Best Decades for Music After 1900

What is the best decade for music released in the 20th and 21 centuries?

The Top Ten

1 1980s

The 80s had it all. Whatever your favorite genre, you had artists who were making great music. The sounds created in this era truly stand the test of time as they are still fresh 30 years later. I remember as a kid in the 70s listening to my parents favorites of the 50s (great music too) but noticing how they seemed so dated at the time. I feel the songs of the 80s are beautifully melodic but with enough complexity to be appreciated even after countless technological advances since. No other decade of music is so varied while still capturing the essence of society's political, cultural and emotional tastes of the day. A great decade of music, and given the status of the industry today, may be the last great one for a while.

Like all decades, the 80s had its share of good and bad music. But overall, I consider it the best decade of music, across all genres. A lot of the great artists from the 70s had their best music in the 80s. The 80s was a time when the great music styles created in the 70s were perfected, and a lot of innovative new music styles came out as well. The best thing about 80s music, regardless of genre, was that the songs that were popular were extremely catchy! The fact that there are so many 80s songs still getting air play speaks for itself. Nowadays, most music is not catchy at all but rather quite bland and boring, whether it's pop music or underground music. I wonder how many songs of the 2010s will still be heard 30 years from now?

To the people claiming a lot of bands were not from the 80's are forgetting that they are being mentioned for their music that was being produced in the 80's, amongst all of the other great bands that spawned in the 80s. New Wave actually started in the late 70's stretching all across the 80's before being lost into the 1990's...people class new wave as the 80's because it had its longest life span in the 80s, I think people are too quick to judge and feel the need to stick their nose in for no reason other than to make themselves feel like they know more. did you ask them if that's what they meant or did you just assume that's what they meant, there are two sides to every argument.

I absolutely love music, classical and pop. The decade that I love the most is the 1980s even though I was only born in 1979, I discovered the pop music through programmes like Top Of The Pops and my cousin loved Erasure! It wasn't until the late 1990's though that the music of the 80s really started to appeal to me. I was 18 years old and I started to listen to a radio show called the 'Retro Countdown' with a DJ called Mark Dennison who was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. Each week on a Sunday between 7 and 10pm he would play music from a year from the 80s and 90s. He would also do a run-down of the top ten as it was that week in that particular year. The show would play music from the years 1984-1995 and sometimes they would go really retro and play hits going back to 1979. This show was a catalyst for me in listening more and more to eighties pop and my CD collection grew and grew. Even now, nearly twenty years on I am still discovering music from the 80s and building my ...more

2 1970s

1960s laid the roots for some of the greatest music there is and spawned legends such as the Beatles and Bob Dylan. The 1980s created very refined and textured music that created new levels of stardom. But the 1970s, are by far unparalleled, in that it either greatly expanded upon or created every genre of music that is widely listened to today, while being simultaneously uncompromising in terms of quality. The augurs for the decade were laid quickly, as the late 70s saw the dissolution or death of some of the most famous stars and bands of the 60s. Most remaining ones either produced music of significantly lesser quality (McCartney and Dylan come to mind), reinvented their style (Fleetwood Mac and Jefferson Airplane/Starship), or pushed their sixties work to new heights (Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd), among many others. This change in musical style also allowed for new acts to shine in every genre. Bands such as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple created the dark, sludgy sound of hard ...more

I strongly disagree that the 80s is number. Most good band that existed in the 70s were at their peak. Something about the technology and the time resulted in the best music out of that era. Once things became clean and digital in the 80s a lot of music lost...soul. Think Beatles, Kinks, Stones, Bowie, T. Rex (so many good 70s bands)...all had great content then. While many of those emerged in the 60s, they had a certain maturity then. Also, all the early post punk or interesting punk (which includes most modern rocks roots, new wave etc) began to form in the late 70s and had amazing roots. When I listen to african music it is os much more wild in the 70s. To me the 70s is, I'm guessing, the peak of the analogue era.

My old answer would have definitely been 80's at the number 1 spot, and 70's at number 2 spot. But after really thinking about it, the number 1 spot belongs to the 70's. With Rock n' Roll taking over the world, the rise and fall of disco, and the end of the decade containing the growth of Punk. The History of the 70's and music is alone good enough to solidify its spot at number 1. The 70's also has the best list of artists for a decade. Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Who, Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Wings, Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Blondie, The Pretenders, The Police, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Talking Heads, Bee Gees, Earth Wind and Fire, ABBA, Steely Dan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, Kiss, Journey, Supertramp, CCR, Grateful Dead, T-Rex, Television. The list is endless. It is also so easy to forget some of the great artists from this decade due to how many of ...more

Early 70s - A continuation of 60s psychedelia; Krautrock; birth of metal; birth of electronica; birth of ambient.

Mid/Late 70s - Progressive Rock lived and (mostly) died; birth of punk and new-wave; second-wave ska; reggae took off.

Most of all I love the attitude that many artists shared regarding the album as a complete work of art and NOT as a collection of potential singles. Album Artwork was at its peak in the 70s. Experimental and forward-thinking artists were actually able to achieve chart success!

I would LOVE to say that a period of time closer to today is better but I can't; truth is the music industry has deteriorated considerably. There are plenty of great bands today, but I look at my music collection and feel like I own more albums from this period of time than any other.

3 1960s

" The 60s was the most innovative period of music that change the rest of the century. The Vietnam War was around along with civil rights movements and the music around the time truly represented the cultural ideas which helped unify our rebellious world. Even today the most iconic pioneers of music are all remembered from the 60s. Rap came from soul (James Brown), House originated from all the techniques bands did in the studios (Beatles, Who, Jimi Hendrix), and everyone knows The Rolling Stones contributed a whole lot to pop. There's no argument, the 70s and 80s were all continuations of the 60s. Finally, who could not forget the glorious beauty of psychedelia, our time has yet to bring that back."

I can understand it a little if the 1970s are higher than the 60's, but It is beyond me how the 90's are ahead and how the 80's snagged 1st place.

Music from the 1960's is simply *MARVELOUS. * A study conducted by a group of Spanish scientists have proven that music's quality (in terms of lyrics, originality, and Instrumentals) was at it's highest peak throughout the decade. Mainstream music at that time was so versatile, ranging from folksy Bob Dylan songs to psychedelic Strawberry Clock songs.

The 70's were great, (although I'd bill them lower than the 60's by a thing margin) the 80's gave rise to countless one-hit-wonders and generic mainstream music, and I simply fail to find any appeal in 90's music.

You can thank the sixties for its influence on modern day music. Unfortunately, people are over looking this amazing decade with the eighties, which is complete nonsensical. Yeah, the eighties had hits, but the sixties had music icons. Let's start with The Beatles(notable works include; Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, Revolver), they can never fail to entertain the people, and they never will(I bet Madonna won't last as long as these guys). Then we have Dylan, the Stones, The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane and many more. The late 60s also held the birth of future bands and musicians who would come out to become the 70s greatest hits. To name a few; Led Zeppelin, Bowie, The Band, Fleetwood Mac etc.

It appalls me that this decade is not ranked #1. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Kinks. The Beatles alone are better than entire eras of music not to mention the influence this era of music had on society. The 70s is just a continuation of this era. Yes everyone has their own preference and style of music but still there is more to 60s music than the music itself.

4 1990s

Absolutely, hands down, the 90's is the best decade in music. The rise of grunge, the development of hip hop, and the polishing of pop all cement this decade as the best in history. Perhaps it was the sheer volume of music released, due to the enhanced availability of recording, that allowed quality music to be distributed. Perhaps it was due to the ability to edit and mix music using digital means, allowing errors to be corrected. Perhaps it was due to the relative economic prosperity in the nineties creating an environment for people to imagine and develope their abilities. Whatever the case may be, the 90's is the best decade in music based on the breadth, depth, and innovation of all musical genres.

Most creative, thoughtful and varietal decade of music hands down! 90s was just incredible and feel blessed to have grown up with late 80s and 90s music. Yes, the were the start of some great music but the 90s took into so many new levels. Prolific and Inventive... So many new genres were formed and each were just amazing. Artists really had to prove their worth in the 90s, and the quality of so many songs really stands out. 2000s and to date have had many good additions but comparing the 90s to other decades is like comparing a bunch of senior Tai chi experts to an MMA heavy weight; impressive enough on their own but useless when put up against a true warrior powerhouse.

The 90's produced honest music that explored the crevasses and dark corners of humanity without picking ideological favourites. This decade of music smacks of humility and feeling at a time when there was access to a wide range of technologies, new and old, analog and digital that ended up in the hands of artists that saw just how stupid and selfish western culture had become and looked forward to a future that was thoughtful, hard earned, and balanced. It was during this decade that many found their voice, Rapped and Blogged their concerns. The 90's was the decade of substance, not substance abuse like the 70's, or the debauchery of the 80's. More like the 60's but with more heart and a better understanding of reality.

The top comment says pretty much all of it. The 90's just was a full blast of beautiful art. Not "selling" pop music or repetitive electronica such as some periods in the 80's. (The 80's were amazing as well but they're a bit overrated) The indie culture just rose as never before bringing bands like Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Weezer etc... I think it was the last era of "good" music. I mean, the 00's werent horrible but you have to admit this are dry and hard times for music, showing in the media a sustained lack of creativity, originality and soul in all that electronica and even rock bands that just recycle someone elses ideas (not all of them but there's a generalized tendency) These are dark times for music..

5 2000s

Bands like "The Killers" and "Interpol" were fantastic. I also liked listening to "The Postal Service" which was a side project (or spin off) from the band "Death Cab For Cutie". Though the 2000s seemed to spook a lot of people in their 30s that enjoyed the sequential steps of the 70s, 80s, and 90s of both style & music. However even though I was in my 30s I rather enjoyed the 2000's in both style & music. I found the 2000's to be a refreshing change from the 1990s. I loved the 1980s but a lot of the 90s I actually hated. Not because it was too dark or grungy but I thought a lot of 90s music was "Corporate Generated" to seem or sound deep or dark. I like my music both Light & Dark, Happy & Sad, or if it's simply dark I like it to have more depth than just the cliche' screaming into a microphone because it is a stereotype of being deep or hurt. The 2000's had a lot of great music that was both spooky & enjoyable. Bands like "The Gorillaz" was a cool mix of dark and light. I wasn't as ...more

WOW, the 50's, 00's, and 10's are all pretty underrated compared to the 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's on here.

When it comes to musical variety, I have to say the 00's are the best. The #1 hits were kinda hit or miss but ignore that and you'll find lot's of really great music in this decade, ranging from boy bands, nu metal, emo, hip hop r&b, southern hip hop, pop, rock, alternative, undergroud, etc. Not everything was always good but that's not to say any decade is perfect.

Also, people need to grow up on 2010's music. Just because you are old and don't like modern music doesn't mean you can't try and find things you enjoy. There's plenty of garbage from the "Glorious" 60's to 90's that are just as bad if not even worse than what's being played on the radio today ( Sugar Sugar, Disco Duck, We Built this City, and MMMBOP ). And that's every decade: Some good song's, some bad song's.

Radiohead, the White Stripes, Animal Collective, Arcade Fire, Wilco, The Strokes, Kanye West, The Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, Fleet Foxes, LCD Soundsystem, Bon Iver, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Good stuff. At least there's more variety than the eighties. It's hard to rate this decade since despite the fact that there was so much great music, there was so much bad music, that it's hard to pick whether you liked it as a whole. Since it was so recent, we remember the bad stuff instead of like in the 60s and 70s. But if you read a top albums of the decade list for this decade, you will be impressed.

Except for a dozen or so acts, you will not hear this decades music on the radio in 20-30 years. The artist are not that interesting and don't have the staying power that previous decades had. It gets even worse for the 2010's. Their are no meaningful artist, like Elvis, the Beatles, the Stones, The Who, Bowie, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Prince, The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson, Springsteen, Sting, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and many others, that their songs will live forever.

6 1950s

Unacceptably dismissed decade in todays society. Without the 50s, you could might as well say goodbye to any decade afterwards. With artists such as Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, The Killer, Ritchie Valens, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, The Big Bopper, Gene Vincent and many more, it doesn't make sense why this decade doesn't get the praise it deserves.
The 80s at #1 as well is an absolute disgrace, that was when Music became compressed and uninspiring. That decade is for wankers.

Ah, the '50s... The birth of rock 'n roll. I have tremendous respect for the rock singers like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly (my all-time favorite singer) and Jerry Lee Lewis, but that wasn't the only music genre from this decade. There were singers like Pat Boone, Connie Francis, Bing Crosby... Plus, some really swell harmony groups (Drifters, Dion & the Belmonts, Coasters) too. Love it.

The time of drive-in movies, cruise-ins, chromed up slick cars, cruising the main street. Back when music was based on being a teenager, in love, or cars. Lyrics had a meaning that you could understand. The roots of rock n' roll. What a great decade!

Brilliant decade would have to tie it with 60's but it had that great mix and all the music was genuine. It actually required a lot of talent to make it.

7 2010s

Terrible shallow, hollow, pre-fab music. Auto tuned voices and cliche' lyrics about sex make it soulless. Even songs that are supposed to be "deep" actually come off as "shallow" in the 2010s. From Country Music to Pop, from Rap to Tech it is empty. It's like someone took all the elements of good music to make a fake copy with no soul. From the singers voice, the lyrics, the music, the stylings music of the 2010s seems like an Easy Bake Oven version of music. Formulated & Cold, soulless and without a life-force. I'm someone who disliked the 90s and 2000's but compared this this vacuous mess of the 2010's the 1990s and 2000's have more soul and depth in its metaphorical pinky finger than the 2000s ever could. And any soul or depth after the 2010's is so negligible it's scary. It's like all the real artists died off a long time ago and computers are writing the music for todays soulless zombies. But I can't say that all of todays people are soulless because a lot of younger folks are ...more

For the most part, I don't think the 2010s are THAT bad for music but it certainly does not have the charm that the 50s - 80s have brought and established on. Between the 90s, 2000s, and 2010s, they haven't been the best but I have to say that the 2010s so far have been my least favorite in terms of music but I still like it more than the Pre-40s. There's a couple songs I like and everyone has their own choice but I don't know. Hopefully, I'll open up more to this 2010s music in the 2020s but honestly, I prefer the 2000s music a bit more but that's just my taste.

My favorite to least favorite.

1 - 1980s

( I Love the retro feel. The only decade where I think music has aged the best. It puts me in the mood to dance.)

2 - 1970s

( I love the smooth disco scenes of the era. Very nice songs. I almost consider it tied with the 80s.)

3 - 1960s

( The most important, beautiful and meaningful decade in music but I put it under the 70s and 80s ...more

Popular music isn't supposed to be so great. Songs on the radio have to be catchy and have to communicate a simple message in about four minutes without need for repeat listens, and as music gets more cryptic and experimental, the best music isn't always going to be popular. There will be a few dozen stand-out albums that get a lot of recognition from the internet music community, though. For example, To Pimp A Butterfly is extremely well-known, but it's not being played on Top 40 Radio.

I'll admit that the rock charts in this decade are much more disappointing than in, say, the 90s, but many bands being categorized into "alternative rock" (Coldplay, the 1975) are just playing left-of-center pop music.

What you think of a decade's music is all in where you look. Sure the Pop music of today is terrible, but plenty of it was awful in other decades as well. Music is constantly evolving, changing, progressing. Other generations of music were great and crucial innovative, but we shouldn't just try and look back to recapture that sound. Forward is the only way, even if it references and holds onto what was great back then, true artistry is going to come from continued innovation. And there are plenty of artists that are doing that today. Jack White (and all his side projects), Twenty One Pilots, Bring Me the Horizon, Pierce the Veil, Muse, Front Bottoms (anyone? Well check them out).

8 1940s

Are you kidding me? One guy said there was no music? Holy crap is he ignorant to the time period. There was so many artists like listed and even more like Glenn Miller Kay Kyser Bob Crosby, Bings brother etc. And music took a lot more talent than it did today. No auto tune, and also people had to know how to read music as well as play the instrument AND do it all in coordination with the rest of the band. That's hard, but in my opinion it was worth it. The sheer passion and care to the music flows through it and all that effort makes a better more realistic sound than today's crap music. And even for the vocal parts, still were better. Music to boost moral for was coming out left and right during the Second World War.

Why does everyone act like popular music didn't exist until the 1950s? The 1920s, 30s, amd 40s all have great music that's fun to listen to. Just because it's old and "vintage-sounding" doesn't mean it's bad. The music is lively and happy sounding which is more than I can say for a lot of music charting today (Just count how many dull, depressing sounding songs we got in 2016). Besides, we wouldn't even have rock music if it wasn't for the pioneers of jazz that created works in the pre-1950s. Rock was heavily influenced by rhythm and blues and jazz. I don't expect everyone to like the music from the 1920s, 30s, or 40s, but you should at least check out some of the most influencial songs from these time periods before you dismiss them as "old people music."

The Ink Spots, Reinhardt. If you think anything is better then that means that you have different tastes than me. But theses are the best of the best. Of the 1900s. And to think that the 2010s are above this, is pretty retarded, have you seen Justin Bieber and how bad his covers are, and don't get me started on Jacob Sartorious, and all these guys with auto tune. Is singing even singing anymore, aren't we just talking and having our machine do our work for us? Is art even art. IS LIFE EVEN LIFE ANYMORE?

I don't care about this list but I'm crying when I see the 2010s above the 1940s... In the 1940s many great artists would rise, and be one of the greatest of all time, singers like Frank Sinatra.

9 1930s

This is a severely underrated period for music. So many classic songs were introduced in this decade like:
* "Puttin' on the Ritz"
* "Cheek to Cheek"
* "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails"
* "Easter Parade"
* "Anything Goes"
* "Begin the Beguine"
* "Summertime"
* "It Ain't Necessarily So"
* "I Got Rhythm"
* "My Funny Valentine"
* "Blue Moon"
* "The Lady Is a Tramp"
* "The Way You Look Tonight"
* "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"
* "All the Things You Are"
* "Get Happy"
* "Happy Feet"

If you aren't familiar with the music from this decade, you should really check it out. Start with the songs listed above and work your way from there.

I would pick this decade, since I think it has one of the greatest selections of music. The 1940's comes extremely close, except it was a decline of the Big Bands by the mid-1940's. After that, I would pick the 1920's.

American songbook is before rock. Greatest American composers Gershwin,cole porter, Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hart and many others dominated the first half of the 20th Century. They are the Mozarts of American Music.

I really like that kind of music also since my one grandpa sang in a group. I like to play that kind of music on the piano also.

Jacqueline M. Roberts

10 1920s

Irving Berlin: Blue skies, Gershwin: Strike up the band, Rhapsody in Blue, Swanee, American in Paris, Girl Crazy (written in 20s, but published in 30s), Carmichael: Stardust, a lot of good songs created for the Great American Songbook in this Decade. An exciting time: economy booming, musicians playing.

I really like that kind of music because that's the music from when my grandparents were little kids. I like to play that kind of music on the piano.
Jacqueline M. Roberts

Super happy, fun music. Aged very well. Don't know how the 90s are above this because all that music is about drugs.

This decade losing to the 1930's (Great Depression) proves that people know nothing about history.

The 1930's are the 1920's' ugly cousin.

The Contenders

11 1910s

Down by the Old Mill Stream, Beale Street Blues, and The Near Future are all great songs

No. I guy called Harry Cooper.

12 1900s

Exiting new era new genres of music really evolved

There wasn't any recorded music before 1900 so...

gramophone

13 2020s

I would be interested by what great music from this decade you have already heard?

I am going to be honest: I've heard nothing when I added this, just wanted to be the one to add

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