On Air

Mark Goodier

And the beat goes on

Have you ever wondered what the most popular music was in the 70s or 80s? Perhaps you’re curious as to what your parents listened to when they were at university? Insurance company Endsleigh has put together an entertaining infographic showing how musical tastes have changes over the decades. The Endsleigh Infographic also contains lots of useful info on how studying has changed since the 70s, when typewriters and handwritten essays were the norm.

The infographic starts off in the 1970s. A pair of students, dressed in flared trousers and bright clothing, are dancing to the beats of the time. Glam rock was one of the most popular musical styles during the decade, thanks to the popularity of David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Queen and Elton John. Young people everywhere loved to copy Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust look and his music could be heard in student houses up and down the country.

The other major trend, the infographic notes, was disco. The success of Saturday Night Fever, starring John Travolta, started a craze in the UK and students enjoyed getting down to music by artists such as the Bee Gees, The Jackson 5 and Barry White. Lava lamps, colour TVs with Ceefax, and Sodastream were some of the popular items found in homes at the time. Students were given grants of £380 to help pay for expenses (almost £5000 today) and there were only 621,000 students in university across the whole country.

Tastes changed in the 1980s, with the New Romantic movement dominating the way students looked and listened to music. Culture Club, Wham!, Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and Duran Duran were among the popular acts of the decade. Beer cost 93p a pint in student bars and consoles such as Nintendo’s NES and the Sega Megadrive were the must-have gadgets of the time. Student loans were introduced in 1989 to those who could afford to repay them. Grants still remained for the vast majority of students.

The 1990s saw tastes change again. Students dress taste reflected the two biggest musical movements of the decade: britpop and grunge. Baggy jeans clashed with vintage clothing; messy hair against neatly trimmed haircuts. The airwaves were dominated by Oasis, Blur, Nirvana, and, of course, The Spice Girls. Pints were £1.29 and satellite TV started to make its way into homes. The Internet became popular, too, along with text messaging.

The 2000s witnessed the rise of boy bands, girl groups, indie rock, electronic/house and unique UK genres such as grime and garage. Acts like Coldplay, Boyzone, Britney Spears, Dizzee Rascal, The Prodigy and Girls Aloud took over the charts. Students enjoyed freshers’ balls, while tuition fee caps were set at £3000. Popular gadgets of the time included iPhones, MP3 players and game consoles.

The final decade of the infographic is the 2010s. Popular music enjoyed by students include songs by artists like Adele, Lady Gaga and Jessie J. Boybands made a return with groups like One Direction and The Wanted. Folk also experienced something of a comeback, thanks to Mumford and Sons. Students enjoyed listening to the music on tablets and smartphones, using services like Spotify and sharing their tastes on Facebook and Twitter. The average cost of a 3 year degree rose to £21,000 from 2012/3.

Listening to music remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment, no matter what your taste is or whether you choose to follow the latest trends or not. It has evolved over the last 50 years and can go even further. The relatively cheap price of downloads will ensure its popularity and the advent of streaming services promises to bring a wide variety of genres to people who might not necessarily listen to them, widening tastes in the process.