On July 29, four days into the International History Olympiad, the Pop Music History Bee occurred. While many events of the International History Olympiad have been primarily focused on aspects of military history, social history, etc., the Pop Music History Bee focuses on a different area of history: cultural. This form of culture is not what one typically considers “history”, but the music of a culture often has a major importance in the society. For example, in many American Indian traditions, music is closely connected to nature and is a vital aspect of social, moral, and spiritual events. Accordingly, the International History Olympiad has chosen to place a greater focus on this integral aspect of world culture and create an event centered on music, specifically music from the last one hundred years. Music from the last one hundred years will be the most familiar to audiences and competitors alike, and remind them of their heritage whilst introducing that heritage to others as well. 

The Pop Music History Bee has a unique format, in that it is composed of half audio, and half written tossups. Many players seemed to have an appreciation for this format, enjoying the opportunity to both recognize music by description as well as by the piece itself. The lead-ins to the audio were admired as well, as they did not merely state “Name the song” every time, but also requested the word all of the songs had in common, the album the songs were on, and the franchise the songs were featured in. The event featured nine Varsity students, four Junior Varsity students, eight Middle School students, and ten Elementary students. 

There were a wide variety of questions, from a written tossup on Chicago to an audio tossup on K-Pop, and a written tossup on “Strange Fruit” to an audio tossup on the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is commendable that students from such a broad range of ages could answer such a diverse assortment of questions based only upon their Spotify playlist or what they have heard on the radio. The Pop Music History Bee offered a fascinating insight into the shared culture of

students from multiple age groups that were able to identify the same songs and bands, despite being from across the country and the world.

Katherine Spusta

Varsity, Alabama