Top Pop Music Albums
Pop music is music that is produced and sold to the mass audience. As such, it has catchy melodies and/ or rhythm that match the spirit of the times. It encompasses many genres depending on the popular taste at the time, which is in turn shaped by social, economic, and technical factors, as well as the earlier musical styles that influenced it.
Pop music that has widespread influence started in America in the mid-1950’s with the advent of rock’ n’ roll. It evolved from the combination of various musical styles that were popular at that time, such as boogie-woogie piano blues, honky-tonk music, gospel music, and “jump band” rhythm and blues, soulful ballads and doo wop. Rock’ n’ roll was popular with teens because its catchy lyrics and grating beat reflect their rebelliousness and angst, sexual energy, unleashed inhibitions and unrestrained fun. Guitar sales went through the roof. In Britain, where most people were cash-strapped after the war, young musicians who could not afford decent instruments played skiffle, which, for a while challenged the popularity of rock’ n’ roll.
In the early 60’s, because of social pressure and the fall of early raw talents like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran (Elvis joined the U.S. army), rock’ n’ roll fell into professional and slick hands. This saw the rise of more clean-cut, inoffensive artists like Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Connie Francis, Pat Boone and Ricky Nelson. Also producing strings of hit records were the music factory of Motown, and Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. This era also saw the development of folk-inspired, socially conscious artists like Bob Dylan, as well as distinctive regional sounds like the Surf Music of the Beach Boys.
1964 saw the phenomenon called the British Invasion when British bands led by The Beatles shook the U.S. pop charts. Merseybeat bands from the north-west of England like Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Searchers also became popular.
70’s pop is characterized by mass-produced music styles, whereas before that time, it was highly individualistic. The height of manufactured danceable kitsch is exemplified by the rise of Europop created by artists like Abba, Donna Summer, and BoneyM. On the other hand, the 70’s is also most closely associated with introspective singer/songwriters like Carole King, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Cat Stevens.
The 80’s pop music was shaped by technology like the synthesizer, the MTV music video, and the blurring of black and white music. The biggest ever bestseller album at that time, Thriller, by Michael Jackson combined soul, rock, pop and disco and captured all of their markets. The 80’s also saw the rise of New Wave (punk-influenced music but less overtly rebellious), New Romantics & Futurism, 2-Tone, and Manufactured Pop (teams of musicians and moguls find attractive performers to front potential hits).
The 90’s pop scene saw the rise of Latin Pop, Britpop, Noughties Pop, and Boy Bands.
The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” from the album Revolver.
Below are the definitive, best of the best pop albums that no music collectors should do without:
- Revolver – The Beatles
- Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
- The Beatles (White Album) – The Beatles
- Blood on the Tracks – Bob Dylan
- Abbey Road – The Beatles
- The Unforgettable Fire – U2
- Astral Weeks – Van Morrison
- Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys
- Sign ‘O’ The Times – Prince
- Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
- (What’s the Story) Morning Glory – Oasis
- A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles
- Hunky Dory – David Bowie
- Blue – Joni Mitchell
- The Joshua Tree – U2
- Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
- Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
- Blonde on Blonde – Bob Dylan
- Rubber Soul – The Beatles
- Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones
- Achtung Baby – U2
- Let It Bleed – The Rolling Stones
- Graceland – Paul Simon
- The Band – The Band
- The Doors – The Doors
- Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette
- Parallel Lines – Blondie
- Transformer – Lou Reed
- Leftism – Leftfield
- After the Goldrush – Neil Young
- Thriller – Michael Jackson
- Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkle
- Hotel California – The Eagles
- Moon Safari – Air
- Performance and Cocktails – Stereophonics
- Saint Dominic’s Preview – Van Morrison
- Purple Rain – Prince and the Revolution
- Little Earthquakes – Tori Amos
- Tapestry – Carole King
- Talk On Corners – The Corrs
- Moondance – Van Morrison
- So – Peter Gabriel
- Crosby Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills and Nash
- Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones
- Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
- Hounds of Love – Kate Bush
- Songs in the Key of Life – Stevie Wonder
- Harvest – Neil Young
See also Top Pop Music Albums of 2001 to 2006