It was only 160 years ago that music was first recorded, but producing music is a primitive practice. The very first song to be written and documented dates back 3400 years ago alluding to the importance of music even in the lives of our ancient ancestors.
Modern day music making does the very same thing: it finds a good song, documents it, and puts it on replay. Now, however, artists aren’t left to inventing things fresh, but afforded the luxury of inspiration. Not only does this help produce new music, but it does so much faster.
Here we look at a few of the more or less “recent” musical genres that have inspired new fandoms and counter-cultures from old ideas.
1. Brit Pop
There were plenty of pioneers of Brit Pop,–Suede, Blur– but perhaps none so notable as Oasis. From Liam Gallagher’s iconic mod haircut to soap-opera worthy band politics, Oasis and their drama-fueled discography served as a major influential force within music. While Oasis themselves often cite Pink Floyd, the Sex Pistols, and the Beatles (to name a few) as their influences, their own personal sound and style has since inspired its own wave of Brit Pop-derivatives.
That global influence bagan right at home in the U.K. The Arctic Monkeys, for instance, found such inspiration from Oasis, they once dressed and performed as them for a school assembly. Their later success often referenced Oasis, garnering praise, then hate, then a rekindled support from Liam Gallagher himself.
Coldplay had a similar experience with their Brit Pop predecessors. Frontman Chris Martin endured Liam’s degrading comments before they met and Liam changed his tune as they performed together in Manchester.
The reach extended everywhere, and acts like American Maroon 5 and Australian Jet also have Oasis to thank for paving the way.
2. Mumble Rap
Though the jury of rap peers remains divided on the legitimacy of mumble rap, there’s no denying its success and subsequent inspiration.
Plenty of big names from America, like Future, Migos, and Cardi B, are categorized here, though a major source of the genre can be attributed to Soundcloud. The platform attracts both the woefully ill-equipped and the uber talented, and brought on the breakout of mumble rappers like Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, Lil Uzi Vert.
Mumble rap intrinsically calls on varied styles of rapping. Many of those who got their break with indiscernible lo-fi tracks on Soundcloud have since evolved. 21 Savage, for example, seemed to have shed his mumble rapping skin when he turned mumble-rap critic, J. Cole, into a feature on his song “A Lot.”
Other artists born of Soundcloud have taken other routes, ushering in the new age of reinvented genres like sad rap. Sad rap, or emo rap, widely includes themes of heartbreak, self-medication, and suicide. An eerie parallel emerged from this camp. Celebrated artists like Lil Peep, XXXtentacion, and Juice WRLD all died tragically young, leaving the legacy of sad rap to carry on through artists like Lil Xan.
3. Rap Rock
You can’t mention the emergence of sad rap without paying dues to rap rock. Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and the Beastie Boys were all part of the initial wave of this conglomerate genre, blending heavy instrumentals with stressed-out hip-hop lyricism.
As the genre snowballed, it picked up new players in the game. Rap rock soon transformed into “nu rock,” ushering in acts like Papa Roach and Korn, the latter of who were so popular they eventually beat out the seemingly untouchable boy bands of the 90s on the one place it mattered: TRL.
Regardless of which genre each of these bands (or albums) is considered on a granular level, the clear influence comes from a meeting of rap and rock–a line of ancestry that continues to thrive and evolve.
4. Country Rap
Today, “Old Town Road” seems to be the capital of Country Rap with Lil Nas X as the boot-scootin’ poster boy. When you take a trip down memory lane, however, you’ll meet a few earlier influences. Nelly introduced the song and concept of “Country Grammar” in the early aughts, as he doubled-down on his cross-over ability through collaborations with Tim McGraw and Kid Rock.
In 1998, Mo Thugs Family and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony made “Ghetto Cowboy,” which prominently featured those tell-tale southern-style harmonicas.
The intersectional genre goes deeper still. In 1980, Trickeration released “Western Gangster Town”, which is heavy in the vein of lyrically-strong hip-hop set in a horse-riding, gun-slinging wild west.
Still, after all these years, Billboard had trouble figuring out where to put “Old Town Road” when it blew up. Billy Ray Cyrus hopped on the track to help push it over the Mason-Dixon Line. Lil Nas X won “Musical Event of the Year” at the CMAs, and was eventually seated on the US Country Airplay chart.
As soon as the world started to digitize, music got the electronic treatment. But the entire electronic genre didn’t hinge entirely on the age of computers, though it was responsible for house, techno, trance, vaporwave, and plenty of others – magazines like No Majesty have written extensively about the genre’s far reaching depths.
The first EDM song ever made is often attributed to Gershon Kingsley in the creation of his single “Popcorn” in 1969. It was created, predominantly, with a Moog Synthesizer–the OG to the synthesizer we know today. If you are interested in synthesizer, do check out https://www.idesignsound.com/best-vst-synths-2020/ for the various recommended models in the market.
Eight years later, Donna Summer gave radio listeners a glimpse into the future with the synth-heavy “I Feel Love.” This upbeat bassline was something unlike all other disco at the time. The original version was just under six minutes, but soon got an extended release bringing it past 8 minutes. While most disco songs, on average, were 5-6 minutes long, much of EDM that followed took a page from Summer’s book and often let the electronic mashups play out for, give or take, 10 minutes.