From the 20’s to the 20’s: Music throughout the ages

Kelsey Dillon van Sitters

From whistle notes to riffs to scatting. From ‘What a Wonderful World’ to ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ and now the popular, ‘drivers license’. How has music evolved from the music of the 1920s to the modern music of today?

1920s – The Jazz Age. 

Jazz dispersed to different cities when musicians migrated to the cities of Chicago and New York in the USA. The Cotton Club and the Apollo Theatre were the epitome of the Jazz Age. King Oliver’s ‘Creole Band’ became popular in the 1920s as well as the iconic song, ‘What a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong.

1930s -Swing and Jazz.

Women that dominated the music scene were Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Holiday was an influential jazz artist that was known for her vocal delivery and her protest song ‘Strange Fruit’ which was about the violence against African Americans. Ella Fitzgerald dubbed, ‘First Lady of Song’ used a notable style of jazz called ‘Bebop’ in her songs. Today ‘Bebop’ is known as ‘Scatting’.

1940s -Latin, country, band, and jazz dominated the 1940s.

Dizzy Gillespie and The Andrew Sisters defined this musical period. Dizzy Gillespie was involved in the Afro-Cuban music movement, which aimed at bringing Afro-Latin music into prominence. Whereas The Andrew Sisters recorded an iconic WWII tune called ‘The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’.

1950s – This decade was famous for pop, doo-wop, and ultimately rock and roll.

Elvis Presley was a worldwide rockstar known for his popular songs, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ and his stunning love song, ‘Love me Tender’. Dinah Washington was the most popular black artist in the 1950s and she was known for her outstanding voice control and extraordinary gospel-influenced delivery.

1960s – Pop and folk music ruled the 1960s. 

The Beatles were an influential boy band that released hits that are still relevant today such as, ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’. Leslie Gore was a prominent folk singer who at a young age recorded ‘You Don’t Own Me’ and ‘It’s my Party’. Nina Simone was another excellent folk singer that recorded “Feeling Good”.  Let’s not forget Aretha Franklin, the ‘Queen of soul’, who had big hits like ‘Respect’ and ‘I say a little prayer’.

1970s – The 1970s was the birthplace of funk, disco, and soul.

Diana Ross contributed to the pop side of the 70s with ‘Stop in the name of love’. The Bee Gees, a disco band began the disco era with their song, ‘Stayin Alive’. Stevie Wonder, the origin of modern soul, was a global phenomenon that rose to fame by his hits ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Superstition’. And who can forget about Queen? This popular band transformed the music industry with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

1980s – Dance music and new wave emerged in the 1980s.

The Voice, known to all as Whitney Houston had a unique vocal delivery. She released billboard hits such as ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’ and ‘Saving all my Love for You’. Michael Jackson, regarded as the ‘King of pop’ broke racial barriers via his songs: ‘Beat It’, ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Thriller’. Madonna became famous with ‘Like a Virgin’and she also brought the message that girls do not just record hits, but can bring change to the music industry.

1990s – In the last decade of the 1900s, teen pop and dance-pop continued while hip hop became the golden genre.

The 1990s was the time hip hop was dispersed around the world.TLC was a contemporary girl group that have famous songs like ‘No Scrubs’ and their self-esteem awareness song, ‘Unpretty’. 2Pac Shakur was a rapper that shed light on issues such as abuse and the struggles people face in unhealthy communities. Two of his notable songs are ‘Keep ya head up’ and ‘Brenda’s got a baby’. Mariah Carey will always be known for her remarkable whistle notes in her popular song ‘Emotions. The 1990s was the time hip hop was dispersed around the world.

2000s – The 2000s was a continuation of pop music, but welcomed a new genre known as emo. 

The feminist singer we all love, Beyoncé, was known for her hits ‘Irreplaceable’ and everyone’s go-to party hit, ‘Single Ladies’. ‘Hollaback Girl’ and ‘Rich Girl’ were songs that defined the pop star we all love, Gwen Stefani. Akon, Ne-Yo, and Alicia Keys ruled the love song scene in the 2000s.

2010s – In this decade movements like trap music, cloud rap, and emo hip hop became popular.

Taylor Swift is a country-pop musician known for her love songs such as ‘Wildest Dreams.’ Lady Gaga is an influential artist that was recognised for her odd and unique style of music. Towards the later 2010s, she became even more popular for her performance of ‘Shallow’. Nicki Minaj is a rapper that was at the peak of her fame in the 2010s. She revived the female rap game and had allowed opportunities to be given to future female rappers. Rihanna incorporated Caribbean, rock, and reggae in the music that she released. Bruno Mars used influences like Elvis Presley, Prince and Michael Jackson to create his popular hits. John Legend, our all-time favourite love song singer is still known today for his romantic hit, ‘All of me’.

2020s – The 2020s revived hip hop and R&B. 

The popular artists we know today are Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo. Harry Styles is a worldwide popstar that was known as a teenage heartthrob, but now he conveys meaningful messages through his songs such as ‘Treat them with Kindness’. Billie Eilish is a young breakthrough artist that conveys the struggle of mental disorders through her music which includes ‘bury a friend’ and ‘when the party’s over’.  Then of course there is Olivia Rodrigo who recently released the hit song, ‘drivers license’ that took the whole world by storm.  There is still so much to happen in this decade and all we can do is look forward to what the future of the music industry holds.

So how has music evolved over the past century? The answer: different genres. Artists incorporating their unique flair into their music has resulted in the development of different genres. Our music preferences may differ. We may love certain genres and hate others, but perhaps that is what renders music so special and unique.