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Music: 1950’s vs. Today. http:// /. Music’s evolution and expansion in the United States. Matthew Ramson. Period 5 APUSH Mr. Wilder. Back in the dinosaur days….

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Music 1950 s vs today

Music: 1950’s vs. Today

Music’s evolution and expansion in the United States

Matthew ramson
Matthew Ramson

Period 5


Mr. Wilder

Back in the dinosaur days
Back in the dinosaur days…

  • Okay, maybe not that far back, but the 50’s were a different time than what we are used to. Here’s what I mean:

    • TVs were NOT in color (programs were in black & white)

    • Your beloved cell phone, was not even close to production

    • No iPods, iPads, iTimewasters, etc.

    • Playing outside was a desirable activity

    • The music industry was just starting to bloom

The big question

Does today’s music have the same effect on society as it did back in the 1950s?

The big answer
The BIG Answer:

Today’s music industry is nothing like it was 60 years ago; technological innovation and enhanced resources have allowed today’s music to speak to almost any audience and to publicize many different beliefs and ideas.

First things first
First things first…

  • Let’s go over what music means to America, contemporary or otherwise.

    • Music has long provided an outlet for people from everyday life

    • Different types of music have been used to present different images of the nation

      • i.e. Country = Patriotic; Rap = Urban; etc.

    • Music almost always reflects the time period during which it was created/written/composed.

The emergence of a culture
The Emergence of a Culture

  • The King: Elvis Presley

  • He was IT. Elvis was the Bieber/Timberlake/ultimate-teenage-heartthrob-all-the-girls (and some guys) obsessed over

  • The King didn’t give Rock ‘n’ Roll the best image to begin with, however…

More on the king
More on The King…

  • Elvis’ style and swagger didn’t sit very well with the parents of the 1950s.

  • Elvis often expressed an underlying sexual appetite with his sensual dance moves

  • “With a sound and style… he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture.” (

  • Regardless, he IS the King.

The teenage demographic
The Teenage Demographic



We buy whatever music albums we find entertaining

We, as the Teenagers of the 50’s pioneered, are explicitly told to pursue our desires and creativity

High professional expectations; less military emphasis

  • Teenagers were just starting to gain their independence [not in the revolutionary sense]

  • Buying Rock albums was considered rebellious

  • Professional expectations much higher/stricter

Rock n roll today
Rock ‘n’ Roll Today

Somehow, Rock ‘n’ Roll in today’s world isn’t even American anymore. Talking specifically about the Rock genre, the teenage world is draw to the likes of Zeppelin and Metallica, staying true to the classics. New bands don’t seem to be able to draw the same appeal as those of earlier days. And, of course, the Beatles will forever live on with teenagers, no matter the generation.

Televised music
Televised Music

  • The Ed Sullivan Show was the place to get recognized

  • Do names like Elvis and Barbara Streisand ring a bell?

    • Both were on the Ed Sullivan Show, and both are still regarded the among the best in their professions, even after Elvis’ death.

  • This variety show was where you wanted to appear if you wanted to make it big

Televised music cont d
Televised Music cont’d…

  • And then there was American Bandstand, hosted by Dick Clark

  • Debuting in 1956, American Bandstand helped transfer the focus from the radio to the television

  • Much like the well known Soul Train and the maybe not so known 360 (2004-2005), people would go on the show and dance, while the records of rising stars were played by a DJ

The mtv empire
The MTV Empire

  • And then came what we know today as MTV

  • Today, you can almost throw the Grammys out the door

  • MTV’s Video Music Awards is the new highest award in music

  • MTV symbolizes all that is new and good in the music world

The Coveted Moon Man Award from the VMAs

More on mtv
More on MTV

How It Compares

One of MTV’s early slogans.

  • MTV promotes new and upcoming artists just as much, if not more, as American Bandstand and Ed Sullivan did

  • To appear on Ed Sullivan or Bandstand was considered an honor; if you are on MTV, you know you’ve done something right

The art of the comeback
The Art of the Comeback

Sinatra had a famous comeback during the 50s. He didn’t regain the same prowess he had from the time of his debut, but he is to this day regarded one of the best entertainers America has seen, both musically and theatrically.

All in all
All In All…

The music industry has an overbearing effect on society today. Artists send messages through their music that signal teenagers and adults alike to go about their lives with different attitudes and outlooks. So, YES, the music industry still has as much of an effect today as it did back in the olden days.

Additional questions
Additional questions:

1. Did American Bandstand or the Ed Sullivan Show have a larger effect on the music industry?

2. Can MTV continue to be the pedestal of music for future generations?

3. What artist had the biggest effect on the 1950s’ music industry?

4. Was music influenced, during the 50’s, by the end of the 2nd World War?

Answers to those questions
Answers to those questions:

I would say the Ed Sullivan show had a bigger effect, considering he featured live music acts, rather than the recorded albums.

If MTV goes back to its roots of being purely music, it would definitely overwhelm any competition. But it is still capable of being the music pedestal, even with the reality shows it features today.

Elvis Presley was easily the biggest music star of the 50’s.

Music wasn’t really influenced by the war, it was solely meant as entertainment, rather than to reflect the war effort.









  • Lisa Gomez [My mom; grew up watching American Bandstand and Ed Sullivan Show]

  • Myself [My own experiences]