#7 – The 1990′s – This was the absolute worst decade of recorded music. While there was some innovation in R&B and hip-hop (and the angst of grunge saved us from the agony of pop), it was mostly a lost decade trying desparately to shake off the overly perky 80′s.
#6 – The 1970′s – Most good music from this decade really belonged to another decade. The good rock and roll belonged to the 1960′s, and the good pop belonged to the 1980′s. The rest gets lost under the cuff of your bell-bottoms.
#5 – The ’00′s – Maybe we’ll feel differently in a few years, but with the exception of “modern rock” (the new name for grunge/punk/alternative), the music was mediocre at best. The pop got stupider, the rap got poppier, and R&B went down the auto-tune toilet (and the videos for all three slid from sexy to slutty to low rate porno).
#4 – The 1940′s – Music of the war period and post-war was amazing, especially considering the crap everyone went through. I credit this decade as the “real” dawn of recorded music because the radio was so widely used during the war (no doubt to feel a bit more connected to home), and returning home afterwards, the habit never died.
#3 – The 1950′s – Out of an amazing country music scene springs “Rock ‘N Roll”. Not just the fad that would never die, but easily the single greatest musical innovation of the century.
#2 – The 1980′s – The high point of popular culture brought the high point of popular music. Acts like Michael Jackson, Cindy Lauper, Genesis and Madonna will live on in legends for centuries. Against the backdrop of imminent nuclear war and rising crime, the music got strangely happy. Pop acts pushed the outer boundaries of music, along with ever bigger hair and ever brighter colours. To be certain, there was a lot of crap recorded in this decade – but that didn’t matter, because music meant so much to us despite being fun, familiar and frivolous.
#1 – The 1960′s – While the 1950′s produced some great music, it still largely stuck to the formula. The cultural revolution that was the 1960′s also reshaped the music. No decade before or since has seen as much experimentation and innovation as this. Even wholesome acts from the 50′s (like the Beatles) found their true voice in the 60′s. No act was immune to the Vietnam War and the fundamental social changes happening to America. It all came to an apex at Woodstock, and promptly went to music hell the very next year.
There was great music prior to the 1940′s. Mozart, Beethoven, the 1920′s, and more, but I felt the 1940′s was really the start of the “modern era of recorded music.” Do you disagree?