Adult contemporary music

Celine Dion, referred to as the "Queen of Adult Contemporary",[1] is one of the biggest international stars in music history, selling more than 220 million albums worldwide.[2]

In North American music, adult contemporary music (AC) is a form of radio-played popular music, ranging from 1960s vocal and 1970s soft rock music[3] to predominantly ballad-heavy music of the present day, with varying degrees of easy listening, pop, soul, rhythm and blues, quiet storm, and rock influence.[4][5][6] Adult contemporary is generally a continuation of the easy listening and soft rock style that became popular in the 1960s and 1970s with some adjustments that reflect the evolution of pop/rock music.[7]

Adult contemporary tends to have lush, soothing and highly polished qualities where emphasis on melody and harmonies is accentuated. It is usually melodic enough to get a listener's attention, and is inoffensive and pleasurable enough to work well as background music. Like most of pop music, its songs tend to be written in a basic format employing a verse–chorus structure.[8] The format is heavy on romantic sentimental ballads which mostly use acoustic instruments (though bass guitar is usually used) such as acoustic guitars, pianos, saxophones, and sometimes an orchestral set. The electric guitars are normally faint and high-pitched. However, recent adult contemporary music may feature synthesizers (and other electronics, such as drum machines).[9]

An AC radio station may play mainstream music, but it excludes hip hop, dance tracks, hard rock, and some forms of teen pop, as these are less popular among adults, the target demographic. AC radio often targets the 25–44 age group,[10] the demographic that has received the most attention from advertisers since the 1960s. A common practice in recent years of adult contemporary stations is to play less newer music and more hits of the past. This de-emphasis on new songs slows the progression of the AC chart.[11]

Over the years, AC has spawned subgenres including "hot AC", "soft AC" (also known as "lite AC"), "urban AC", "rhythmic AC", and "Christian AC" (a softer type of contemporary Christian music). Some stations play only "hot AC", "soft AC", or only one of the variety of subgenres. Therefore, it is not usually considered a specific genre of music; it is merely an assemblage of selected tracks from musicians of many different genres.

  1. ^ Billboard Staff (May 1, 2017). "Being Celine: A Look Back at the Illustrious Career of Celine Dion". Billboard. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  2. ^ Proefrock, Stacia. "Celine Dion - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  3. ^ "Oldies Music Glossary: "Adult Contemporary"". Archived from the original on February 2, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  4. ^ "Soft Rock Music - What is Soft Rock? - Oldies Music Songs and Artists". Oldies.about.com. September 6, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  5. ^ Adult Contemporary. "Adult Contemporary : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed". AllMusic. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  6. ^ Musical Terms Archived January 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. American Popular Music. Oxford University Press. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  7. ^ R. B. Browne and P. Browne, eds, The Guide to United States Popular Culture (Popular Press, 2001), ISBN 0-87972-821-3, p. 687.
  8. ^ "Pop Music - What Is Pop Music - A Definition and Brief History". Top40.about.com. September 7, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  9. ^ J. M. Curtis, Rock eras: interpretations of music and society, 1954-1984 (Popular Press, 1987), p. 236.
  10. ^ Adult Contemporary's Demographic Fault Line Is Now 45. AllAccess.com (August 3, 2012). Retrieved on September 29, 2013.
  11. ^ Brecht, Robert M. (May 31, 2011). "Advertising Shifting to Targeting Older Demographic Segments". DMN3 Blog. DMN3. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved March 17, 2012.

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