Happy 4th of July weekend everyone! We here at J.A.M. Master’s are frequently questioned about American music, and one of the questions that has come up recently is, “What is the greatest decade in the history of American music?” Although the J.A.M. Master’s music database dates back to the 1800’s and even further if you include classical music as well, that question is an extremely hard one to answer. Music in general is so varied and cultured that to even compare the numerous genres and styles would make even the most musically-cultured person’s head spin. So, in an attempt to “help” procure an answer to that question, we’ve broken down the last sixty years of American music – 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, and the 2000’s. Before we begin, we would like to give a loving acknowledgement to two particular genres of music – gospel and country music. Gospel and country music have managed to stand the test of time and reinvent themselves through each decade, and simply based on this fact they are everlasting, incredible, and as American as apple pie. Gospel and country music will forever define us as Americans.
The 1950’s basically saw the advent of rock n roll - period. Possibly the greatest of all genres, rock n roll became instantly popular in the United States and helped bring together other genres of music (such as R&B and country) which were very dissimilar and it quickly spread to the rest of the world. Rock n roll had the ability to be merged with any kind of music at the time to create a distinct sound that people became attached to. In addition to the awe-inspiring rock n roll genre, 1950’s pop, doo-wop, blues, and jazz all gained popularity through this swinging decade as well.
The 1960’s saw a large majority of Americans suddenly turn toward the United Kingdom for its musical tastes, with the British Invasion and the psychedelic movement taking rock n roll and blues musical elements and transforming them with such magnanimous effect that the genre would achieve superior international success. The decade also saw the heyday of the Motown era of R&B, and despite the success of the British Invasion and it’s apparent ability to close out other music forms during that time, Motown R&B would live through the hectic decade and survive into the seventies. Beach/Surf music and folk music would also manage to remain popular with Americans in the 1960’s as well.
The 1970’s saw the emergence of the disco genre take over the forefront, but it was not without stiff competition from other extremely popular genres such as classic rock and hard rock. Pop music also returned in a big way to become a major player in the 70’s scene, and the emergence of reggae music began to take form as well. Other honorable mentions during this decade were cabaret R&B and punk music, all of which allowed the 1970’s to possibly become the most varied musical decade of all time.
In the 1980’s, pop music (with help from MTV and a collection of some of the biggest musical stars ever assembled) took over and pretty much refused to let go of the reins. Videos became a permanent fixture in the lives of mainstream Americans and would be forever associated with music. Although pop was the leading musical genre during the 80’s, it also faced stiff competition as well, most notably from hip hop and heavy metal. Contemporary R&B, new wave, and electronic music would sneak into prominence during the decade too, allowing the 1980’s to be one of the most beloved musical periods of all time.
Although pop music would continue to rule the music scene in the 1990’s, the decade would see the dawn of grunge music as a highly popular music form. With the dominance of pop and the rise of hip hop, contemporary R&B, and grunge, heavy metal would soon all but vanish and in its place subgenres such as pop punk, nu metal, and rapcore would develop. Electronic music would give way to more family-friendly dance music and the emergence of Latin music would also have an impact as well, making the 1990’s gain recognition for being a decade of an explosion of new, experimental, and fused musical styles that would end the century off on a powerful note.
In the 2000’s, hip hop would arguably control the decade as the most dominant music genre. However, trendy genres such as pop, R&B, and alternative rock would continue to leave their mark on the decade as well. On an unexpected note, the re-emergence of the adult contemporary music genre would infiltrate the music charts throughout the 2000’s, and the rise of Latin music genres such as reggaeton and dancehall would bring a unique sound to the radios and clubs across the United States. The family-friendly dance music of the nineties would give way to the trance music genre of the new millennium, and brief musical styles such as emo and the still-continuing rebirth of heavy metal continues to leave us wondering what the 2010’s and beyond will have in store…..
So in closing, what is the greatest decade in American music? Well, we may never ever know the answer to that question. However, you can always be assured that if you are at any event that J.A.M. Master’s is deejaying, you’ll see that we specialize in having ALL of the music of each of these genres and much more, including a mass of hard-to-find hits as well as the most current chart-toppers! Remember, at J.A.M. Master’s, WE”VE GOT YOUR JAM RIGHT HERE! Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!