Music has changed drastically over the years and along with our change in tempo, lyrics, and tone. Each decade, though, has some sort of central theme. The 70s where surrounded more around rock with bands such as Queen. And the 2000s were more surrounded around pop. These are a few examples of the types of music that overtook the century they were introduced in. the tempo, choice of lyrics and general tone all change in small or large ways through the years. Those changes have helped cultivate the type of music we listen to today and how we construct our music for the future.
The beginning of my research began at the true American birth of rock, the 70s. The 70s were an incredibly influential time for music to take new paths and amplify ones that have made small experiences in the past (AIMM). In terms of music, the 70s are most well known as the rock era. This is thanks to one of many bands who brought music to a new level with impactful lyrics and moments instrumentals. Queens has been argued as one of the greatest rock bands of our time. Most well-known for songs like “We Will Rock You” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” landing on the greatest queens helped mold rock into what we know it is today. The “We Will Rock You” has become an American favorite because of its strong base and ground-breaking lyrics. What makes this song differentiate from any other artist is most of the song’s instrumental is composed of two stomps and one clap. It isn’t only until the 1:25 mark that we hear a bone chilling guitar solo to finish off the song.
During this rock centric time, a spike in swing type music emerged forming what became Disco. Disco made a small emergence starting in 1971. This was created with a blend of 1960s swing with the nightlife style the people cultivated in the 70s. Nearly everyone is familiar with the band Village People. They have made several record-breaking songs that anyone today will i know some words to. One of their most famous is “YMCA” where they sing a song about the humble recreation buildings. Many of songs like this where played in disco clubs and have dances to go along with them. The nightlife was revolutionized all under the cover of thee rock age of music.
After the rock era of the 70s, the music the 80’s created was much darker and louder than rock. This is why the 80s are known for their part in heavy metal, hard rock, and glam metal (AIMM). Along with extremely following in the footsteps of the 70s, bands like Metallica emerged in the early 80s and introduced America to Heavy Metal. Heavy metal is a much more aggressive in tone and instead of smoothly singing the lyrics, the singer shouts and screams their words. One of the most famous and infamous heavy metal bands is “Metallica”. They have helped cultivate what we know today as hard rock. They began in 1981 and have continued to compose new hits.
One of Metallica’s most famous songs Whiplash. We are introduced to this hatful song with a strong instrumental. For the next minute this instrumental builds higher in pitch and appears to getting closer and outer. After a minutes and 15 seconds the vocals begin and the singers voice intrudes the blank void above the instrumental. As his voice lays through several minutes of hard-core guitar playing and gets more aggressive once the he sings the chorus. A song from the heavy metal category is easy to spot out and meant for this who like their music loud.
While the whole country was head banging to heavy metal, the emergence of a new TV channel killed radio with its ability to being a song to life. MTV emerged in the 80s where music artists could create a video to be watched alongside listening to the song. This video would help depict what the song is describing visually. Many of their movements would match up with the beat and tone making the story easier to follow. Many people will know by name if not tempo the Michael Jackson “Thriller” music video. The song thriller is a spooky take on Halloween type horror. Then the tone is perfectly translated into a visual representation of zombies and other goggles that wreak havoc in our imaginations. While music videos where a revolutionary step in music, the radio never died, it simply was played down to the wonders of television.
We take a step back from a a very rock influenced decade when entering the 90’s and turn into a slightly more smooth and upbeat songs. The band Nirvana makes this especially known to where their music is not considered rock, nor is it yet considered pop (AIMM). This is a category called Alternative. This type of music has a variation of both rock with a larger focus in pop. this takes the spread of rock and put it up with a more upbeat tone and lyrics that are delve more deeply in pop in the 2000s. Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a perfect example of these two art styles coming together to create something great. The excitement of rock combined with the upbeat tempo of pop.
The song “Smells like teen spirit” is one of Nirvana’s top hits today. The opening instrumental is easily recognizable playing on the radio and tv constantly. After an opening full of rock, the tone settles down with soft lyrics. Then once the corus crashes in, the tone is amped up and to engage the much more rock centric part of this song. Then once this settles back down, the softer words of encouragement come back as the instrumental comes to a quiet tone until the chorus comes back. This is one of hundreds of greatest hits that gave a truly new spin on rock. Where heavy metal was a louder and much more aggressive version of 70s rock, the 90s cultivated a new genre combining traditional rock with a upbeat style that was able to branch off into its own type of music.
With the start of a new Millenia, a new genre of music emerged taking elements of Alternative music with it. The 2000s cultivated a new genre: “Pop” which took the upbeat vibe of alternative music and made it its own by amplifying it (AIMM). A pop song doesn’t need to have happy and cheery lyrics. The upbeat vibe mainly comes from the climax and finally of the songs instrumental. This can be seen in Maroon 5s Misery. The song’s lyrics describe the singers partner leaving him in misery. While this of course is not a happy topic, the instrumental is what makes this song a pop song. Each beat that comes up gives of a infectious vibe. A catchy toon builds up to a high pitch climax. Then a base drop that sends chills down your spine. The music we listen to today is not only the same pop from the 2000s, but we have built of what was to create more amazing music.
Most of the modern music that is made today is used with a lot with technology. Giving a techno vibe with a heavy base. This has been able to create its own genre called “Alternative Cool Rock.” one of the creatures, and my favorite, Avicii is one of the most well-known and for helping create some of the most listened to songs today. To best describe what Alternative cool rock started with is to take a look at one of Avicii’s first songs “Levels.” this song begins with noises that’s are unrecognizable by any instrument. Slowly it builds and develops a base bombing after every second. This keeps building until it reaches a dropping point where the base stops and a new melody takes its place. This instrument was made with no brass nor string instruments. Then almost as a relief from a song with no words, a woman’s voice peeress through the silence. Once she stops, the only physical instrument, a violin, starts playing the same melody. Then starts back up with the same instrumental as the beginning. This song kickstarted the 2010s with such grace, it being the only one of its time, and at the same time was a punch in the right direction. That direction is one that has led the music industry to use much more electronic sounds as opposed to that of traditional instruments.
During this time of new technology came social media. And with the social media, music developers adapted to the times, along with their music videos. Where MTV offered the tv viewers a visual representation of a song they love, these videos could not be accessed easily through platforms such as YouTube. People were posting their songs along with the same type of videos created in the 80s for anyone to see before they made the decision to purchase the song. Along with this, people posted their own videos and ideas with the song playing in the background. These could range from anything like cutting scenes from a movie to sync from the song or a silly song playing over a troop march. The 2010s have opened the world to a whole new type of music that many people in America have come to enjoy.
Through this essay, many of these music genres have cultivated from the decade previous, which makes predicting what the 2020s will look like somewhat easy. I predict that will the electronic music we were introduced to in the 2010s, we will see much more of this. In 2020 though we will be introduced to different sounds and melodies. We will also most likely hear new songs that consist of only instrumentals to help the listener focus more on just the beat. What i also predict is that much older music will become much more popular. Many people have argued that every melody has been created, which means that many songs will become much more relevant for young children to find something new to listen too. Pop culture, i predict, will become much more different in the 2020s.
Music is one of our greatest forms of entertainment. Much of what we listen to can be used to describe ourselves and the generation we grow up in. music can be used to bring people together on common ground and also make us feel certain emotions. With music around the world and the genres we have developed, we have all become a little more enlightened by just a beat or lyric.
Team, AIMM. “Evolution of Music from the 1950’s to the 2000’s.” Atlanta Institute Of Music And Media, April 2018, web, May 11, 2018