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What Makes Music Popular?

Bondi Lines

What Makes Music Popular?

We have been disturbed by how much Gimme Gimme is played across Sydney. Yes, it is a good song, but it is absolutely abused by DJs. 

It got us thinking about why certain music is popular. We have put together some uneducated guesses on what drives music taste. 

The Youth Drives Change

Young people are the ones most willing to experiment with new ideas, technologies, drugs and re-discover the old with fresh eyes.

Live music and bands in the 70s, 80s and 90s were commonplace. Most of the music was rock, as it appealed to the inner rebel, which meant growing your hair out, inking your body and getting a bit loose.

As with anything in the creative domain, people are always trying to blur and push the boundaries. Rock is an evolution of 1950’s blues, with distorted guitars and faster tempos.

Once something new becomes mainstream, the boundaries are pushed even further. Rock became heavy metal and then screamo, playing even faster and more intensely. Similarly, hardstyle is to techno/house, what screamo is to rock. 

Being different can also involve taking something old and making it new again. Funk and disco music (popular in the 70s and 80s) played slower but keeping the rhythm, became RnB (Rhythm & Blues), which is currently very popular. 

Electronic music is something different entirely. 20 years ago electronic music was not mainstream at all (maybe Daft Punk is an exception), now it is commonplace. Your parents probably don’t know who Avicii is, let alone listen to him. 

The ‘in’ Drug Matters

The drugs of the time have an influence on the creative process and what the crowd wants to hear. 

In the 1960s, hallucinogens were in favour, and influenced people to make and enjoy unusual sounds with long instrumental sections. Think Pink Flloyd and the Sergeant Pepper album by The Beetles. 

With the popularity of MDMA and speed, and the development of technology, techno/house allows a more steady control of the beat and volume, which allows people to talk and/or dance while music is playing, but eliminating the breaks between songs. 

Weed was influential in the slowness of reggae and reduced the need for strenuous playing and dancing. 

Will more ket and coke use change what’s popular?

Accessibility Matters

The accessibility of music has played a major role in the evolution of music tastes and variety. 

Just as Spotify completely destroyed buying albums from CD and record stores, it may be that Tik Tok has the ability to change music again. The functionality to re-use sounds and distribute it organically to millions of people might mean that artists don’t need to write full songs, instead they may write a 1 minute that is shareable and catchy.

Why is Gimme Gimme so popular?

Honestly, no fucking idea.

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