What is Popular Music? Popular Music belongs to any number of musical genres “having wide appeal.”

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What is Popular Music?

  • Popular Music belongs to any number of musical genres “having wide appeal.”

  • Popular Music appeals or is music for ALL AGE GROUPS, and it appeals to popular tastes.

  • Popular Music can also be called POP MUSIC.


  • During the 1930s and 1940s, Big Band acts such as the Glen Miller Orchestra were very popular.

  • Frank Sinatra – an American singer and actor who was most popular in the 1930s and 1940s

What is Rock N’ Roll?

  • Rock N’ Roll music is popular music which developed in the 1940s and 1950s.

  • Early Rock N’ Roll combined Blues, Country, Jazz and Gospel Music.

  • The early name for Rock N’ Roll was Rockabilly.


  • The birth of Rock N’ Roll.

  • Bill Haley and the Comets -

  • ‘Rock Around the Clock’

  • ‘Rock Around the Clock’ helped to bring Rock N’ Roll music into

  • the mainstream culture.

Little Richard

  • Little Richard (1932-present) – He performed the 1956 hit ‘Tutti Frutti’. People of ALL colors and nationalities bought his recordings. He is known for his high voice, outrageous make-up, flashy clothing, and pounding on the piano.

Elvis Presley

  • Elvis Presley (1935-1977) – known as the king of Rock N’ Roll.

  • Elvis had 67 top-twenty hits during his career.

  • Some of his most famous songs are: ‘Hound Dog,’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ ‘Jailhouse Rock’.

  • He died of heart failure at Graceland in 1977.

Jerry Lee Lewis

  • Jerry Lee Lewis (1935-present) – Outrageous piano player who composed and performed ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire’.

American Bandstand

  • American Bandstand – Popular T.V. show during the 1950s and 1960s which showcased popular musical acts of the day.

  • Dick Clark was the host, and it premiered in 1957.

  • The T.V. show made several musicians teen idols.


  • Soul Music became popular in the late 1950s and 1960s.

  • Soul Music combines elements of Gospel, Rhythm and Blues.

  • Rock N’ Roll continued in popularity.

The Beatles

  • The Beatles – British rock band which formed in 1960 in Liverpool, England.

  • One of the most successful bands in history

  • The four members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

  • “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Twist and Shout,” and “Get Back”

The Beach Boys

  • The Beach Boys formed in 1961 in Southern California.

  • They are known for songs about cars, surfing and romance.

  • “ I Get Around” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”

Johnny Cash

  • Johnny Cash (1932-2003) – American songwriter who performed many different genres of music (rock n’ roll, country, blues, folk and gospel).

  • Cash was known as the ‘man in black.’

  • “I Walk the lIne” and “Ring of Fire”

James Brown

  • James Brown (1933-2006) – American songwriter and entertainer known as the godfather of soul.

  • He rose to fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

  • He was known for his singing and feverish dancing.

  • “I Feel Good” and “Papas Got a Brand New Bag”

Sly and the Family Stone

  • Sly and the Family Stone - American funk band from San Francisco, California.

  • They were active from 1966 to 1983.

  • They were the first American funk/rock band to have an integrated/multi-gender line-up.

  • “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Everyday People,” and “Dance to the Music”


  • 1970s – Rock music remained popular

  • Disco music became very popular in the 1970s but faded in the 1980s.

  • Soft Rock/ Adult Contemporary Music was also popular during this time.

Bee Gees

  • Bee Gees – Three Brothers (Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb) who were popular musicians during the disco era.

  • They were known for their harmonies and Barry’s falsetto voice.

  • “Stayin’ Alive”

Jackson 5

  • Jackson 5 – Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marion and Michael (Family Group)

  • “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” and “I’ll Be There”

Lynyrd Skynyrd

  • Lynyrd Skynyrd – American rock band which formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1973.

  • Their style of rock is known as southern rock.

  • “sweet Home Alabama”


  • New Wave, Hair Braids, Arena Rock and Boy Bands became popular in the 1980s.

  • Men who were rock stars typically had longer hair during the beginning of this decade (Hair Bands).


  • Alabama - country band which formed in Fort Payne, Alabama in 1969.

  • They were the most successful country band of the 1980s.

  • The band recorded over 30 number 1 records.

  • “Song of the South”

The Cars

  • The Cars – popular 1980s new wave band

  • Their songs incorporated synthesizer along with rock n’ roll instruments.

  • “Shake it Up” and “Just What I Needed”

Bruce Springsteen

  • Bruce Springsteen (1949 to present) - American singer and songwriter who tours with the E Street Band.

  • He is known as ‘The Boss.’

  • “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Born to Run”

Tears For Fears

  • Tears for Fears – English pop band that formed in the early 1980s.

  • “Shout” and “Head Over Heals”

Bon Jovi

  • Bon Jovi – Arena rock band which formed in 1981 in New Jersey.

  • “Livin’ On a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name”


  • Journey – American rock band that formed in San Francisco, California in 1973.

  • They had 19 top 40 hits.

  • Named the fifth best American rock band in history

  • “Don’t Stop Believin” and

  • “Open Arms”


  • Alternative music was very popular.

  • Bands and musicians began to experiment with new sounds and instruments.

  • Boy Bands and pop music remained popular.

New Kids on the Block

  • New Kids on the Block – American boy band which had success in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

  • They sold 80 million records world wide.

  • “Hangin’ Tough” and “Please Don’t Go Girl”

Alternative/Grunge Rock

  • Grunge/Alternative Rock emerged from Seattle, Washington.

  • Grunge music was inspired by hardcore punk, heavy metal and indie rock (independent musicians, not on a record label).

  • Characteristics of grunge rock include distorted guitars and contrasting dynamic levels.

  • Many grunge musicians were known for their unkempt appearance.

  • Popular grunge bands were Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Smashing Pumpkins.

Counting Crows

  • Counting Crows – formed in 1991 in Berkley, California.

  • They are an alternative rock band.

  • “A Long December” and “Hangin’ Around”

Dave Matthews Band

  • Dave Matthews Band – American jam band which formed in Virginia in 1990

  • Incorporates many different genres of music into their songs

  • “Ants Matching”


  • Weezer – alternative rock band which formed in Los Angeles in 1992

  • “Buddy Holly,” “Island in the Sun” and “Beverly Hills”


  • During the 2000s, Hip hop, rock, alternative rock, indie rock and pop were popular.

  • New styles of music such as Nu Metal became popular.

Green Day

  • Green Day- American punk rock band which began in 1987

  • The band is composed of Billy Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool.

  • Has sold over 65 million records worldwide

  • “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

Linkin Park

  • Linkin Park – American rock band from California

  • An example of Nu Metal

  • Often mix metal with a rap influence

  • “In the End”

Cold Play

  • Cold Play – English alternative rock band which formed in 1997 in London

  • Has sold over 50 million records worldwide

  • “In my Place,” “Clocks” and “Viva, La Vida”

Nickel Creek

Alicia Keys

  • Alicia Keys (1981 to present) – American singer and songwriter

  • She is a classically trained pianist.

  • Has sold over 30 million records worldwide

  • “Empire State of Mind, Part 2”


  • Cornell Haynes Jr (1974 to present) - American hip-hop/rap artist

  • Made his debut in 2000 with Country Grammar

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