Pop Music Genres Family Tree

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Pop Music Sub-Genres

Doo Wop

Doo Wop is a genre of rhythm and blues music that developed in African-American communities in the 1940s and achieved popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. It features vocal group harmony that carries an engaging melodic line to a simple beat with little or no instrumentation.

Bands: The Five Satins, The Turbans, The Clovers


Pop music is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom. The term generally refers to music that is accessible to the general audience, characterized by short to medium-length songs, catchy melodies, and a focus on mainstream appeal.

Bands: from The Beatles to Taylor Swift

see also Beatles albums discography

see also nsync singles and albums timelinex


Often associated with the British Invasion bands of the 1960s, "Beat" music is characterized by its upbeat rhythm and blues style, harmonica sounds, and strong backbeat. The Beatles were its most famous proponents.

Bands: The Beatles, The Easybeats, The Who

Surf Music

Surf music is a subgenre of rock music associated with surf culture, particularly as found in Southern California. It was especially popular from 1962 to 1964 in two major forms: surf rock (instrumental, emphasizing guitar styles) and surf pop (including vocal groups like The Beach Boys).

Bands: Dick Dale, The Beach Boys

Brit Invasion

The British Invasion refers to the period in the 1960s when rock and pop music acts from the United Kingdom, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Who, became popular in the United States, significantly impacting American music and culture.

Bands: The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks

New Wave

New Wave originated from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s as a genre that encompassed numerous pop-oriented music styles influenced by punk rock's intensity yet more approachable and complex. It often featured synthesizers over traditional rock instruments and was exemplified by artists like Talking Heads and The Cars.

Bands: Talking Heads, Blondie, The Pretenders, Depeche Mode

New Romantics

The New Romantics were a music and fashion movement that emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the UK. Musically, it was part of the new wave movement but distinguished by its emphasis on flamboyant, eccentric fashion and romantic, synthesizer-heavy music. Bands such as Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, and Visage typified the style, blending glamour with pop sensibilities.

Bands: Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, and Visage


Goth, or gothic rock, is a music genre that emerged from the post-punk scene in the late 1970s. It is known for its dark, melancholic, and introspective qualities with lyrical themes focusing on existential despair, decadence, and the macabre. Instrumentally, it often includes echoing guitar, somber bass lines, and deep vocals. Pioneering bands include Bauhaus, The Cure, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Bands: The Cure, Joy Division

Indie Pop

Indie pop is a genre of alternative rock that originated in the 1980s. Defined by its independence from major commercial record labels and its eclectic sound, indie rock embraces a range of styles from jangly pop to noisy punk. It is characterized by its DIY ethic, diverse approaches to music, and a preference for artistic expression over mainstream marketability. Notable bands include The Smiths, Pavement, and Arctic Monkeys

Bands: The Smiths, Pavement, and Arctic Monkeys

New Age

New Age music is a genre of music intended to create artistic inspiration, relaxation, and optimism. It is used by listeners for yoga, massage, meditation, and reading as a method of stress management or to create a peaceful atmosphere in their home or other environments.

Bands: Enya, Enigma


Britpop is a British music movement in the mid-1990s known for its catchy tunes that draw extensively on British pop music of the 1960s and 1970s. Bands like Oasis, Blur, and Pulp led the movement, which was characterized by its emphasis on British culture and identity.

Bands: Oasis, Radiohead, Blur, Muse

Contemporary Pop

Contemporary Pop is the latest incarnation of popular music, fiercely independant (record companies do not support any mre acts), not trying to be commercial but ear candy nonetheless. Characterized by strong sense of melody and harmony, complex chords and structures but easy listening for most jaded palates!

Bands: Lawrence, Lake Street Dive, Vulfpeck, Snarky Puppy

Diva Pop

Strident Female artists singing template pop tunes designed to be commercial by record company execs! Can often be quite good though...

Bands: Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez

J lo classic albums timeline

lady gaga singles and albums timeline

Crap Pop

Monotone pap that blows up on Tik Tok, then Spotify. Probably has one chord, limited vocal range. Nothing to recommend it at all!

Bands: see the Spotify top 10!

play 'Cocaine'

See also Pop genre blog posts

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