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Top 40 Democracy – The Rival Mainstreams of American Music - Chicago Scholarship Online
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Top 40 Democracy: The Rival Mainstreams of American Music

Eric Weisbard


American popular music history takes a new shape when the force behind the hits – radio airplay – claims center stage. The 1950s Top 40 hits approach structured rival formats, too, by the 1970s: rhythm & blues, country, adult contemporary, and rock. This resulted in multiple mainstreams, overlapping centers that explain why pop multiplicity, not rock monoculture, won out by the 1990s. An introduction explores how formats, which pragmatically unite sets of listeners with sets of sounds, are different than genres, which turn on musical ideals. Five case studies then examine particular formats th ... More

Keywords: popular music, radio, Top 40, formats, rhythm and blues music, country music, adult contemporary music, rock music, record labels, American history

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2014 Print ISBN-13: 9780226896168
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226194370.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Eric Weisbard, author
Assistant Professor, American studies, University of Alabama