When Did Pop Music Begin?

A look at the history of pop music and how it has evolved over the years.

Origins of Pop Music

Most people think that pop music is a recent phenomenon, but it actually has roots that go back centuries. It began as a blend of different genres, including but not limited to: blues, jazz, R&B, and rock & roll. Pop music has since evolved and changed over the years, but it continues to be a popular genre that is enjoyed by people all over the world.

The 1950s

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms “popular music” and “pop music” are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular (and can include any style).

During the 1950s, pop music continued to be influenced by jazz, blues, and folk music. This decade also saw the rise of teen idols like Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson, as well as the birth of rock and roll. By the end of the decade, however, pop music was starting to veer away from its previous influences and develop into a more electronic sound.

The 1960s

Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the United States and United Kingdom during the mid-1950s. The terms “popular music” and “pop music” are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many diverse styles. “Pop” and “rock” were synonymous terms until the late 1960s, when they became increasingly differentiated from each other.

Generally, pop music is understood to be commercially recorded music with the goal of mass audience appeal, made easily accessible to the general public. It has often been contrasted with art music, which is more serious in tone and is produced by more trained musicians. The pop music industry emerged in the 1950s, when recordings by Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly topped the American charts. British producer Norman Newell said in 1958, “To me pop has always been shorthand for popular, identifying music with a mass appeal.”

Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll or rock ‘n’ roll) is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues, and country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The group, whose best-known line-up comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential music band in history. Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later utilised several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelia and hard rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. In 1963, their enormous popularity first emerged as “Beatlemania”; as the group’s music grew in sophistication, led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, the band were integral to the development of 1960s counterculture.

The Beatles and Pop Music

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The group, whose best-known lineup consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, are regarded as the most influential band of all time. They were integral to the development of 1960s counterculture and popular music’s recognition as an art form.

Early Beatles hits such as “Please Please Me” (1963), “From Me to You” (1963) and “She Loves You” (1963) brought them international success. By early 1964, they had become international stars, leading the “British Invasion” of the United States pop market. From 1965 onwards, the Beatles produced increasingly innovative recordings, including the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), widely regarded as the creative zenith of pop music. Historian Ian MacDonald wrote that Rubber Soul was “the album that split pop music wide open into before and after.” After Sgt. Pepper, pop music continued to evolve into new forms with greater artistic ambition and innovation.

In August 1966, Brian Epstein died and McCartney assumed leadership of the band. Lennon’s psychedelic Ed Sullivan Show performance in February 1967 (“All You Need Is Love”), Harrison’s sitar-based composition “Norwegian Wood”, Starr’s drumming on “Strawberry Fields Forever” and innovative production techniques such as reverse tape effects on “Tomorrow Never Knows” all represented significant steps forward in advancing the technical possibilities of popular music recording. Under their own steam and without Epstein’s guidance, the Beatles released Magical Mystery Tour (1967) as a Pandora’s box of delights which broke new ground for both its ambitious side-long title track/film project and its stylish packaging designed by Klaus Voorman which differed from anything that had gone before. They then retreated from public view for 18 months to record what many critics regard as their finest work: The Beatles (1968; more commonly known as The White Album).

The Beatles and Rock Music

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are widely regarded as the most influential band of all time. The group were integral to the development of 1960s counterculture and popular music’s recognition as an art form.

Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, their sound incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop in innovative ways; the band later explored music styles ranging from ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As pioneers in recording, songwriting and artistic presentation, the Beatles revolutionised many aspects of the music industry and were often imitated on a global scale.

In 1963 their enormous popularity first emerged as “Beatlemania”; as the group’s music grew in sophistication following their return from Hamburg, they came to be perceived by many fans as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era’s sociocultural revolutions. The Beatles built on their success in 1964 with a string of well-received releases, including the albums A Hard Day’s Night—featuring their eponymous film soundtrack—and Beatlemania! With Hits from Help!

As Beatlemania reached fever pitch in 1965–66, Lennon commented that “we’re more popular than Jesus now”, prompting a nationwide backlash among religious groups; Empty seats at their US concerts that year became a symbol of this rift. In 1968, amid increasing tension within the group over both personal differences and differing opinions on artistic direction, McCartney publicly announced his departure; he was replaced by former associate Billy Preston for live performances on what became known as The Beatles’ final tour. Lennon subsequently moved to New York City where he continued his solo career; Harrison also pursued a solo career while Starr became involved with Ringo’s Rotogravures (1976) and Ringo the 4th (1977). Although unofficially disbanded following McCartney’s 1974 lawsuit against his fellow members seeking a formal dissolution of their partnership, all four members sporadically collaborated during this period: most notably on Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh benefit project with Dylan in 1971–72; Starr sat in with Lennon during sessions for Imagine (1971) while Harrison contributed slide guitar to “I’m Down” shortly before his death from cancer in November 2001.

The British Invasion

The British Invasion began in 1964 when the Beatles came to the United States. This event changed the face of pop music and introduced a new sound that was influenced by British culture. The British Invasion was a time when many British bands and artists became very popular in the United States. Some of these bands include the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Who.

The British Invasion and Pop Music

The British Invasion was a musical movement of the 1960s, when rock and pop music performers from the United Kingdom and other parts of the British Empire, including the Commonwealth, became popular in the United States, Australia and other English-speaking countries. The United Kingdom had begun to challenge the hegemony of American artists and culture in general since 1956 with the rise to prominence of performers such as Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and his Comets, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. By late 1963, pop music was dominated by British acts.

The Beatles became international stars in early 1964 with their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. One critic later wrote that their arrival in America heralded “not just a new group but a new sound and a new profession.” Time magazine declared that “from now on [pop] will be divided into B.C. (before the Beatles) and A.D. (AnnoDomini)”. Musicologist Wesley Hyatt wrote: “For those who were there … [it] felt like a convenient marker … almost an official demarcation point separating everything that came before it from everything that came after it.”

The Beatles’ success caused a chain reaction in which many other British Invasion bands followed suit, achieving similar levels of popularity in the United States and elsewhere; these included Herman’s Hermits, The Dave Clark Five, The Animals, The Kinks, Gerry & The Pacemakers and The Rolling Stones. The few American acts that were able to maintain success during this period were typically more jazz-oriented (e.g., Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass), or R&B vocal groups (e.g., Smokey Robinson & The Miracles). Another group that achieved great success during this time was Simon & Garfunkel; although they were an American duo from New York City rather than from Britain proper, their musical style had considerable affinities with contemporary British folk rock groups such as Fairport Convention and Pentangle.

The British Invasion and Rock Music

The 1960s saw the British Invasion of American popular culture, led by young musicians such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and the Animals. This massive cultural exchange had a profound effect on both countries, with British pop music soon becoming wildly popular in the United States. While the British Invasion is typically associated with rock music, it also brought about a renewed interest in other genres such as folk and blues. This period marked a major turning point in popular music, as artists began to experiment with new sounds and styles that would influence generations to come.

Conclusion

So, when did pop music begin? There’s no easy answer, as the genre has roots in a number of different musical styles. However, you can trace the origins of pop back to the 1950s, when a new type of popular music began to emerge. This music was characterized by simple melodies and lyrics, and it quickly became extremely popular with young people all over the world. From there, pop music has continued to evolve and take on new forms, making it one of the most diverse and ever-changing genres of music around.

Scroll to Top