Politics, Presidency and Society in the USA - 1968-2001

How Oppositional was Music in the 1960's?

Oppositional Music-

Psychadelic Rock- opposed Vietnam and was greatly in support of civil rights. It was a very left wing/ liberal movement. Nixon felt that the subculture that was created was a huge issue and arguably was brought in to deal with it. 

Hippie- Similar to psychadelic rock, issues such a war and raw patriotism were attacked. Woodstock is a clear example of the popularity of the subculture bringing 500,000 to a field. Hendrix attacked patriotism with a warped version of 'The Star Spangled Banner'. The subculture however was effectively surpressed and by 1973 was 'dead' due to the conservative and Middle America backlash.

Non- Oppositional Music-

Motown- Motown portrayed the beginnings of a show of African American advancement with Motown Records being the most successful record label by 1964. The movement brought about a subtle integration of music and politics. Despite what may have been an oppositional movement, there was nothing but positivity towards the genre.

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How Oppositional was Music in the 1970's?


Punk- Unpopular with many due to it's extreme nature. It was a mostly underground movement due to its extremism and controversial nature. People fell in love with the subculture --> glam rock. This can be seen as a minor branch of POLITICAL NIHILISM.

Hip-Hop- Common in poor African American areas e.g. ghettos. Targeting controversial issues in the lyrics giving racial minorities a new way of expressing themselves. Examples include Grandmaster Flash.

Disco- Started as a tool to the end of the oppression of blacks, gays and women. It allowed those who felt oppressed to experience social empowerment and democratisation through socialising and music. The extravagant nature of this movement was simply about having fun and enjoying yourself. It concerned the moral majority and the rising New Right movement. 


The success of Saturday Night Fever lead to a boost in the popularity of disco music. 

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How Oppositional was Music in the 1980's?

Hip- Hop- This genre continued in its growth and became even more politicised due to thecontroversial nature of Reagan's welfare policies and the attitudes to race. The conservative views that were displayed during the Reagan presidency were totally different to the ideas of many in the African American community. NWA set out to expose a civil war between the black and Hispanic community in the poor areas of LA.

A Largely non-oppositional decade

Much of the major mainstream acts sang mostly of love and relationships, the lyrics were mainly conservative in nature and attitude. The controversial acts of the previous two decades had pretty much died out. R&B dominated the charts with key acts such as Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson. This was a major, non-oppositional step for African American's,building upon the successes of the motown movement. 

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How Oppositional was Music in the 1990's?

The 1990's saw the continuation of teen pop- hip-hop also grew, becoming less politicised and a more mainstream genre. 

Grunge- A less extreme re-vitalisation of the punk movement- this was oppositional largely because it spoke of youth rebellion and the sense of dislocation that many young people felt. Later on the grunge movement became more subtle in opposition and therefore became a fairly popular movement.

Gangsta Rap-  Dr Dre brought Gangsta Rap to pop audiences- it was very politicised and unpopular due to the 'colourful language'.

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