Account for the success of pop music in Britain

Pop music is music charted by the number of sales, plays, etc that the song receives. It is not a particular genre or style of music, but simply the most popular for the tracked period of time, and usually targets a wide audience.
To begin with I am going to discuss the history behind pop music from mid 1950’s to the 1970’s.
In the mid-1950s, Britain was still feeling the pain of the war, with food and money shortages, and difficulty still part of daily life. Britain as a country was also in financial trouble, the economy was in bad shape. This was a grey time, and young British people/ British ‘kids’ had no dreams, and they could only copy the images which they saw on television or in the media from the life of kids in America. These young Americans would be driving their own cars, and wearing the latest fashionable clothes. The British youth would watch and hear the latest ‘Rock ‘N Roll’ music sounds from the States with artists such as Elvis Presley.

During the 1950’s British children had no a separate youth culture from their parents. The transition between child and adult was nothing huge or spectacular. The way that young people dressed was almost the same as their parents. They were not a separate group with their own values and customs.
British youth culture was small, and was totally dominated by American trends and styles. The British music industry in the 1950’s relied heavily on American music which led to British copies, of American-style music. The music industry was controlled from London but was out of touch with the needs and wants of the youth of Britain. However, even in this atmosphere, a uniquely ‘British’ musical trend emerged in late 1956-57; this was called ‘Skiffle’, (a kind of simple folk music played by a small group (friends), mainly with rhythmic accompaniment, usually a washboard to a singing guitarist). This simple style was easy for teenagers to play, just one guitar, and someone who could vaguely keep a rhythm on a washboard. Skiffle was made famous by Glasgow-born Lonnie Donegan. Lonnie was hugely popular and, an inspiration to the musical youth of Britain. There are many famous musicians and groups e.g. Eric Clapton (is an English blues-rock guitarist, singer, songwriter and composer. He is one of the most successful musicians of the 20th centuryy) who all say that Lonnie Donegan was a big influence on them.
Music was different between the South of London compared to the North. In the cities outside of London, especially Liverpool, but also Birmingham, Manchester, and Newcastle had a musical revolution. In Liverpool, a ‘music culture’ very different and separate from London was happening. In the North, the kids loved Rhythm ‘N’ Blues, and Rock ‘N Roll, not the easy listening music that they had in the south. By the early 1960’s northern cities had a large and highly competitive band scene emerging in which hundreds of ‘local’ bands tried to find and perform the latest imported songs from America. Indeed it is often said that American Blues music, the music of black people, was originally from America but was found not popular but when it came over to Britain it succeeded to be popular and that’s when Americans accepted it and then began to like it.
In Liverpool, the music they played was a mix of the American music with a touch of the ‘Mersey’ and ‘Liverpool’ individualism. The concept of a ‘Mersey beat’ was born.
By the 1960’s there were so many great groups in this Mersey scene such as ‘The Beatles’ and everyone young in Britain decided they were number one. The Beatles went to America, and once The Beatles had ‘cracked’ the American market, their success just kept flowing.
Suddenly Britain, (mainly London), was ‘swinging’, in the ‘swinging 60’s’. Britain became the centre of the music and fashion world. There was a genuine energy, creativity and optimism which was totally the opposite of the mood of a few years before.
The economy that influenced the music industry; in the early 1960’s, the economy of Britain took off. Britain became a rich country; everybody had jobs and money, including the young people. In particular the youth of Britain had started to get more money, and acquire spending power and became independent. This meant that they bought more clothes and records. Young people became big business, and record companies and fashion companies wanted young people to buy their products and so advertising the message of youth.
Britain succeeded largely when the US president John F. Kennedy was assassinated and it left America in a state of shock, without a sense of direction and vulnerable. The Americans looked to England for musical and artistic inspiration, and so Britain became dominant within the music industry.
The impact of US films and music inspired a series of spectacular and distinctly British youth subcultures from the mid-50’s to the late-70’s. Many groups decided to drop out of British society. They decided to make their own small societies in Britain. Some wanted to change the whole country as well. In 1953 became the creation of ‘Teddy Boys/Girls’ this was the first youth group in Britain. They dressed with a Rockabilly’ style and with ‘quiffs’, influenced by Elvis Presley, accessories such as flick-knives, crepe sole shoes, and they were typically from working-class London. They were not so revolutionary but rather violent.
Therefore in Britain in the 1950’s there was no real pop or rock music however in 1960’s pop and rock music in Britain was the biggest, or second biggest revolution in the world.
The culture of the 1960’s was the hippies. The hippy values were a reaction to ‘money’ and ‘normality’. These values were peace and love. The music of their interest was ‘The Beatles’, ‘The Who’, and ‘Jimmy Hendrix’.
In 1963 became the ‘Mods’ a Jamaican-rude boy/Italian-cool style, and US soul. The music that interested them were; ‘The small faces’, ‘The who’ and ‘Scooters’. This group were typically from a working-class background in London. The type of fashion they led was Fashion-Green army parkas, and Italian suits.
In 1976-1979 became ‘The Punks’, their interest was of artists such as ‘Sex pistols’, ‘The clash’ and ‘Bondage’. Their led a fashion of leather jackets and trousers with a ripped effect held back with safety pins.
The 1980’s was the return influences of pop which was having a greater impact in this decade than ever before. Hits in the US charts came from the UK, from artists such as “George Michael -Careless Whisper”, “Wham-Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” (both 1984), “George Harrison-Got My Mind Set on You” and “Rick Astley-Never Gonna Give You Up” (both 1988). The rock genre delivered a good number of pop hits this decade, with bands otherwise protective of their roots delivering briefly into commercialism. An example is a British-American rock band “Foreigner- I Want to Know What Love Is” (1985).
One of the big trends in UK pop music this decade was the success of the boy band and girl band’s, with early successes being Manchester’s Take That and Ireland’s Boyzone. The Spice Girls had their first hits in 1996 and dominated the next few years with many hit singles, and by the end of the decade there were many others, from boy bands Westlife and Five to girl bands B*Witched and All Saints. Many popular songs came from female artists. A few of the most significant are ‘Sinead O’Connor- Nothing compares to you’ (1990), and the ‘Spice Girls- Wannabe’ (1996).
Following-up on the positive results of the eighties, songs from movie soundtracks continued to be popular. Defining hits of the genre include ‘Bryan Adams- Everything I do (I do it for you)’ for Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991). Pop became truly international in the nineties, with hits coming from diverse and distant locations but from Britain was; ‘Chesney Hawkes- The one and only’ (1991), and ‘Babylon Zoo- Spaceman’ (1996). Plus one of the best selling singles of all time, ‘Elton John- Candle in the Wind’ (1997); Other British success was of the Spice Girls who have since become Pop icons, with Global hits such as “Wannabe” and “2 Become 1”.
In the first decade of the twenty-first century Female singers have had a big successful influence on the pop music, with rhythmic ballads, hip hop pieces and dance tracks, some include; ‘Dannii Minogue- I begin to wonder’, and ‘Sophie Ellis Bextor- Murder on the dance floor’ both in 2001.
A female band called ‘Girls Aloud’ created by ITV1 talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. Have become one of the most successful British pop groups of the decade, with a record-breaking 18 consecutive Top 10 singles (including three number ones) and five platinum albums (including a number one). They are Smash Hits poll winners, have won a TMF Award and have been nominated for two BRIT Awards. Girls Aloud hold the record for the shortest time between formation and reaching number one in the UK Charts (with their platinum-selling d�but single “Sound of the Underground”), and have since become one of the few reality television groups to achieve continued success. For a contemporary pop group manufactured on reality television they have received unprecedented praise from broadsheet newspapers and the rock music press, with publications including the Observer Music Monthly and the NME giving their music rave reviews. The Observer has referred to “Biology” as the single of the decade.
Traditional rock and modern rock made forays into pop with consecrated artists and newcomers both introducing songs to the pop music, ‘Franz Ferdinand-Take me out’ was a good example. Franz Ferdinand is an indie rock band that formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 2001. The band first experienced chart success when their second single “Take Me Out” which I mentioned above reached #3 in the UK Charts, followed by their debut album Franz Ferdinand which debuted on the UK album chart at #3.
Entirely digital productions integrated new technology and sounds, and as electronic (electro) dance music entered the mainstream, pop artists started using producers and re-mixers which contributed their styles to the genre an example were the ‘Gorillaz-Feel good inc’.
Britain hit the pop charts with artists such as ‘Robbie Williams-feel good’ (2003), ‘James Blunt- You’re beautiful’ (2005), and ‘James Morrison- You give me something’ (2006).
I conclude that Britain have been very successful within pop music, but with a very competitive competition against America. I personally felt that for each decade Britain increased their success within pop and it was down to many aspects but mainly to the talented artists in Britain and the individuality within the music itself.

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