Music: Trends of the decade 2010 - 2020

This is a long reading (and listening together), but one that I think is worthwhile if you are determined. Listen and read to understand and use a dictionary to help you. Also copy some of the intonation and pronunciation in the podcast to help you with your speaking.

If after completing the reading, you have some things your not sure about, leave me a question or comment in the Comments Section.

So, what were the main music trends in the last decade? Listen to the podcast below and read the transcript. This will help you with your listening, reading and speaking and you will find new vocabulary in the text. When you've finished, answer the TEN vocabulary questions relating to the words and phrases in red.

Now that we’re in the final days of the decade, the teens of the 21st Century, we’ve been giving some thought to the musical trends that have really stood out over the past ten years. A lot has changed. You can find some of the trends we spotted at the But let’s run through a few of them right now.

1. K-pop moves west

As a new decade began, who’d have thought that Korean boy bands would conquer the globe? There was a big clue back in 2012: His name was Psy.

Yeah, a surreal video by a cute Korean chap who went to school right here in Boston. The video is unforgettable, Psy dancing in a stable, pretending to ride a horse through a chorus line of girls, having some fun with the lively upscale neighborhood in Seoul. Gangnam; that most fans outside of Korea had never heard of. Four years later, the boy band BTS sells out Madison Square Garden several times. Sadly, the decade is closing with several deaths among the top acts in K-pop, but the star-maker machinery of Seoul seems to keep marching on.

2. How we listen to music

Another seismic shift this past decade – how we listen to music. Across the planet, actually owning music gave way toward downloads and streaming, essentially we’re tapping into ginormous digital jukeboxes in the cloud — Spotify, Apple Music, and so on. In some parts of the world, street merchants sell SIM cards and thumb drives already loaded with music. But the big change was in the actual physical product, as they say in the ‘biz’ — a retro-swing back to vinyl.

This one’s an old Celia Cruz 45. In fact this year, vinyl sales topped CD sales for the first time in thirty years in the US. Ayana Contreras is a vinyl devotee, she’s a music producer and DJ at WBEZ in Chicago, and for her the vinyl trend makes perfect sense.

"The number one thing that I think has changed for folks, is that we have the luxury to be able to choose our medium in a way that cherishes the experiential aspects of it. Basically, picking up a record, pulling it out of the sleeve, putting it on the turntable. Being very intentional. It's something that holds a lot of romance for younger kids and for older people, you know, it's very nostalgic. It's that sweet spot between a number of different generations, sort of really being attracted to not simply pressing a button in order to hear any song on demand."

The crackles and pops -that’s just for effect. Vinyl sounds better than ever.

3. The term 'world music' becomes obsolete

Angélique Kidjo released ‘Celia’ her best selling homage to Celia Cruz on CD and vinyl.

Which brings us to another trend, the old genre of ‘world music’. Kind of obsolete at this point. The internet and file-sharing mean that artists everywhere no longer toil away in the vacuum of regional culture. Everything around the globe inspires now.

Look specifically at the African continent over the past ten years, long the source of many sounds simply called "world music." That all-encompassing label gave way to a distinct 21st-century genre of pop music. In fact, there's a new sales chart on the continent that didn't exist in 2010: ChartsAfrica.

4. A new Africa

Their top 10 albums for 2019? Angélique Kidjo’s ‘Celia’ is on it but with only one other exception, everything else is millennial music. At number one on ChartsAfrica top albums this year is "African Giant," by arguably Nigeria’s biggest star of the moment, Burna Boy. It’s a slow jam with heavy auto tune. Definitely not Afropop, even though it is pop from Africa.

You could say that the internet democratised music by helping to eliminate the ghetto of world music but just because pop music globally appears to be on a more even playing field, it's also not fully employed its bully pulpit.

5. Music fails to address socio-economic inequality

There have been artists like Seun Kuti who warned his fellow Nigerians to not get sucked into a consumer lifestyle in songs like “African Dreams." And New Zealand’s Lorde and her tune, "Royals," calling out the over-the-top bling.

‘’For Lorde, it was Royals, every songs like gold teeth, Grey Goose, tripping in the bathroom, blood stains, ballgowns, trashing the hotel room’’

That’s writer, Alissa Quart, who heads up the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. After the 2008 great recession, musicians had a chance to critique socio-economic inequality around the world but Alissa Quart says, artists mostly came up short.

"What does it mean when you don't have music or visual art or other forms that don't, in the last decade, speak to this? I think then you start to lose the cultural claim on being a democratic art. People call out each other, 'check your privilege, but the cultural production is not checking its privilege.’’

It's a trend that critic and writer Scott Timberg wrote about last year in an essay in Vox titled, "How music has responded to a decade of economic inequality." Scott died unexpectedly this past month. "Well, Scott Timberg was my friend, my colleague, and I edited this piece of his about inequality in music and I think he did really worry about what was going to happen with cultural production, but he was always an optimist, even in his last week her was posting, you know, Kurt Vial, who’s a younger indie musician and a collaboration he did, and a video from that and it was really beautiful and I think that he still kept his mind and ear connected to better work that was being made."

6. The loss of music innovators

And speaking of better work, we lost great artists in the 2010s, so many that it felt like a trend. Aretha, Bowie, Prince. Artists with seemingly limitless talent who stayed true to innovation and boldness. Legacies that show us great art requires hard work.


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