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Music in the 1950s (Rock ‘n’ Roll)

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By: Brandyn Wikley

What is “pop culture”? “Pop culture is defined on dictionary.com as “cultural activities or commercial products reflecting, suited to, or aimed at the tastes of the general masses of people.” Pop culture in the 1950s hit the youth most hard in the area of “rock ‘n’ roll”. The youth during this time started to feel the need to rebel, they wanted freedom, “and they found an outlet for such feelings of restlessness in new and controversial styles of music and literature.”
Rock ‘n’ roll started “In 1951 at a record store in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, radio disc jockey Alan Freed noticed white teenagers buying African American rhythm and blues records and dancing to the music in the store. A week later, Freed won permission from his station manager to play the music on the air. Just as the disc jockey had suspected, the listeners went crazy for it. Soon, white artists began making music that stemmed from these African American rhythms and sounds, and a new form of music, rock ’n’ roll, had been born”
This new form of loud beats along with the new lyrics that talked about romance, cars, and other areas of life, made it perfect for dancing. Teen popularity grew rapidly and teens were rushing out to buy albums from artists such as “Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Bill Haley and the Comets”. The 1950s is also when the first rock ’n’ roll hero appeared. The textbook writes “In 1956 teenagers found their first rock ’n’ roll hero in Elvis Presley” (pg.832).
Rock ‘n’ roll also started to form the first separation between adults, and teens. Adults who were used to listening to music such as “Frank Sinatra” found rock ‘n’ roll as “loud, mindless, and dangerous.” The term used for this separation between teens, and adults is known as “generation gap”. This time also stated a movement of artists who started to make music and poems that directly went against the culture of that time. They sought to live “unconventional lives as fugitives from a culture they despised”(824). Teens ate up this ideal of going against culture, and as a result, the separation from adults continued to grow.
It is alarming to see how far culture has come in just 65 years. What started as a new form of music has turned into a culture epidemic that has left adults behind. Students and kids are getting into things at a much younger age, and parents are losing control over their kids. This should be a warning for all church leaders because 2 Timothy 3 says that “3 But understand this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. 5” . This sounds a lot like the culture today and it is our job go and spread the Gospel with as many people as possible.

Works Cited
dictionary.com. 2014. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/popular+culture (accessed April 21, 2014).
Popular Culture of the 1950s. n.d. http://admin.bhbl.neric.org/~mmosall/ushistory/textbook/Chapter%2027%20Postwar%20America/ch%2027%20sect%203%20Pop%20Culture.pdf (accessed April 21, 2014).

 

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2 responses to “Music in the 1950s (Rock ‘n’ Roll)

  1. emilygpotts ⋅

    This blog was interesting because of the details in regard to rock n’ roll and how it was the first separation between adults and youth. When I think of rock music I think of people who want to rebel and go out and drink. This is probably a wrong assumption because I understand that there are people, like Christians who use rock music for their ministry. However, I think the media has really made the rock n’ roll genre one that is known for partying, sex, and alcohol. I think that as pastors we need to be cautious when our students get involved with rock n’ roll because it does have an underlying sense of rebellion within it. Even though some people may just look like a “rocker” I think that we still need to be cautious because youth will always try to express themselves in a way that will either want attention or try to cover up their actual personality just so they can “fit in.”

  2. nataliebroman ⋅

    I really liked this article, because I never really thought about how rock and roll got started. I find it super interesting that white teenagers were wanting to buy music by african-american artists, to rebel against the white artists of that time. Considering the fact that it was a time of high-tension between the racists, I think it even more powerful that teenagers were buying these records in rebellion to what they were taught was acceptable. I think this just shows that teenagers have such a fresh view on society and don’t want to be tied down by their parent’s biased point of view. I love that in all these blogs, it is all about youth rebelling against the society that was before them, because they felt like the generation before them could use some help. I just find it rather exciting that the youth are always the ones to be the game changers.

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