Here’s How America’s Taste In Music Has Evolved Over The Past 50 Years

Just in time for the Grammys, we looked at data from the Billboard Hot 100 to find out how the public's appetite for genres like rock, pop, hip-hop and soul have changed over time

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett bridge the generation gap.

Looking at the performances lined up for the Grammy’s this Sunday, some familiar names crop up: Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Chris Martin, Sia, Beck. Each is a distinct artist in their own right, but they reside relatively close to one another on the spectrum of pop, rock and R&B.

Has the U.S.’s taste in popular music changed over time? We tracked every song that has ever charted on Billboard’s annual Hot 100 since the list’s inception in 1965 to measure the public appetite for various genres through the years.

While not always surprising—both rock and pop have performed pretty consistently—there are some interesting patterns. For example, country was riding high in the 1960s and 1970s but took a nosedive in the mid-’80s, before experiencing a renaissance in the early 1990s.

R&B has also been a solid performer, but it may have peaked in the mid-’90s. 1993 was also the year that hip-hop entered the mainstream in a big way. Dance seemed to profit from the death of disco, but really came into its own in 1990. Soul and folk had been on a slow, shared decline but the latter has had a reprieve in recent years thanks to the popularity of acts like The Lumineers.

Here, then, is the ever-changing landscape of music in the U.S.:


Porn's Race Problem

Tracy Clark-Flory

We Played Rand Paul's Space Invader Game So You Don't Have To

Jennings Brown

Migrant Rescue Charity Gets $1 Million In Donations After Viral Photo

Saar Fresco

Teens Involved In "Experimental" Sexting Don't Often Face Prosecution

Tracy Clark-Flory

A Brief History Of: Kim Davis Vs. Gay America

Jennings Brown

Jim Harbaugh Has About a 50% Chance of Being a Good College Coach

Thomas MacMillan

The Price For Saudi Support On Iran Deal? U.S. Help In Yemen War

Shane Dixon Kavanaugh

These 13 Photos Show The Faces Of Syrian Refugee Struggle

Ryan Beckler