Here’s The Surprising Truth About How Pop Music Has Evolved In Recent Years

Fans of pop music know that it has undergone some pretty dramatic changes in recent decades, and one musical genre seems to be driving this musical evolution more than others.

An exhaustive new analysis of chart-topping songs from 1960 to 2010 shows that hip hop had a bigger effect on pop music than any other pop genre–and that includes the music of the so-called “British Invasion” by The Beatles and other groups in the mid-1960s.

That’s right, “hip hop, the hippie, the hippie, to the hip, hip hop, and you don’t stop,” as Sugarhill Gang puts it.

“I was surprised quite how massive a change rap and hip hop introduced into the charts, and that it happened nearly 10 years after Grandmaster Flash’s 1982 hit single ‘The Message,'” study co-author Dr. Matthias Mauch, a lecturer in the field of music informatics at Queen Mary University of London, told The Huffington Post in an email. “Hip hop tracks really have a different ‘anatomy’ — we measure more speech-like sounds, and almost completely devoid of chords, the cornerstone of basically all other genres that previously entered the charts.”

17,000 songs. For the study, evolutionary biologists and computer scientists analyzed more than 17,000 songs featured on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts — which Mauch called the “fossil record” of popular music. They took a close look at trends in the songs’ harmonic and timbral properties, among other musical properties.

The researchers then used these properties to build an audio-based classification system of the various musical styles. Using the system, they looked at the diversity of the songs during various eras and at how trends changed across the years.

What did the researchers find? Though music evolved continually, the researchers identified three stylistic “revolutions” during which the change from —> Read More