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12 Epic Moments In Music That Show History Repeats Itself

Throughout history, music has been reactive to social and popular culture. Sure, the ‘60s were great, but what happened then is influencing the history we are making now. Discover the music then that shaped today with Spotify Taste Rewind.


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In the '60s, there were few public figures who were openly gay. Growing up in London, musician Tom Robinson was under a lot of stress because of his sexuality. In 1975, he wrote "Good to Be Gay," and over 35 years from then, it's still considered the gay national anthem of the United Kingdom.

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In 2011, Lady Gaga released "Born This Way," which Elton John said replaced Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" as the new gay anthem. "This is the new gay anthem. Actually, it’s not a gay anthem — it can apply to anybody." —Elton John


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In 1995, "Macarena" was released, and it quickly became an international dance sensation. The song was recorded in Spain and quickly spread to Beirut, Bosnia, Brisbane, Britain, and, eventually, the United States. Everybody was dancing along, despite not knowing the words, because the flamenco melody was irresistible.

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In 2012, South Korean artist PSY's "Gagnam Style" became an international hit. A large part of its success was due to the impact of social media, helping the video to spread like crazy. To this day, the music video has been viewed over 2 billion times.


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In 1969, rock band The Who released their concept album/rock opera Tommy. Rolling Stone called it "the most important milestone in pop since Beatlemania." In 1975, it was turned into a feature film and, in 1993, it was brought to the Broadway stage.

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In the spirit of Tommy and Jesus Christ Superstar, punk rock band Green Day released their own rock opera album American Idiot in 2004. On April 20, 2010, American Idiot opened at the St. James Theater in New York City. As of 2011, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Universal was in talks with director Michael Mayer about bringing it to film (reconfirmed by Mayer in 2013).


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In 2001, rapper Eminem was riding the success of his third LP, The Marshall Mathers LP — but, despite its success, it was highly criticized for its homophobic, violent, and misogynistic lyrics. That year, he shocked audiences at an awards show during his performance of "Stan" when Elton John joined him to play. The duet was already legendary, and they sealed the moment with a hug that will go down in history.

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In 2008, the California Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriages, which was a huge step for marriage equality. In 2014, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis joined Madonna, Queen Latifah, and Mary Lambert to make awards show history with their performance of "Same Love." During the performance, 34 gay and straight couples were officially married, followed by a performance of "Open Your Hearts" by Madonna.


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In 1983, British rock icon Paul McCartney teamed with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, to create the hit "Say Say Say." McCartney produced a number of Top 10 hits and released several gold and platinum albums. Michael Jackson also earned legend status, with multiple platinum albums, countless awards, and chart-topping singles.

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In 2015, Paul McCartney teamed up with some of the top names in the music industry. Seven of Kanye's albums have gone platinum, Rihanna topped the charts and won countless awards, and Paul McCartney continued to earn awards and recognition long after his rise to fame.


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In the 1950s, Buddy Holly was blazing a path that would influence rock and roll forever. Sadly, in 1959, during a tour with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (“The Big Bopper”), their plane crashed, bringing their lives to an abrupt end. 30 years after their deaths, their legacy still strong, Don McLean released “American Pie” in tribute to the rock legends.

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Though her time was short and her catalog minimal, Amy Winehouse’s legacy is still profound and influential in soul and R&B. Following her sudden death in 2011, former romantic partner Pete Doherty wrote a somber tribute to the late singer titled “Flags of the Old Regime.”


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In 1985, famine was devastating Africa, and it was becoming a dire situation. To help raise money for the continent, top artists like Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, and many more contributed to the Quincy Jones-produced song. Through their efforts, the song raised $60 million for African famine relief.

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In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy killed over 200 people and caused billions of dollars of damage as it swept through the East Coast of the United Sates and the Caribbean. In an effort to raise support for those affected by the hurricane, an all-star cast of musicians — including The Rolling Stones, Chris Martin, Alicia Keys, Kanye West, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, and Eric Clapton — all performed at 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief.


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The Partridge Family was a music family that traveled around in a bus and rose to the top of the TV and music charts in 1970. This show helped to launch David Cassidy's career, who became bigger than The Beatles in a very short time.

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In 2006, country singer Billy Rae Cyrus and his family debuted their TV show Hannah Montana, which was a smash success in television, movies, and music. The show helped to launch Miley Cyrus' career, and she began topping Billboard charts and selling out many of her shows.


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In the '70s, Aerosmith were a thriving rock band at the height of their career. At that time, hip-hop was just getting started. Fast-forward to the 1980s when Run-D.M.C. blindly sampled "Walk This Way" in their song, then finally got in touch with Aerosmith to collaborate on this 1986 song and music video.

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Through the '60s and '70s, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band The Doors were at their prime. Their legacy has carried on, but it wasn't until 2012 that the group got back together for a collaboration with electronic music producer Skrillex on "Breakin' A Sweat." This collaboration was done in part with the Re:Generation Music Project, which brought together modern producers with classic musicians.


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In the spring of 1970, artist Marvin Gaye was going through a difficult time. His brother had returned from the Vietnam war with horror stories and, in the States, police brutality was abundant in San Francisco. In response, Marvin Gaye co-wrote “What’s Going On,” an honest protest song that was a commentary on what was happening across the world.

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In the early 2000s, tensions were high both overseas and in the States. In a time where there was a lot of unhappiness and fear, the Black Eyed Peas wrote “Where Is the Love?” to help bring the focus away from hate and toward love.



KISS, known for their elaborate stage makeup, decided to go au naturale and get unmasked in 1983. This move was not well received and, in turn, lost them some listeners, and Unmasked became the last album all four original members played on.

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In 2011, pop singer Lady Gaga, known for her elaborate stage costumes and stage makeup, went in a slightly different direction. She appeared on stage for an awards show as her Italian alter ego Jo Calderone, but lots of people in the audience didn't know how to react, expecting that she would come out in her traditional (untraditional) getup.


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In the summer of 1990, hip-hop group Digital Underground blew up radio stations and parties with their hit single "The Humpty Dance." It was the smash hit of the summer and had everyone dancing along to it and doing "The Humpty."

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In the summer of 2014, a new dance craze was born called "Drop That #NaeNae." Through social media, the song was blowing up and started to inch its way into mainstream hip-hop. It even gained support from Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard!

History repeats itself, and music from the past influences the present. See what tunes from past decades you should be listening to with Spotify Taste Rewind.