MOVIE PALACES, TRAINS, CLASSIC CARS, SPORTS, DEPARTMENT STORES
Just the names conjure up memories:
Bill Haley & his Comets, Perry Como, Elvis Presley, Patti Page, Nat King Cole
1956 - A Revolutionary Year for Popular Songs and Singers
The transition from ‘EASY-POP’ to Rock ‘n’ Roll
The fifties began as a carefree musical decade of easy-to-listen-to singers, infectious arrangements, and catchy, easy-to-sing-along-with lyrics. The concinnity of singers, arrangements, and lyrics created quintessential 1950s EASY-POP music. Bill Haley & His Comets broke that mold in the summer of 1955 with Rock Around the Clock and Elvis Presley burst on the scene in 1956 when he moved from Sun Records to RCA-Victor and released his first #1 hit Heartbreak Hotel. Teen-agers began to exert their influence over popular music and they changed the direction of popular music forever.
The EASY-POP sounds of the early fifties are intertwined with the images of the song stylists—the unforgettable ‘girl singers’: Doris Day and Patti Page; and the even more popular ‘guy singers’: Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, and Frank Sinatra. In EASY-POP music the lyrics suggested a playful adolescent idealism—not a realistic depiction of the way things were, but a more optimistic vision. Historians sometimes criticize 50s EASY-POP lyrics as ‘sappy’ and ‘gushy’ but the songs were not as banal as critics claim and even if they were not provocative or stimulating, they were often clever and imaginative.
In contrast, the vocal style of rock ‘n’ roll was harsh, and the instruments— guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums—dominated. The cultural impact of the louder and glitzier rock ‘n’ roll sound was so dramatic that it completely eclipsed the EASY-POP music of the early fifties. The strident and pulsating sounds of rock ‘n’ roll contradicted those of the earlier, warmer 50s EASY- POP. The lyrics were explicit, the music was loud, and the tempo was fast. The rhythm accented the ‘off beats’, the second and fourth beats,—pa-BOOM! pa-BOOM!—giving rock ‘n’ roll its pulsating beat, its sense of urgency, and its energy.