By Jack Sharkey, February 10, 2017

This is week six of our 50 week journey to explore the music of the last 50 years. Every Friday during 2017 we’re going to offer up five songs from each of the last fifty years that tell the story of music as it existed during that year, and how that music ultimately played a role in getting us to where we are today.


Some of the 250 songs will be giant hits and some will be somewhat obscure: To make the list a song needs to be representative of the time, or the beginning or end of a particular style or movement. Was the song an important part of the year or was it a harbinger of things to come? Did other artists copy the style or feel of the song and turn that into a whole new stylistic movement? The songs are not ranked in anyway, as each one played an equal part in the year in music.


Like every subjective list of art, we hope this will at times make sense and at others spark debate (and maybe even a little criticism). Take the trip with us in 2017 as we look back on the music that got us to where we are today.



Pop ruled in 2011 as the new digital age took firm hold in how we produced and consumed music. But in spite of all the upheavel the music and artists who came before exerted more influence on the music made and released in 2011 than we might have first thought. The music business was embracing new marketing tools and technologies such as YouTube and streaming platforms even if they were still complaining about them. As with MTV thirty years before, music was maybe a little more about how you looked than how you played or sang, but luckily for us there were still some pretty major exceptions.


Born This Way - Lady Gaga A hook is a hook and you can't deny a hook when you hear one. Dance and EDM reigned supreme throughout the charts, but Lady Gaga's Born This Way would've been right at home in a Manhattan disco in 1979.



Animal - Neon Trees A little bit turn-of-the-century punk, a little bit emo, and a hard-strummed guitar line are keys to an instant hit, and the Millennial Whoop makes one of its first non-Katy Perry appearances in a hit song in Animal



Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO ft. Lauren Bennett & Goon Rock  EDM is Disco's grandbaby, and although the exact definition of "rock" may have changed over the years, dance hits with a little Cotton-Eyed Joe throwback and a House Music vocal line stitched around the angelic upper-register vocals of a guest ingenue stick to the formula quite nicely thank you very much. Speaking of grandbabies, might Cheech and Chong be sweating out the possibility of a grandpaternal suit here?



Rolling In the Deep - Adele A good song sung by a great singer with a production and arrangement that supports them both is timeless regarding what year it was recorded.



Give Me Everything - Pitbull ft. Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer He's a little dangerous but in that safe way viewers of Ellen and the Today Show just can't help but embrace. House music, go-go, hip-hop and straight EDM are all on display in a tune that might be light on introspection but is super heavy on just enjoying life a little bit. 

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