Lesson 1 - Welcome and Course Layout


Hello, and welcome to Teaching the History of Popular Music.

In this course, you will learn about the history of popular music, starting with the 1950s and covering up to the music of today. You will also learn how to recognize which songs and music videos are considered appropriate to show to students. Finally, you will learn how to utilize Google Slideshow and Google Docs in your classes.

While we will not be able to cover all the artists of each decade, you will be provided with a list of the musicians not covered for each decade.

What's the Difference Between Appropriate and Inappropriate?

You are probably wondering what is meant by a song or music video being considered “appropriate.” Think of the kinds of films you show in your classroom. Selecting a song and / or music video to include in your lessons is no different. Just as there are some movies that are deemed inappropriate for younger audiences, there are certain songs and music videos that fall into this category.

Let’s start by taking a look at these two versions of the song “Genie in a Bottle,” first made popular by Christina Aguilera in the 1990s and then remade by Dove Cameron for Disney Channel in 2016. Can you spot the differences?

Christina Aguilera - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIDWgqDBNXA

Dove Cameron - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFlLybox4To

In the first version of this song, Aguilera’s performance and lyrics are more sexual in nature. This becomes more apparent when compared to Cameron's version, which is specifically geared towards kids.

However, just because an artist has questionable songs or videos does not mean that this same artist does not also have material that would be considered suitable for use in a classroom setting. Let’s look at Britney Spears as an example.

“I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlV7RhT6zHs

“3” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTs6oQx1WJY

These are two very dramatically different songs from the same artist. The first song, "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman," is representative of the struggle for kids when they're growing up, while "3" is a song about a type of sexual act. In cases like this, you will need to use your professional judgement to decide if you should use a particular song in your lessons. We will discuss these types of situations more in future units.

Chart the Songs

Here are ten music videos by ten different artists. Using the chart provided on Google Docs (link found below), organize these ten music videos as either Appropriate and Inappropriate. Consider both the content of the songs and the music videos.

Chart link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15JhUGWtLX2SQTgIEOt06Q_XFGgqEs8pV1Nni4ByC9P0/edit

Backstreet Boys- “As Long As You Love Me”


AC/DC- “Girl’s Got Rhythm”


Five - “When the Lights Go Out”


Shania Twain - “From This Moment On”


Madonna - “Like A Virgin”


Frankie Valli - “Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You”


Van Halen - “Ain’t Talking Bout Love”


The Beatles - “We Can Work It Out”


Billy Idol - “Rebel Yell”


The Supremes - “Stop! In the Name of Love”