Black Pop Music Throughout the Years
Pop is a broad genre of music which originally originated in the early 1950s in the United Kingdom and the United States. The terms pop music and popular music are frequently used interchangeably, though the former generally refers to all music which is popular and comprises many different genres. As the name suggests, the genre is characterized by a common theme or subject. Most often the subject matter is music, but within the boundaries of pop music there are references to other things as well, such as movies, books, television shows, etc. The themes and subjects contained within popular music vary considerably from song to song. Popular music is by and large about young people and often revolves around subjects like rock music, garage bands (particularly the band Yes! ), heavy metal, and even hip-hop.
Over time, the genre has evolved into two major subgenres which have had varying influences on the styles and sounds of songs and artists: punk rock and hard rock. Both of these subgenres brought new perspectives and alternative sounds to the ears of listeners, which were then echoed by others within the music industry. punk rock began as an anti-social and rebellious movement, which called for greater musical and artistic freedoms. Hard rock, on the other hand, was about reacting to trends within rock and roll, especially with the release of Led Zeppelin’s self-titled album.
Within the last twenty-five years or so, however, these two major subgenres have begun to blend together quite extensively. A good example of this is seen in the growing popularity of pop music, which often uses the same vocabulary, sounds, and subject matter as hard rock n roll. This can be seen in the current chart topping hit by One Republic, “Love Can’t Get In Your Mind.” In the last ten years or so, pop music has also begun to use the guitar in a more significant way than in the past.
During the 1960s, a band from San Francisco named King Tubby was highly influenced by the newly emerging “Afro-Cuban” and popularized the sound on their albums. Two other acts from that era that helped define the sound of heavily influenced pop music include groups such as the Yardbirds and Boz Scaggs. Boz Scaggs lived in a native American community with members who would often perform for their own community at small country clubs in their town. The experience of listening to the sound of traditional African American music inspired him to create his own unique style of pop music using guitar and drums.
Another early act that helped to define the sounds of pop music during the mid-1950s was the Yardbirds. Their lead singer, John Renbourn, grew up in a segregated neighborhood in Chicago. According to his biographer Kevin Nash, Renbourn often felt unsafe and wanted to contribute something to his audience, but he was denied permission to do so. He therefore formed his own band, the Yardbirds, with singer/guitarist John Renbourn, bassist Edith Piaf, and drummer Larry Graham. Renbourn called his musical style pop music, because he believed it was an expression of his feelings and ideas rather than being strictly a rock band.
Many African American artists have created some of the most popular music videos in the history of pop music. According to the Associated Press, George Strait wrote the first song about the color barrier that appeared on many pop music videos in the early days of the music video. Jannick Johnson, Eddie Murphy, Aretha Franklin, and numerous other African American artists have all created memorable music videos that were heavily influenced by hip hop and other popular culture. While it can be argued that some of these artists created these videos with the intention of getting rap hits in order to sell them, the impact they had on black Americans in the south and around the world cannot be overlooked.