By Jack Sharkey, January 20, 2017

This is week three 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.



Twenty-fourteen will pretty much be remembered (musically) as the year of the big-time pop star. While guitar-rock and Americana saw some growth, 2014 was the year pop ruled the world.  


Best Day Of My Life - American Authors. Big drums banging out big beats with very subtle mid-range instrumentation continues a trend started by Imagine Dragons a few years before. Also note the prominent appearance of the Millennial Whoop (before you fire up the hatemail, I didn't coin the phrase, and it actually refers to the era the music was made rather than who made it, but it is a thing). 


All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor. I've not yet met a single person who will admit to liking this song, but I know I didn't listen to it 1.7 billion times on Youtube all by myself, so somebody, somewhere must like it. Trainor liked it so much she pretty much just kept on writing it over and over again.


The Monster - Eminem ft. Rhianna. What a hook. Eminem keeps the flame of hip-hop burning in spite of the musical mainstream's efforts to kill it off and make it bland and homogenized for all. Let's hope he wins the fight.


Royals - Lorde. A rare producer-based song that maintains the essence as it was written by the performer. Speaking of all about that bass, there's not a melodic instrument to be found other than Lorde's multi-tracked vocals, which works perfectly. Sometimes stripped down is the absolute right way to go.  


Happy - Pharrell Williams. A great reminder that music does not exist in a vacuum. Happy is the perfect blend of current production and arrangement techniques blended with a strong dose of old-school feel. Think Stax in the early 70s magically transported to 2014 and you've got a song that is at once current and timeless. 

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