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The term "Popular Music" can apply to anything from music hall ballads to salsa. "Pop", a more specific genre, includes everything from 1950s Rock N Roll to the 1990s Rap. Rock N Roll was the first music to speak directly to the youth. It mixed African-American Rhythm & Blues with Country Music.

Elvis Presley made Rock N Roll a worldwide phenomenon. In Britain, The Beatles added their top-selling songwriting skills to Rock N Roll, while The Rolling Stones incorporated Chicago Blues into their music. The Stones' loud, tough sound paved the way for Heavy Metal.

Meanwhile, Americans such as Aretha Franklin created a new blend of Rhythm & Blues and Gospel Music which came to be known as Soul. Disco, which made heavy use of synthesizers, and Rap Music, are direct descendants of Soul. In the late 1970s, a new generation produced its own wild version of Rock N Roll called Punk Rock. Played at a frenzied speed, Punk Rock produced bands such as the Sex Pistols.

The 1980s and early 1990s saw new superstars like Michael Jackson and Madonna, and groups such as U2, filling huge stadiums.

The 1990s also saw the birth of Alternative Music or Grunge, an offshoot of Rock. Bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Radiohead became an instant rage. And musicians like Kurt Cobain - Nirvana's frontman - become celebrity idols.