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Music can be considered a core element of what it is to be human. It crosses time, borders, and cultural differences to unite and bring joy like almost nothing else on this planet. Most of us hear music in some form or another everyday. Our choices may differ depending on our mood, but there is no denying that music is a major part of life today. 

Trends in music seem to change at a rapid pace, but there are trends in each decade that seem to permeate almost every genre or give rise to new ones. Take a look below to see which decades were listening to what. It might even give you inspiration for new tunes to download!

1940’s: Big Band, Blues, & Jazz

Lots of the music of this period responded to the war and the feeling of needing something a bit more upbeat. Popular artists of this decade include: Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Judy Garland.

1950’s: Rock ‘N’ Roll, Country, B-Bop, and Big Band

The 50’s were a turning point globally for social change and its music certainly reflected that. Rock ‘n’ Roll emerged and gained major traction and country music gained more popularity. Artists of this time include: Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, and Frank Sinatra. 

1960’s: Motown, Rock ‘N’ Roll, British Influence

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This decade is a perfect blend between manufactured bands like The Monkees or The Archies and revolutionary new artists such as Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. More emphasis was put on songwriting and instrumentals making it an exciting time in history. More great artists include: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, The Doors, The Beach Boys, and Otis Redding.

1970’s: Disco, Motown, and R&B

Disco, the genre everyone loves to hate found its beginning in the 1970’s. On the opposite end of the spectrum, punk rock got its start during this time as well, some even started as a retaliation to disco! Popular artists include: The Beatles, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Steve Miller Band, Queen, ABBA, The Eagles, Hall & Oates, Gloria Gaynor, The Bee Gees, and Blondie.

1980’s: Glam Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, and Country

The era of bright spandex and massive hair was also a fantastic time for music. This decade was the first to be majorly influenced by television with the introduction of MTV. So many different genres of music dominated this decade that nearly anyone could find something new and exciting to listen to. Noteworthy artists include: Michael Jackson, Queen, David Bowie, The Police, Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Bon Jovi, George Michael, and Guns & Roses.

1990’s: Grunge, Alternative, Rap, and Country

The rebellious decade and the boyband decade. The grungy, anti-establishment bands were just as popular as the pop groups. Powerful singers dominated this era just as much as rappers. Unfortunately, many popular artists were lost during this period due to drug use and feuds. Popular artists include: MC Hammer, Michael Jackson, Meat Loaf, Nirvana, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Coolio, TLC, No Doubt, Hanson, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and Aerosmith.

2000’s: R&B and Adult Contemporary

This first decade of the new millennium really showcased the wide variety of music that was popular. This period was a good mix between upbeat dance tunes and a reflection of the pain that several wars and 9/11 inflicted. Artists include: Eminem, Linkin Park, Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, Usher, Outkast, Shakira, T.I., Rihanna, Kanye West, and Britney Spears.