When most people think of the Pennsylvania music scene, they think of the Will Smith line, “In West Philadelphia, born and raised.” Because of this, Pennsylvania is not really compared to other music ‘hot beds’ such as Nashville, Chicago, and New York City. But why? Philadelphia, as well as Pittsburgh, has unleashed a multitude of great bands/artists. And, it’s not just the notables such as Will Smith: they range from rap to pop to rock, and spread over a good 40 years of solid music.
A notable duo from Philadelphia is Daryl Hall and John Oates who made the psychedelic rock group Hall & Oates. They had several hits during the 1970’s and 1980’s including some Billboard #1 hits: “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” and “Maneater.”
Another group that found fame during the 1980’s that hails from the Philadelphia area is the Hooters. The Hooters had several hits that found MTV airplay such as “And We Danced” and “Where Do the Children Go.”
Because of this, the Hooters found international success and were able to play in Berlin in 1990 alongside Roger Waters. They also opened the Live Aid concert which took place in Philadelphia in 1985.
After the 1980’s, the Pennsylvanian success continued with the duo of Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff who started in 1985 but established most of their success in the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s with notable singles like “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble,” and “Nightmare on My Street.”
Eventually, “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” was released as the theme song for the show of the same title, which put Philadelphia on the map.
Will Smith continued to put out singles as a single artist such as “Gettin’ Jiggy wit’ It,” “Miami,” and “Men in Black.
Another artist that achieved some fame over the 1990’s was a band from the small city of York, PA. Live is a hard rock band that really gained success with their second album, Throwing Copper. Some singles that are on that album include “Selling the Drama” and “Lightening Crashes,” the former of which reached the 46th spot on the Billboard charts.
There are also multiple pop stars that have come from the Pennsylvania area. Pink (or P!nk) is from Doylestown, PA and is known for her multiple #1 hits and her various cameos in films. All five of her albums have been certified platinum in the United States, and she has won two Grammy awards.
One pop star that is constantly seen in the tabloids and heard all over the radio is Taylor Swift. Swift was born in Wyomissing and although she moved to the Nashville area, she is still a Pennsylvania native.
Asher Roth, of course, gained success with his single “I Love College” that was steaming all over the country for its catchy chorus and Roth’s laid back flow.
One pop group that is starting to make a name for itself is the duo who call themselves Chiddy Bang. Using samples from other artists such as Sufjan Stevens and MGMT, Chiddy Bang has started playing at festivals such as Lollapalooza and the Glastonbury Festival.
The Pennsylvania scene is ever growing as well with each region putting out solid bands that have grown accustomed to living in vans and touring constantly in order to somehow make it big.
The Lansdale/Doylestown scene has produced bands such as Circa Survive, The Wonder Years, CDC, and Balance & Composure who all have respectable names in the alternative, pop-punk, and hardcore genres. The central Pennsylvania scene produced some notable bands like Snowing, Algernon Cadwallader, Koji, and, most notably, Street Smart Cyclist who are all well-known names in the punk inspired emo scene.
The Pittsburgh scene has put out some more well-known names, such as Girl Talk and Wiz Khalifa, but certainly lacks the depth that the Philadelphia side of the state has been producing.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Philadephia area which has produced acts who have toured nationwide like Everyone Everywhere, Valencia, MewithoutYou, Good Old War, Gillie da Kid, The Starting Line, and The Roots who are all big names.
Overall, the amount of music in Pennsylvania is overwhelming to the point that Pennsylvania should be considered one of the musical hot beds that people talk about when they speak of areas such as Nashville and Chicago.
From the 1970’s psychedelic rock of Hall & Oates to modern artists such as Circa Survive, the Roots, and Wiz Khalifa, Pennsylvania has proved that not only can it produce outstanding artists, but that the state is still producing outstanding artists.
Joe Deegan is a first-year mathematics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.