Why Is American Music so Popular?

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American music is found almost everywhere you go on this planet earth. Throughout generations, there has always been this notion on how influential American Music is to the Global music market. Many places around the world seem to have a fascination of the sounds that are produced on American soil. But what is the fundamental reason as to why countries seek and desire the music of America?

Made in America
Made in America

Hey you! Yes, I am acknowledging you readers. I have a serious question to ask you. What is your favorite type of music? Now, granted you don’t have to say it out loud in fear of looking like a crazy person talking to their computer, however do you know where your favorite musical origins stem from? For some, it’s hard to find about as some have never thought about it before.

Being from America, I was led to believe that my musical taste was wide in range as I have traveled to a few places around the world. Upon my journey, I was always intrigued into the music stylings of those regions and what brings the people joy through the sounds of music. However, I was always surprised at what I would hear.  Regardless of the hemisphere, it has come to my attention over the fragile years that music of American descent has become the superior leader of modern music. In a somewhat dictatorship mentality, the nation has instilled a very specific interpretation of music, music business and the music industry. Through hip hop, pop and folk genres, modern music has some form of American roots instilled in them. But why is the sound of America, so popular for countries and places everywhere?

Eoin Hennessy, Music editor for the University Times, expressed that guitar music and punk music have developed through roots originating from folk context. There has been many American Folk music created since the beginning of settlement. A collection of 84 American folk songs from variations of blues and country music were compiled into the 1952 album “Anthology of American Folk Music”. Becoming a staple of national American history, the project created offspring of many musical stylings and renditions, creating some of the genres you hear today. For example as briefly discussed in a previous article, (The Elves Are Alive With The Sounds of Icelandic Music ) with Icelandic band “Of Monsters and Men” , the American folk  sound crossed to external borders to give an authentic sound to global music.

Merging into the beginning of the 1960s, bands such as “The Fugs” were able to manipulate the guitar folk music structure with heavy distortion and distinctive lyrics. Artists such as “The Stooges” and “Velvet Underground” formed an electric spin on the music genre, creating a whole new outlet of folk material. “Velvet Underground” Is a true favorite of mine, as they create a psychedelic simplistic folk sound during a culturally progressive time.

Although folk music has indeed paved the American Influence for genres such as punk and electric, jazz may even surpass that influence of American music. Opposing the standard European symphonic tradition, jazz heavily relied on feeling. Improvisational paired with constant experimentation has been seen as the focal point for American music’s globalization. We have heard and seen what way jazz has flourished through outlets such as Rhythm and blues, Funk and Hip-hop.

Do you recognize the pattern?  The American music became consistent in molding a genre into sub genres creating collective musical entities to take on a world of its own. Just as punk grew from folk music, hip hop grew from funk which grew from Jazz, all tracing back to a American interpretation of music. American music dominance would not be as influential, if not for Hip Hop. Hip Hop has taken over the world! Through its world domination, places around the world create national versions of the Bronx, New York style and have painted it their own colorful way.  For example, the rise of European hip hop in the 1990’s. The Hip hop world has been filled with confident ideals of power and wealth, but the messages of hip hop came from struggle and storytelling. Artists such as “Tupac Shakur” express various messages of struggle and perseverance. The genre industry continues to create millions of revenues of endorsements through clothing, food, alcohol, electronic etc.

According to Irish Recorded Music Association, 50% of the top 10 singles in Ireland were from America, while national music only generated 10% in 2014. A lot of the reason the music of American descent builds so much attraction, isn’t necessarily the music itself but the promotion of the projects. But what is the push for American music? Some could say it could be a mixture of a culture that is diverse, while others could leave it to the countries large scale economic efforts. Through industry developments, many could argue that it has been more efficient in terms of music sharing. In the 1980s, the creation of CDs and tapes resulted in cheaper forms of music listening, which was easier to export to various parts of the world.

However, with the overall technological advances of the modern world, the American influence is declining rapidly. So, to answer the question I have pondered about circles around the idea that subgenres created from American musical origins, have gained popularity on a global scale throughout the years. With the efforts through economic and promotional entities, the sounds of America have been able to cross borders in an easy manner. However, in recent years, countries have been returning to local national music not influenced by American entities. This notion is favored in my opinion, because individuals are able to branch out into various parts of world music without the stability or covering of American musical influence. It is my belief that if we continue to uphold traditional musical roots from the countries itself, the global music listener will develop a well-rounded consciousness and respect for different sounds and song structures. Regardless of the origin. music will continue to bring people together.

Photo: Shutterstock / Photomontage: Martina Advaney


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