At the 2020 Oscars, Billie Eilish sang a sulky version of The Beatles’ ballad “Yesterday.” Despite her neon-green hair and firm commitment to weirdness, Eilish’s rendition was subdued and solemn, a stripped-down but ultimately faithful cover.

The moment threaded six decades of recorded music history, connecting an artist born just after 9/11 with an artist born just after the Blitz. During that time, cultural shifts intertwined with changes in recording production to create an identifiable “sound” for each decade of music. 

 

The ‘60s