A study released by the University of London and Imperial College has said the impact of hip-hop’s arrival on the pop music scene eclipsed that of the Beatles-led British invasion of 1964. The study, after a computer analysis of 17000 songs, has found three watersheds on the Western music scene – the emergence in 1991 of rap and hip-hop on mainstream charts, the synth-led new wave movement of 1983 and the emergence of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who and other rockers in the first-half of the 1960s. The researchers have found the mid -1980s to be the most static period in the music movement.
It is yet to be seen how the study is received by music buffs. What however remains indisputable is that the Beatles enjoy the highest esteem among critics. They stand as the iconic group of a decade that confidently announced that it had broken with the past and was chalking out heady new paths. The decade saw barriers broken in science and technology and communication, new social mores and youth movements by the grown up baby boomers of the day.
Among the youth, music and dance had the greatest impact. Picking up the impetus of 1950s rock n’ roll, the pop music scene almost exploded during the decade and its sheer variety brought into currency a whole new lexicon. New music and dance forms emerged with new names – the twist, bossa nova, frug, hully gully, Watusi (or Watutsi), ska, acid rock are some which characterise the 60s. In Britain, the Merseybeat reversed many years of American dominance of pop charts and the Beatlemania that sent popsters, groupies and teeny-boppers into a frenzy soon spread to the US. For those with ears not attuned to all this, the decade was also the one in which the concept of easy listeners first adorned the music life.
Easy listening as a noun came into use in 1965 and referred to a category of recorded music that was popular without being loud, abrasive or otherwise demanding. Its first reference was in Billboard (1965): Billboard this week introduces the ‘Top 40 Easy Listening’ chart.
There possibly can’t be another word more popular than Beatlemania among the pop fans. The addiction to the British pop group of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, their characteristics coupled with frenzied behaviour of their admirers grew into a cult status that exists to this day.
The pattern was later followed to encapsulate the adulation of other pop groups, for example, Rollermania, caused by the Bay City Rollers in the mid-1970s. In more recent times, and in a different stream, we do have Pottermania.