The Best Pop Music of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s

Stay tuned in for the soul, funk and pop classics that you enjoyed as a child as well as older bands such as The Beach Boys and Steely Dan which have experienced renewed success over time.

Assimilate new wave and mainstream music with Duran Duran, Talking Heads and R.E.M. for an experience. Or turn up the volume with hard rock from Def Leppard and BTO for some hard-rocking tunes!


Synth pop was one of the most influential genres of early ’80s popular culture, and has had an incredible effect on contemporary artists. These acts typically follow a set of loose guidelines which can be described as catchy yet lovable songs with pop foundation (though often melancholic in nature), featuring synths, drum machines and electronic elements such as samples.

Synthpop is one of the more iconic subgenres of new wave music, having originated when bands began adapting Kraftwerk’s musical innovations for use in pop songs. The resultant sound was often cold and unnerving while also warmer and catchier than most other new wave offerings. Artists such as Gary Numan and Tubeway Army forgoing traditional band setups in favor of synths; Duran Duran used synthesized hooks as dance beats.

Synth pop stands apart from similar styles like post-punk and alternative rock by using distinct elements, such as 4/4 time signatures and crisp rhythmic elements, but without the distinctive vocals and linear song structures that define synth pop. Unfortunately, its characteristics can easily lead to confusion with these other genres, which explains why synthwave artists like The Midnight or FM-84 may sometimes get lumped in with it.

In Europe, synth-pop experienced an explosion of popularity during the ’80s due to artists such as Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Ultravox; the US had its own scene but never achieved as much popularity or influence as European scenes did. Today however, synthwave is witnessing its own revival using more mature electronic production techniques that offer fresh possibilities in music making.


Oldies is both the music genre and radio format that plays it, typically including R&B, rock and pop songs that were popular from 1950 through ca. the early 70s. Although most oldies radio stations also play songs from 1980 and 90s decades, some also specialize in oldies songs from that era only. Oldies songs can include various forms such as rock-n-roll, doo-wop surf rock girl groups British invasion folk rock baroque pop and soul music genres among many more!

In the early and mid 2000s, oldies radio stations saw significant popularity due to the boom in 1970s songs being played; some formats like Jammin’ Oldies focused on restricting this amount while WCBS-FM took an eclectic approach with its hybrid format; both stations saw their ratings soar significantly over time.

One popular catch phrase from these trends during the early to mid 2000s was “oldies but goodies.” This term originated with Little Caesar and the Romans’ 1961 song entitled, “Those Oldies But Goodies”, part of an overall nostalgic movement for older music that greatly affected younger generations growing up during that period.

Though often associated with baby boomers, oldies music remains widely popular today. Over time, though, its definition may shift as new generations introduce different kinds of music into their listening repertoires. Some experts predict that eventually oldies may include more recent bands and artists due to industry shifts toward digital computer recording formats rather than analog tape recordings.

Grunge & Punk

Punk and grunge rock music styles gained widespread appeal during the early ’90s. Both genres feature guitar distortion and emotive vocals, and often touch upon topics such as emotional isolation, social alienation and self-doubt. While punk is fast-paced and loud, grunge tends to be slower and melancholy with more technical guitar playing skills–such as drop D tuning which drops one whole step down in tuning on its low E string.

Punk and grunge represent counterculture movements that reject mainstream culture while advocating a DIY (do-it-yourself) ethic. Both genres also tap into disillusionment and cynicism that resonates with young people today, creating subgenres like riot grrrl and queercore as part of this wider trend.

Grunge music draws influence from multiple musical genres, including hardcore punk, heavy metal, traditional doom metal, noise rock, no wave and post-hardcore. Originated in Seattle by bands such as Mudhoney, Dinosaur Jr, Mother Love Bone Screaming Trees Soundgarden Nirvana & Pearl Jam have popularized it worldwide and sold millions of albums!

Grunge fashion consists of ripped jeans, oversized plaid shirts and sneakers; band members typically sport long hair and messy makeup for a messy appearance; these clothes create the appearance of disarray and unwashedness, creating the feeling that it has come directly from an outlawed life. Grunge music induces feelings of alienation and depression while encouraging young people to rebel against society through rebellious and destructive behaviors and lashing out against others.

Pop & Hip-Hop

Music has always been a beloved form of entertainment for the masses. Two of the most well-known genres include pop and hip-hop music. While pop songs typically incorporate melodic choruses with lyrics, hip-hop uses rhythmic beats as well as rapping or rhythmic speech to produce its unique sound.

Hip hop’s roots date back to the early 1970s when inner city America was gripped with gang life and DJ Kool Herc is widely credited with sparking its beginnings. By using two turntables spinning the same record at once to isolate and extend percussion breaks-the most danceable portions of each song-he helped transform this dance party scene into an art form and quickly transform b(r)-girls and b-boys onto concrete as dance parties, quickly giving birth to hip hop culture.

Harlem-based rapper Kurtis Blow began to gain notoriety with his holiday novelty “Christmas Rappin'”, released on Mercury Records in 1979. This song’s breakbeat came from an original funk groove performed live by an eight-piece band and Blow’s rapid wordplay and clever puns were evidence of his emerging style of lyricism.

Hip hop was at its height of popularity throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and eventually was the top-selling music genre in America by 2000. Rappers such as Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Nelly, Fat Joe’s Terror Squad (Fat Joe), DMX and 50 Cent all used pop styles while artists such as Schoolly D, Grandmaster Flash (3rd Bass and Eminem), schoolly D, 3rd Bass and Eminem took more gritty approaches to hip-hop music production.

Hip-hop has had an outsized influence on other styles of music such as rock and blues; R&B and funk; disco and glam; punk and grunge.


Country music has its roots deep within American tradition, dating back to Appalachian ballads depicting love and tragedy sung by mountain peoples of Appalachia. Tennessee Williams depicted these songs vividly in his play “Streetcar Named Desire.”

Over time, country music has undergone many transitions over time, with 1970s ushering in an amalgamation of genres known as country pop. Drawing influences from countrypolitan sound, folk music and soft rock genres; artists like Glen Campbell, Bobbie Gentry and John Denver made country more approachable by crossing over into top 40 radio play. Today acts such as The Grascals, Alison Krauss Union Station Ricky Skaggs keep country pop alive.

Traditional country music also expanded to incorporate honky-tonk and rockabilly styles, the latter of which utilizes electric guitars and beat-up dive bar pianos for an earthier sound. This development was partially driven by social change which brought more women and people of color into prominence within country music’s fanbase.

Country music remains immensely popular in the US, with artists like Garth Brooks enjoying remarkable success over decades. Olivia Newton-John and Tom Jones (with hits such as “She’s a Lady” and “Rest Your Love on Me”) as well as Bee Gees (with “Islands in the Stream” and “Lady”) found similar success as did Olivia Newton-John in Australia; whilst Sara Storer, John Williamson Lee Kernaghan and Sherrie Austin share an undeniable passion that comes out during live performances!