The Top 7 Music Genres
It’s always difficult to list the top seven music genres because they never seem to be in the same ranking position on any two lists you refer to. It’s usually the same seven genres but they invariably are in different positions from list to list. Many music critics have come to the conclusion that these rankings don’t rely solely on statistics but may be ranked according to the biased opinion of the author presenting the data.
Also, many times ranking is based on internet searches as opposed to recording sales or tickets sold for live shows. There are quite a few variables involved, but even so, the top seven music genres are fairly consistent but will be ranked differently. With that in mind, here are the top seven music genres which aren’t being ranked but rather listed as a group of the most popular genres.
When in Doubt…
One of the surest ways of knowing what genres are topping the lists at any given moment is to look at what types of bands or solo artists are booking time in recording studios. While you will probably never be privy to information coming out of the big label studios, a private Los Angeles recording studio is able to assess the popularity of genres based on who is booking time to rehearse or record.
One LA studio, part of the PIRATE group of studios, has studio availability 24/7. Artists from all genres book studio time with them and it would be interesting to note variations in bookings based on genres in each of their locations. In other words, if you want to see what genre of music is in high demand, take a look at who is booking time in studios.
A Look at Those Genres in Random Order
Another point to consider is the cultural aspect of music. What may be popular in the Deep South might not be as popular in Detroit or LA. Also, the most popular genres in Germany might not be popular in Ireland or the USA. Therefore, cultural considerations should be taken into account when ranking the top genres. Let’s take a brief look at the top seven now.
Sometimes grouped with hip hop, rap is the perfect blend of the spoken word with the rhythmic patterns of music. While there is a melodic element of rap, it’s in the background adding the foundation upon which rappers rhythmically speak the lyrics. Hip hop is much the same and, as such, should technically be listed as a sub-genre to rap but for other reasons, it is often categorized as a separate genre. We’ll get to that in a bit.
In the early years, the time of the King, rock was the beginning of a genre that was the perfect mixture of jazz and blues. Elvis Presley was the first artist that gained a claim to fame with songs like Blue Suede Shoes and You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog. Those gyrating hips didn’t hurt either and perhaps that is why he is still called the king some five decades after his passing.
What can be said about country? Emanating from the folk songs sung by the early settlers, country music is the most popular genre in the Southern States. Until the latter part of the 20th century it was often referred to as “hillbilly” music and almost always had a sad story to tell of broken hearts and thus the cliché, a ‘tear in my beer.’ Country music has eased out of those woeful undertones and is now more of a blend of easy listening, rock, gospel, and country pop. It’s still the most popular genre in many areas of the nation, and so it will probably always be listed among the top seven.
As another genre that emanated from a cultural perspective, rhythm and blues was first performed by the African American community in the 1940s. It is said to be the child to the parent genres of gospel and jazz but since that time, R&B has taken on elements of the pop and rock genres as well. As the name of the genre would imply, the one thing specific to a true R&B piece would be the element of sadness, or ‘blues.’
5. Hip Hop
The reason why hip hop is often lumped in with rap is because it has spoken rhythmic elements, but hip hop has a few points of demarcation as well. Hip hop is often more like West Coast rap in that some of the songs are partially sung rather than just spoken and hip hop tends to cater to a younger crowd. If anyone remembers the early days of heavy rock, it would be like distinguishing rock from the ‘bubble gum’ tunes of groups like the Monkees.
The quickest way to describe pop would be to list a few of the most famous pop artists. Two of the biggest pop artists today are Justin Bieber and Adele but over the past few decades you will recall the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. The term “Pop” is an abbreviation for popular and so although it is a genre in itself, it is probably the one genre that has elements of all the others combined. Not to be seen as a crossover, pop is literally everything but the kitchen sink!
Need we say anything at all about this genre? The name itself should be self-explanatory. It is music with a beat that almost demands listeners to get up and moving. The instrumentation is electronic and thus, it’s techno dance music. It’s really just as simple as that.
As a musician, it falls upon you to perfect your sound within the genre of your choice. However, you should also be willing to adapt elements of other genres when the creative muse leads you into new frontiers. There is nothing to say that you must stick within a certain genre because that is where you began your career and there is nothing to say that you can’t perform as a crossover artist from time to time. Once you understand the differences between genres, you can create a sound all of your own. It could be the beginning of a whole new genre. Wouldn’t that be exciting?