Timeless tunes

Iconic bops throughout the decades that will never go out of style


Emily Seiler

Social injustice has been very prevalent in every decade, and that has influenced music throughout time.


With the ’60s came drive in movie theatres, color television, women in soul and groups like The Beatles, making it important for pop culture. It was also a time of national activism and social change, such as the fight to end racial discrimination and the Vietnam War. People preached the ideals of equality, which was reflected in the music of the time. 

A Change is Gonna Come” 

“A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke released in 1964 is arguably one of the most influential songs of the ’60s because of its commentary on the Civil Rights movement. The song became an anthem and inspiration for African Americans as they persisted through the end of segregation but still faced racism. 


The Beatles originated in the ’60s and rapidly grew in popularity, still remaining a favorite band today. The Beatles grew in popularity around the time of the Vietnam War. Their songs preached ideas of and about peace and love, and this mindset largely largely inspired many people to develop anti-war beliefs. “Yesterday” is a beautiful song about a doomed love story. To this day, this is the most covered song of all time. It was one of the Beatles’ Greatest hits and was written by band member Paul McCartney in 1965.



The ’70s were a new era of sex, drugs and rock and roll in music. Funk, Soul, Rhythm and Blues (R&B), Pop, Rock and Roll and Disco were all mixed together to make the music scene of the decade. The ’70s were a time of change and peace, which led to philosophies of free love and ideals associated with hippies. All of these factors led to a diverse set of music.

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

Elton John was a British musician that quickly became a global phenomenon in the ’70s. He is well known for his outrageous performance outfits. Through his clothing alone, John broke boundaries of masculinity and femininity in music and represented the LGBTQ+ community. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” shed a light on the harsh realities of fame and fortune. The song itself is raw and honest, humanizing the famous musicians and fame in general at the time. 

“Don’t Stop Me Now”

Queen began in the early ’70s and became a huge rock band. Queen had distinct music defined by operatic sounds, layered vocals guitar lines and riffs. “Don’t Stop Me Now” was written by the lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury. Many say that he wrote this song as a result of his drug, alcohol and sex escapades. 



In the ’80s, music was driven by the newly formed cable channel, MTV. It focused on performances as well as the music itself, making neon colors, crazy clothes, fun dances and fast beats a staple of the time. The ’80s was also when artists came together to bring awareness to rising issues like the AIDs epidemic and famine in Africa. This put a sense of community in the music industry. In July of 1985, various artists and groups such as Queen, Elton John, Madonna and David Bowie performed at a dual-venue benefit concert called Live Aid to raise money for the Ethiopian Famine. This unity in the music industry impacted the overall culture of the ’80s.

We Are The World

This song was written by Michael Jackson and Linoel Richie to raise money for the Ethiopian famine. It was sung by a group of the most popular artists at the time, such as Tina Turner, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Bette Midler. This was a music supergroup. Music lovers of all different genres enjoyed the song, which brought Americans together over music and giving to those in need.

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Whitney Houston was one of the most popular artists of the time. She was a powerhouse singer and actress. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” was one of the most well known pop songs of the ’80s. It was the lead single from her second album, Whitney, which was the first album by a female artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Because of this Houston and her music became very influential in the ‘80s This song was made for the perfect ’80s fantasy — neon colors, rhythmic music, big hair and outrageous accessories.



The ‘90s was a busy decade in general, from Bill Clinton’s affair, O.J. Simpson’s trial and Princess Diana’s death to the creation of Harry Potter, Friends and Clueless. The music scene in the ’90s is often considered iconic, characterized by girl bands and boy bands as well as hip-hop rivalries between rappers like Notorious Biggie and Tupac. During this time rap and hip-hop exploded into the music scene. The music in the ’90s reflected the diversity of the time period. 

“I Want It That Way”

The ’90s was when boy bands, such as including the Backstreet Boys, thrived. They quickly became a part of the decade’s culture, and “I Want It That Way” was one of the most popular boy band songs of the time. The song is a ’90s classic that embodies the boy band culture of the time. 

Black or White

“Black or White” was a revolutionary song. It was by Michael Jackson, who was often considered the “King of Pop.” He used his fame and platform to talk about issues that were important to him, such as the preservation of the planet, racism and famine in the world. The song commentated on the racism seen at the time, which is ongoing today. 



The ’00s marks the transition into a new century as well as the transition from Destiny’s Child to Beyoncé’s solo career, both of which are equally monumental.This decade was the peak of bubblegum and teen pop music, as the pause in activism allowed the genres to thrive. Britney Spears gained major popularity and paved the road for more and more pop music. Artists like Avril Levine jump started the trend of angsty teen pop music that skyrocketed during the ’00s. 

“Stacy’s Mom”

“Stacy’s Mom” was the epitome of teen angst songs in the decade. The ‘00s were when pop rock songs like “Stacy’s Mom” became very popular in the music scene. It reflected the easiness of the decade. The song has a fun beat with funny lyrics, which sums up the lightness of early ’00s very well. 


Valerie was written by Amy Winehouse, one of the most influential artists of the early ’00s  She is most well known for dying young due to a drug overdose, which was increasingly common in young celebrities of the decade.  “Valerie” is an upbeat love song that is a good representation of the pop style of the ’00s. 



The ‘10s has been full of youth activism and the rise of free speech, which has been reflected in the decade’s music. Many artists have used their platform to talk about issues in America such as, but not limited to, mental illness, racism and body image. Treating and loving yourself has also gained support by society in the past decade, which has inspired a wave of music about working hard to get what you want and self empowerment. 

“Best Thing I Never Had”

Beyonce was a vital part of the music scene. She is a successful business woman and singer, acting as a role model and inspiration for many young African American girls. She made it a goal to empower young black women to pursue their dreams, which was portrayed heavily in “Best Thing I Never Had.” This dynamic breakup song was the embodiment of the self empowerment and love mindset of the ‘10s.

This Is America

“This Is America” was sung by Childish Gambino and it immediately sparked a nationwide frenzy after being released out of nowhere. Many people were talking about the song due to all of the imagery and symbolism in the music video. Examples of this include Gambino contorting himself to resemble figures associated with Jim Crow Law and black people getting shot and dragged away harshly while the guns were dragged away delicately with care to make commentary on gun violence towards black lives in America. This reflects the activism that blossomed in the decade.