If you are in your teens or 20s, chances are you enjoy listening to such musical acts like Limp Bizkit, Korn, Britney Spears, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Evanescence among thousands of others. But where did these styles we hear today come from? I know that you don’t hear the resemblance in it at all, but it comes from 100 years of musical evolution and experimenters!
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, old western cowboys would play an acoustic guitar around a campfire, which could be classified as cowboy music. About the same time down in the southern part of the country, musicians playing different world music styles like celtic and different instruments, they came up with a style called bluegrass, which is still popular today among some southerners. This was the same time period that slavery was still going on in the country, and the black slaves would sing their “holler” songs. These holler songs is what evolved into blues music in the 1920s. In the 1920s, black musicians from the Mississippi Delta started picking up guitars and playing them with a different style, and added a Hawaiian style of playing to it by breaking their empty liquor bottles and using the shattered glass as a slide to do slide guitar with, but instead of playing it laying down in their lap like the Hawaiians did, they played slide with the guitar sitting upright. Bluegrass guitarists picked up on the style too, but chose to play slide in their lap like Hawaiians did. Sometime after the blues came onto the scene, New Orleans musicians got a hold of the style, and fused it with their own style that came from a classical feel, which became jazz music. When whites got a hold of jazz at this time, and made it somewhat fast, it became known as swing. In the 1930s and 1940s is when some musicians took this blues, bluegrass, and the cowboy music and fused them all together which became country music. In the 1940s and 1950s, some Mississippi Delta blues musicians moved north to Chicago and were introduced to electricity, and started plugging in there instruments, and came up with the electric blues sound. Some of them, because of the new electric sound, started playing their blues at a faster pace which was soon to become Rock & Roll (this includes Chuck Berry). In 1950s Texas, Buddy Holly and Bill Haley, among others, started playing country songs on electric, and faster which gave a new style and sound and they became the first known ROCK stars! It’s about this same time when an unknown recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee owned by Sam Phillips called “Sun Records” were producing songs for acts like Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. When Elvis Presley came onto the scene, no one before him tried fusing electric blues and electric country together. When we into the army in 19659 or 1960 and when the Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly died in a horrible plane wreck in February 1959, everyone thought that rock and roll died.
In Southern California in the early 1960s, surfing was a big thing among kids, and musicians would start putting out a different kind of rock called “surf” music. It was really mellow, but it was full of melodies, and Harmonies. At about this same time, some acoustic musicians were getting into a style called “Folk” music, and it was starting to become a phenomenon. At the same time, groups in England were experimenting with American music, but making it louder and heavier. When the Beatles came onto the American scene in February 1964, American musicians started realizing they needed to make a change musically. So in California musicians started fusing surf rock with folk and came up with the “folk-Rock” sound of Mamas & Papas and Bob Dylan, and even the hippy groups from San Francisco, California. About the same time in Detroit, Michigan Berry Gordy founded Motown Records and started signing black acts to perform on his label. Even though there was R&B in the 50s, that was a mixture of blues and rock, The 1960s R&B sound was different. It was like a fusion of Jazz and Blues. In the late 1960s, some Motown musicians (known as the Funk Brothers) among other R&B musicians, started using more bass lines than anything else, which became funk.
In the 1970s, we had a second british invasion with groups like Led Zeppelin which were harder and heavier than previous styles, which became known as Heavy Metal. At about the same time, R&B musicians, who became funk musicians for a time, created disco, which lasted until 1980. In the late 70s, there was a new kind of music come onto the scene in New York City called Rap. The idea came for it came from DJs for funk stations in Philadelphia would rap community info over the records. The first popular rap song was a disco song called “Good Times”. The group who put it out, The Sugarhill Gang, changed the words and gave it a faster beat and than called it “Rapper’s Delight”, which is probably where the name for the music, “RAP”, came from. In 1985, Aerosmith and Run-DMC got together and put out the first ever rap/rock song. A song called “Walk This Way.” In the late 1980s, street gangsters from southern California got a hold of the music and came up with Gangster Rap.
In the early 1990s, bands from Seattle, Washington came onto the scene with a style that wasn’t like anything else. At the time they called it grunge, but it was early alternative rock. At about this time, a group known as The Red Hot Chili Peppers came onto the scene with a funky rock sound. Probably was the first band to do Rock with a Rap feel. In the mid 1990s, metal started becoming more popular than ever, and some metal acts started combining their style with rap, and came up with Rap/Metal.
As for the Britney Spears, NSync, Mandy Moore and Christina Aguilera sound? It’s R&B, but modern R&B. Which comes from rap beats, but just more mellow, and I told you where rap came from.
There you have it, folks. Now you know where 21st century popular music came from, you should appreciate the older stuff still, because if it weren’t for that older stuff you wouldn’t have what you hear today!