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Which are the most popular music genres in the US?

Which are the most popular music genres in the US?

Everyone’s taste in music is different, that’s just a fact of life. Some of us enjoy the relaxing hum of violins in classical music, while others love to headbang to the latest death metal release. But there are certain genres that tend to appeal to a wide range of listeners. Perhaps they have a catchy rhythm to them, easy-to-remember choruses, smart lyrics, or a good beat that keeps you hooked. Even if you’re not a fan of a genre like pop, you can’t deny that there are some pop songs out there that you can’t get out of your head, and the same goes for different genres. 

Some genres are more popular than others, for the reasons we just tackled above. Pop, hip hop, r&b, dance, or classic rock - these are some of the most popular music genres in the world nowadays. But which genres exactly have the most traction for listeners in the U.S.? The list below is meant to give you an idea of what audiences tend to lend their ears to these days. Note that this doesn’t mean you should change the course of your career, put down your electric guitar and start writing dance songs. There are audiences for every genre you can think of; these genres below are just some of the more popular for a wide range of people. 

Hip hop / Rap

According to Statista’s most recent numbers, hip hop was the most streamed genre of music in the U.S. in 2021. While these numbers may change from year to year, one thing remains clear: hip hop is one of the most popular genres in the world. It used to be an underground movement, where aspiring rappers would exchange mixtapes hoping for their talent to be recognized, and where rap fans would flock to underground clubs and bars to watch epic rap battles the likes of 8 Mile. That’s how some of the most influential rappers started their careers. Nowadays, things are a bit different, thanks to the emergence of streaming platforms and social media, but also because hip hop has firmly established itself as one of the most popular and most influential music genres in history. 

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Some people say that the golden days of rock’n’roll are over. But while the legendary antics of Led Zeppelin, Guns’n’Roses, or Motley Crue have long died down, rock, as a genre, is very much alive and kicking. The genre has always been a chameleon, always changing with the times to reflect the angst of the current generation. From the upbeat vibes brought by The Beatles to the epic presence of Led Zeppelin, to the crazy synth-powered days of 80s glam, to the 90s grunge revolution triggered by Nirvana, rock’n’roll never ceased to surprise us. Of course, nowadays the genre has split into many different subgenres, like alternative rock, progressive, nu-metal, indie rock, folk rock, and other variations. But it’s clear that it’s a genre that stands the test of time. After all, iconic albums by The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, Metallica, Led Zep, or The Who, to name just a few, are still present in the charts today. 


Pop music is one of those genres that tends to cause debates. It’s often looked down for being ‘too catchy’ or ‘too mainstream,’ but at the same time, it’s right up there in popularity with hip hop and rap, and it’s been this way for years and years. Even if you’re a hardcore metal fan who shudders at the mention of pop, you can’t deny that some pop songs get stuck in your head forever. Its magic lies not in intricate, minutes-long solos or convoluted, masterful melodies, but in its simplicity. Pop artists manage to create addictive tunes with just a few simple notes that work harmoniously and sound natural to the human ear. From legends like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Elvis, or Madonna, to contemporary icons like Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber, pop music is firmly set in position to be one of the most popular music genres in the U.S. and the world. 


Country is another divisive music genre. Even though it’s one of the most popular genres in the world, and especially in the U.S., there are some who simply don’t find it appealing. But country fans are die-hard fans, and they are incredibly supportive of their favorite country artists. It’s one of those genres you either love or hate, but there’s no denying that it’s here to stay. After all, it originated right here in the U.S. back in the 1920s. Over the years, it has morphed and split into subgenres, and you can today listen to rock or indie artists with country influences. Even the biggest pop artists stay faithful to their country roots - just think of Taylor Swift. Legendary country music artists, like Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, or Johnny Cash are still in the charts today, so that tells you that the genre has earned its right to be on this list. 

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Dance / electronic 

Though it’s not quite as old as some of the other genres on our list, electronic dance music has earned its spot at the top of the list of most popular music genres in the U.S. Much like hip hop, it started out as an underground movement, and you had to wiggle your way into legendary DJ sets in the underground clubs of Berlin and other European capitals. The genre didn’t gain popularity in the U.S. until the 2010s, and in the early days, it was not viewed in a positive light and associated with wild rave parties. But over the years, EDM has managed to wiggle its way into our hearts and charts, and now it’s one of the most listened to genres in the country. Now, names like David Guetta, Skrillex, Martin Garrix, or Calvin Harris are household names. 

R&b / Soul

Rhythm and blues, otherwise known as R&b, means different things to different people, depending on whom you ask. For some people, R&b means James Brown or Marvin Gaye, for others, it may mean Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston, and for others, it might mean Usher, Beyonce, Prince, or Mary J. Blige. So, it’s safe to say that the definition of R&b varies from generation to generation, and that’s because the genre has been around for a long time. It originated back in the 1940s in African-American communities, and slowly emerged as one of the most popular and most soulful genres of all time. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which are the most popular music genres?

The most popular music genres worldwide encompass a diverse range of styles that cater to various tastes and cultural influences. Pop music continues to be a global favorite due to its catchy melodies and broad accessibility. Hip-hop and rap have also risen to prominence, with their widespread appeal and cultural impact on a global scale. Rock music, though evolving, maintains a dedicated fan base. Additionally, electronic dance music (EDM) has gained immense popularity, especially in club and festival settings. These genres, along with others like R&B, country, and Latin music, contribute to the rich and varied musical landscape enjoyed by audiences around the world. It's important to note that the popularity of genres can vary by region and change over time.

Which music genres are growing in popularity?

Several music genres were experiencing notable growth in popularity. One such genre is K-pop, a South Korean music phenomenon that has garnered a massive international fan base. Its catchy tunes, elaborate performances, and dedicated fan engagement have propelled it to global recognition. Another genre on the rise is Latin music, with artists like Bad Bunny and Rosalía achieving international success, blending various Latin styles with contemporary sounds. Additionally, genres within the electronic music spectrum, such as EDM and its sub-genres, continue to expand their influence, especially in the context of music festivals and digital platforms.

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Gregory Walfish
Co-founder of Xposure Music, Gregory Walfish stands at the intersection of music, tech, and culture. With a software engineering background, he's passionate about artist development and technology.

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