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Top 10 Music Genres That Died Out

VO: Matt Campbell

Script written by Michael Wynands

All things, good or bad, must come an end, and music trends are no exception. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Music Genres That Died Out. For this list, we’re looking at the most significant musical genres to ever burn out or fade away.

Special thanks to our user liam_schell for suggesting this idea, check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Music+Genres+that+Died+Out

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Top 10 Music Genres that Died Out 


All things, good or bad, must come an end, and music trends are no exception. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down the Top 10 Music Genres That Died Out.

For this list, we’re looking at the most significant musical genres to ever burn out or fade away. To be considered, any given genre needs to have experienced a period of relative mainstream popularity before subsequently falling out of favor with the masses. Sure, there are likely plenty of bands still playing in each of these musical styles, but if a genre is featured on this list, its heyday has undeniably come and gone.
 

#10: Third Wave Ska

You might not remember this genre by name, but unless you’ve been living in a bunker like Brendan Fraser’s character in “Blast From The Past”, or you’re some sort of recently discovered caveman like… well, Brendan Fraser in “Encino Man”, you definitely remember this song. Ska music has had three distinct phases of popularity. The first wave originated in Jamaica in the 50s, before giving way to a UK-based second wave in the 1970s with groups like Madness and the Specials. The third wave was really an American phenomenon. Groups like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and No Doubt made the third wave a mainstream success, but by the late 90s, the nation’s youth had moved on, and ska retreated back to the underground.
 

#9: Emo

Emo was actually born in the mid-80s to hardcore punks interested in expanding the emotional range of their music. But… the music of these early pioneers bears little resemblance to the music, fashion and culture that took over mainstream America in the early 2000s. Emo arrived like some sort of immaculately coiffed pied-piper, leading a generation of alienated kids off to the newly re-invented emo-centric Vans Warped tour. Parents were confused and concerned. But hey, Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American and Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends were damn catchy and relatable. By 2010 however, the scene was pretty much comatose. The music had grown into an endless slew of offshoots, but most importantly, the bands who made the genre popular had, for the most part, moved on to different sounds.
 

#8: Crunk

This distinct subgenre of hip hop was pioneered in the 90s by genre heavyweights Three 6 Mafia. But it really broke into the mainstream in the mid-2000s, thanks in no little part to the main man with the chalice, grills, and seemingly permanent sunglasses, Lil Jon. With such memorable hits as “Get Low” and “Get Crunk”, he took the essential characteristics of the genre - high energy, bass heavy instrumentation and shouted, repetitive lyrics, polished them with some pop sensibilities and successfully changed the club scene across the nation. Any musical genre with that distinct of a sound can only hold out so long, and by 2009, the genre that began as “crazy drunk”, had entered its hangover phase.
 

#7: Dubstep/Brostep

So... where did all the emo kids go? Some likely outgrew it… but others made a distinct genre transition alongside Sonny Moore, the one time frontman of influential screamo group From First To Last. He retreated from the emo scene in 2007 and re-emerged alongside the American wave of newly formed dubstep artists being labeled as brostep. Second perhaps only to emo, brostep is one of the most polarizing genres in recent music history. It won over hordes of diehard fans seemingly overnight, while simultaneously earning itself plenty of judgment, hatred and criticism amongst longtime fans of the genre from overseas. Google Trends shows that dubstep, reached peaked public interest in 2011, and has since fallen to just 14% of the attention it garnered at that time. 
 

#6: Hair Metal

With its distinct fashion sense, stadium ready music and (most importantly) copious amounts of hairspray, hair metal ruled the rock airwaves of the 80s. Motley Crue, Poison, Guns N’ Roses - these are just a few of the bands who brought their spectacle-centric brand of metal, also known as “glam metal” to arenas around the world. Big, catchy guitar riffs, pop sensibilities, raw energy and huge personalities captured the attention of the nation. Few albums have had such significant impact on pop culture like G'n'R's “Appetite For Destruction”- the best selling debut album in history. By the mid-90s however, the shiny studs of glam metal had dulled, and a new generation of American youth grew disenchanted with the excess of the genre, with some calling “grunge” a direct reaction to hair metal. 
 

#5: Britpop

Grunge was a response to hair metal, but as the new IT genre, grunge was bound to instigate a counter-movement of its very own - Britpop. If there’s one thing that defined Britpop, it was a focus on British culture - a return to explicitly British subject matter and a reverence for the British music that came before it. Nonetheless bands like Blur, Oasis and The Verve began making a splash overseas in America with no attempt to bury their accents. But sometimes a genre hits so hard, and so fast, it can’t help but implode shortly after impact. Its heyday was in 1995, when Blur and Oasis went head to head in a chart battle, but Britpop was deemed dead just two years later when Oasis’ third album failed to meet expectations.
 

#4: New Wave

What is this exact definition of this genre? Well, there really isn’t a good one. The term “new wave” was first applied to groups in the 1970s such as the New York Dolls and The Velvet Underground who defied classification, playing rock and punk music and a spirit of greater experimentation than either genre. It later evolved into a classification of any energetic alt rock or punk inspired music with modern pop tendencies, and a willingness to experiment with more synth and electronic inspiration. New Wave music didn't die exactly… it’s more that the term went out of vogue, while bands developed their own, more specific genres like post-punk, power pop, synthpop and many more.
 

#3: Nu Metal

Even more so than emo music, nu metal had parents terrified… and music critics ready to retire. What happens when new age metalheads appropriate rap culture, incorporate it into their music along with elements of electronica, hints of funk, and grunge, then wrap it all up in pop music song structure? Well, you get extremely questionable fashion choices and a youth movement founded on nihilism, culminating in the disaster that was Woodstock ’99. Even amongst bands classified under the genre, like Korn, the label is an unpopular one that groups would rather distance themselves from. Although there was a mild, nostalgia fueled-revival in 20-teens, the music under the nu metal banner had fallen out of fashion by the early 2000s.
 

#2: Grunge

It’s gotten name dropped a fair amount on this list already - a testament to just how much cultural impact grunge had, despite its short lifespan. Grunge rejected the excess and glamor of the various incarnations of rock music that came before it. The only similarities it shared with its predecessors, apart from musical influences, were the self-destructive tendencies. By the late 80s, bands like Mudhoney had brought some attention to the Seattle-born music scene, but it was groups like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and most notably, Nirvana, that made grunge HUGE. By the turn of the century however, the genre felt the weight of its own success, seeing a rise of radio-friendly post-grunge acts like Creed and Staind, while pioneering grunge groups disbanded.
 
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a couple honorable mentions.
Acid Jazz
Pub Rock

#1: Disco

No other word has appeared on more t-shirts followed by the word “sucks” than disco. While the other genres on our list had a period of peak popularity followed by a steep or steady decline, disco is the only genre to have had a literal “death date”. On July 12th 1979, Disco Demolition Night was held at Comiskey Park in Chicago.  A crowd of 50,000 showed up to show their deep hatred for the genre. The event culminated in a riot as fans rushed the field after the ceremonial exploding of a box of disco vinyl. It’s been called “the night that disco died”, and sure enough, it marked the start of a rapid decline in popularity of the genre. That was until Daft Punk made it cool again with the release of their 2013 album Random Access Memories.

Do you agree with our list? Were you ever into any of these genres? For more time sensitive top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com. 
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