How music has changed since the 1970s


Northern Star File Photo

Besides selling the work of artists like Ed Sheehan and The Beatles, Green Tangerine also sells the music of local musicians.

By Ariel Morris , Lifestyle writer

An abundance of music genres from various decades are monumental in their time as well as in the present. Many talented artists like Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, George Michael and Whitney Houston made a huge impact on our world during their respective decades. From every decade, there was a popular genre that defined each musical era.   


The ‘70s was the era of disco funk, especially by Black artists. Groups like Earth, Wind & Fire, Parliament, Kool & the Gang and more had brought a new flavor to music. Black artists made a significant appearance in disco funk with their tasteful upbeat melodies and eccentric soul lyrics. 


The ‘80s brought in an era of electro, dance and new wave. This decade of music was more influenced by image than an artist’s sound, especially when MTV was formed. Image spoke higher volumes than the music itself. Music has evolved even more since the ‘80s. Christopher Scanlon, assistant professor of trumpets at NIU, said music has changed our lives.

“Before the ‘70s, there weren’t computers,” Scanlon said. “The beginning of electronic instruments really changed how people made music using at first synthesizers, now it’s all kind of advanced software programs to help people create sounds digitally.” 


Music of the ‘90s was versatile. From the grunge-alternative music to rap and R&B to pop, there was something nostalgic about this time. The musical influences of Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Aaliyah, Nas, Kurt Cobain, Brandy, Sade and more had helped shape the era. Their music is timeless, and it still has an impact on younger generations. 

Sophomore English major Monique Wade loves the inspiration of the ‘90s era. 

“(I love) old school R&B because it helps me relax and vibe to it, and I grew up on it,” Wade said.


Music shifted again in the early 2000s. This was a digital era with the internet on the rise and a wave of hip-hop and R&B artists dominating this decade, following pop and along with others. Things became more digital in this era. The 2000s culture was nostalgic through its vibrant style of music, clothing trends, scandals, solo debuts and earlier pop culture events that made a huge impact on 2000s music.  

Teanna Slack, a sophomore public health major, enjoys a good throwback playlist.

“R&B (is) what I grew up listening to,” Slack said. “It is soothing to listen when doing work such as cleaning or homework. It helps time fly by.” 

Throughout the last 50 years, music has adapted to the culture of each decade, influencing each uniquely. Musical artists then had laid a foundation for many artists today and even made it possible for new talent to flourish.