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Music Trends in Popular American Culture

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Running head: MUSIC TRENDS IN POPULAR AMERICAN CULTURE

Music Trends in Popular American Culture
University of Phoenix

There have been many trends in American popular culture dating back since America was founded, anytime an activity or a lifestyle became popular people wanted to follow it and millions did. This is the case with music; it has evolved over time yet remains one of the most popular aspects of American Culture. From 1606-1776 religious music was the first music of early colonists in what was known as The Colonial Era. Traditional English hymns were brought to America and singing the psalms was an early form of hymns. Folk music and ballads were the rage from 1776-1860 in the Revolutionary War era. Popular music just before and during the Civil War had to do with political and military events such as; Amazing Grace, Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie and the Star Spangled Banner was written during this time. In 1897 different composers give birth to America’s popular music industry, ending reliance on Europe. The turn of the century arrived and there was a period of excitement for the American Music Scene. During this time the “Western” musical genre spreads throughout western states and featured steel guitars and singing cowboys (Johnson, 2007). The Blues were also created during this time by ex-slaves that sang work songs filled with irony, imagery and love, offering relief from the tensions in their lives. Jazz was also developed in the 1900s in New Orleans brothels and honky-tonk bars and was based on Mississippi River boat music. Music also played a major part on the stage during this time with musicals opening in many theaters. First there was Vaudeville and Burlesque, then the Broadway Musical. Big bands were also very popular from 1935-1947 and while not considered “jazz”, these bands often used jazz arrangements. Many singers such as: Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney got their start singing with big bands. The 1950s brought rock n’ roll to America, developed from a blend of southern blues and gospel music with an added strong black beat, this type of music was popular with teenagers trying to break out of the mainstream, conservative American mold and Elvis Presley became the first rock star (Bradley, 2008). Music in the Fifties was more than just rock n’ roll, crooners like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra were also very popular, many of these songs are still being played all over America. In 1960 Elvis returned to the music scene from the US Army but America was ready for a change. The Tamia Motown Record Company came on the scene specializing in black rhythm and blues (Goodwin & Bradley, 2008). There was also a folk music revival helped by Bob Dylan. The Beach Boys recorded music that appealed to high schoolers and the Beatles burst into popularity with innovative rock music that appealed to all ages. The musical phenomenon of the decade was Woodstock, a three day music festival that drew 400,000 people and featured peace, love and happiness. By the 1970s the term rock n’ roll had become nearly meaningless and the dance craze of the decade, Disco appeared. Disco was dance oriented pop and funk and soul music and remained popular until the late 1970s. It was so popular that it led to its own dance routines and fashion. Many bands, such as ABBA, helped spread Disco around Europe and Australia, increasing its popularity. Heavy metal, punk rock, hardcore punk, new wave and hip-hop were all very popular in the 1980s. New wave was the single biggest mainstream market and was very brief and by 1984 heavy metal began its reign on the charts. Led by bands like Van Halen and Motley Crue, heavy metal reached its popular peak in the late 1980s with new bands, like Guns N Roses, emerging. In the 1990s there were more music choices available than ever. Latino music grew in popularity, Country became more mainstream and Grunge and gangster music appeared. R & B and Hip-hop remained popular as did movie soundtracks. The recording industry faced severe tribulation as CD burners became commonplace and some websites offered free music downloads to anyone wanting to copy them. In conclusion there have been many trends in American culture and music has always and will always be a very big trend. There are all types of music for all types of people and as long as it keeps evolving it will always remain popular.

References
Bradley, B. (2008, 2008). American Cultural History 1950-1959. Retrieved 06/24/2008, from www.kelibrary.nhmccd.edu.decade50.html
Braunstein, P. (1999, November 1999). Disco. American Heritage Magazine, 50, 1-2. Retrieved 06/23/2008, from www.americanheritage.com
Gleason, H., & Becker, W. (1981). Early American Music: Music in America from 1620 to 1920.
Goodwin , S., & Bradley, B. (1999, 1999). American Cultural History 1960-1969. Retrieved 06/24/2008, from http://kelibrary.nhmccd.edu/decade60.html

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