Our favourite genres

Our favourite genres

Music is such a big part of our lives and is something that is universal and that everyone enjoys from every culture. It is a way of expressing and communicating how we feel, and can help people find themselves or help them through hard times. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of music is the many genres it has that can bring so many different types of people together. Certain genres are often celebrated for their promotion of certain causes or messages. No matter the genre there is a rich history behind every one.

Here are some of our favourite genres.

Jazz and Blues

The blues were invented by African slaves when they brought their musical traditions with them when they were transported to work in the Northern American colonies in the 19th century. They would sing while on the cotton or vegetable fields, songs of injustice, hopelessness, and longing for a better life. The music itself evolved from African spirituals and work songs. During the middle the to late 1800s, the Mississippi Delta was home to hundreds of seminal bluesmen who helped to shape the music. Unfortunately, most of this original music followed them to their graves. When the country blues moved to the cities, it took on various regional characteristics with the most well-known today being blues rock.

Jazz originated in New Orleans as a fusion of African and European music. Jazz music became popular in the 1920’s during a time that is now known as the Jazz Age. It developed from African-American work songs, spiritual music, and minstrelsy (when people would use blackface on stage). Jazz had a huge part in changing social groups. The Jazz Age was at the peak of women’s suffrage and the emergence of female African-American musicians including Bessie Smith; who later was very influential on many female musicians. The younger generation would use jazz to rebel against the traditional culture of previous generations.  The second world war put paid to all the fun. After the war, amid Stalin’s repression, jazz came to symbolise freedom and resistance. Many jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday used their celebrity status and music to promote racial equality and social justice.

Today, jazz is played and listened to by people of all cultures and ethnicities and includes musical elements and styles from all over the world; jazz has gone from being America’s music to being the world’s music. 

Shanghai isn’t short of live music venues covering every conceivable genre. One of the most charming jazz clubs in Shanghai is Heyday, a cocktail lounge that showcases local jazz talents in Shanghai. It has been described as a “vintage live jazz bar” with live performance every night of the week starting at 9pm on weekdays and 9:30pm on weekends. This beautifully decorated bar has plenty of space to sit so it’s the perfect place to listen to some jazz, drink and relax.      Address: 50 Tai'an Lu, near Xingguo Lu

Soul and Funk

Soul music developed in the USA during the late 1950s from gospel music. After slavery ended in 1865, African-Americans weren't welcome in the churches of white Americans, so they decided to build their own churches and sang Christian songs with African-American vocal styles and rhythms. These songs would be joyful, up-tempo gospel songs or slower gospel songs that expressed deep feelings. These different styles later led to genres such as funk, dance, Hip-hop, and R&B.

Funk music is a unique genre that held an important place in popular culture during the 20th century. Funk music itself is defined by a combination of African American soul music and a strong syncopated beat. Funk music emerged in the mid-1960s, with James Brown, the legendary Motown bassist. Funk music is very significant as it accompanied many protest movements during and after the Civil Rights Movement. Funk allowed everyday experiences to be expressed to challenge daily struggles and hardships fought by lower and working class communities. Funk was very popular during the 1970s and 1980s thanks to the likes of Prince, Michael Jackson, and Duran Duran; and had a mini-revival in the early 1990s due to the sampling of funk songs by hip-hop artists.

Shake is a bar in Shanghai that is based on New York supper clubs from the 1960s, where patrons would spend an entire evening at the venue for food, drinks, and entertainment. From Wednesday to Sunday at 9.30 - 10:30, you will be able to watch a live performance with veteran singers from Shanghai's music scene. Shake also presents a variety of music performances. Every Thursday Shake holds "Noche Latina." an evening of Latin rhythm. Their upcoming anniversary, this Saturday, 15th of July, will see 5 singers with Shake’s Band performing until late, so if you’re looking for good vibes it’s the place to be.                                                                              Address: 3/F, 46 Maoming Nan Lu, near Jinxian Lu

Heavy metal

Although often criticised by critics often due to their wildly aggressive lyrics, many heavy metal bands are widely popular. This includes Black Sabbath Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest. The term heavy metal was first used in 1968, in the song Born To Be Wild by Steppenwolf. The roots of heavy metal can be found in the 1960’s thanks to bands like The Kinks and The Rolling Stones who used heavy riffs in many of their songs.


Rapping originated thousands of years ago in Africa where village story tellers would play handmade instruments while telling stories of their family and local events. This style of talking while music is playing is rap music as we know it at its root form. Rap as a genre began at block parties in New York City during the early 1970s, when DJs began isolating the percussion breaks of funk, soul, and disco songs and extending them. MCs would introduce the DJs, keep the crowd energised and talk between songs, joking and generally interacting with the audience. 

Over time, it became common for the MCs (or rappers, as they soon became known) to talk and rhyme over and in sync with the music. Rap was originally regarded as a fad by record companies but in 1979, rap music proved its commercial viability with the release of The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight”. Rap has changed and evolved since its humble beginning but the essence of its heart and soul remains.

Monkey Champagne is a club in Shanghai that plays Hip-Hop and R&B. The entrance fee is 100rmb which comes with 2 complimentary drinks. For half price entry fee including 1 drink add their Wechat at: houseofmonkey and send them your full name before afternoon at the day of the event to be on the guest list. Guests need to be there before midnight. Their next up and coming party is this Friday in collaboration with SHFT & HipHop Hijack. It’s a party you don’t want to miss out on.                                                                                                                                            Address: 38 Donghu Lu,  near Xinle Lu

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