- The early days of rock ‘n’ roll
- The British Invasion
- The rise of heavy metal
- The birth of punk rock
- The 1980s: hair metal and pop metal
- The 1990s: grunge and alternative rock
- The 2000s: nu metal and emo
- The 2010s: indie rock and electronic dance music
- The future of rock music
- The greatest rock songs of all time
A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs: The Podcast is a podcast about rock music history.
The early days of rock ‘n’ roll
The early days of rock ‘n’ roll are often considered to be the late 1950s and early 1960s. This is when the style of music first began to take form, with artists such as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard pioneering the sound.
However, the roots of rock ‘n’ roll go back much further than that. In fact, you can trace the origins of rock ‘n’ roll all the way back to the 1920s with artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Ma Rainey.
These early pioneers laid the foundation for what would become one of the most popular genres of music in the world. In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of rock ‘n’ roll and some of the most important songs from each era.
The British Invasion
The 1960s saw a musical sea change in the United States, as what had been a locally-oriented industry was confronted with the rise of British rock. The so-called “British Invasion” began in late 1963, when a group known as the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. With their mop-top haircuts, Cavern Club demeanor and Liverpool accents, they quickly won over American teenagers, who were soon imitating their every move.
The rise of heavy metal
The 1970s saw the rise of heavy metal, a genre of rock music that featured distorted guitars, loud drumming, and aggressive vocals.Heavy metal was developed by a number of bands, including Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Deep Purple. The genre became extremely popular in the 1980s with the advent of bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest.
The birth of punk rock
In 1970s England, a group of young musicians became disillusioned with the developing trends in rock music. They felt that the genre had become too bloated and self-important, and they yearned for a return to the its roots. These musicians would come to be known as the punk rockers, and their movement would go on to change the course of rock music forever.
The punk rockers were influenced by a wide range of music, from the raw energy of The Stooges to the political edge of The Clash. They rejected the glossy production values and self-indulgent solos of mainstream rock, instead favouring a stripped-down sound that was fast, loud, and upbeat. Punk lyrics were often cynical or sarcastic, and tackle topics such as social alienation, economic injustice, and political corruption.
The punk movement was short-lived but highly influential. Punk bands like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones would go on to inspire subsequent generations of musicians, paving the way for alternative genres such as grunge and indie rock.
The 1980s: hair metal and pop metal
The 1980s saw the rise of hair metal and pop metal, two subgenres of hard rock that dominated the decade. Hair metal bands like Mötley Crüe and Poison combined elements of glam rock with traditional heavy metal to create a sound that was both over-the-top and irresistible. Pop metal bands like Bon Jovi and Def Leppard followed a similar formula, but with a greater emphasis on melody and hooks. Both subgenres were immensely popular, with hair metal in particular becoming a cultural phenomenon in the United States.
The 1980s also saw the continued rise of hard rock giants like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Aerosmith. These bands had started in the 1970s, but their popularity only continued to grow in the following decade. Other important hard rock bands of the 1980s include Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Kiss. Hard rock would continue to be a dominant force in popular music throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
The 1990s: grunge and alternative rock
The 1990s were a decade of great change in rock music. The early part of the decade saw the rise of grunge, a dirty, noisy subgenre of rock that was defined by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Grunge quickly took over the mainstream, pushing other styles of rock music to the margins.
Alternative rock, a catch-all term for everything from punk to indie rock, was one of the most important genres of the decade. Bands like Pavement, Sonic Youth, and R.E.M. led the way, while others like Nirvana and Pearl Jam find massive success with radio-friendly singles. Indie rock also began to make inroads into the mainstream, thanks to bands like Sebadoh and Pavement.
The later part of the decade saw the rise of Britpop, a quintessentially British take on alternative rock that was spearheaded by bands like Blur and Oasis. Britpop would go on to dominate the UK charts throughout the 1990s.
In America, meanwhile, hip-hop continued to grow in popularity, with artists like Public Enemy and NWA leading the way. Hip-hop would eventually explode into the mainstream in the late 1990s with artists like Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z.
The 2000s: nu metal and emo
At the beginning of the new millennium, nu metal and emo were two of the most popular genres in rock music. Nu metal bands like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and Slipknot blended elements of hip hop, metal, and alternative rock to create a sound that was both aggressive and accessible. Emo bands like My Chemical Romance and Dashboard Confessional took the introspection and emotional intensity of punk and turned it into something more melodic and radio-friendly.
Both genres had their roots in the 1990s, but it was in the 2000s that they truly came into their own. Nu metal bands like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and Slipknot rose to prominence with their mix of heavy guitars and rap-influenced vocal styles. Emo bands like My Chemical Romance and Dashboard Confessional found success by stripping down punk’s sound and writing songs that were more introspective and emotionally vulnerable.
The 2000s were a tumultuous time for rock music. The popularity of nu metal and emo led to a backlash against both genres, with many critics dismissing them as immature and unimportant. But despite the criticism, nu metal and emo continued to be hugely popular throughout the decade, with both genres spawning multiple subgenres and influencing countless other artists.
The 2010s: indie rock and electronic dance music
In the 2010s, indie rock and electronic dance music became popular. Indie rock is a genre of rock music that originated in the United States and United Kingdom in the 1970s. Electronic dance music is a genre of music played in nightclubs, festivals, and raves.
The future of rock music
The future of rock music is always in question. It’s a genre that has been through some major ups and downs over the past few decades, and it’s hard to say where it’s going to go next. But if there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that there are still plenty of people out there who love rock music and are fighting to keep it alive.
In this episode, we take a look at some of the latest trends in rock music, and try to figure out where the genre is headed. We talk about the rise of female fronted bands, the renewed interest in classic rock, and the ever-growing popularity of punk and metal. We also take a look at some of the newer subgenres that are starting to emerge, like post-rock and math-rock. And finally, we touch on some of the recent controversies surrounding the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and ask whether or not rock music still has a place in the mainstream.
The greatest rock songs of all time
In this podcast, we countdown the 500 greatest rock songs of all time as chosen by you, the listeners! We’ll be playing a mix of classic rock, hair metal, punk, grunge, and everything in between. So whether you’re a fan of Led Zeppelin or Nirvana, this is the podcast for you!