How the Caribbean influence Contributed to the Birth of Ska

The 1950s saw the birth and evolution of many popular genres such as rock, rhythm and blues, jazz and ska.

The latter in particular was born in Jamaica and is the result of African and European melodies that blended together, in particular jazz and rhythm and blues.


Between the 1950s and 1970s, the United Kingdom witnessed mass immigration from the English-speaking Caribbean islands, particularly Jamaica and Barbados. Therefore, ska and reggae became a popular genre upon British soil and were soon picked up and appreciated by local British inhabitants.


During the mid- the too late 1970s, with the birth of punk rock and harsher sounds, ska music, in particular, witnessed an interesting evolution as it met and merged with the sounds of punk. With the characteristic Caribbean melodies and increased tempo, ska music began to spread worldwide and began to chart.

One of the first ever bands to enter the charts and make an impact in the first wave of ska music was “The Skatalities”, originally from Jamaica. The band has topped the charts in their native country, the USA, UK, and other countries globally with hits such as “Guns of Navarone” and “Pressure Drop”.

Among the first ever bands to popularise ska music, contributing to the second wave of ska music, and top the charts was “The Specials” with their singles “Too Much Too Young” and “Ghost Town”, both reaching #1 in 1980 and 1981. The band, originally from Coventry, dealt with touchy social and political messages such as recession, Thatcherism, unemployment and adult responsibility. During the course of the 80s, the band would produce top 10 hits such as “Free Nelson Mandela”, a strong political message to the then-Apartheid regime in South Africa demanding the freedom of Nelson Mandela, who went on to win the 1994 elections in the country.


Another highly popular band that incorporate ska into British life was “Madness”. Originally from Camden Town and featuring Suggs as their lead member, the musical act has achieved national and international notoriety in the late 1970s and early 1980s. With top 10 hits “Baggy Trousers”, “One Step Beyond”, “It Must Be Love” and #1 hit “Our House”, Madness has sealed its presence in the music industry forever. The band spoke mostly about social issues that plagued the UK such as social class, unemployment, the education system, and much more.

Ska reached a peak also in the 1990s with one band representing the genre at its finest in that decade: No Doubt. With lead singer Gwen Stefani, and adding a twist of grunge, the band struck major international success with hits such as “Don’t Speak” and “Just a Girl” from their hit ska-inspired album “Tragic Kingdom” which reached #1 in countries such as Iceland, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and USA.



In fact, No Doubt belongs to what is known as the third wave of ska music and have contributed to defining it further during the 1990s.


/ Popnable Media
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