Highlights of the Major Pop Culture Trends of the 1960s

The decade of the 1960s is considered as a cultural decade since most of the changes and happenings this year were more significant in terms of culture and aesthetics. The decade of sixties is also called as “Swinging Sixties” as it had a youth driven cultural revolution focused on relaxation of the different types of social taboos as well.

All of this surrounds the pop culture of the 1960s. Find out more about the highlights of major pop culture trends of the 1960s in the article below.


The Hollywood and film industry changed and evolved in many ways in the 1960s. Some of the top films were released which focused on changes and revolution changed the cinematic experience. These films were quite helpful in reshaping Hollywood and experience for the viewers. With much focus on musical films, drama films, and films based on the World War. 1960s was a time when the first films having sensitive content such as sex and violence were publicly released.

  • The Sound of Music was released in 1965 and earned the maximum of $72 Million in the same year while to date, the film has earned over $286 million. The film was based on a musical drama novel of the same name by Howard Lindsay. Film Stars included Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. It has earned multiple awards as well.
  • Easy Rider was a film released in 1969 and is important for highlighting the aspects on how the drug mafia operates. This film was one of the last ones of 1969 but created a major impact and change towards the upcoming films in using drug abuse as a topic. With under half a million as budget, the film earned over $60 million.
  • Space Exploration became an important topic for films due to the ongoing explorations by USA and USSR to outer space and celestial objects. The top grossing film focused on space exploration and possibility of aliens was 2001: A Space Odyssey. Other different types of films include Space Probe Taurus, Marooned, and Robinson Crusoe on Mars.
  • Walt Disney had its best decade since it released some of the top films including The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, It’s Yogi Bear, The Man Called Flintstone, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians as well which made it to the top charts. Unfortunately, Walt Disney died in 1966 but his exceptional films are still watched today.
  • For a first, sexually explicit movies like Barbarellawere also publicly released. The film revolves around Jane Fonda as Barbarella who a space traveler and representative of the US government is to find out a scientist who has created a weapon to destroy humanity. Critics did not like much about the film and said that it had a weak storyline.
  • The decade of the 1960s was important because an All-Color production of films was finally achieved. Earlier, there used to be only black and white films.


For the Swinging Sixties, Music was also in revolution and all sorts of norms were being broken. From pop music and folk music in the start of the sixties, it got changed to a wide range of music that was more in the “Rock N Roll” genre. The Beatles Revolution was an important phenomenon of the 1960s. This is because they were most influential for the decade and were stepping out of the radical elements of the counterculture. Introspective music and lyrics such as those by Bob Dylan and Paul Simon became the new music.

  • The Beatles was a band that got its most fame and success in the 1960s. In 1964, The Beatles first came to the US following which the era of “Beatles Invasion” started. Few of the very popular songs that hit the charts include Help, Yesterday, Roll Over Beethoven, You Cannot do That. and Ticket to Ride.
  • Grammy Awards had just started in 1959 which is why they became an important part of the 60s. These were awards for high performing songs for their artists, music, direction, video direction, lyrics, and other aspects. Grammy Awards became important for signifying music and ranking artists globally.
  • Girl Music dominated the charts in the beginning of the 1960s. An active influence of girl music was on the teenage girls focusing on modern thinking and freedom. Some of the best female groups and artists of the 1960s include the Shirelles, Betty Everett, Little Eva, the Dixie Cups, the Ronettes, and the Supremes.
  • Elvis Presley was a famous singer of the 1960s. He returned from the military after just two years of service and resumed his musical career which got him high fame in the 1960s. His popular songs like “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” hit the charts right away.
  • A Love Supreme was an album by the saxophonist John Coltrane. The reason why it became popular was because it was the most acclaimed jazz album of the era. The entire album is considered as a masterpiece.
  • Bob Dylan had a major rise in his career in the mid-1960s. His song “Like a Rolling Stone” hit the top 5 positions charts all over the world. The singer also had other top performing songs like the Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited. Following 1967, Bob Dylan then released his country rock album that was the first step towards the long road of country rock music.

Science and Technology

Science and Technology

The decades of 1960s are considered important for the revolution in science and major technological advancements. There were various important inventions in the 1960s which are used today as well. Important events for science and technology such as landing on the moon also took place in this decade. Therefore, it is considered as an important one towards modern sciences and technologies.

  • Perhaps the most important event of the 1960s was the Apollo 11 mission to the moon by NASA. With many basic level missions in the start and mid-1960s, NASA was finally able to send its two top astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. This was a breakthrough in science and space exploration as well as a dream of John F. Kennedy fulfilled.
  • A major accomplishment in the field of medicine was that the Food and Drug Administration Authority of USA finally released the Vaccine for Measles. This happened in the year 1963 and was considered a breakthrough for other types of diseases and their possible solutions.
  • Oral Contraceptive Pill was first authorized for usage in 1960 after approval from the Food and Drug Administration Unit of the USA. The pill altered the menstrual cycle to eliminate ovulation and prevent pregnancy.
  • First Heart Transplant which became successful was conducted in 1967 by DrChristiaan Barnard on Louis Washkansky, a 54-year old man. The person survived for 18 days after which he died of pneumonia. However, the second transplant to Philip Blaiberg was successful as he lived over 18 months.
  • A major accomplishment in the field of medicine was that the Food and Drug Administration Authority of USA finally released the Vaccine for Measles. This happened in the year 1963 and was considered a breakthrough for other types of diseases and their possible solutions.
  • 1960 marks the year when the laser was invented by Professor Theodore Maiman. Although, the study on laser technology had slowed down but revolutionary work by the Professor was a breakthrough in science as it led to modern laser technology, barcode system, and QR Code technology.
  • First Supercomputer CDC 6600 was also released in September 1964. This mainframe computer was manufactured by Control Data Corporation and had the performance of up to three “megaFLOPS”. 100 of these were delivered in total.
  • Famous technological hardware and chipsets manufacturer firm, Intel, was also formed in the late 1960s. Initially, the firm was developing semiconductor memory but later turned towards processors. Today, Intel is among the top 100 firms of the world in terms of revenue with major interests in smartphone and personal computer processors.
  • The First Rectangular TV was released in the year 1965. It was a colored television released by Motorola. Since it was a major advancement towards traditional black and white televisions, it hit the markets right away and was one of the reasons for the success of Motorola.


Different types of sports were played in the 1960s including Golf, Basketball, Baseball, Football, and Brandy as well. The trend of Championships and World-Wide Competitions increased in the 1960s in almost every sport. Olympic games and Commonwealth Games were also played which attracted a high number of audiences every year.

  • Olympic Games were played 6 times during the decade. Over the decade, the number of countries participating in the Summer Olympic Games increased from 87 to 112 while the number of sports events were also increased. The Olympic Games marked a symbol of fair practice competition and unity among nations.
  • FIFA World Cups were held in 1962 and 1966. In neither of the two championships did the USA win. First one was hosted by Chile and won by Brazil while the second one was hosted and won by England in a fierce battle against West Germany. The FIFA World Cups were important because they resulted in promoting football on a global scale.
  • The National Basketball Association worked much for the revival of Basketball within the United States and other parts of the world. Prominent players of the era include Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and John Havlicek who won multiple awards for their exceptional performance at that time.
  • Golf as a sport was probably the most popular sport of the 1960s. There were various kinds of tournaments such as the Master’s Tournament, US. Men’s Open, US. Women’s Open, UK Men, and PGA Tournaments as well. Famous players of the era include Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
  • Although not a widely common sport, the Bandy World Championship was held in the 1960s between limited nations such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Soviet Union. Bandy is still not a widely played sport.



The decade of the 1960s was a culturally experimental one where men and women were having experiments on the different and unique kinds of fashion. New types of dresses were being introduced, mainly designer ones, which got popular soon enough. The fashion sense of people changed in many ways.

  • Influence on men and their dressing as well as overall look was based on the band, The Beatles. Since they were one of the most popular bands of the time, men started to follow them and adopted mop-top haircut, The Beatle Boots, and started to wear the Nehru Jacket based on the season.
  • In the later years of the decade, the Hippie Movement also became quite popular due to the hippie culture. Popular dresses as of that time include bell bottom jeans, tie-dye, and batik fabrics along with paisley prints. These dresses were worn by both, men, and women.
  • Important part of fashion since the 1963s has been the concept of Bikinis which are being worn even today. These were first featured in a film called Beach Party.
  • In the 1960s, women started to wear dresses that were shorter and much tighter to their body. The concept of Miniskirts was introduced by Mary Quant since she was a popular model of the time. The miniskirts stayed in fashion for a long time before disappearing in the 1970s.
  • Generally, the approach to fashion was based on young people. Youth was experimenting new clothes which were later adopted by the elders as well.
  • A mixed variety of hairstyles was being followed for both, men, and women. Men were more on to following the crew cut, the flat top hairstyle and the tapered hairstyle. On the other hand, women’s hairstyles for the period include beehive hairdos, the bird’s nest hairstyle and the chignon hairstyle as well.


Television programs were popular in the 1960s for many reasons. Firstly, there were many new program debuts which are still going on today. Famous producers such as Walt Disney had their final shows debuted in the year. Television programs were targeting sensitive topics such as the US Role in the Vietnam War which not only made these controversial but also, they became highly grossing.

  • Hogan’s Heroes was a show that became quite popular in the 60s. It focused on how a German prisoner of war during the World War II times. It is the longest television show ever on the issue of war.
  • Famous television show Star-trek also debuted in the 1960s. The show has since become quite popular among youth. The show was based on the future and how people would be able to travel to space. Star of the Star trek series include William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley.
  • Actor Charlie Sheen was born in the year 1965 and has been an important television celebrity since a long time. His major shows include Two and a Half men, Wall Street, and The Three Musketeers.
  • The Batman series was based on the DC Comic book of the same name starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne. The initial session was from January 1966 to March 1968. Batman has since then been a famous television show and was aimed at targeting the teenage audience for humor and simple moral values.
  • The Flintstones was one of the most popular shows of the time which started on September 30th, 1960 and ended on April 1, 1966. The show was so successful that it got 420 million views per episode with over 69 million views per day. The American Sitcom is based on a stone age time for a family. The Flintstones was the most successful program of the 60s in terms of financial success.
  • Since the issue of the Vietnam war was at peak, there were different types of controversial programs at that time as well. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was one of them. Although, being a comedy show, yet it sparked controversy for being too much political satire as well as challenging the foundations of America’s corporate and governmental controls as well.


The 1960s has been a time when there were many precedent and unprecedented events that took place in the decade. The 60s was a time where countries were in their development phase while many were gaining independence as well. The 60s was an age of change and an age of revolution with many interesting news surrounding throughout.

  • The Vietnam War was the biggest issue for the decade for the USA. 1800 Military personnel for the USA arrived in Vietnam for support in 1960 and the number had crossed over 500,000 by the end of the decade. The Vietnam war did not end in the 1960s. Much of the important events of the time include Gulf of Tonkin incident, Bay of Pigs Incident, Lao Bombings, and others etc.
  • The Presidential Election of 1960 resulted in the favor of John F. Kennedy who became the 35th President of the USA. However, in 1963, the President was assassinated in Texas while he was with his motorcade. The investigations for John F. Kennedy’s assassination were quite unexpected as his killer was found and arrested but was later killed while being transported to another jail.
  • Martin Luther King was a famous civil rights activist who spoke up against racial profiling and stood for the freedom of civilians in America. Martin Luther King gave his famous speech “I have a dream” on the Lincoln Memorial which got him much fame. Throughout his life, he got arrested multiple times. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in the year 1968.
  • Racial Discrimination issue was at its peak in the 1960s. During the 1960s, there were multiple incidents of riots by African Americans against the issue of racial discrimination. In one incident that occurred in 1965, there was a riot as a pregnant woman was hurt by the police. These riots were so big that they caused over $40 million in damage while a high number of fatalities and injuries were recorded as well.
  • Another sad incident of the time was the Incident of Kent State Shootings where the National Lifeguard killed 4 students and injured more than 10 who were unarmed and were engaged in a peaceful rally. Protests erupted all over the country since it was the first incident of United States history when a student was shot fatally dead by the National Guard.
  • Inspired by the different types of civil rights movements that were being done in the 1960s, the LGBT community also started to build a movement. They were conservative in their practices and emphasized that gay men and women are no different from those who are straight. They started different types of peaceful movements, gay pride, and legalizing gay relations as well.


  • New Dances were being introduced in the 1960s. The 1965 pop culture was changing fashion and the media films and television were making a major impact on the teenagers and youth. The fancy dances of the time include The Freddie, The Frug, The Hitch-Hike, The Loco motion, The Mashed Potato, The Shimmy, The Swim, and The Twist.


The 1960s has been a decade like a rollercoaster with a mix of different types of ups and downs. The different cultures were being adopted and the decade of “Swinging Sixties” influenced much in shaping the current future where we live. The culturally significant decade had different types of films and televisions which turned out to become culturally, aesthetically, and historically important as well.

Related posts: