New Decade, Not-So-New Music

It is nearly impossible to discuss a specific genre of music without looking back at past decades. As the years pass, music from previous generations continues to influence new trends. As people’s perception of the world around them, new music is created. People influence music and music influences people. New albums and songs come out every day. Let’s take a look at the most significant moments in music of each decade.


Peace, love, and psychedelics ruled the ’60s; with the rise of nationwide movements like opposition to the Vietnam war, civil rights, and a surge in environmentalism, music was a crucial part of this decade. Throughout this era, popular artists included The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd. The rise in drug use such as heroin, cannabis, and especially LSD was most likely the catalyst for the success of one of the most notable genres in this time period: psychedelic rock. Popular songs from this genre include “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Purple Haze” And “Sunshine of Your Love”. Finally in 1969, to kick off the new decade about to begin, The nation got Woodstock, a three-day music festival featuring artists like Santana, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix. Woodstock 69’ would go on to influence the nation for the next decade and inspire two more multiple-day festivals in 1994 and 1999.


Going beyond bell bottoms and peace signs, ’70s pop culture was also consumed by music. While most of the trends from the ’60s were still very much alive, genres like Funk and Punk Rock were at an all-time high. Awareness of growing and already existing social disparities were also a huge part of this era, and it was a time when the nation saw a huge influx in liberalism due to the extension of movements from the previous decade. The ’70s were also responsible for their success in movements such as gender equality in education and the workplace. All of these movements are what truly started The Punk Rock movement the entire point of which was the rejection of mainstream rock at the time. The main separation of this decade was the two polarizations of Funk and Punk, two incredibly different genres that shaped this era of music. Funk/Disco artists such as Earth, Wind and Fire and The Temptations, as well as Punk artists like The Runaways and The Clash are what made this decade of music so special.

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The 1980s brought forward timeless music still listened to today. Popular bands of this decade were Journey, Bon Jovi, The Smiths, U2, Queen, Def Leppard. Genres such as Hip Hop, Rap, Rock, New Wave, and EDM were popular during the 1980s. As disco was slowly left behind, synthesizers began to generate popularity. Synthesizing is defined as generating sound from an electronic instrument. Synthesizing sets aside many popular ’80s songs, giving artists unique, recognizable sounds.

Starting off this new decade strong, The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star ” was the first-ever video shown on MTV. Although this music video was created in 1979, it aired for the first time in 1981, one of the most notable moments in pop culture yet, specifically in the music industry. An interest in being able to “view” music instead of just listening to music revolutionized the music industry, according to Yellow Brick Studios. Although “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the first music video released on MTV, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is the most popular music video ever, according to Vanity Fair and Timeout, as well as countless amounts of people. Thriller was released on December 2, 1983.

Not only did the music itself have long-lasting effects, but the ability to visualize music as opposed to just hearing it remains to hold a significant impact on people of all ages.


MTV, pagers, and low-waisted jeans. While influences from the ’80s were alive and well, The ’90s were all about the younger generation. During this decade, the rise in Grunge and Hip-hop was drastic. Youth all around the nation would tune into MTV to hear all of the latest news on their favorite artists and find new ones.

While hip-hop and Grunge were at an all-time high, Grunge was special to the 90’s considering that this was the era that birthed the Grunge movement (While Hip-Hop was created in the 70’s). Much like the punk movement, the Grunge movement (also known as post-punk) was centered around the rejection of mainstream views. Grunge however differed from previous rock movements because it focused on the distrust of those in power, the eradication of traditional masculinity, and the support of women. The credit for grunge really goes to Kurt Cobain, proclaimed “Father” of grunge; and bands such as Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, and Nirvana.

Grunge was one of the most apparent catalysts for style developments, due to the rapid desire to mirror Grunge styles (flannels, loose worn-out clothing, doc martens, and converse) isn’t to discredit HipHop, which was also a huge influence on the youth of the ’90s. For example artists like Tupac Shakur, A Tribe Called Quest, OutKast, and N.W.A. HipHop however goes beyond what the general understanding of the genre is. HipHop, Which has 5 different elements, (emceeing, deejaying, breakin’, graff and beatboxing.) was a way for people of color (especially African American individuals) in our nation to express themselves in an artistic way as well as bring awareness to the anger centered around the social disparities that affect said people of color.


Not only did the 2000s await a new decade, but a whole new century was in store. Whether you think the red carpet looks were horrific or inspiring, one word describes it all; iconic. The low-waisted jeans and layering styles by influencers reflected the music of the 2000’s.

Hip-hop took control over the 2000s, yet various types of rock music, pop, country, and EDM were also popular. According to Top 40 Weekly, the top artists of the 2000s were Eminem, Outkast, and Coldplay. According to Rolling Stone, the album Kid A by Radiohead was the top-rated album of the 2000s. Kid A is classified as electronica and experimental rock, which is another popular genre among the biggest hits of the 2000s.

Many people in generations outside of Generation Z, people born from 1997 to 2012, believe that the quality of music has gone down through the decades. This feeling may come from more than just a personal bias. One leading factor may be the belief that songs have become “less innocent” in a sense, with the increase of explicit songs in the late 1990’s/early 2000s.


The consumption of music drastically changed throughout the 2010s. Spotify and Apple Music are two of the biggest streaming platforms as of 2022. Founded by Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, Spotify launched in 2008. In September 2011, Spotify announced a customer base of 1 million paying subscribers, which quickly grew to 2 million in October 2011, and so on. According to Macro Trends, Spotify has a $16.22 billion net worth as of 2022. Platforms such as Spotify and Apple music contribute to the fact that 84% of the U.S. Music industry revenue is from music streaming, according to Musical Pursuits.

Streaming music allowed the public to easily see the kind of music people listened to. The genre of hip-hop rapidly grew throughout the 2010s. According to Top 40 Weekly, the top 5 musical artists were Drake, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, and Nicki Minaj. However, according to Medium, Adele’s album 21 was the best-selling album of the 2010s, followed by album 25, also by Adele. According to Global News, Adele is “the most famous and successful mononymous person in music since Prince.” Prince is certainly not someone to put aside when it comes to famous musical artists.

Streaming music was revolutionary for the music industry. While streaming music had a serious upbringing in this decade, vinyl also made a long-awaited comeback. Contrary to popular belief, some of the best-selling vinyl of the 2010s are considered throwback albums. Albums such as Abbey Road, Back to Black, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was ranked as the best-selling album in the 2010s.