrics. However the song today is widely available.
Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield
‘Tubular Bells’ is the debut record album for English musician Mike Oldfield, released on the 25th May in 1973. Track was recorded at the Manor House, Oxford Shire and it fell into the genre of progressive rock. It was the first album released by Virgin Records and an early cornerstone of the company’s success. The length of the whole song was a huge 48:57.
Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas
‘Kung Fu Fighting’ is a song written and performed by Carl Douglas and Vivian Hawk, and produced by Biddu. It was released as a single In 1974 and quickly rose to the top of British and American Charts. The song also reached no.1 on the soul singles chart for one week.
1980 Popular Music The 1980s - the decade that style forgot. You’ll often hear people complain about how nothing good musically came out of the 80s, while in their next breath they are singing along to Girls On Film or proclaiming Take On Me is their favourite song… ever! Musically speaking the 80s were pure gold – this was the decade when some of the biggest acts of all time arrived on the scene, remember Madonna’s Like A Virgin? Jacko’s Thriller? Even some of today’s biggest stadium rock bands like U2 and REM were born in the eighties. OK, so this was the era responsible for Kajagoogoo but we all make mistakes.
‘Ice Ice Baby’ is a hip-hop song written by American Rapper Vanilla Ice and DJ Earthquake. The song samples the bass line of ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen and David Bowie, who did not initially receive song writing credit or royalties until after it had become a hit.
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
‘Eye of the Tiger', released in 1982,It was written at the request of Sylvester Stallone for the film Rocky 3, as a replacement for Queen’s ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ for which Stallone was unable to obtain permission. ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ topped the billboard Hot 100 singles chart for six weeks beginning 24th July 1982.
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Probably the most influential and well known music of all time and is a rare pop song with a horror theme. ‘Thriller’ is a 14 minute music video and song which were both released on the 2nd December 1983, directed by John Landis, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jackson.
1990 Popular Music In the 1990s, music had gone through the rap and house revolution, totally changing the landscape of music. While up to the 1980s, music seemed to get louder and louder, the 1990s music seemed to take a step back in rhythm, going from the aforementioned Rap revolution, to the slower, romantic lyrics of late '90s bands, while also witnessing a rise in alternative rock and a couple of attempts at bringing back 80's style of pop. By the end of the decade electronic dance music (house, techno) was everywhere and the charts were full of manufactured corporate groups.
‘Macarena’ is a Spanish dance song by Los del Rio about a woman who has the same name. It was popular between 1995 and 1996, continues to have a cult following. The song ranks at number 5 on Billboards All Time Top 100. It also ranks at number 1 on Billboards All Time Latin Songs.
Men In Black – Will Smith
‘Men In Black’ is a song by Will Smith from the movie Men In Black(MiB) which he also starred in. The song plays during the movies closing credits. Smith raps about how the MiB ‘Walk in shadow, move in silence’ and play the role of ‘first, last and only line of defence, against the worst scum of the universe“.
Live and Let Die – Paul McCartney & Wings
This song is the theme tune of the 1973 James Bond film ‘Live and Let Die’. The song was one of Wing’s most successful singles, and the most successful Bond Theme to that point. Commissioned specifically for the movie and credited to Paul McCartney and his wife Linda, it reunited McCartney with Beatles producer George Martin, who both produced the song and arranged the orchestral break.
2000 Popular Music Electronic dance music (house, techno, drum 'n‘ bass) is all over the place. The beginning of the decade had a peak and decline of Boy bands and Girl groups, notably those produced from the reality TV shows. With this phenomenon, the number of groupies or supporters rose to a significant number. These individuals watched their idols perform across the United States. There was a notable return to raw garage rock'n'roll with groups such as The Strokes, The White Stripes and The Kings of Leon. While, hip-hop music has dominated the Billboard Hot 100 list most of the first half of the decade in the 2000s
This song was written by Anslem Douglas, a musician from Trinidad, 2 years before the Baha Men recorded it. Various versions were hits in the Caribbean, but the Baha Men toned down the Calypso rhythm to make it more appealing to American Listeners. The lyrics are about disrespectful men who ‘hit’ on women at a party.
Beautiful Day – U2
The lyrics of the song were inspired by Bono’s experience with Jubilee 2000, a benefit urging politicians to drop the third world debt. The message is about a man who loses his material things and feels better because he realizes the value of what he has. U2 wrote this in stages, It changed drastically when Bono came up with the "Beautiful Day" lyric and the idea for the backing vocals.
Where is the Love – Black Eyed Peas
This song is about the state of post 9/11 world, which all but calls for US withdrawal from Iraq. Group member Ron Fair started writing it late in 2001, and another member, Will.I.Am, added the socially-conscious lyrics. This was co-written by Justin Timberlake, who also sang on the track. He came up the chorus after hearing the song on the phone.
Conclusion My Conclusion is that these past 7 decades have revolutionised the music industry. The songs I have mentioned are just some of the thousands which we have all heard, We’ve had artists which have changed cultures, changed the way people think, Inspired people. This industry never stops, its like a continuous flow shape shifting from genre to genre. I personally think what these artists have achieved with their music, what they have done, is truly amazing.