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Popular Music and Political Culture



Introduction

The 1960s was a time of great change in America. It brought many changes to the American culture that still has a huge effect on the lives of pop fans. The changes were not only social and cultural, but were also evident in the political scene. During that time, there were many changes in the political sphere. First, a president which was born in the 20th century was going to take the presidential seat. It provoked many changes in the country where people embraced more activities that were physical. Arts shifted from more traditional forms to some new ways of expression. The birth of rock and roll was an evident change in the art scene. The rock group the Beatles which appeared in 1964 marked a new wave of music and fashion changes that had revolutionized the country.

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The Pop Art Movement in the 1960s

The Pop Art Movement came into life in the 1960s and it brought in a new way for people to experiment on new things. The word “pop” came from the popular culture that gave birth to the term pop culture and music. The artists who came up with this new wave of music and art get inspiration from different things like advertising, magazines, movies televisions and consumer products. There were many avenues with which young people used to enjoy life during this time. The rise of pop culture and music marked a period of change in the country. For many conservatives they see this as a time when the country changed and marked the beginning of era of immorality. Many groups appeared at the early 1960s and they carried with them a wave that brought many changes to the youth and the culture of the society in general (Rojek, 2012).

The English rock group Beatles had played a key role in shaping the popular culture in many countries. It was formed in Liverpool in 1960. The members of the band included John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. That band was one of the most influential groups in the 1960s that brought some challenge into music. The group was rooted in the Skiffle that existed in the 1950s during the early era of rock and roll.

The group then shifted to other genres like pop ballads and psychedelic rock. It was common to find the group incorporating classical tunes in their music as they tried to find the best form of expression. The group gained popularity through the "Beatlemania" in the early 1960s. It marked them as the ideals of the social cultural revolutionary era. In 1962 they produced their first hit song as the Beatles called Love Me Do. They were later recognized internationally as the “Fab Four” as their fame grew beyond the United Kingdom. The group was the reason for the British Invasion in the United States in 1964. The group played a major role in shaping the music scene in the United States of America.

From the year 1965, the Beatles produced some of their best songs including the Rubber Soul, in 1966 they produced the Revolver and the Hearts Club Band produced in 1967. They produced The Beatles and Abbey Road in 1968 and 1969 respectively. The group broke up in 1970, but each member continued to experience successful music career on their own. Despite the death of Lennon, who was shot, the group was one of the pioneers in the rock and roll music, which was a popular form of pop culture. The group played a crucial role in shaping the pop market in the United States and other countries in the world. The Rolling Stone is one of the best songs of all times that made the Beatles ranked as the best artists of all time (Pickering, 2010).

The British Invasion that took place in the United States of America started due to the entry of the famous artists from Britain, who were the pioneers in the music. They hold top five positions in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at that time. Some other major pop artists to grace the scene were Peter and Gordon, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders and Herman’s Hermits. The others were the Troggs, and Donovan, The Animals, Freddie and the Dreamers and The Rolling Stones who appeared in two years after the Beatles.

Other musicians who also formed part of the British Invasion included The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks and The Who. These artists had a mixture of pop culture, rock and roll and blues. They had no particular style in music, but did everything from pop, to blues. The main change however, took place in 1967 when theblues-rock acts that emerged from the folk rock changed tact and sought a clear line of music.

The Beatles also took a front line in defining their own style. These artists had a desire to build their music with a focus on its meaning, virtuosity and sought a particular audience for their lyrics. This led to commercialization of pop music with the aim to reach particular group of people. These musicians applied pop culture to rock and roll as they sought commercial benefits. However, the lyrics were inconsequential based on trivial lyrics aimed at love. There was a fine line between rock and roll music and popular music. However, some bands like Beatles and Rolling Stones were able to produce successful music based on both camps.

In America, the same revolution was taking place and music played a key role in reshaping values and norms in the society. The young generation started to experiment on new things. It was an era where people shifted from the traditional and conservative way of living and began to take an active role in their lives. That was the same case with the social scene that was dramatically changed by popular culture and music (Haugen & Musser, 2011).

The struggle for Civil Rights in the United States of America was in the 1960s. During that time, people associated many songs with the fight for freedom. The tune “Freedom Song” was popular as it reminded the struggle for Civil Rights in the United States. The tune was very common among the groups of people fighting for their rights in the country. These songs carried a message to the freedom fighters. The lyrics carried an important message that fit into the situation facing the people. It reflected the situation prevailing on the streets and the songs kept their spirits up when they faced jail terms for standing up to fight for their rights.

Another song that people associated with the civil rights movement was the "Oh Pritchett, Oh Kelly” written by Albany being in a jail in Georgia where he referred to the chief Pritchett and Mayor Kelly. By singing together, people felt that they were a part of a nation. The popular song during the Civil Rights revolution was “Respect” by Aretha Franklin who played a key role in the fight for Civil Rights in the country. People claimed that they used music to express their oppression as it was the only way people could hear they issues. Popular music was a definite way for people to move away from the black church tradition that had been a common avenue for them to voice their concerns. Through the popular music, they had a new avenue that helped them voice their concerns. It offered them a good platform to reach the international community and had their issues heard (Berlatsky, 2011).

Summary

The changes in the music scene in the sixties marked a time when culture and social spheres experienced new horizons. The youth had no objections to experiment with drugs and sex. Racism and violence was a common problem during that time. However, the major changes were evident as people started to look for different forms of expression through music. For the Civil Rights movement, it was an opportunity for them to speak up their concerns and turn to different avenues to channel their issues. This was through popular culture where they showed their concerns. The British invasion played a key role in shaping the politics and music culture in America. With the appearance of bands like Beatles and the Rolling Stone the local artists and fans began to embrace new music genres that continued long after the death of the pioneer musicians.

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