The economics of teenagers

There was a time when teenagers did not dominate music markets, but was this for the better?

For some perspective, I pulled together the top-selling music of 1951, 1961, and 1971.

1951: The soundtrack for “Guys and Dolls.” Mario Lanza. Yma Sumac. The Weavers. Les Paul. Tony Bennett.

1961: Bert Kaempfert. The soundtrack for “Exodus.” Lawrence Welk. Judy Garland. But also: Elvis, Connie Francis, Brenda Lee, and Paul Anka.

1971: George Harrison. “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Janis Joplin. Sly and the Family Stone. Michael Jackson. Carole King.

Teen tastes, in other words, weren’t present on the 1951 charts at all; took up only half the list’s space in 1961; and didn’t triumph entirely until 1971.

Les Paul I like, but overall kudos to the teenagers. The list is from the ever-excellent, and we welcome the new addition Vanessa Blowhard to the blog; here is the post itself.

Addendum: Did you know that the word “teenager” only popped up in the dictionary in 1942?


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