• Tishya Doraiswamy

9 Popular Music Genres

Updated: Jan 10

We all love music - whether it calms us down, excites us, helps us express ourselves, or is simply a great way to pass the time. It's a key part of our lives, and a great way to meet and bond with new people. But do we know music? Do we understand its history or context? Doubtful. Understanding the background behind a music style can help enhance the experience of listening to it multiple times over, so today, we’ve compiled for you 9 popular genres of music, and a little about them for you to know the music you love better!

1. EDM

EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, is the music made predominantly for nightclubs and raves. It’s a continually growing genre in recent times, with artists like David Guetta and Calvin Harris who quickly rose in popularity. It’s an umbrella under which styles like house music, techno, and dubstep coming under it. EDM began as an underground phenomenon in the 1980s which the rise of ‘raving’, and with the rise of club culture, became extremely popular in Europe. 

It’s usually produced in a recording studio and requires extensive equipment - samplers, synthesizers, MIDI controllers, etc.

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. Titanium - David Guetta

  2. Summer - Calvin Harris


2. ROCK 

Originating as ‘rock and roll’ in the 1940s and 1950s, rock is one of the most popular and well-known genres of music today, encompassing bands like The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Queen. Rock is generally centered around the electric guitar and involves instruments like the bass guitar, drums, and vocals. Rock includes several sub-genres; blues rock, southern rock, punk rock, alternative rock being a few. 

Pioneering artists in the 40’s include Chuck Berry, and then the Rolling Stones, and as it became a more dominant genre, bands like Pink Floyd and the Sex Pistols began to branch out the genre, the former adding in psychedelic elements and the latter, leading the creation of Punk music. 

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. Satisfaction - Rolling Stones

  2. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen

3. PUNK

Originating from 60s garage rock, punk consists of fast-paced, hard melodies and often anti-establishment lyrics. It was a result of the rejection of mainstream rock styles and culture. It began as a critique of consumerism and domination of commercial interest in the music industry. It typically employs one or two electric guitars, drums, and vocals. Popular punk bands include Green Day, Blink-182, and Ramones.

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. Basket Case - Green Day

  2. All The Small Things - Blink-182

4. POP

The term Pop is derived from “Popular”, and therefore pop music is a genre of popular music. It has its roots in rock and roll in the 50’s and 60’s. Till the late 60’s, the two were almost interchangeable but “pop” soon became associated with more commercial and impermanent music. 

Pop music is a dynamic genre, for it technically includes all music that is designed and appealing to the masses. Today, renowned top artists include Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande.

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. Bad Guy - Billie Eilish

  2. thank u, next - Ariana Grande

5. JAZZ

Originating in African-American communities in New Orleans in the late 19th century, Jazz has its roots in blues music, who’s influence remains notable in the genre. Improvisation, blue notes, and swing notes are commonly found in Jazz music. In the early 20th century, swing jazz music became extremely popular. 

The genre is known for popularising female jazz composers and performers, particularly those of African-American origin - Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, Billie Holiday being some of many well-known names. 

Its characteristic improvisation gives it flexibility not necessarily found in other genres, and players often have solos that are made up on the spot - a skill that requires immense musical knowledge. 

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. Cry Me A River - Ella Fitzgerald

  2. Blue Moon - Billie Holiday

6. BLUES

Yet another beautiful genre of music that originated amongst African-American communities, Blues music finds its roots in the South in the United States in the 19th century. Its origins are associated with the new freedom of former slaves, and incorporates work songs, shouts, chants. 

Early blues often involved singers voicing their woes and troubles faced by the African-American communities. Today, Blues has evolved from unaccompanied vocals into an umbrella genre with several sub-genres and styles. The call and response format it follows, however, can be traced back as having an African origin. Prominent artists include Etta James and B.B King

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. I'd Rather Go Blind - Etta James

  2. The Thrill Is Gone - B.B King

7. COUNTRY

A popular American genre, country music finds its roots in American folk and western music. It usually includes ballads with simple forms, often accompanied by banjos, acoustic or electric guitars, and harmonicas. Renowned country artists include Blake Shelton and Luke Combs.  A common controversy associated with the genre that has come up in recent times, however, is the erasure of artists who are people of colour in the genre.

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. God's Country - Blake Shelton


8. FUNK

The genre funk originated in the 1960s amongst African-American communities, focusing on a strong groove. It has heavy base lines, and often takes inspiration from Jazz and R&B. Funk music is said to be far more ‘danceable’ because of the grooves it uses. Funk eventually influenced almost every other genre in some way, be it hard rock and punk, to rap and hip-hop where its sampling became increasingly common. Funk music artists include Prince, Kool & The Gang, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. 

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. 1999 - Prince

  2. Get Down On It - Kool & The Gang

9. HIP HOP

Hip hop and rap music were developed in the United States by African-Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx in New York City. The genre originates in the 70s, and has since gone onto represent not just a genre of music, but an entire culture and art movement. It largely features rap with some sort of electronic background. 

In the 21st century, hip hop has become a major genre that continues to rapidly grow in popularity. Several artists use hip hop to make social statements, such as Nas’ ‘Cops Shot The Kid’, J Cole’s ‘Friends’, and Kendrick Lamar’s 'How Much A Dollar Cost'.

You can check out some popular music of the genre below:

  1. Cops Shot The Kid - Nas

  2. Friends - J Cole

  3. How Much A Dollar Cost - Kendrick Lamar

Let us know what your favourite genre and artist is in the comments below, and share this article with your friends!

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Tishya Doraiswamy, Content Writer @ Skyshot Media

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