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Keywords

Popular music, United States

Abstract

Many phenomena in music history as well as in American history have helped develop and shape the types of music listened to today, but none have been so fresh as looking back to twentieth-century popular music and the several key individuals that “ruled” in this area. These “rulers” were hailed as “kings” firstly as a media ploy, but the American public did nothing but encourage the titles. This is somewhat confusing considering American’s pride in their democratic political system but history shows that in several key American cultural changes the “Kings” crowned in the music sphere are representative of these changes.

While not difficult to determine who these individuals are, as most of them were hailed and recognized as “Kings” to their respective audiences. Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, in the 1920’s and 30’s helped usher in and popularize the Swing movement. Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, capitalized (intentionally or not) on the move towards combining African-American sounds such as blues and jazz with folk, gospel, and soul, thus creating a whole new and extremely popular sound. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, was practically born into fame with his involvement with the ‘Jackson 5,’ but that did not stop him from rising up the ladder of fame in his solo career to change the face of pop music forever. There were also many artists that surrounded these “kings,” a court, if you will, that allowed their new styles to proliferate throughout American culture, and sometimes even surpassed them musically. However, as icons, these men stand on their own for their achievements in music and their ability to change and adapt to the culture around them. By looking at the three Kings of American pop culture’s past, it is possible to see the direction of America’s culture in general from the 1920’s on and perhaps see the trajectory of music of the USA today

DOI

10.15385/jmo.2013.4.2.3

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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