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Origins of Pop Music
What we know of today as "pop" or popular music evolved in American society over many, many decades. Pop music, which accounts for the majority of the music on today's charts, is an eclectic mix of many different styles of music--from jazz to country; rock and roll to rap; be-bop to hip-hop. Pop artists such as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Madonna, and others routinely blur the lines of these musical genres with their award-winning tunes. These artists push the boundaries of what is considered "cool”, and "hip" and constantly re-invent the medium. For this reason, pop music has helped make the music industry a multi-billion dollar a year business, one whose influence is reflected highly in all forms of today's media including film, video games, TV, and the internet. Pop music is also a cultural force that resonates throughout the world, touching people and societies in ways those governments or politics cannot.
Pop music began with the publication of sheet music. In the mid- to late 19th century, many homes in America had as their "entertainment center" a piano. This instrument served as a social gathering spot for many families and often was the first instrument many children learned to play. For those families who desired to have piano music in their homes but had no one to play it, player pianos were invented.
Throughout its development, pop music has absorbed influences from most other genres of popular music. Early pop music drew on the sentimental ballad for its form, gained its use of vocal harmonies from gospel and soul music, instrumentation from jazz, country, and rock music, orchestration from classical music, tempo from dance music, backing from electronic music, rhythmic elements from hip-hop music, and has recently appropriated spoken passages from rap.
Curiously, pop music charts as such didn't exist until 1952, when the first Top Twenty was recorded. It came at an interesting time, as "teenagers" really came into being. Historically there'd been no transitional period between childhood and adulthood. Now, after World War II, that seemed to begin, imported from America, and an interpretation of American folk music, teens found their music.
Rock'n'roll brought much more of that, and Elvis Presley became a global star, the biggest of the late 1950s and early 1960s. But he would find himself supplanted by the Beatles, who revolutionised pop by writing their own material, instigating a fashion that remains undiminished.
The Beatles set the standard for pop music, and it remains undiminished - Beatlesque has become a standard descriptive adjective. From 1962 until their break up in 1970 they dominated the charts in Britain and America.
The 1980s proved a moribund decade for pop. Styles came and went, but it was an era short on memorable music. Only Wham! (and later George Michael) emerged as true pop stars.
The 1990s was the time of boy bands. A group of young male singers was assembled for their looks, given catchy songs and arrangements and pushed to fame like the Backstreet Boys.
Pop music has now entered into the 21st century with no end in sight to its commercial appeal, cultural impact, longevity, or profitability. With each generation, Pop music will always be that arbiter of taste and refinement in that it exactly--for good or bad--reflects all that that society has to offer. To paraphrase another musical saying, "POP music is here to stay".