‘Where words fail, music speaks.’
In these immortal words, famous 19th century Danish author Hans Christian Andersen laid bare the essence of music. All that was missing were the notes and the melodies. But how true are these words, fam?
Out on a road trip with your head-banging friends? There’s nothing like the grunge rock magic of Nirvana to get you right in the feels. Want to make your date feel special on the night? Perhaps a Coldplay special or an indie pop number from Aqualung is your way to go.
Perhaps you’re preparing for a big day and want to find your focus? Count on an ambient/atmospheric song on your noise-cancelling headphones to pull you in – or perhaps a classical melody by Beethoven. And when you’re trying to introspect and looking to discover a sense of otherworldliness? You can always try dreampop or shoegaze.
Of course, who can separate hypnotising beats that make you dance like a madman? Put your EDM/hip hop playlist on repeat and let the likes of Daft Punk or Jay Z set the vibe!
This versatility of music is what makes it so special. It’s not surprising that with thousands of instruments, thousands of languages and 12 musical notes, music can be made in so many myriad ways that there’s always a beat, a tune or a rhythm for all our emotions, feelings and occasions.
We simply call these different kinds of music ‘genres’. And, as with other things in life, we have our own favourites and preferences, too! In fact, if you’re an audiophile, you would even be willing to go to war just to defend your favourite genre (please, don’t).
So, have you ever wondered which genres are the most popular worldwide (just so you could have another ace up your sleeve to defend your favourite!)? According to Spotify, there are over 1300 music genres, but which ones have the highest popularity? Let’s look at the top three.
There was a time when being a hard rock fan was often associated with rebellious undertones. But rock has evolved so much and has spawned so many sub-genres that you would be surprised how different two different rock songs could sound. An offspring of the Blues, rock became popular in the 50s. In fact, in the 60s, it was the music of the masses – often bringing in crowds of hundreds of thousands at various celebrated rock festivals that were marked by some of the greatest musicians of our time. From the Beatles’ rock’n’roll to the psychedelia of Pink Floyd to grunge in the form of Nirvana to alternate rock mastered by the likes of Red Hot Chilli Peppers to hip-hop overtones in Linkin Park – the history of rock is as stellar as its signature electric guitar-drum-bass sound. Today, it might not be the chart-topping genre it once was, but it remains the true spirit of the music of our times.
Hip-hop and Rap
Yo! How do you like number two on our list, yo? Hip-hop and rap are a cultural phenomenon today as the two genres combine the power of spoken word, rhythms and rhymes, and electric beats and electronic sounds to drive us into impromptu break-dancing, beatboxing and rap battles! Originating in the 70s, the two genres evoke strong emotions through chants and beats that used to revolve around life in the ghettos and struggles of African-Americans. Today, thanks to social media, hip-hop and rap are extremely popular, often kickstarting trends and finding their way in viral videos, reels and snippets.
It’s hard to call pop a specialised genre because, at the end of the day, everything becomes pop! Yup, pop refers to ‘popular’ music, so take your guess why it is number one on the list! Originating in the mid-1950s in the US and the UK, pop music veered towards rock and roll and other youthful styles. From there on, it has continued to evolve decade after decade. In the 80s, the soft rock in pop began going the electronic way as a medley of classic rock and modern instruments began appearing on the scene. Today, pop is a mish-mash of everything from hip-hop to rap and electronic to dance music, often interspersed with influences of classic rock, Latin and country music. It will make you laugh, cry, dance, sing and truly pop your heart out with utter bliss!
That wraps up the top three most popular music genres in the world today. As the lines continue to blur and fuse between these genres, we won’t be surprised if you, dear reader, are a fan of all three. That makes you an audiophile extraordinaire – and someone with whose music playlist we would to be stranded with an island (having a boAt with us will make it all the more special 😉).
So, keep rocking, rapping, break-dancing, and popping your way to glory!