The 1950’s saw the birth of rock-n-roll, it was probably best known for that. Elvis Presley burst onto the scene in his sequins and with his svelte voice; the music would never be the same. Another genre of music, though, was also famously popular during that time, and it probably had even more notoriety than rock-n-roll, that was “doo wop,” a kind of rhythm and blues style blended with vocal harmonies that was generally dominated by groups of three to four male or female group members. In addition, the 1950’s saw the first glimpse of American B and st and . Music found its way into the living rooms of teenagers every week; starting a whole new phenomenon and introducing teens to a world previously unseen.
The 1960’s was, at its finest, Motown and its smooth crooners. The label became more than just the label, it became a genre in and of itself. Artists such as the Four Tops and Diana Ross and Supremes came into the lives of Americans everywhere and stole their hearts. Country music also had its time in the spotlight with singers such as Loretta Lynn and the televised Gr and Ole Opry. As the decade came closer to the end, the Vietnam War was upon the United States, and a whole new genre of music came into being. Some called it “protest music,” some “psychedelic music,” some even called it “drug music” due to the fact that flower children generally smoked marijuana while listening to its blazing electric guitars. There was no doubt that the music of that time reflected exactly what its people were feeling, a need to relax and escape from the war across the sea and the turmoil that was around them.
When the war ended and the people of the United States returned from Vietnam, a general feeling of ease came back to the music scene. Also, some of the psychedelic rock still remained, though with a more progressive sound. Other music took more easygoing tempos. Disco was born. With its flashy clothes and silver disco balls, the movie Saturday Night Fever and John Travolta’s smooth dance moves, America picked up her heels and danced the night away.
With the 1980’s came another most influential creation, MTV. Music was now put to stories and concert clips in videos that came into the homes of America’s teenager’s 24 hours a day. The MTV generation was born. The rockers of the day grew their hair long, wore it big, put on makeup, and had such as anthems as “We’re Not Gonna’ Take It,” and “Livin’ On a Prayer.” Michael Jackson, previously of Jackson 5, was suddenly at the forefront of music and made video history with his video movie “Thriller.”
The 1990’s is probably best known for two genres of music that are as different as night and day: techno and grunge rock. Techno relied not only on the artists performing, but also on the dj’s mixing the music. Mixing became an art in itself, and dance mixes were heard in clubs all over America. Grunge rock became popular with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. It was a hard-hitting rock, and grunge described more the attire of the musicians rather than the style of the music. Country music had break through in the form of crossover hits and artists in the 1990’s. Two musicians were in the forefront of that movement, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks, and many others followed. Suddenly country music songs had a bit of a popular sound, and one could hear them on popular music stations.
2000 – present
The hip-hop of the new millennium is not simply a style of music, it is a lifestyle. It is a culture all its own. Not everyone who listens to hip-hop adopts this culture, but there is certainly a following, and there are many sites dedicated to this particular lifestyle and culture. It is an attitude, a style, and one that has gotten many hip-hop artists into trouble with the law. The heavy metal of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s has given way to harder, thrash metal with guitar amplifier's loud and mean, and many of the artists have agendas as well, spewing words of hate and violence.