From USA Today–“Evolution of Pop”


Posted 3/11/2004 9:45 PM

Today’s Top Life Stories

Evolution of pop
By Ken Barnes and Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
Pop music for adults was the only game in town 50 years ago, and now it just might be coming full circle again. USA TODAY’s Ken Barnes and Elysa Gardner chart its evolution.

Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair concept offered an alternative to the testosterone rock fests at the time.
USA TODAY

1954

All popular music, aside from regional/ethnic pockets of R&B and country, is adult pop, a situation reflected by radio. Rock ‘n’ roll is about to change all that.

1960

Rock ‘n’ roll makes inroads, but Rat Packers (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin) and crooners thrive.

1963

Barbra Streisand is the first important new adult-pop star in a period dominated — except for the ubiquitous Latin instrumental sounds of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass — by rock ‘n’ roll.

1967

Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck obliterate rockers in their U.K. homeland, invade USA.

1971

Carole King’s Tapestry becomes the first rock-inspired adult-pop sensation, fostering rise of singer/songwriters (James Taylor, Billy Joel, et al.)

1980

Adult-appealing “easy listening” radio stations (playing orchestral and singalong versions of standards) start to fade, replaced by adult contemporary (AC) stations playing Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond and The Carpenters.

1985

VH1 launched as MTV’s adult alternative (playing Sting, Peter Gabriel and such), but ultimately evolves into a nostalgia haven.

1990

Michael

Bolton becomes the new poster boy for AC radio.

1994-95

Adult album alternative (triple A) radio format provides refuge for aging rock acts and singer/songwriters but fails to draw listeners.

1997

Sarah McLachlan heads the first Lilith Fair, a festival for folk-based female minstrels that offers an alternative to more testosterone-driven summer rock tours.

1998-99

Burgeoning adult top 40 and modern AC formats provide new, more successful refuge for singer/songwriters and aging rock acts (Counting Crows) and target the music-loving adult audience.

2002

Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me released, gradually builds to revolutionary phenomenon.

2004

Rock ‘n’ roll turns 50; AARP membership not included.

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