By: AALIYAH MINNIEWEATHER
In the past, there have been some pretty momental events and movements in popular music. Most of them have changed the pop landscape forever.
Before we can dive into the topic of a possible big movement happening in the future, let’s look at what has happened in the past.
The Jazz Age (1920s-1930s)
Beginning in 1918, the Jazz Age gave birth to a beautiful genre that helped many artists showcase their talents in the early days of the music industry, with the US being its overall birthplace. Keep in mind, the Jazz Age didn’t just make jazz music popular. Poetry, partying, and writing saw a new level of appreciation during this special time in pop culture.
One particular reason the Jazz Age is incredibly special, is because of its rather significant role in African-American culture. In an article titled, “A Culture of Age”, published by Boundless US History, it says under a segment called, ‘The Jazz Age’, “If freedom was the mindset of the Roaring Twenties, then jazz was the soundtrack. The Jazz Age was a cultural period and movement that took place in America during the 1920s from which both new styles of music and dance emerged. Largely credited to African Americans employing new musical techniques along with traditional African traditions, jazz soon expanded to America’s white middle class.” Many talented and incredible acts who are still remembered to this very day gained their prominence during the Jazz Age. They include Josephine Baker, Duke Wellington, Cab Calloway, Bessie Smith, and Louis Armstrong, among many others. Some amazing writers and poets who also gained recognition included but absolutely were not limited to: Langston Hughes, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, and Eugene O’ Neill. There were even some amazing sculptors who got attention, such as Augusta Savage. The Jazz Age also helped bring music audiences’ attention to new entertainment facilities such the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. All in all, The Jazz Age helped to introduce the art of expressing values and political beliefs through music and poetry and visuals. See the end of this article for the link to a full-on look on The Jazz Age.
After the 1950’s and 1960’s eras of Doo-Wop and melancholy music, came the spunky, fun, and ever-upbeat disco era of the 1970’s. The Disco era would go on to gain its level of notoriety for a number of reasons. One reason pertains to the music acts it helped to introduce to the world, just as the Jazz Age did to its music artists. The Disco era helped to usher in ABBA, Queen, The Jacksons, Chic, The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Kool & The Gang, Con Funk Shun, Earth, Wind & Fire, and of course, ‘The Queen of Disco’ herself, Ms. Donna Summer, just to name quite a few.
Arwa Haider writes in her article, titled “Why disco should be taken seriously” and published by BBC Culture, “Disco enabled female, gay, black and Latin artists to define their identities in increasingly fluid ways”. The 1970’s in general, was a time to be whatever you wanted, particularly gay and/or black or Latino in America, and disco music reflected that. Another reason why the era of Disco will be noted in history is because of the pushback it endured while it was popular. In 1979, during the tail end of the 70’s era, at a Chicago White Sox baseball game, several popular disco records were deliberately burned during an explosion by some rock fans who didn’t agree with gay, black, and women artists gaining a platform because of disco music. Arwa Haider went on to say in her article, “The dancefloor was also a potent platform; for the first time, clubs rather than mainstream radio were breaking hit records.” She also credited Nicky Siano in her article as saying, “‘The backlash was anti-gay, but also anti-women and anti-colour,” he says. “It was: ‘Men, take back your power.’”. Despite the major rejection it received at times, the Disco era will forever be remembered as a time of major diversity, when everyone felt validated and accepted, and generally as a time when people just wanted to have fun.
The Grunge Movement (Mid-1980s-Mid-1990s)
Jaclyn Grambush starts off her article, titled “A Brief History of Grunge: The Seattle Sound” and published by Culture Trip, saying, “The word grunge, which means grime or dirt, came to describe a music genre, fashion style and lifestyle exclusively attached to the Pacific Northwest and, specifically, Seattle.” Grunge music was a genre that consisted of alternative rock- stylings and offered something new to the mainstream world. Grambush says in her article that, “It all started with the Melvins.” Alice in Chains was another band from Seattle to emerge during this time.
Another notable band from this era in particular, was Nirvana, who released their first album in 1989, and consisted of popular guitarist Kurt Cobain, as a member.
To finish off her article, Ms. Grambush says this, “As the concept of grunge was increasingly used in the mainstream, it became increasingly rejected in anti-conformist Seattle. Grunge became a blanket term for Northwest bands of the ’80s and ’90s, even if they had completely different styles and sounds.”
The Teen Pop Revival (Late 1990s- Early 2000s)
The Teen Pop Revival of the late 1990s is a trigger of nostalgia for some millennials. Indeed, some pretty iconic music was released during this time. In 1997, the Backstreet Boys were the ones to basically kick the moment off when they released their first album, named after themselves, that year. And then, two years later, in 1999, Britney Spears brought it up a notch when she released her hit single and album, both titled “…Baby One More Time”. Spears’s new presence in the pop world prompted new teen pop acts to come share some of the spotlight that included Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, N’Sync, Mandy Moore, and Destiny’s Child, to name a few. Not to mention, a rivalry was started among fans and the media alike between Spears and Aguilera. On top of the oversaturation and catchy, memorable pop singles released at the time, this era is dear to many millennials’ hearts because it’s a time when they remember “stanning” for their favorite artists when they were children, especially since many of the artists and the stans themselves, are so much older now.
Now that we’ve broken down some the most notable pop resurgences of the distant past, one question remains:
What will be the next big pop event or movement of the future?
Will a big rivalry help start it up?
Will there be that one “IT” person to help kickstart things?
Will there be multiple people to do the job?
Hopefully, all of these questions will be answered within the next five years or decade, because I’m sure we all can’t wait for that exciting moment in pop culture.