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What Album Defines a Generation in Pop Culture?

Updated on April 22, 2012
The Beatle Sgt. Pepper 1967
The Beatle Sgt. Pepper 1967
The Beatles Revolver 1966
The Beatles Revolver 1966
The Beatles first 1964
The Beatles first 1964
Elvis' 1st LP 1956
Elvis' 1st LP 1956
Led Zeppelin first- 1969
Led Zeppelin first- 1969
Madonna's first- 1983
Madonna's first- 1983

Pop music has defined generations of its followers since it started in 1956, with Elvis Presley's first LP. Of all his albums released, it was the first one that defined the teens at that time. The cover was raw as was its music, It was something unique and could be felt across multiple generations in hairstyle, attitude and clothes, not to mention a new word, "teenager". It was felt in other parts of the world and in Liverpool.

Then, just as that generation caused an uproar with their parents and became adults, a new wave smashed across like a tsunami (that has yet to be equaled) across the entire world, the Beatlemania caused by The Beatles. Like Elvis' first LP, The Beatles first LP was classy and stunning. It remains iconic. The Beatles as a group did what Elvis did to all kids born between 1951- 1961. They were even more extreme, different and unique than Elvis ever was. their impact would also be felt across multiple generations in hairstyle, attitude and clothes, not to mention a new phrase, "turn me on". Unlike Elvis, The Beatles were simply dominating everything anywhere in the world. Their Revolver and Sgt.Pepper LP's both in song and album covers allowed rock music to go where it had never dared- beyond just guitars, bass and drums. These albums define those in this generation and still are looked upon as the pinnacle of rock music.

Those born in 1961-71, share the former generation love of The Beatles. They learned from the media, from their parents or elsewhere. Yet, many of those born in the 50's, would actually be turned on by The Beatles at a ripe age and inspired and then take the rock baton in a different, yet important direction. Think Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix and others. The most startling was Led Zeppelin, whose 1969 LP remains the first heavy rock LP done with such throbbing sound. Their sound was so unique, like Sinatra, Elvis, Beatles, you knew it was them from just the sound of their voice or guitar. Eric Clapton's guitar work is extraordinary as was Hendrix. All three of them also defined the same generation that The Beatles did and for generations born in 1980 and after.

The 1970's was a real mix of rock genres and heavy funk permeated the airwaves, which made the whole rock scene bland in the sense there was no NEW sound, just a collage of styles. Santana was a major band with their Latin rock.

The 1980s would belong to Madonna. If you watch any movie made in that time period the influence of her impact on teen fashion is undeniable. She defined the generation who were teens in that period. While she was still not on the level as other rock legends, she is very close them as having an impact on those who followed her. Michael Jackson, would also define the same generation and others born after. Most of his impact was dancing style and hip-hop music. Yet, Michael fully appreciated The Beatles impact, so much so, he bought the rights to their music. Michael is of the generation that knew of The Beatles from the media, older siblings.

Since the 80's, rock or pop music has not seen a single band or person to totally dominate the scene or has taken the music to the next level. Maybe the previous generations have already done this.

What artist defines your generation? They must have universal, mass appeal across all spectrum. They must give something totally new-not done before.


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Nivana was great and White Stripes also-all cite the Beatles as inspiration and influence.

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      6 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Nirvana was very much a defining band of the 90's, Radiohead was also extremely impotant and influntial as well. The White Stripes in the 2000's, you can currently include Arcade Fire in the equation. Also every generation has had its underground bands that where ahead of their time and that have helped influence mainstream bands (such as Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., etc...)

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      I agree, although I was younger, the impact on me was profound. My older brother into elvis, beach boys. The Beatles were so far advanced. I was glued to the TV.

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 

      6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I remember watching the Ed Sullivan show (it was on every Sunday night) the three weeks he introduced the Beatles. For over two months, a sadness had permeated everywhere that even I, as a kid, noticed, since the murder of JFK. The Beatles came into our livingrooms and it was like, well, in their movie "Yellow Submarine", when the Beatles drive out the Blue Meanies and music and color spreads throughout Pepperland. Corny as that sounds, that's what it was like to a 12-year-old kid. Thanks for reviving some memories. Voted up.


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