By now, the ones who have spent enough time on this planet must have noticed a pattern when it comes to music preferences⏤people usually like the songs that they grew up with. So, the subjective answer to what is the best decade of rock music is⏤whenever you want it to be, it depends on the rock songs that you relate to the most.
However, the objective answer, which is based on the opinions of experts and critics, is more specific. Most of them are of the opinion that it’s a tie between the 60s and the 70s, but the latter usually wins the approval of both groups in the end, and here’s why.
What is Rock Music?
Rock music is a form of popular music that emerged in the 1950s and is also called rock, rock and roll, rock & roll, or rock ’n’ roll. This style of music has a strong beat with a hint of the blues genre and the presence of instruments such as electric guitar, electric bass, electric organ, or electric piano. It also has a rhythmic element and relies on electronic amplification of the music during performances.1
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Why are the 70s the best decade for rock music?
Rock music peaked in the 1970s but had a rough time before it reigned during this decade. The decades preceding this era also played more of a supporting role and, although turbulent, acted as the formative years for rock music.
Rock Music in 1950s
The 1950s are mostly known for setting the stage for rock music. Rock music fully emerged as a genre during the 1950s. It was propelled by the introduction of new technology that gave rise to rock music, a new genre at the time.2
This era saw the introduction of solid body electric guitars, bass guitars, transistor radios, along with phonograph records that had better storage capacity and were more durable.
This was the time when electric guitars replaced the saxophone and piano as the lead instruments in rock’n’roll. Rock music of this era was mostly blues played on the electric guitar. The electric guitar soon made an appearance in country, western, and gospel music, but no one expected this style of music to last.
Rock Music in 1960s
Especially since rock music entered the 1960s without any signs of slowing down, but this era was also a time when it was almost forgotten. It was during this period that artists with new ideas kept emerging, which kept the public interested in this genre.
The 1960s saw rock music branch into subgenres such as folk rock, heavy metal, acid rock, psychedelic rock, art rock, jazz rock, etc. However, rock music was sharing the attention with other music genres such as soul, surf music, reggae, lounge music, motown, etc., which held an equally important spot in the audiences’ hearts and on the music charts at the time.
Rock music and the lifestyles of the artists of the genre reflected the revolutionary and turbulent times of the 1960s. Rock music had to be resurrected by British rock artists and was also mired by the deaths of several prominent rock musicians by the end of the era.
The Best Era of Rock Music – 1970s
The tragic beginnings of the 1970s had somewhat helped the newcomers in the world of rock music to mature to a certain degree from the lessons and losses of the late 1960s. The most popular rock groups of the 1960s had disbanded, and some of the members had successful careers as solo artists.
Rock music during the 1970s further evolved into punk rock, hard rock, progressive rock, soft rock, urban rock, funk, heartland rock, glam rock, southern rock, country rock, blues rock, and more. The music created by the bands of this era had a long-lasting impact on the music industry.
Hits from the rock genre dominated the charts during this era and became all-time classics that would be respected and revered by people to this very day. Music genres like country rock, electronic rock, and punk rock had a huge influence on newer genres of music such as techno, alternative music, rap, etc. It is for this reason that most experts and critics claim the 1970s to have been the most influential decade of rock music.
During the 1970s, the music industry exploded with many different genres of music, and these styles of music kept having their time in the spotlight one after another as they matured and developed.
Rock Music is Still Going Strong!
After the reign of rock music in the 1970s, the genre still held a good spot in the market but also shared it with other styles of music. The 1980s and 1990s were mostly dominated by pop and rap music, which held most of the audience’s attention.
According to a survey4 conducted in 2018, rock music is still the second most popular genre among listeners worldwide, and a more recent survey5 conducted in 2022 revealed that rock music was the most preferred genre in the United States. So, rock music continues to have a huge impact on audiences even today, and it has not lost its popularity since its birth in the 1950s, especially the 1970s rock music.
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1. Considine, J. D. (1996, October 20). Baltimore Sun – We are currently unavailable in your region. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved June 19, 2022, from https://www.tribpub.com/gdpr/baltimoresun.com/
2. Frith, S. (n.d.). rock | Definition, History, Artists, Songs, & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved June 19, 2022, from https://www.britannica.com/art/rock-music
3. History and Evolution. (n.d.). Evolution of Rock Music. Retrieved June 19, 2022, from http://evolutionofrockmusic.weebly.com/history-and-evolution.html
4. Statista. (2022, April 21). Digital music preferences by genre in the U.S. 2022. Retrieved June 19, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/forecasts/997215/digital-music-preferences-by-genre-in-the-us#statisticContainer
5. Richter, F. (2018, October 12). The World’s Favorite Music Genres. Statista. Retrieved June 19, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/chart/15763/most-popular-music-genres-worldwide/#:~:text=Deserving%20of%20its%20name%2C%20pop,and%20third%20most%20popular%20genres