The future of music

Music Genres List: 80 Best Genres Explained Plus Examples

August 4, 2023
music genres list

It’s not easy to keep up with all the genres of music.

There are countless types of music genres, each with its own history and characteristics.

And musicians often like to combine different musical styles and elements.

So what makes a song or an artist fit into a certain musical genre?

To answer that question, you first need to know their basic differences.

And we are here to clear things up – we’ve created a list of the 80 top music genres.

1. Classic Rock

Let’s start with one of the most popular music genres – classic rock.

In short, classic rock is a subgenre of rock that includes songs that are at least 25 years old.

The genre is linked to music that dominated radio stations in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

In fact, classic rock was the term that was used by radio hosts to differentiate between old and new rock back then.

And some of the artists that ‘entered’ the category were Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Joan Jett, and so on.

See also: 50 Best Classic Rock Songs of All Time

2. Soft Rock

If somebody asked you to name a music genre, you probably wouldn’t think of soft rock right away.

However, soft rock is one of the most common genres of music.

It’s a combination of pop and rock, and many popular bands and singers fit that definition.

Soft rock first became familiar to the world in the late 50s and continued to thrive in the following decades.

Soft rock music often sounds more emotional and, well, soft.

To make things clearer, imagine songs by Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor, Chris Rea, and Phil Collins.

3. Hard Rock

Well, hard rock is easy to imagine.

It’s another popular subgenre of rock that first started in the 60s.

It’s characterized by heavy rhythm, harsh vocals, and bombastic drums and guitar riffs.

Hard rock music is loud and powerful, but it’s still rock – metal takes it a step further.

Some of the bands that are associated with hard rock are Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath.

4. Punk

Punk is an essential part of every musical genre list.

It started out as garage rock in the 70s and emerged into its own music genre.

The movement was associated with an anti-establishment attitude, mohawks, and anarchy.

But punk rock is, of course, mostly about the music – loud, fast, and non-conformist music.

Some of the artists who laid the foundation for punk are the Stooges, Ramones, Bad Religion, and Buzzcocks.

See also: Best Punk Songs of All Time

5. Grunge

Grunge emerged in the 80s in Seattle and nearby areas, so it was originally called Seattle sound.

So what does grunge music sound like?

In essence, grunge is a fusion of punk rock, metal, and hard rock, but without punk’s fast tempo.

It’s a bit edgier and slower, but it does often include intense vocals and musical distortion.

Some artists that are defined by grunge sound are Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains.

6. Alternative

Alternative music is often described as music made by artists who don’t conform to the musical mainstream.

It’s a rather wide term, and it first started out in the 80s when bands started to turn to independent labels. 

But in the 90s, and especially in the 2000s, alternative music evolved into numerous subgenres.

That being said, it became almost impossible to say what alternative music sounds like.

Every alternative band or artist creates their own sound, and they use the term ‘alternative’ to differentiate themselves from commercial music.

We will explore different subgenres of alternative music further down.

See also: Best Alternative Songs of All Time

7. Indie Rock

Indie rock is one of the subgenres that developed from alternative music.

Consequently, indie rock artists refuse to ‘follow trends’ and conform to mainstream rock music.

The genre has been changing a lot throughout the years though.

It was first associated with noise pop and college rock bands, but it means so much more now.

For example, some of the popular indie rock bands of the past decade are Arctic Monkeys, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, The Kooks, and The Strokes.

See also: Best Indie Songs of All Time

8. Progressive Rock

Progressive rock is a rather broad genre of music.

And it’s definitely a very interesting genre – it’s mostly defined by experimentation, improvisation, and more complex playing techniques.

But progressive rock is often a fusion of styles, so it all comes down to the authentic sound of the band.

Some bands delve into a new wave sound, and others implement a more psychedelic sound.

Nevertheless, progressive rock usually focuses on meaningful lyrics and ‘new’ sounds.

Some of the best progressive rock bands are King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Yes.

9. Post-Rock

Post-rock is a popular form of experimental rock.

The musical genre emerged within the indie and underground music scene of the 80s.

Post-rock is now mostly associated with instrumental recordings, rock music mixed with electronic sounds, and a slightly dark, minimalist atmosphere.

Some of the bands that fit into the post-rock genre are Sigur Ros, Mono, Mogwai, and Explosions in the Sky.

10. Pop

Needless to say, pop is one of the most popular types of music genres.

The name of the genre is derived from the word ‘popular’, so it’s easy to conclude that popularity was one of the first things that defined pop music.

Some of the pop groups and artists that defined pop music are ABBA, Michael Jackson, and Madonna.

The popularity of pop music has been affected by the rise of music channels like MTV since many pop stars also had a recognizable visual style.

Pop music now and then is quite different, but one of the elements that connect them is an upbeat, light sound.

See also: Best Pop Songs of All Time

11. Indie Pop

Although it also became quite popular, indie pop combines different styles and elements.

It’s also considered more alternative than pop, and it usually adds elements of punk.

The genre originated from British pop-punk, but compared to indie rock, it’s more melodic and less angry.

Indie pop is associated with music by artists like Florence & The Machine, Lykke Li, Lana Del Rey, and Foster the People.

12. Electropop / Synth-Pop

Electropop is another popular subgenre of pop music.

As the name of the genre suggests, it’s a blend of pop and electronic music.

Electropop music relies heavily on keyboards, synthesizers, and various electronic sounds.

The genre was developed in the 80s, but it renewed its popularity in the late 2000s.

Some of the most popular electro-pop artists include Lady Gaga, La Roux, Kesha, and Robyn.

13. Latin Pop 

This pop subgenre became very popular in the past decade.

Essentially, Latin pop fuses elements of Latin music, dance music, and US-style music production.

To make things clearer, some of the popular Latin pop artists are Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, Selena, and Luis Fonsi.

And Ricky Martin is considered to be the King of Latin Pop.

14. Hip Hop

Without a doubt, hip-hop music is one of the most popular musical styles.

It originated in New York City in the 1970s when block parties became increasingly popular.

The genre is recognizable by strong drum beats, rhythmic speech, and stylistic elements like rapping, scratching, or turntables.

But over the years, many subgenres of hip hop emerged, including regional subgenres like East Coast hip hop and West Coast hip hop.

There’s also a popular gangsta rap subgenre focused on the lyrics that revolve around the harsh and violent lifestyles of African American youth. 

See also: Best 90s Hip Hop Songs

15. Rap 

Although rap and hip hop are often used interchangeably, the two have some significant differences.

For example, rap music normally entails rapping – a form of vocal delivery that entails strict rhythmic speech.

So, the lyrics in rap are chanted rather than sung against the background track.

Some of the best rappers of all time are Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and Nas.

See also: Best Rap Songs of All Time

16. R&B

Rhythm and blues music, simply known as R&B, is a genre of popular music that developed in African-American communities in the 1940s.

Of course, the genre changed over the years.

The term was first used to describe recordings marketed to urban African Americans, but it eventually started to rule the charts and radio stations.

Contemporary R&B consists of elements of pop, rock, funk, and hip-hop.

Some of the most influential R&B musicians are Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Usher, and Alicia Keys.

See also: Best R&B Songs of All Time

17. Electronic 

In short, the electronic music genre refers to music (usually pop or rock) that is created and performed using electronic components.

So, electronic music employs electronic and digital instruments such as keyboards, synthesizers, and electric guitars.

That being said, electronic is a very broad music genre, and many different artists can fit into this category.

Some of the best-known electronic artists are Kraftwerk, Fatboy Slim, Gorillaz, and Depeche Mode.

18. Electronica

Don’t get confused – electronic music and electronica are two different genres.

Although the term is sometimes used for electronic music generally, electronica is also a music scene that developed in the UK in the 90s.

It’s a dance-based electronic music made primarily for ‘home listening’ rather than dancing.

Some of the popular artists associated with electronica are Daft Punk, Moby, The Chemical Brothers, and Faithless. 

19. Electronic Rock 

As you might assume, electronic rock fuses rock and electronic music.

It features instruments that are normally used in both genres.

But electronic rock artists usually combine many types of music, elements, and styles such as techno, hip hop, and punk rock.

Over the years, many electronic rock subgenres appeared in the music scene, including dance-punk, indietronica, and electroclash.

Some of the well-known electronic rock bands are Linkin Park, Depeche Mode, New Order, and Garbage.

20. Dubstep

Dubstep is one of the new subgenres of electronic music.

It emerged in the 2000s in South London.

It quickly became popular around the world, and it eventually entered mainstream popular culture.

Skrillex is one of the dubstep artists that contributed to dubstep’s popularity in the US.

21. Drum and Bass

Drum and Bass, commonly abbreviated as D&B or D’n’B, is another form of electronic music that appeared in the UK.

It emerged a little earlier than dubstep though, and it originated in the UK’s jungle scene.

This type of music is characterized by loud bass and fast breakbeats. 

It’s influenced by many genres including hip-hop, house, dubstep, and trip-hop.

22. Techno

Techno is hands down one of the most popular types of electronic music.

In fact, it’s a form of electronic dance music (EDM).

It’s recognizable by the heavy use of synthesizers, sequencers, and digital audio workstations. 

The rhythm is also a crucial part of techno songs.

Some of the notable techno artists are Carl Cox, Charlotte De Witte, and Jeff Mills.

23. Eurodance

Eurodance originated in the late 1980s in Europe, especially in Germany.

And it had its golden years in the mid-1990s.

Eurodance is a musical genre that combines hip-hop, techno, house, and Euro disco.

It’s also usually characterized by rich vocals and synthesizers.

Popular Eurodance musicians include Eiffel 65, Technotronic, and Haddaway.

24. Disco

Disco is undoubtedly one of the most popular types of genre in music.

As a subculture and genre of dance music, disco emerged in the 70s.

It started out in the US nightlife scene and evolved into a major trend.

It was shaped and influenced by ABBA, Boney M, Bee Gees, Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, and many more.

And now, everyone knows what a disco sound is, even if the song is newly released.

However, disco as a genre will always be associated with 70’s music.

See also: 50 Best Disco Songs of All Time

25. Boogie

In essence, boogie is a blend of electronic dance music and R&B.

It was also influenced by disco music, so it’s sometimes referred to as post-disco.

It developed in the late 70s and early 80s, as an aftermath in popular music. 

But the best way to understand boogie is by listening to “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire.

26. Boogie-Woogie

Boogie shouldn’t be confused with boogie-woogie.

Boogie-woogie started to be popular back in the 20s, and it eventually expanded to a broader genre.

But it’s originally a form of blues music, primarily associated with dancing.

To be more precise, it’s widely known for its boogie-woogie dance, a special form of swing dance.

27. Swing 

Speaking of swing, this style of jazz genre also emerged in the 1920s.

But it became globally popular in the mid-1930s.

The swing genre continued to thrive, and the period between 1935 and 1946 is known as the swing era.

It was the time of Benny Goodman, one of the first swing bandleaders to achieve global fame.

The style is still widely known for its off-beat playing, danceable melodies, and musical improvisation.

28. Funk 

Funk is a slower but rhythmic type of music that originated in African American communities in the 60s.

Instead of melody, funk music focuses on a strong bassline and groove.

It might also include improvisation and usage of other elements and styles.

One of the pioneers of funk is James Brown – this music legend certainly helped shape the sound of funk.

Other important names in funk are Sly and The Family Stone, Prince, and Curtis Mayfield.

See also: Best Funk Songs of All Time

29. Blues

Blues as a music genre began around the 1860s.

It has roots in African-American work songs, and it eventually included many different musical styles.

Technically speaking, blues is based on the call-and-response pattern, and the blues scale has very specific chord progressions.

It’s also associated with blues notes (‘worried notes’) that are an essential part of the blues sound.

Blues has many subgenres now, including blues rock, Chicago blues, and country blues.

See also: 55 Best Blues Songs of All Time

30. Jazz

Jazz is another crucial part of every music genre list.

It emerged in the late 19th century in New Orleans, Louisiana.

But it gained national popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, a period that is referred to as the Jazz Age.

The Jazz Age was marked by music by Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, and many more. 

But music legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis who came afterward are also regarded as influential jazz artists.

See also: 55 Best Jazz Songs of All Time

31. New Wave

New Wave is one of the music categories that are sometimes hard to describe.

In a sense, new wave music entails pop-oriented styles that were popular in the 70s and the 80s.

Later on, the term started to be associated with various music styles of that era, including power pop and synth-pop.

But some of the characteristics that are common for new wave songs are electronic sounds and a unique visual representation of the music.

See also: Best New Wave Songs

32. Folk

Folk music generally refers to American folk music.

It emerged from traditional American songs and eventually transformed into a genre of its own.

But modern folk still has many traditional elements.

However, it uses many contemporary instruments and combines different styles.

Some of the most popular folk musicians are Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Cat Stevens.

See also: 50 Best Folk Songs

33. American Folk Revival

The American folk revival began in the 40s and thrived in the 60s.

So, the term is mostly used for the folk music of that era.

Some of the leading figures of that time were Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and The Kingston Trio.

During the American folk revival, ethnic music of other countries also went through a form of revival.

34. Classic Country

Just like classic rock, classic country refers to country music that was released between the 1950s and 1980s.

The term is also referred to as a radio format that plays mainstream country from that era.

Nevertheless, classic country songs have a recognizable sound full of string instruments, folksy lyrics, and simple melodies.

Classic country musicians that you’re probably familiar with are Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Dolly Parton.

See also: 36 Best Country Songs Of All Time

35. Country Blues

Country Blues is an early form of blues music developed in the rural United States in the early 20th century.

It’s also often called folk blues.

Most country blues musicians perform solo, accompanying themselves with an acoustic guitar.

Iconic country blues artists include Blind Willie McTell, Reverend Gary Davis, and Sleepy John Estes.

36. Modern Country

Modern country music refers to country music released in the 80s and onward.

Some of the most popular modern country singers are Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Tim McGraw.

Their songs are influenced by classic country music, but they also sometimes lean to country pop or country rock. 

Nonetheless, most modern country artists stay true to string instruments, folk lyrics, and simple forms.

37. Bluegrass

The bluegrass music genre emerged in Appalachia in the 1940s.

It was inspired by many types of music including Irish music, blues, jazz, and gospel.

However, bluegrass is traditionally played exclusively on acoustic instruments.

The bluegrass sound is also characterized by off-beat and at times complex chord changes.

38. Honky-Tonk

Honky-tonk is a form of country music that was popular in the 1950s.

In essence, honky-tonk is a piano-based country music.

It also uses traditional country instruments like guitar, steel, guitar, and fiddle.

Honky-tonk songs also emphasize rhythm, and apart from country, they combine styles and techniques from jazz and ragtime.

Famous honky-tonk musicians include Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Ernest Tubb, and Loretta Lynn.

39. Americana 

Americana, also known as American roots music, refers to music that combines different American roots styles.

Those styles include folk, gospel, blues, jazz, bluegrass, country, and so on.

The radio format of Americana appeared in the mid-1990s when radio hosts started to use the term to describe traditionally-oriented artists.

Also, some bands like Calexico are not traditional American bands, but due to the sound and elements they use, they fit the definition of Americana.

40. Rock and Roll 

Rock ‘n’ Roll as a genre evolved in the US in the late 1940s.

Its roots go back to African American music like jazz, boogie woogie, and gospel.

And it was a whole movement – rock and roll influenced fashion, language, and people’s attitudes.

And although some definitions of the genre claim that rock and roll evolved in rock music, there are clear differences between the two genres.

For instance, rock and roll usually has a fast rhythm and lively, danceable melodies.

41. Metal

Heavy metal (or simply metal) emerged in the 1960s as a part of the anti-establishment culture.

It has roots in psychedelic rock, acid rock, and blues rock.

However, heavy metal is much louder and angrier – it’s characterized by distorted guitars, strong beats, and harsh vocals.

Some of the bands that helped shape the sound of metal are Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple.

However, heavy metal is also associated with bands like Mötley Crüe and Metallica.

See also: Best Heavy Metal Songs of All Time

42. Industrial

Many people describe industrial as the most abrasive form of rock music.

It’s a fusion of electronic music and rock, and it’s often full of provocative sounds and themes.

After all, the first industrial bands experimented with all sorts of sounds and noise.

Some of the names in industrial music are Throbbing Gristle, Monte Cazazza, and SPK. 

43. Pop Rock

Compared to industrial and heavy metal, pop-rock is a rather gentle music genre. 

It’s also one of the most popular types of music these days.

On the other hand, pop rock is a loosely defined genre, and it sometimes gets confused with soft rock.

But one of the best examples of pop rock could be Coldplay’s music.

44. Reggae

Reggae emerged in the 1960s as a blend of American jazz and Jamaican music.

Musically, it’s often slow and focused on offbeat rhythms and percussions.

And lyrically, it tends to involve political commentary.

Bob Marley is one of the biggest reggae legends, and his music speaks directly to the soul.

Marley was also a Rastafari icon, and he influenced countless reggae musicians that came after him.

See also: 50 Best Reggae Songs of All Time

45. Ska

One of the music genres that influenced reggae is ska.

Ska music was developed during the 1950s in Jamaica.

The genre fuses Caribbean and calypso music, and just like jazz, it emphasizes walking bass lines and off-beats.

Musicians regarded as ska pioneers include Stranger Cole, Prince Buster, and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd.

See also: Best Ska Songs of All Time

46. Psychedelic

Psychedelic music is a wide genre that encompasses psychedelic rock, psychedelic pop, and so on.

Psychedelic music was influenced by psychedelia, a subculture that experimented with various psychedelic drugs.

Some of the most famous bands that delved into psychedelic music are The Beatles and The Doors.

And there have been many revivals of psychedelic music since the 70s.

Some of the contemporary artists associated with psychedelic music include Tame Impala, Animal Collective, and MGMT.

47. Soul

Soul has developed out of gospel rhythm and blues, but it’s also often regarded as a subgenre of R&B.

Either way, soul originated in the African American community throughout the US in the late 50s and early 60s.

And now, many pop singers have elements of soul in their music.

But the most influential soul artists include Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, and Ben E. King.

48. Gospel

In short, gospel music is Christian music of the 20th century.

Gospel literally means Christian message (‘the gospel’), and gospel music is composed for many purposes.

However, gospel music is also associated with the African-American community and hand-clapping and foot-stomping songs.

And contemporary gospel songs tend to incorporate other musical styles such as soul, pop, or folk.

See also: Best Gospel Songs of All Time

49. Choral

Choral music is defined simply as music performed by a chorus.

And two or more voices have to be assigned to each part of the song.

So, the exact musical genre is not relevant here, as long as it’s performed by a chorus. 

However, choral music is mostly associated with classical music and European church music.

50. A Cappella

In short, a cappella music is performed by a singer or a singing group without any kind of musical accompaniment.

However, many contemporary a cappella groups tend to create instrumental parts with their voices.

Some of the most popular a cappella groups are Pentatonix, Straight No Chaser, and the Swingle Singers.

A cappella music has been around for centuries, but modern a cappella groups and films like ‘Pitch Perfect’ renewed its popularity.

51. Opera 

In essence, an opera is a form of theater that tells a story through music.

So, all the dramatic roles are taken by singers who train extensively to be able to perform opera.

Operas are often performed in opera houses, and they are an essential part of Western classical music tradition.

As a genre and theatrical form, opera originated in Italy, but it can be performed in any language.

Some of the best opera singers of all time are Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domino, and Maria Callas.

See also: Best Opera Songs of All Time

52. Orchestral

Orchestral music is any music played by an orchestra.

However, orchestral music is often associated with classical music, primarily because of the instruments the orchestras typically use.

The traditional sound of an orchestra involves brass, woodwinds, strings, and percussion. 

53. Classical

Classical music refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world.

Musically, classical music is a form of instrumental music, and it can be performed by an orchestra or just a single instrument.

It’s characterized by the complexity of musical form and harmonic organization.

The most influential classical composers are Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn.

See also: Most Famous Classical Music Pieces

54. Flamenco

Generally, flamenco is a form of art based on a Spanish folkloric tradition.

Flamenco music is instrumental and it includes mostly guitar.

It’s often fast and highly expressive and passionate.

It’s also usually accompanied by the flamenco dance, an expressive dance that includes hand clapping and intricate arm movements.

55. Salsa

Salsa is a musical form that has roots in Latin American music.

It’s also defined as a hybrid musical form based on Afro-Cuban music.

It’s characterized by its rhythm, and it’s usually very lively and danceable.

Salsa music also incorporates other styles such as mambo, jazz, guaracha, and so on.

56. Reggaeton

Reggaeton is not to be confused with reggae music.

It’s a musical style from Puerto Rico that has evolved from dancehall.

Reggaeton was also influenced by hip-hop, Caribbean music, Latin American music, and  reggae in Espanol (from Panama.)

It’s a quite popular genre, and many modern top-charting hits have reggaeton elements.

Popular reggaeton artists include J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Maluma, and Daddy Yankee.

57. Lounge

Lounge music is a form of easy-listening music.

It’s often played as background music, so it often combines calm, soothing melodies and sounds.

Lounge was popular in the 50s and 60s, but there’s also modern lounge music that tends to incorporate electronica elements like downtempo.

It’s simply chill music that creates a light, tranquil atmosphere.

58. Experimental

Experimental is a loosely defined music genre that encompasses all artists who push the limits of genre definitions.

So in a way, it’s music that can hardly be classified.

However, experimental music isn’t only about not being able to fit the description – it’s also about having an innovative approach to music.

Artists that are considered some of the first experimental musicians are Frank Zappa, Brian Eno, and Laurie Anderson.

59. Ambient

SImilar to lounge music, ambient music is made with the atmosphere in mind.

But unlike lounge music, it can evoke different moods and emotions.

It’s often instrumental, and it’s sometimes described as ‘mood’ music.

However, some bands that make ambient music aren’t instrumental, and one of the good examples is the Icelandic band Sigur Ros.

Their music sounds deeper and more thoughtful than most lounge music which sets a lighter mood.

60. New Age

New age is one of the genres of music that tends to help people relax.

It’s often used in stress management as well as yoga and meditation.

It’s characterized by soft, scenic sounds associated with open spaces, introspection, or spirituality.

61. K-Pop

K-Pop (Korean pop) is a music genre that emerged in South Korea.

The genre combines elements of pop, hip-hop, R&B, electronic dance, and many other styles.

Over time, K-Pop evolved into a subculture that gathers countless teenagers and young adults.

For example, one of the most popular K-Pop artists right now is the group Blackpink, and their videos are among the most viewed videos on YouTube.

See also: Best K-Pop Songs of All Time

62. Trap

Trap music is one of the hip-hop subgenres that developed in the US in the late 80s.

The lyrics in trap songs revolve around drugs, money, and urban street life.

Musically, the genre is characterized by a grimy melody, snare drums, kick drums, and hi-hats.

All in all, trap is very hard-hitting music, and it comes with a really strong attitude.

63. Trance

Trance is a type of electronic dance music characterized by a high rate of beats per minute.

It emerged from the new-age and techno scene.

Unlike EDM, trance can be slow and ethereal, and as the name suggests, it’s made to put you into some kind of trance.

Also, trance incorporates many styles such as house, pop, chill-out, and even classical music.

64. House

House music is one of the popular types of music that emerged in the 70s.

House music was first created by  DJs and producers in Chicago such as Frankie Knuckles, Ron Hardy, and Jesse Saunders.

But it eventually evolved into a wide genre that many artists use.

For example, you can hear elements of house music in Kylie Minogue’s and Madonna’s music.

And house still has a lot of influence on club music.

65. Grime

Grime is another form of electronic music, but it’s slightly less popular.

It first became popular in London in the 2000s, where it developed from jungle, garage, and hip-hop music.

Grime songs have a strong, aggressive sound and rapid breakbeats.

Emceeing is also an important part of the grime music genre.

66. World Music

World music is a very broad genre that refers to music from non-western areas of the world.

But it also encompasses music that is characteristic of traditional to a certain area or culture.

So in a way, it’s a category that includes varieties of folk, roots, and ethno music.

But it’s still a loosely defined term. 

67. Celtic

Celtic music refers to Scottish and Irish traditional music.

It evolved out of the folk music traditions of Celtic people, and it can encompass a wide range of styles.

Contemporary Celtic music combines old and new instruments such as bagpipes, flutes, banjos, electronic instruments, and so on. 

Although it’s a wide and versatile genre, Celtic songs often sound dreamy, natural, and enchanting.

68. Bossa Nova

Bossa nova was developed in the 1950s in Brazil. 

It’s a style of samba, but with a different beat and unusual chords.

Bossa nova songs are often laid-back and relaxing, and their instrumentation is quite simple.

One of the most popular bossa nova tunes is ‘The Girl From Ipanema.’

69. Alternative Hip-Hop 

Alternative hip-hop is one of the types of alternative music that deviates from mainstream hip-hop styles.

Alternative hip-hop often incorporates elements of funk, soul, alternative rock, and punk.

And although alternative hip-hop artists don’t conform to stereotypes, this genre found its way into mainstream music.

In fact, crossover artists like Outkast and Kanye West brought more attention to the genre.

70. Crunk

Crunk is another musical style that developed from classic hip-hop.

But unlike hip hop, crunk originated from the American South.

Crunk songs are rather aggressive, and they often include screams and shouted catchphrases.

Some of the most prominent crunk musicians are Lil Jon and Soulja Boy.

71. Shoegaze

As a subgenre of indie and alternative rock, shoegaze is a distinctive and almost experimental style.

A typical shoegaze song has ethereal melodies, loud guitar distortion, and various effects.

The name of the genre comes from the excessive use of effect pedals – artists are consequently looking down to their pedals a lot during concerts.

Some of the bands associated with shoegaze are My Bloody Valentine, The Cocteau Twins, and Slowdive.

72. Ragtime

Ragtime is one of the old music types.

It evolved from folk and minstrel styles in African American communities.

Ragtime music flourished from the 1890s to 1910s, and it influenced many genres that emerged afterward, especially jazz.

It’s called ragtime because of its syncopated or ‘ragged’ rhythm. 

73. Big Band

In short, big band music is jazz or swing music performed by an ensemble of musicians.

It’s also called the jazz orchestra, and it often consists of ten or more musicians that play saxophones, trumpets, and trombones.

There’s also a fourth section of the band called the rhythm section.

Nonetheless, big band music was popular in the 1940s, although there are also many modern big bands. 

74. Breakbeat

Generally, breakbeat music refers to any type of electronic music with breaks.

So it’s a form of electronic music usually punctuated by drum breaks.

These breaks are sampled from early recordings of dance music, funk, jazz, or R&B.

But breakbeat as a term is very wide since breakbeats are used in many different styles and subgenres. 

75. Italo Disco

Italo disco originated in Italy in the late 1970s.

But it somehow renewed its popularity in recent years.

It’s a rather diverse genre, but it mainly involves electronic drums, synthesizers, and elements of dance music.

76. Instrumental

Instrumental is a very broad music genre that refers to music played only by instruments.

It can be in any form and therefore evoke all sorts of emotions.

But many people associate instrumental music with relaxing or ‘working’ music.

However, many instrumental songs can also be categorized in post-rock or ambient genres.

To make things clearer, some of the artists known for their instrumental music are Yann Tiersen, Mogwai, and Hans Zimmer.

77. Easy Listening

Similar to lounge music, easy-listening music is often used as background music.

It mostly combines gentler, more neutral instrumental covers of popular songs.

This type of music is also referred to as ‘elevator music.’

78. Surf Rock

In short, surf rock is a type of rock music associated with surf culture.

It was pioneered by Dick Dale who developed it from instrumental rock.

This rock genre became very popular in the 60s, especially after the appearance of the Beach Boys.

And many today’s indie bands also incorporate surf rock into their music.

79. Calypso

Calypso refers to a form of Afro-Caribbean folk music from Trinidad and Tobago.

Many calypso songs are very rhythmic, and they include drums, percussions (bongos, timbales, etc), bass guitar, trumpets, and so on.

They are also characterized by harmonic vocals.

When it comes to calypso musicians, Calypso Rose is one of the best living Trinidadian calypsonians.

80. Garage

Garage music is a blend of house music, R&B, and the UK’s jungle music.

UK garage (UKG) refers to a specific genre of electronic dance music that emerged in England in the 1990s.

Some of the things that define garage music are syncopated basslines and percussion.

Although it was a rather short-lived style, it was influential in the development of many musical subgenres we mentioned today.

Music Genres List – Final Thoughts

There is a countless number of musical genres in the world.

And some of them are definitely more popular than others.

But understanding different styles and genres is important and fun for every music lover.

And we hope our list of the top music genres helped you learn and hear something new! 

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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