View Full Version : Songs to Represent the Decades
07-02-2004, 03:30 AM
While browsing through my XM stations while stuck on the 405 this evening, I got to thinking about those pivotal songs that really define the decades.
So the challenge is to come up with one, and only one, song which best represents each decade, from the '30s through today.
As I made my own choices, I realized the difficulty as so many great tunes are left off the list. But only one is allowed. Now these aren't necessarily my favorite songs ever or from that period. They just seem to best represent those eras in terms of sound and mood. Pretend like you're building a time capsule or sending an interstellar satellite out with the "stuff" that best represents what we have accomplished.
List your own! :)
1930s: This Land is Your Land, Woody Guthrie (really 1940, but it has more to do with the '30s I think as well as having that sound of the time.)
1940s: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B, The Andrews Sisters
1950s: Rock Around the Clock, Bill Haley and the Comets
1960s: For What It's Worth, Buffalo Springfield
1970s: Stayin' Alive, The Bee Gees
1980s: Thriller, Michael Jackson
1990s: picking from the 1990s was tough...seemed to be a dry time for good music...but at the risk of attracting tomatoes from the peanut gallery, I'm going to put down Livin' La Vida Loca as being the best song to represent the general feel of music from the '90s.
2000s: Lose Yourself, Eminem
07-02-2004, 11:37 AM
I don't think there can be one particular song that can represent an entire decade, but there are some that I think instantly make people think of a certain time.
"Thriller" was a great example for the 80's though. "We are the World" could also work for the 80's.
For the 90's, and rock music in particular, I'd say "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and to a lesser extent "Interstate Love Song"and a few other grunge-era songs.
07-02-2004, 01:21 PM
I don't really follow music any older than the 80's and thus can't really call myself a fan - but I'll take a stab at starting with the 50s. Because I didn't live back then, and Happy Days is my mental image of what was going on - I'd have to agree with Stilla's pick, "Rock around the Clock". Great song, and totally brings back images of Erin Morin as the lovely Joanie in her poodle skirt and Mr. C in his Milwaukee Braves Jacket. :cool:
60s For me would be summed up by "War", as it's seems to capture a lot of the inspiration for music in the Vietnam era. Angry time, angry song. As with every decade, there's a lot to choose from here.
70s Everybody seemed to have a copy of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Again, I have a tough time coming up with anything more suitable than Stillakid's choice "Staying Alive". Saturday Night Fever does have some cheesy dance scenes, but both this song and that movie are grittier than the album and video covers would represent. It's tough times for Travolta, and he's brilliant in this movie.
80s is tough, my first decade with a real consciousness of the music being created around me. I love a lot of these one hit wonders, but there were few really great albums. Thriller was one of them, any track from that is a good pick. "We are the World" was a great pick as well, best selling record, good cause, etc. My choice is along the same lines: "Do they Know It's Christmas?" was one of my favorite songs of the decade - great vocals by everyone involved, same great cause, and to me a much better song.
90s "Today" by Smashing Pumpkins is probably the song that sticks out first. I bought a lot of CDs during the course of this decade as I'm sure many people our age (25-35) did. Siamese Dream was one of the ones I kept coming back to in times of stress, when I needed some motivation at university, etc. There probably were better albums, but this one is one that really did it for me - and Today was the first track that blew me away.
2000s We've still got a ways to go, but "Clocks" by Coldplay is one of the songs that I've listened to over and over and over again. Still gives me goosebumps.
07-03-2004, 09:28 AM
40's- Salt Peanuts (don't recall the artist, it's a jazz standard now anyways)
50's- Johnny B Goode, for sure... well not for sure, maybe "That's alright" by Elvis, would work okay
disclaimer-at this point popular music got so fragmented the next couple are pretty subjective (guess that goes without saying ;))
60's- I'd say Jimi Hendrix, entire body of work, and could narrow it down to his set at Moterey Pop if I really had to.. he sorta represented the rise of the tru e virtuoso, and was one of the leaders of the jazz-rock fusion movement which became so prevalent in the 70's, and also continued pushing the role of guitars ( which had, in the mainstream, at least, been kept as rhythmic accompaniment, till the electric guitar rose and changed everything) and Bass (which had been relegated to thumping along in the background until the invention of a proper analog bass amplifier and electric bass, allowing a much more harmonic, melodic and/or dynamic role for bass)
70's- "Do you Feel like We do", live version, cos sometimes the sheese rises to the top, and like Chux (I think it was he) said, the album was given away free with just about every product, how can that not be a "defining" tune ;)
80's..... for me, it would be "Run to the Hills" by Iron maiden (for everyone else, "I ran so far away" by FOS I still remember the first time I heard "run to the hills", it was the first time I'd ever heard Metal, I was at summer camp.... the excitement that I felt that day still gives me goosebumps, on that day I knew I understood TRUE Power :beard:
90's- Dunno, I guess anything Grunge could do, maybe "black Hole Sun" (and I don't like much from that decade, so it may be off-date) But to really go out on a limb I would say Sabotage by the Beastie Boys as far as representing the evolution of more heavy music int the mainstream, and serious blurring of the lines between styles and genres
the "oughts" (still ain't found an expression I like and it's almost half over :D) ......................... I couldn't tell ya, all the stuff those crazy kids listen to just sounds like noise to me :beard:
07-05-2004, 02:28 PM
60's Fortunate Son, Creedence Clearwater Revival- really defined the decade and the Vietnam War
70's Stayin' Alive, Bee Gees, (the one everyone remembers) or perhaps I Am Woman, Helen Reddy (the one that defined the prevalent political movement).
80's Nothing seems to really represent the "Screw you, I got mine." mentality of the 1980's. Perhaps We Are the World, and its telescopic philanthropy.
90's Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana- singlehandedly killed hair bands, and brought about authenticism that represented a more jaded white youth.
00's Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue, Whatsisname- scary, ain't it?
Lowly Bantha Cleaner
07-07-2004, 01:10 AM
The 1920's "Happy Days Are Here Again" representative of the Roaring Twenties and the carefree, pleasurable lifestyle many lived.
The 1930's "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" (I believe was Bing Crosby) was reflective of the harsh economic realities of the Great Depression that lasted the decade.
The 1940's "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company B" Since this was the decade of WWII, and swing jazz, this song captures the essence.
The 1950's "That's All Right Mama" Elvis's cover song revolutionized rock n' roll, putting it on the map. He helped make the genre popular by bringing into the mainstream/white America.
The 1960's "Let's Live For Today" or "Eve of Destruction" The Grass Roots song epitomized the hippie life style of the time and Barry McGuire's mid 60's song, eeirly foretold of the coming crises of the decade. This was a hard one to choose since this was rock n' rolls most elaborate decade, and so many songs are atypical of the movement.
The 1970's "Stayin' Alive" or "I Will Survive" are two anthems of the disco genre, which helped define the decade and the beginning of the "me generation."
The 1980's "Thriller" hit the stratosphere in terms of sales and helped define the 80's as Michael Jackson's decade. A few artists like U2, R.E.M., The Smiths, stood out among the multitude self-absorbing, fame-craving artists who put out many forgettable, shallow, meaningless songs.
The 1990's was interesting since nothing in particular strikes me as being stunningly atypical of the decade. I remember rap took off in the decade and maybe you can credit Snoop Dog "Gin and Juice" and Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" album. Also, I would agree that Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" album brought the Seattle, grunge rock movement into the top spot. The late 90's were a mix of liberated female artists, boy bands, and alternative groups, but none really stood out to me.
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