10 Music Genres That Died Out Quickly

10 Music Genres That Died Out Quickly

Music has been around for thousands of years, with each generation adding new takes that reflect their cohort better. Over the decades, a myriad of genres and subgrenres have been spawned; it’s only natural that some types of music would become dated and burn out quicker than others.

Although the music that fit under the following genres may still be found if you know where to look, they no longer reach the mainstream heights they achieved during their peak years. Here are ten music genres of the modern era that burned hot and fast.


10 Third Wave Ska

Most people would likely not even realize this was a popular genre due to not recognizing the term. Third wave ska is exactly what it says on the box—the third wave of the music genre ska. Originating in Jamaica in the 1950s and characterized by its combination of calypso with American Jazz and R & B, it did not achieve mainstream popularity until the 1980s and 1990s, with many popular bands coming out of Europe, the US, and Japan.

Groups like Sublime, Smashmouth, and No Doubt made third wave ska a mainstream success in the United States with multiple top-ten hits.[1] However, by the late 1990s, people were already moving on to the next big thing. While not completely dead, ska would never again really enjoy mainstream success in the US like it did in the 1990s.

9 Emo

Emo is a genre of rock that places an emphasis on emotional expression through confessional-type lyrics. It emerged during the mid-1980s, pioneered by bands such as Embrace and Rites of Spring. In the 1990s, it was reinvented by rock bands like Jawbreaker and Weezer. It would not be until the early 2000s that it would reach mainstream popularity due to groups like Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional gaining traction.[2]

Another unique characteristic of emo was its relationship between the fans and artists, spawning a culture with unique fashion styles and behaviors. Unfortunately, it was this culture that caused a backlash and decline by the 2010s, with many bands rejecting the name due to the negative stereotypes associated with emo and evolving their style.


8 Crunk

Crunk is a subgenre of hip-hop that started in the 1990s but did not gain mainstream success until the mid-2000s with the explosive popularity of artists like Lil’ John.[3] Combining Southern hip-hop with bass music, synthesized instruments, slower tempo, and aggressive lyrics, Crunk was known more as party music compared to other hip-hop genres at the time.

By 2009, had Crunk fallen out of favor, partially due to artist oversaturation and the rise of trap and drill music.

7 Dubstep

Dubstep is a genre of electronic dance music that originated in London during the 1990s. It is characterized by sparse, syncopated rhythmic patterns with bass lines that contain prominent sub-bass frequencies. It started as an offshoot of UK garage but can trace its origins to the Jamaican sound system dance scene from the 1980s.

It would not be until the early 2010s that dubstep would see true mainstream popularity. It didn’t stay on top for very long, and starting in 2011, it would see a steady decline when artists moved on to other sounds and started producing for trap artists.[4]

6 Hair Metal

Also known as glam metal, hair metal is a subgenre of rock that was known for its combination of pop sounds and 1970s glam rock. Some of the most well-known rock acts rose to fame during this time, including Alice Cooper, Kiss, and Van Halen. In the 1980s, groups like Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, and Def Leppard brought it even more mainstream success.[5]

Hair metal is commonly associated with flashy clothes and makeup and an equally excessive lifestyle. It was that excessive lifestyle that created a backlash in the early 1990s, which led to the rise of grunge music. In the late 1990s, hair metal experienced a small revival due to the popularity of older bands, but it never reached the heights that it did during its 1980s heyday.


5 Britpop

Britpop is a unique genre of rock that emphasized “Britishness” and composed more lighthearted alternative rock in response to grunge falling out of favor in the US. The most successful groups to come from this movement were Oasis, Blur, Suede, and Pulp.

In many ways, Britpop was as much of a movement as it was a sound, focusing on emphasizing and paying respects to British culture and music. But like grunge, Britpop would not make it out of the decade on top, with the genre declining fast and dying out by 1997.[6]

4 New Wave

When punk rock music became popular in the late 1970s, it left as quickly as it arrived. By as early as 1978, a “new wave of music” had begun to take over the airwaves.[7] Since new wave was the pioneer of the various waves of music to come, it quickly became more of an umbrella term for an alternative post-punk sound. Bands popularized under this genre include Blondie, Talking Heads, the Police, and the Cars.

Due to the nature and definition of the genre, new wave never went away so much as evolved and redefined during each new generation. However, it would never again define a popular music genre as it did in the 1980s.

3 Nu Metal

Every generation of kids needs a genre to express its needful rage, and after grunge fell out of favor, nu metal took its place. Nu metal is hip-hop, metal, alternative, rap, funk, and punk rock all blended together to form a distinct heavy metal sound. Originating in California during the early 1990s, it would gain mainstream success later in the decade with bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, and Linkin Park.

Following the footsteps of grunge before it, nu metal started to blanket everything during its peak. Unfortunately, like grunge, that came at a price, and its popularity dwindled just as quickly.[8] Oversaturation in the market plus lower-quality music being pushed over the airwaves caused this genre to die out quickly.

2 Grunge

Very few genres represented late-1980s/early-1990s youth culture quite like grunge. Emerging out of Seattle in the late 1980s, grunge combines elements of punk rock and heavy metal, angst-filled lyrics, and a slower, darker sound. Grunge and the style it spawned was considered a response to the excess of hair metal that was previously on top during the 1980s.

Although music experts can’t agree on an exact time or reason for decline of grunge, many can agree that rampant drug problems within bands, imitators entering the scene, and Kurt Cobain’s suicide greatly sapped the energy of the movement, allowing more corporate-friendly music to make a comeback.[9]

1 Disco

Despite being the musical butt of many jokes, there was a time that disco ruled the airwaves quite dominantly for many years. Disco has the distinctive honor of defining a whole decade in ways the other genres on this list did not. While many decades are known for a couple of genres ruling the charts, disco is known by many, both young and old, as the music that defined the 1970s, for better or worse.

Originally emerging from the 1960s urban nightlife, it was initially popular with the black, Italian, Latino, gay, and psychedelic communities in Philadelphia and New York City before reaching peak mainstream popularity in the mid-1970s. The music was a response to the dominance of rock music and the social issues plaguing the country during the post-Vietnam world. Many artists became popular during this era, including the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, the Village People, and Gloria Gaynor.

Disco was a worldwide phenomenon and dominated for many years. However, the good times did not last, and disco suffered one of the biggest backlashes of any genre. Many started to chafe at the mindless nature of the music, and by the 1980s, disco was already a punchline to many in the music industry. Although it started to become a little more acceptable later on in small doses, disco could never shake the negative stereotypes, which still linger to this day.[10]

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