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Pop Music
Every form of art is constantly changing and evolving within our society and cultural limitations. An array of strong reactions burst forth from the public when Kendrick Lamar, a rapper from Compton, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for his album, “DAMN.” The award was largely known for featuring classical orchestras and composers, and only included an outsider in 1997, when Wynton Marsalis, a jazz trumpeter, was nominated. Kendrick’s award signifies something much larger than the Pulitzer Prize, however. His win foreshadows oncoming changes to music as a whole, as an indication to where popular music is currently headed. Let’s take a look at the evolution of music throughout the ages.

After World War 2, America saw an emergence of jazz clubs and lounge singers, like Frank Sinatra. The so-called “Beat Generation” was largely responsible for popularizing jazz and other predominately African-American types of music. When the 1950s rolled around, swing music was in full, well, swing, as husbands and wives drank wine by the radio and danced the night away.

Things got interesting in the 1960s and ’70s, as psychedelic rock and folk music dominated the airwaves. Musicians like Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and The Rolling Stones pioneered the music we know and love today.

The 1980s brought pop music into light, along with power ballads and glamorous rock bands, like Guns ‘N Roses, but by the 1990’s everyone was burned out by love songs and electronic synths. Grunge music took over, with bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins at the forefront. At the same time, hip-hop music started to really mature, as artists like Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. garnered international fame.

During the late ’90s and early 2000s, boy bands like N-Sync and the Backstreet Boys were all over magazines and MTV, alongside pop sensations like Britney Spears. The 2010s shaped up similarly, as pop music still dominates our current musical spectrum, however, there is a significantly wider variety of music to choose from. By 2012, new styles of techno were gaining traction, like Dubstep. Meanwhile, rap and hip-hop had been gradually rising to the prominent position it has taken today.

Kendrick Lamar winning 2018’s Pulitzer Prize is an indicator that hip-hop is taking precedence in popular culture. Artists like Kanye West, Migos, Gucci Mane, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, Cardi B, Drake, and far too many to mention have become household names. As Kanye, himself, once put it: “rappers are the new rock-stars.”