The Evolution of Pop Music

  • Elvis Presley records 'That's All Right Mama' at Sun Studios, Memphis

    Elvis Presley records 'That's All Right Mama' at Sun Studios, Memphis
    Rock'n'roll's big bang. There were rock'n'roll records before this one, nearly all of them produced by black artists, but this is the moment when the embryonic form found its perfect embodiment.
  • The Beatles Take America

    The Beatles Take America
    Already the most popular pop music group in Europe, the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan's television show in early 1964. The following month, 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' shot to the top of the US charts, swiftly followed by their four previous singles. In March 1964, they occupied the top five chart positions in America. Beatlemania was born.
  • Marvin Gaye: What's Going On?

    Marvin Gaye: What's Going On?
    One of the few instances of an artist having total creative control and producing a masterpiece. Dismissed by Berry Gordy, Gaye's boss at Motown, as commercial suicide, the first soul concept album tackled Vietnam, racism and inner-city strife. As this was a huge hit, it paved the way for the radical Seventies soul of Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield and Stevie Wonder.
  • Bob Marley & the Wailers: 'No Woman, No Cry' released

    Bob Marley & the Wailers: 'No Woman, No Cry' released
    This was Bob Marley & the Wailers' first hit single, and the beginning of Marley s reign as an international reggae star. As important a catalyst as Dylan or Lennon, he remains the only reggae artist to achieve iconic status. His death in 1981 sadly robbed the music of its one and only global icon.
  • The murder of John Lennon

    The murder of John Lennon
    Mark Chapman's shooting of John Lennon on the doorstep of the star's New York home stunned the world. That Chapman was a fan, and someone who craved celebrity himself, only added to the chilling unreality and shock of the moment. 'The world is not like the Sixties,' Lennon said in the last interview before his death. 'The world has changed.' The first, and most chilling, manifestation of the dark side of our obsession with celebrity.
  • The launch of MTV

    The launch of MTV
    The pivotal moment when the pop video became as important as the pop single. The first television channel devoted totally to music, MTV has grown into a global brand as all-pervasive as Coca-Cola or Nike, colonising and dulling the collective pop consciousness with the tyranny of the rotation play.
  • Michael Jackson: Thriller released

    Michael Jackson: Thriller released
    The biggest-selling pop record of all time, Thriller made Michael Jackson a global icon. Then at only 25, he had made his debut at the age of four and had his first hit at 12 sharing the charts with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Doors, and was already the subject of much media speculation concerning his eternal childhood. In the light of all that has happened since, it is worth remembering that he was once a pop genius. His music is still popular.
  • Madonna's 'Material Girl' is released

    Madonna's 'Material Girl' is released
    This was the single that propelled Madonna beyond the mainstream and made her the most successful pop brand of modern times. Tied to a video in which she mimicked Monroe, it was the first and most audacious of her various self-inventions, a song that caught the consumerist thrust of the Eighties, even as it supposedly parodied the same.
  • Nirvana: 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

    Nirvana: 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'
    The single that catapulted Nirvana into the mainstream. A heady mix of metal and punk music, with a structural dynamic that alternated Cobain's whisper with his guttural scream, it said all there was to say about America's lost 'Generation X', defining a strain of solipsistic angst that continues to echo through white American rock music.
  • The Spice Girls meet Simon Fuller

    The Spice Girls meet Simon Fuller
    The Spice Girls were the most unlikely teen-pop phenomenon of the Nineties, not least because they were the first all-girl band in an era dominated by manufactured boy bands. They fused pop, rap and a strident, if inconsistent, 'girl power' message, which promoted feminism and their meteoric rise was overseen by Simon Fuller, perhaps the most influential player in modern British pop. In retrospect, their first single, 'Wannabe', was a harbinger of all that followed, from Posh to Pop Idol .
  • Brittney Spears

    Brittney Spears
    Often referred to as the "Princess of Pop", she is credited with influencing the revival of teen pop during the late 1990s and early 2000s. She has sold over 150 million records worldwide, making her one of the world's best-selling music artists of all times.
  • Taylor Swift (Debut)

    Taylor Swift (Debut)
    In 2006 Swift signed with Big Machine Records and scored her first Top 40 hit with “Tim McGraw.” After that, she then released four more singles and a self-titled album. At first, she started as a country singer. As popularity hit, she quickly evolved to pop.
  • Jay-Z

    Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) is a living legend who leveraged his work as a rap phenomenon into one of the most successful entrepreneurial careers forged in the music industry, becoming the first hip-hop artist to achieve billionaire status in 2019. During his career, roughly around 2009, he collaborated with pop music stars making him one.
  • Justin Bieber

    Justin Bieber
    Bieber stayed popular and relevant by using a new vocal distortion. On a track, Bieber leads us through a conventional verse, over which Skrillex gradually re-pitches, distorts and messes with Bieber’s voice until it’s completely transformed. When the pop-drop lands, we’re left with an insane dolphin-like squeal, pulled from the essence of Bieber’s voice in a call and response, that echoes past vocal phrases, and drives home.
  • Taylor Swift (Artist of the Year)

    Taylor Swift (Artist of the Year)
    Today, Swift has won the Apple Music Artist of the Year award for her outstanding performance in pop music. She has rocked concert stages, cinemas, local economies - and even the Earth - in 2023. Swift's Eras Tour sold out stadiums and pumped millions of dollars into each city it visited. A movie version of the show lit up theaters, racking up $250 million in ticket sales.