Pop music, a genre of popular music that is characterized by its catchy melodies, simple structures, and emphasis on lyrics, has been a mainstay of the music industry for several decades. But when did pop music become popular?
The term “pop music” is believed to have originated in the 1950s, with the rise of rock and roll music. However, the genre itself can be traced back to the early 20th century, with the advent of sheet music and the growth of the music publishing industry.
According to music historian Simon Frith, pop music can be defined as “music which is commercially recorded for a youth market and which uses relatively simple, melodic tunes and catchy rhythms to appeal to a mass audience.” This definition fits the early pop songs of the 1920s and 1930s, which were written by professional songwriters and performed by popular singers of the time.
One of the earliest examples of a pop song is “After You’ve Gone,” written by Henry Creamer and Turner Layton in 1918. The song was a hit for various singers, including Marion Harris and Sophie Tucker, and helped to establish the template for future pop songs.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, pop music continued to evolve, with the advent of swing music and the rise of crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. These artists helped to popularize the concept of the “pop star,” a performer who was not just a singer but a cultural icon.
By the 1950s, pop music had taken on a new form with the rise of rock and roll. Artists like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard fused elements of R&B and country music to create a new sound that was both rebellious and infectious. This era also saw the birth of the “teen idol,” a young male singer who was marketed to a teenage audience.
Since then, pop music has continued to evolve and change, with new sub-genres and trends emerging every few years. Today, pop music is still one of the most popular and lucrative forms of music, with a global audience and a constant stream of new artists vying for a spot on the charts.
In conclusion, pop music has been popular for over a century, with its roots in the early days of sheet music and the rise of professional songwriters. While the genre has evolved and changed over the years, its emphasis on catchy melodies, simple structures, and mass appeal has remained constant. Pop music is a reflection of the culture and society in which it exists, and it will likely continue to be a dominant force in the music industry for years to come.
Frith, Simon. “Pop Music.” Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.