99.9999999999999999999% of pop music has no lasting influence. Grunge basically died with Kurt Cobain. Gangster rap has steadily been losing chart presence since the mid 90s. Britpop as said earlier, was just a rehash of earlier music as was the neuvo punk revival, grindcore, and deathmetal.
The one “instrument” that will continue to have a presence in new and innovative ways is the turntable. It has already begun in “New Metal.” While it is not a significant genre really it has begun utilizing the instrument that rap innovated. As it is, heavy metal and rap have been fusing significantly in the past 5 years or so. If one traces it back, it probably started with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (even though they aren’t exactly heavy metal) with the singer crossing bits of rap and singing within a given line.
Dave Matthews sounds, looks, and makes videos almost exactly like Peter Gabriel. If I didn’t know that he was a thousand years younger I would have thought they were the same person. It doesn’t say anything about the music but it isn’t particularly innovative.
Pop country is currently rock music with a singer who sings with an accent. It will remain popular but that is because it typically sounds exactly like all the other rock songs out there. If you can imagine the singer not singing with a strong accent it would be virtually indestinguishable from rock music with a similar line up. Also, it is dying out as well. I believe that NYC doesn’t have a country music station anymore.
When I think of the 90’s I think of the plethora of new age bands and singers like Yanni and Enya. They aren’t particularly good or interesting but they had a huge surge in popularity in the 90s. Alas, listening to the music now makes it seem very old and dated other than a few songs.
For pop music to survive past a few decades it will have to transcend the commercialism and start being viewed as art. We all know that Brittney, N’Sync, and all of those bands are simply in it for the money so there is no way to sell out. But what most people don’t realize that is also where 99.99999999% of the bands out there are in the music business for. There are smatterings of true art here and there and fortunately that is what will survive.
Bands like the Beatles (while not technically great) and Simon and Garfunkel produced songs that have made it into the folk consciousness that speak to large audiences while remaining individual. They have transcended the commercial aspects and became art and thus will survive. People will study their music, personal lives, successes and failures for a while.
The only bands that I can think of that will have an impact anywhere near those initial two are The Rolling Stones (I am not a fan but know talent when I see it) and U2 (I am not sure if their later music will make the cut). There are many other bands I like but they don’t sound fresh when listening to a decade later. For what it is worth, if you listen to music and it sounds extremely dated it won’t likely make the cut at all and will not have much of a lasting impact. Individual musical styles will live on but the bands that created it will likely die a quick, merciful death.