The 10 Most Popular Music Genres (2022)

If you’re like us, we’re passionate about many of the most popular music genres. But, like you, we also have our favorites as well as genres that, well, make us cringe.

And that’s the beauty of music, isn’t it? What we deem the most popular genre of music may not be your cup of tea and vice-versa.

Besides, trying to settle “who’s the best” turns into a popularity contest.

Instead, in this article, we will focus on the most popular genres in the music industry and discuss their merits.

We hope this broadens your musical interests and opens your mind to investigating other musicians, bands, and artists.

Table of Contents

The 10 Most Popular Music Genres

Some genres have been in existence for a long time and have subgroups, so we’ll briefly explain each to add further clarity.

Here’s our list of the 10 most popular music genres:

1. Pop

The quick and easy definition of “pop music” is any music that is popular during a particular time in history. Pretty vague, isn’t it? We think so.

A deeper dive into the topic will reveal that music deemed pop, even many decades ago, was measured against classical music.

Using this definition, one can go back to the 1900s when ragtime artists like Scott Joplin were considered pop.

Nowadays, Joplin would be lumped into the jazz category, but we hope you see our point.

With the advent of the radio, the 40s produced “pop” big-band groups like Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington and crooners like the Andrew Sisters.

When the 50s introduced the television, pop music became a household name. Now, fans could watch their favorite singers and bands while eating TV dinners.

The 50s were the eracritics point to when rock and roll were born. Many cite 1954 as the “birth year of rock” when Bill Haley and the Comets released “Rock Around the Clock.”

Over the following decades, pop music exploded with international success creating subgroups like R&B, soft rock, dance, to name a few.

With this understanding of pop music, we hope you’ll have a better appreciation for the following popular music genres that, by definition, fall under the pop category.

(Video) Top Ten Most Popular Music Genres (USA)

2. Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is one of the most popular music genres in the music industry. This art form had humble beginnings as an urban underground movement in the Bronx during the 70s.

African-Americans, Latino-Americans, and Caribbean-American artists used the musical platform to express frustrations with current economic and political issues.

Held at house parties or neighborhood block parties, the creative force behind hip-hop wasn’t a band or a singer but instead was an emcee (MC.)

The hip-hop movement of this timeframe had the followingelements:

  1. “Rapping” or MCing, emceeing. The rapper used a rhyming rhythmic vocal style that was void of melody.
  2. DJing. The practice of using a turntable and a mixer to create music.
  3. Breakdancing (b-boying/b-girling) involves interpretive dance and movement.
  4. Grafitti. Although graffiti artist Fargo disagrees, saying, “There is no correlation between hip hop and graffiti, one has nothing to do with the other.”

From this fertile ground emerged the controversial art form gangsta rap. The lyrical content, or raps, focused on gang life with references to violence and drugs.

Artists like Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur were prolific leaders of this popular music genre.

Nowadays, hip-hop has many styles and has impacted the fashion and magazine industry. There is a debate among fans today that hip-hop is no longer authentic.

Old-schoolers hold that hip-hop must stay true to its roots of protesting the plight of African-Americans. They disapprove of hip-hop artists who rap only to garner hits.

Contemporaries fire back that hip-hop music should focus on ways to evoke change for African-Americans.

Whichever side of the debate you are on, we can all agree that hip-hop will continue to be one of the most popular music genres in the music industry.

3. Electronic Dance Music (EDM)

Although EDM may be considered a new music genre, it has its roots in theDiscoera of the 70s.

Pop hits like “I Feel Love” by Donna Summers drew crowds into the discos. With the invention of the drum machine, clubs could intertwine disco hits with these beat machines.

In the 80s, MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was invented and turned the music industry upside down.

With MIDI, instruments and computers could “talk” and play musical phrases and rhythms.

The 90s was when sub-genres that are popular today began to emerge on the EDM scene. Dance hits like“Chime”by Orbital even saw chart success.

Nowadays, producers rely heavily on computers, synthesizers, and samplers to create hypnotic high-energy music played in clubs and appeals to dancers.

Sub-genres include house, techno, trap, hardstyle, to name a few.

Nowadays, EDM has popularized remixes of pop hits like those of Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, further evolving this popular music genre.

4. Rock

As stated previously, rock & roll began over 70-years ago with Bill Haley.

(Video) Top 10 Music Genres In 2021

The 60s was known as the “British Invasion” when groups like the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, and the Rolling Stones dominated the US charts.

As the decades rolled along, subgroups of the genre emerged. Soft rock included groups like America and the Eagles.

Acid or psychedelic rock was influenced by the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where experimenting with “acid” (LSD) was widespread.

Jefferson Airplane and the Doors were prominent artists of this sub-genre.

Progressive rock, or “prog rock,” combined classical music elements with rock to create epic compositions. Groups like Yes and Genesis were at the forefront.

Arena rock was prominent in the 80s with bands like U2, Def Leppard, and AC/DC.

The 90s gave us grunge artists like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam.

Today, the rock genre isn’t as dominant as it was back in the day. Nevertheless, artists like The Foo Fighters, Muse, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers continue to pump out rock classics.

5. R&B

Rhythm and Blues (R&B) began in the late 40s when African-Americans combined blues with jazz music.

Originally called “race music,” Billboard reporter Jerry Wexler revised the phrase to Rhythm & Blues” (Thankfully!) to improve marketing the music.

During the 50s and 60s, critics considered R&B a “lowbrow” art form compared to the sophisticated styling of jazz.

Unlike jazz, R&B relies on powerful downbeats, usually in 4/4 meter, played by the rhythm section.

Vocals featured blues-themed lyrics and melodies, and horn sections added riffs and musical punches to the arrangement.

Early R&B pioneers like Little Richard and Jackie Wilson paved the way for James Brown, Ray Charles, and Smokey Robinson.

Later came artists like Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. Contemporary R&B artists include Usher, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, to name but a few.

6. Latin

Latin music has influenced many genres like classical and jazz, so we’ll focus on its impact on the pop industry.

Latin pop incorporates rhythms from dances like the samba into popular hits. Early pioneer, Sergio Mendez, helped Latin pop gain international popularity in the 60s.

Ricky Ricardo from the TV showI Love Lucyhelped to popularize the art form. His character was the bandleader for a Latin pop band.

Another pioneer was Carlos Santana. He introduced Latin pop at Woodstock in 1969 with his hit,“Soul Sacrifice.”

(Video) 10 Most Popular Music Genres.

Ritchie Valen’s hit, La Bamba, further popularized the genre, as did crooners like Julio Iglesias.

In the 80s, bands like the Miami Sound Machine featuring Gloria Estafan became international superstars.

Today, Latin pop continues to be one of the most popular music genres on the planet. It’s played worldwide by professional DJs from some of the best Latin record pools.

Although chart success and artist recognition aren’t as prevalent in the US and Europe, Mexican singer Thalia is hailed the “Queen of Latin Pop.”

7. K-Pop

One of the most unlikely and yet, well, fun genres comes from South Korea. The “K” stands for Korea, and this musical art form is gaining international popularity, as are K-dramas.

So how did K-Pop become so popular? Somecriticsclaim that the current trend in western pop music has something to do with it.

Many of today’s artists are low-energy performers who sing softly on introspective topics. In contrast, K-Pop is upbeat, fun, colorful, and stimulating.

Here’s the kicker: most artists sing in Korean and don’t translate for the US or European audiences. And despite this seemingly suicidal marketing ploy, K-pop is one of the world’s top music genres.

K-pop is more of a geographic label than it is a musical roadmap. The genre is full of solo artists, boy bands, girl bands, and even rappers.

Such success didn’t come overnight. In the 90s, Seo Taiji and Boys hit “I Know” is credited as starting K-pop sensation. In the ensuing years, artists like SHINee and Girls’ Generation continued K-pop’s momentum.

Currently, boy band BTS are international stars, making millions, dancing like Jagger, and proving why K-pop is one of the most popular genres in the music industry.

8. Country

Country music has its roots in bluegrass, Texas swing, folk, and gospel and originated in the Southern states and Texas.

Today, most associate country music with classic artists like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, but the categories above still apply today.

Bluegrass includes legendary pioneers like Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and Doc Watson.

Although bluegrass artists still perform on The Grand Ole Opry, contemporary bluegrass has an underground following. This is due to the lack of radio airplay by even country radio stations.

Contemporary bluegrass artists like Nickel Creek and Alison Krauss have successfully crossed over into country and pop markets.

Western swing is another subgroup. Groups like Asleep at the Wheel, Texas Playboys, and Lyle Lovett fall into this category. But when most people think of country music, they think of today’s stars.

The 90s produced megastars like Shania Twain, Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, and Brooks & Dunn.

Today, artists like Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, and Chris Stapleton continue to make country one of the most popular genres of music.

(Video) MOST POPULAR MUSIC GENRES RANKED | Top 10 Best Music Genres in the World (Music History Timeline)

9. Classical

Classical is a massive category with so many subgenres that we will only focus on the popular categories.

As mentioned earlier, other music forms were measured against classical music. Such categorization gave us the word “pop,” which was slang for “popular music.”

Classical music began in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. Early compositions from this timeframe were sacred works often commissioned by the church.

Aside from the church, royalty financed many of the music played today in symphonies. Such financial backing reassured musicians they wouldn’t starve but often came at the expense of limiting creative compositions.

Here are the subcategories most associated with classical music:

  • Baroque (1600-1750)
  • Classical (1750-1820)
  • Romantic (1800-1910)
  • Modernist (1890-1975)

As you can see, “classical” is a subgroup of its own, which can be confusing unless you’re a student of this art form. In general, most people lump all the above categories into “classical music.”

For instance, here is our list of some masters and their affiliating genres:

  • Bach & Vivaldi-Baroque
  • Mozart & Beethoven-Classical
  • Wagner & Tchaikovsky-Romantic
  • Copland & Holst-Modernist

Although one could argue that classical music is stagnant, because of these masters, it will forever be one of the top music genres.

10. Metal

Metal began back in the 60s, and groups like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath are considered pioneers. The heavy sound these groups created paved the way for today’s metal artists.

Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is a prime example. Listen to John Bonham’s dynamic and pounding drum groove and how it links with Page & Jones’ biting guitar and bass lines.

Toss in Robert Plant’s opening high-pitched wail, and you can reason why Zeppelin was labeled heavy metal and how their sound influenced today’s artists.

Like other music categories, metal has subgroups as well.

Shock rock would include artists like Kiss and Alice Cooper. Although true “metalheads” would argue they don’t belong in the metal category.

Glam metal hit in the 80s with the likes of Bon Jovi and Motley Crue. There is also thrash and death metal and black metal, which tend to have an underground following.

Another musical characteristic of metal is that the guitars and basses down tune. This subtle lowering of the pitch in the strings gives metal its deep and dark tones.

Groups like Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Avenged Sevenfold are at the forefront of today’s metal success.

Although not as popular as it was a few decades ago, metal continues to have a solid fan base proving that it is still a popular music genre.

Summary

We hope you enjoyed our list of the 10 most popular music genres.

Although we can’t crown one category as the best music genre or the most popular music genre of all time, we think you’ll agree that there are many fantastic genres to explore.

(Video) Top 10 Music Genres

What’s your favorite genre of music? Leave a comment below.

FAQs

The 10 Most Popular Music Genres? ›

The Top 10 Music Genres
  • Rock.
  • Jazz.
  • Electronic Dance Music.
  • Dubstep.
  • Techno.
  • Rhythm and Blues (R&B)
  • Country.
  • Pop.

What is the #1 music genre? ›

Since 2017, R&B/hip-hop has been the dominant music genre on the United States Billboard charts, becoming bigger than pop and rock and coming to define modern popular music.

What is the #1 music genre 2021? ›

In Q1 2021, 42% of all Hot 100 top 10s were of primarily pop, the leading genre for a third consecutive quarter. Though down from a 48% share in Q4 2020, the genre rose from 41% in Q3 2020 (when it tied for the lead with hip-hop/rap) and 30% in Q2 2020.

Which genre of music is most popular 2022? ›

Overall, total equivalent album units in the U.S. music market grew 9.3% so far in 2022 over the same period in 2021, with on-demand streaming up 11.6% over that span as well. And R&B/hip-hop led the way as both the top genre and the one with the most growth by volume, pacing the market once again.

What music is popular today? ›

Rap and hip hop accounted for 22.8 percent of music video streams in the U.S. in 2018, whereas for rock music videos the share was just 7.1 percent. Rock fared similarly when it came to audio streams, once again losing out to rap and hip hop.

What is the most listened genre in the world? ›

Deserving of its name, pop music is in fact the most popular music genre in the world. According to IFPI's latest Music Consumer Insight Report, 64 percent of the 19,000 consumers from 18 countries surveyed listen to pop music, edging out rock and dance/electronic music as the second and third most popular genres.

What is the most listened to song? ›

Shape of You

Why is rap so popular? ›

Rap is diverse and untamed, which is what many hip hop and music fans love about it. The era of social media and the Internet has also enhanced the popularity of rap music. Now, it is easier than ever to listen to different musicians from all over the world.

Is rock still popular? ›

Rock music is still the most popular music in America — just not among young people. While it is the clear favorite among Americans overall, adults under the age of 30 rank it third, behind hip hop and pop music.

Why is pop music so popular? ›

According to the musician, pop music is inherently popular because it creates a sense of familiarity for listeners. Therefore, when they hear the same 'woop' throughout the genre, they're more inclined to ease into a piece of music they've never heard because it sounds familiar.

What music genre makes the most money? ›

The genre with the biggest gains is R&B/hip-hop, which is represented by 12 artists this year, up from three in 2019. When touring is in full bloom, heritage rockers, country artists and jam bands dominate Money Makers because of their concert grosses.

What music do high school students listen to 2022? ›

Teen Party Music 2022 ♫ Today's Teen Hits Playlist 2022
  • 2:22. Tiësto & Karol G - Don't Be Shy (Official Music Video Part II) ...
  • 3:12. About Damn Time. ...
  • 4:16. Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, David Guetta - DON'T YOU WORRY (Official Music Video) ...
  • 3:06. Light Switch. ...
  • 2:46. Marshmello, Khalid - Numb (Official Video) ...
  • 3:43. ...
  • 2:45. ...
  • 2:25.

What does Gen Z listen to? ›

For young music fans, “old is the new cool.” Gen Z Americans are particularly fond of songs released decades before they were born, according to a recent study. So much so that some even feel they were not born in the right musical era.

Is rap music Losing popularity? ›

The number of young people who say they enjoy listening to hip-hop/rap has increased significantly in the last five years, seeing the most significant spike between 2018 and 2019.. While other genres have faltered during this time, hip hop's popularity among young listeners only continues to grow.

What artists do Gen Z listen to? ›

Thanks to the 'end of the decade' wrap-ups, we saw that some of the most listened artists were Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, but also Drake, BTS and Stormzy. To summarise, here is a list of songs we think could define this generation: the way we live, the way we feel and what makes them who they are.

What is the most popular genre of music 2020? ›

In 2020, says MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Music), 'R&B/hip-hop' claimed a 28.2% share of total album-equivalent consumption. That was up on both 2019 (27.4%) and 2018 (25.6%). Meanwhile, Rock was the second most popular genre in the US in 2020, both across all formats, and across on-demand streaming platforms.

What is the most annoying music genre? ›

The researchers found that more people overall say they dislike country, folk and "religious" styles. Lizardo cites other research suggesting that these genres have become increasingly divisive over the past 20 years, particularly as some country artists aligned themselves with the Iraq War and conservative politics.

What music do high school students listen to 2022? ›

Teen Party Music 2022 ♫ Today's Teen Hits Playlist 2022
  • 2:22. Tiësto & Karol G - Don't Be Shy (Official Music Video Part II) ...
  • 3:12. About Damn Time. ...
  • 4:16. Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, David Guetta - DON'T YOU WORRY (Official Music Video) ...
  • 3:06. Light Switch. ...
  • 2:46. Marshmello, Khalid - Numb (Official Video) ...
  • 3:43. ...
  • 2:45. ...
  • 2:25.

Is KPOP the most popular genre? ›

A survey held in the United States in September 2019 revealed that 34.7 percent of K-pop music fans in the country most enjoyed K-pop within the dance genre, making this the most popular.
...
Preferred K-pop music genres in the United States as of September 2019.
CharacteristicShare of respondents
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