The 1960s are often referred to as the ‘Greatest Decade’. And just like with most things in life, you can also find several reasons why that is true. Born out of the social upheaval of the 1950s and early ’60s, this period saw numerous changes manifest across all sectors. From politics to fashion and from art to architecture, everything was affected by the social revolution that took place. The same can be said about music, which saw a new breed of artists come to prominence during this period. However, unlike previous decades, this was not a one-off moment when things changed forever. The world of pop music has never been quite the same since, for better or for worse!
The Birth of Pop Music in the 1960s
The term ‘pop music’ was actually first coined in the 1940s. However, it only began to take on its modern form in the 1960s. The term ‘pop’ was used to differentiate this new form of music from what came before it. Popular music was initially associated with jazz, blues and country. And while pop music of the 1960s initially resembled these genres, it was generally more accessible to the masses than these other forms of music ever were. The term ‘pop music’ was actually first coined in the 1940s. However, it only began to take on its modern form in the 1960s. The term ‘pop’ was used to differentiate this new form of music from what came before it. Popular music was initially associated with jazz, blues and country. And while pop music of the 1960s initially resembled these genres, it was generally more accessible to the masses than these other forms of music ever were. Pop music was generally more emotional and melodic than what had come before it. It was also generally simpler and easier to produce, which allowed a wider range of people to pursue a career in the music industry.
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The Beatles and the British Invasion
One of the most significant developments in the world of pop music in the 1960s was the emergence of the Beatles. Although they were not the first British band to make a mark on the American charts, they were certainly the most influential. The Beatles are often credited for kick-starting the British Invasion. This refers to the sudden influx of British bands making an impact on the American charts during the late ’50s and early ’60s. The Beatles are often credited for kick-starting the British Invasion. This refers to the sudden influx of British bands making an impact on the American charts during the late ’50s and early ’60s. The rise of British pop music was linked to the growing popularity of British culture in the US. It was also a direct consequence of the increased availability of modern recording technology and the introduction of the 8-track cartridge. The Beatles were able to take advantage of all these factors to bring their music to the rest of the world. Their songs were complex and melodic, yet remained simple enough to be produced by ordinary people.
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Rise of Rock Music and the Progression Towards Heavy Metal
Folk and pop music were not the only musical trends of the 1960s. There was also a rise in the popularity of rock music. During this period, rock music was evolving from its early beginnings towards something heavier and harder, a trend that would eventually culminate in the emergence of heavy metal. This transition was evident in the evolution of British bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Both bands exhibited a progression towards heavier and more rhythmically intense music. This progression was also evident in the music of emerging American bands like the Beach Boys and the Doors. The emergence of psychedelic rock also played a key role in this shift towards a heavier sound. Psychedelic rock was a blend of folk and pop music with a rock and roll aesthetic.
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Psychedelic Era and Woodstock
The psychedelic era also played a significant role in shaping the sound and style of pop music in the 1960s. Although the psychedelic trope first arose during the 1950s - and then became even more prominent in the ’60s, it was not properly described until the late 1960s. The word ‘psychedelic’ is derived from the Greek words ‘psyche’ meaning ‘mind’ or ‘soul’ and ‘delos’ meaning ‘visible’. It is used to describe a range of phenomena - including art, music and culture. This is because psychedelia often involves the use of hallucinogenic drugs to promote a state of altered consciousness and a heightened appreciation for sensory experience. Psychedelia was first applied to music in the late 1960s. The psychedelic era of pop music featured a heavier sound than what had come before it.,
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The 1960s were a decade of social upheaval and change. This period also saw significant changes in the world of music. New subgenres and styles of music arose; older musical traditions were revived, and the sound and style of pop music began to take its modern form. Although several of these trends were evident throughout the 1950s, they were generally more pronounced in the 1960s.