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What do the 50s and the 80s have in common?

By Ebba Carstedt.

The 50s and the 80s are two of the most iconic decades regarding modern music, but how different are they really? How did music evolve from the 50s to the 80s and what major characteristics define the time periods. Is there something that connects the two or are they each other's opposite? These are things that will be discussed in this assignment. But let's start by digging deeper into the two periods.

The 50s came just after WW2 and there were a lot of cultural changes happening all over the world. After the terrible war came an era of glamour and fashion. The hats were less and swing dresses became more popular. This decade was also the first where the youth began to rebel, and do different from their parents. Rock and Roll emerged in this decade and many young people listened to it, although it was considered as “poison to the new generation” by the elders. The cool themes of Rock and Roll highly influenced the attitude and clothing style of the next generation growing up. Elvis Presley was considered King of Rock by many, and he was the most popular at this time. He wore leather jackets, sneakers and had a bold hairstyle, which influenced a lot of his fans to do the same thing. This was the time where you didn't have to be as formal and strict as before. Society's new ways were explicitly shown in the music style and movements.

Although Elvis and many others like him were great, it is said they stole many of their big hits from black artists. Rock and Roll came as a mix of many genres, such as country, gospel, blues and jazz. The African Americans had a great sense of rhythm and their style had a huge impact on the evolution of Rock and Roll. Although the black artists were treated poorly in many cases, some still argue that it brought black and white people closer together through this new music that combined the two. I think it is important for our generation to give the credit to the black people who rightfully deserved it.

In the 50s there were a lot of technological developments, everyone had access to a radio and a TV, but as for the 80s, technology now made it possible to record and make music on the computers. The expression of music could be more electrical than ever before which was new for the world. This was the time where dance music really emerged. MTV was another big thing for the 80s, and therefore the image of the artists were more important than ever, and music videos were born. Just like in the 50s, the looks and fashion were very important. Micheal Jacksson is one of the most influential and popular artists of all time and he lived in the 80s. My other favorites from this time period are definitely Madonna and Prince, Tina Turner, The Cure and Pink Floyd. This is the music my parents grew up listening to and therefore we've always had songs from the 80s play in our house ever since I was little, so I like this style quite a lot. Compared to the music nowadays, it sounds less plastic, and the same goes for the 50s. Maybe that is why i'm often drawn to old music, or music heavily influenced from older time periods.

Both the 80s and the 50s influenced the entire world, but it is more and more common to find hints of the 80s in modern music, although it's probably more electrical now and the lyrics are all about broken heart romances. I like both the 50s and the 80s and although they are very different, they are both great in their own way. My favourite thing about the 50s are the deep singing voices, and the nice tempo and swing of the songs. They are often really nice to listen to, such as Paul Anka and Elvis. It is very comfortable but swingy at the same time. My favourite thing about the 80s is the culture which is being reflected in the music, as well as all the hits that were made in this period. Some of my favourite songs come from this time. In conclusion, they are very different in general but if you look close enough you will be able to find some similarities.