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How Has Pop Music Changed in the Last Decade?

So much has changed in a decade…

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Just a decade ago, listening to the likes of Lady Gaga and Adele on iPods while waiting for the newest Justin Bieber release was commonplace.

Ten years later, the music scene has changed more than you might think, thanks to the likes of streaming services and the rise of social media. Pop music has certainly evolved, with genres like Electronic Dance, K-Pop, and Hip-Hop exploding onto the scene.

The 2010’s

The 2010s saw genres like electro-pop, dance-pop, and R&B dominate the charts. The likes of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Katy Perry took the top spots. You might remember anthems like ‘Teenage Dream,’ ‘Diamonds,’ and ‘Just Dance,’ which were all raves. One of the defining characteristics of successful songs seemed to be the use of auto-tune and electronic production. This was often seen in songs like Kesha’s ‘Tik Tok’ and Taio Cruz’s ‘Dynamite.’ They used catchy lyrics and danceable rhythms.

Themes like dancing and partying were at the forefront of most songs, accompanied by some whacky music videos. ‘Last Friday Night’ by Katy Perry is perhaps one of the most iconic music videos from the 2010s. It’s still a brilliant watch today. Britpop and Pop Punk also continued to dominate the scene. Bands like Arctic Monkeys and Blink-182 produced some of the most popular tunes.

Music Today

Today, pop has incorporated so many different genres into its music. Crossovers between unlikely artists are now standard. Halsey teamed up with BTS for ‘Boy With Luv,’ while Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus teamed up to produce ‘Old Town Road.’ Both dominated the charts for weeks. A lot of artists also found success with radio-friendly songs. Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Ariana Grande remain some of the biggest names in pop music.

But it’s not just crossovers that have come to define modern music. Different kinds of artists, such as girl groups like Little Mix and Fifth Harmony, and solo acts such as Beyonce and Adele, have been seen to feature in the charts regularly. Artists previously in bands have also seen great success since breaking away and have made a storm in their careers, like Harry Styles and Camilla Cabello. Additionally, it is widespread for artists to ‘surprise drop’ their next album, like Beyonce, who took the world by storm in 2013 when she released her fifth album with no promotional build-up, and it was a significant success. Many artists since have adopted the same technique, which has proven highly effective, like Taylor Swift, who released her sixth album ‘Reputation’ in 2017  with no press commitments.

New Genres

Though a catchy pop tune never goes amiss even today, an explosion of new genres has come to take over the charts, including rap, vaporwave, and cloud rap, characterized by a reliance on digital production techniques and their homegrown vibe. Cloud rap, especially, has become prominent for its ethereal atmosphere, with the likes of A$AP Rocky, Playboy Carti, and Yung Lean being some of the most well-known names in the genre. Latin Pop has also seen a lot of love with the vast popularity of Luis Fonsi and Yankee’s ‘Despacito’ in 2017, with many artists continuing to infuse Spanish in their songs, such as Beyoncé and Connor Maynard.

Music demos and promotion through social media have also become quite common. Mae Stephens’ ‘If We Ever Broke Up,’ JVKE’s ‘Golden Hour,’ and Meghan Trainor’s ‘Made You Look’ have received significant traffic due to TikTok snippets before their release. Already released tunes have also been popular as they are used for TikTok trends like Lizzy McAlpine’s ‘Ceilings’ and Stephen Sanchez’s ‘Until I Found You.’

A Change in Consumption

Streaming services have certainly revolutionized the way we listen to music. The rise of platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music has made music readily available, right at our fingertips, anywhere we go. The past decade has seen CDs becoming almost redundant, making up just 9% of total music sales, replaced by a love predominantly for streaming services. Though, it’s worth noting that this has been accompanied by a rise in vinyl sales, increasing an impressive 15% in 2019. Modern artists are embracing vinyl more than ever, with big names dropping a vinyl version of their new album alongside their merch.

With such significant shifts since the 2010s, we’re only left to wonder what the next ten years have in store!

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Written By

Hi! My name is Melissa and I am a final year student at Durham University studying Liberal Arts. I've been a member of the Trill Mag team since Summer 2022 and I also work as a Copywriter with Trill's sister company, Howl Publishing. At University, I've been involved in all sorts throughout my time, including working as Editor-in-Chief of the student magazine, working on the student newspaper, co-hosting my own radio show with our University station, producing a 50-page magazine for my college and so much more! When I'm not writing or talking about the hottest topics, I can be found delving into the nichest corners of the internet and taking a look at the newest trends, films, shows, and games.

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