Top 10 Songs That Sparked a Generation
10. Hangin’ Tough
The 90s was a milestone for pop music. Vocal groups known as boybands and girlbands dominated the charts and were the biggest money makers during that decade. Successful acts such as Backstreet Boys, Boyzone and Spice Girls glued themselves to the top of the Billboard charts. They elevated pop as the most preferred musical genre for almost the entire decade. All that pop success can be credited to five young men who paved the way for every popular boyband that kids of today adore.
New Kids on The Block (NKOTB) was formed during the early 80s, but they gained international success when they released their monumental album Hangin’ Tough. The title track of the album carried them to the top of the Billboard charts. By the time they released their follow up album, Step-by-Step, they were already household names. Producers began banking on the commercial success of NKOTB and began seeking for younger lads eager to start a musical career. Out of that search came everybody’s favorite boys of pop, The Backstreet Boys.
Nu Metal was a thorn in the side of hard rock and metal purists, but was the main form of expression for the younger generation of the 90s. The whole age of Nu Metal came as a jolt to the rock industry as other genres such as Hip-Hop and Pop had overtaken rock as the genre of choice after the historical grunge era. Hundreds of bands came out of the woodwork and began gathering success. Successful acts like Limp Bizkit, Staind and Linkin Park started spawning a new generation of rockers as they released one hit after another. Much to the disgust of purists, they had to admit that Nu Metal is indeed the current age’s true face of rock and its godfather is Korn.
Korn initially wanted to innovate the way traditional metal is being played, resulting in something that was more audible for the mainstream crowd. Following the footsteps of rock genius Mike Patton (Faith No More), they bravely released their debut album, Korn. That album had the single that inspired the entire Nu Metal movement. When “Blind” was released, it surprised everyone by skyrocketing to the top of hundreds of rock stations worldwide. Newly-reformed rockers soon made that single their national anthem. Soon the entire genre was dominated by Nu Metal.
8. I Shot The Sheriff
The single “I Shot The Sheriff” was originally made famous by rock icon Eric Clapton and became one of his numerous number one hits, but much of the credit for that song goes to its songwriter, the reggae prophet Bob Marley. Of course, “I Shot The Sheriff” didn’t start the entire reggae trend since its roots can be traced directly to the Rastafarian faith, but the single is one of the most recognizable hits that made people around the world appreciate Reggae music. It even installed Bob Marley as the most recognizable reggae act in the world when he began covering his own reggae masterpiece.
Now, reggae is one of the genres that remain steady regardless of changing musical trends and lifestyles. A lot of men and women from different nations embrace reggae as they display the dreadlock hairstyle of rastafarians. As for the song “I Shot The Sheriff,” it is still considered as one of the most popular reggae songs today even though it was released in 1973.
7. Fight The Power
Rap culture is sometimes defined by brotherhood and a hedonistic take on life by those who live with hard knocks. Competitive in nature, gangsta rap factions are often engaged in notorious gang wars, which led to the merging of large factions and the separation of the East Coast groups and the West Coast groups. Through all the territorial wars and the hedonistic ways, everyone who lives and believes in the hip-hop culture come together in unison as they proclaim Public Enemy as the pioneers of the whole hip-hop industry.
Fight The Power was released by Public Enemy in 1989. This song contained lyrics about African- American independence, blatant attacks on racists, the injustice brought about by the government and certain norms in many societies. Moreover, this song promoted total liberation for a lot of African-American communities in the United States and soon spruced up the entire hip-hop movement. Other rap acts soon followed suit and released songs that are based on “Fight The Power.” Now, hip-hop stands as one of the more prominent musical genres around.
6. Anarchy in The UK
Hordes of anarchists, and general activists promoted the right to freedom and everything against the social norm. The punk movement greatly focuses on averting from anything that is considered mainstream. Derived from punk music, the movement has been followed by a lot of communities spanning six continents. It has also influenced the formation of other musical genres such as New Wave and Emo. It’s quite surprising that such a significant movement was actually fueled by several verses and a catchy song chorus.
When “Anarchy in The UK” was released in November 1976 by The Sex Pistols, it created a stir since its lyrics contained attacks on the UK and the promotion of the anarchistic concept. What surprised the British public even more is the fact that the song garnered local success. Soon, it fueled numerous lads who shared the same sentiments to band together. The energy of The Sex Pistols and other pioneering acts such as The Ramones and The Stooges soon brought their influence to other countries through tours and concerts. At that point, punk became a commercial success and a formal subculture. Now, “Anarchy in The UK” is considered as one of the greatest punk songs ever made and has been covered several times by reputable bands.
5. Smells Like Teen Spirit
The grunge era is significant for the 90s rock music follower. It was more than just the music; it was a theme for an entire generation. Grunge stalwarts Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Layne Staley, and others effectively promoted cynicism and pessimism on commonly perceived negative subjects. From themes about lost love to child abuse, everyone easily related to the grunge genre. Contrary to popular belief that grunge contributed to the degrading moral standards of the youth, it actually opened the eyes of young individuals to social and domestic injustices rampant in many households. Local governments soon coined the term “Generation X” to describe the grunge-powered youth of the 90’s.
Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” stood like a cornerstone in every grunge kid’s philosophy. It stood as the voice for the entire 90’s generation of rockers. This led to Kurt Cobain being revered as a modern day prophet even though he was actually quite apathetic towards his fan base. Upon the release of his band’s monster hit, everyone else followed suit. High school bands, college bands, and even professional bands played grunge music. The grunge era could have been further extended but it was dealt a crushing blow when Cobain committed suicide in 1994.
4. My Generation
Influencing music far beyond their generation, The Who stands as rock and roll legends idolized by a lot of rock bands today. They were pioneers during the formative years of hard rock and heavy metal. During their time, contemporary music ruled the airwaves and the top of the charts. Thanks to The Beatles, the musical trend began to go to a more favorable direction. The Who suddenly sprouted with their hit single “My Generation.” The song immediately got a good reaction from the younger generation but was deemed too heavy by the older crowd. It reached number two in the UK charts but failed to break barriers worldwide. Fortunately, the younger generation began deviating from The Who’s influence and soon other notable genres were created. Those genres are punk, hard rock, heavy metal, and acid rock. This just goes to show that the impact of a song or an artist doesn’t always equate to its popularity with the masses.
3. Billie Jean
After The Beatles, pop music went on to be the darling music genre of the masses. It appealed to people of all ages. The main criticism about pop music is it is too simple, bland and tiring. Michael Jackson came into the scene as the savior of pop music and was soon called “The King of Pop.” He brought in what others call “intelligent pop music.” He successfully infused pop with other genres such as rock, hip-hop, funk and soul. He also possessed exceptional dance moves that inspired artists like Justin Timberlake and numerous boybands. Of course, all that wouldn’t have happened without the risky move of releasing his debut single, Billie Jean. The song is one of the primary standards in categorizing good pop music from the useless. If only the world prioritized his talent over his scandals, they could have thoroughly appreciated what the man did for the entire music industry.
2. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
During the early 60s, people were clamoring for a heavier musical flavor. The Rolling Stones appeared and heeded the much needed break from the contemporary standards. Behind the Beatles, they are tagged by many as the most influential rock band that ever existed. Their music contained a mixture of rock & roll, blues, a little funk and some rhythm and blues. This paved the way for the entire glam rock period and greatly contributed in the formation of the 70s Hard Rock era. When their biggest single, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, was released, it immediately went number one worldwide. This formally introduced the band to the world and soon their ingenious music influenced a lot of artists who went on to become pioneers in the 70s. This proves that the Stones are not just pioneers, they actually pioneered pioneers.
When The Beatles released one of their biggest hits in “Yesterday,” it instantly stamped them as the premier pioneers of music. The entire world has never heard such song arrangement during their time and immediately praised it as the greatest song during that era. Now, “Yesterday” holds the record for being the most covered song in history with a whopping 3000 total covers. It was also the most performed song in the past century with an astounding 7 million. Some even say that it is the greatest song ever released.
The power of a song can never be questioned. Embossing every sentiment, idea and emotion through words can move people as long as it generally makes sense even with the strangest of points made. These strange points have rewarded us with all the music genres that we currently enjoy. Unsheathe your pens and brandish your instruments. Who knows, your next creation might be the start of a new musical revolution.