The four most popular music genresMusic appeals to everyone, from toddlers finding their first sense of rhythm to grandparents who listen to a song and are transported back in time: people connect to music in a very special way. Modern radio (and all corners of the internet) is a far cry from the one style, one station era in which popular music first formed. People enjoy many different genres, and no one style of music can claim to be the best. New artists therefore are free to choose any of the genres in order to make their talent known.

There are many types of popular music today, which is great for an artist who has yet to find his or her voice. With so many genres, you can experiment with a plethora of sounds until you find that sweet spot. Detailed below are just a few (and I mean a small, small portion) of the popular genres that an artist can choose from. But remember, popular music is always changing – and you can change it even more should you decide that it’s time to blaze an entirely new musical path.

Country – Yeehaw! Country music is one of America’s oldest genres (it’s approaching 100 years old!) and still one of the most popular. With roots in western and folk music, this genre has it all: ballads, story songs, cautionary tales, and more. Banjo, mandolin, and acoustic guitar are commonly found on country tracks. Country isn’t all blonde haired southern singers; in fact, the genre is very diverse: Hank Williams Sr., Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Dwight Yoakam – all of these artists sound vastly different while still clinging to the same, old roots.

Rock – “Rock and roll is here to stay” is a famous refrain, and so far it’s been proven true countless times. Teenagers can’t seem to resist rock and roll, and the genre has made plenty of inroads into popular culture. This genre’s roots are in African-American music, pulling equally from blues, jazz, country western, and more. Poodle skirts and Elvis hair gave way to surf songs which in turn made room for flower power which gave way to heavier rock, prog, glam metal, punk, alt, and grunge. The combinations were, and still are, endless. Nowadays a band of guttural screamers is considered just as rock and roll as Chuck Berry. But one common thread remained the same: a heavy backbeat that’ll get your feet tapping.

Pop – You never quite know what you’ll get with pop songs since the genre pulls from so many others: Latin, dance, hip hop, rock and roll just to name a few. Despite the diversity in the genre, you’ll often notice that pop is the upbeat, fun music that accompanies television ads, that is safe to play at a school dance, that makes listeners feel happy. One thing does seem to be common is short length of songs, which are structured in a relatively simple way: verse chorus verse.

Hip Hop – This genre is one of the USA’s newest, yet most lucrative. The music can be traced to the 1970s, and has incorporated spoken word performance poetry along with rock beats. MCs rap, DJs spin or scratch, and often there is softer, R&B influenced singing on choruses of hip hop tracks. Hip hop has grown in popularity since its birth, and has been included in all pop culture outlets, from fashion to literature to film. Hip hop stars often spread their wings to market other distinctive products such as drinks, clothing, or headphones.

Whatever genre you decide to use, remember to be true to your own spirit. There’s no point in making music just to appeal to mass tastes if you’re not happy with the finished product. Choose your style and sound based on your passion. When you play the type of music you love, your voice, your performance, and your fans will thank you for it.