Before his premature death in 2009, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. There is no other person currently alive or who has passed on, who can claim that title and it will be a difficult one to snatch. Michael gave us sensational hits like Thriller, Blame it on the Boogie (with Jackson 5), You Rock My World, and Bad, the list is endless! Michael made an impact not only on his fans but on other musicians as well. The King of Pop’s astonishing career saw him thrive because of his sheer brilliance. He put up stellar performances during live shows as well as his music videos and popularised one of the best-known and one of the more complicated dance moves, the moonwalk. An icon if ever there was one!
A music QUEEN! Whitney influenced all of us! She was iconic, beautiful, and super talented. She was always in her prime and dropped smash hit after smash hit; not only did she lead a generation, but she also went on to influence that generation’s kids and their grandkids! In the ‘90s, alongside Kevin Costner, Whitney played a superstar being stalked by a deranged lunatic. Her classic, yet iconic song, I Will Always Love You (originally by another icon herself, Dolly Parton), was at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 consecutive weeks, this was a massive feat at the time. Even today, it’s hard to break such records. Sadly, Whitney passed away in 2012 but her music lives on with us.
In the 1960s, when boomers were youngsters listening and dancing to The Beatles. John, Paul, George, and Ringo were unknown when they formed The Beatles in Liverpool in 1960, but they became a cultural phenomenon that has been etched into the history books forever. For starters, their music was spellbinding leaving millions of fans in awe. Then, the group made a concerted effort not to play in parts of the world where discrimination against people of colour was rife. For these two reasons The Beatles were ahead of their time and continue to inspire generations to come.
This is a man who used his words to inspire people to stand up for what is right. We can still hear Could You Be Loved in the local bar and every single time it plays, it reminds you about Bob’s authority on the world. Considered one of the pioneers of reggae music, Bob Marley was a central figure in the music world for decades, even long after his death in 1981. He has remained influential, with many of his quotes and lyrics being used to speak against the multiple atrocities in the world, and to highlight the call for One Love and equality. For what would have been his 77th birthday, his life was celebrated through pictures.
Vogue, strike a pose! If you’ve never heard this before then where have you been? What makes Madonna an icon is the fact that she reinvents herself for every single album she makes. She is a music genius! Let’s take it back to 1984 when the now 63-year-old performed her breakout song, Like a Virgin at the 1984 MTV Music Awards. Madonna shocked the then-conservative world when she rolled out onto the stage on top of a giant wedding cake donned in a wedding dress. Her risqué performance can be found in the history books. Since then, Madonna has fearlessly expressed who she is and inspired millions of people, as well as musicians to live their truths as well.
Hip Hop music is always criticised for its overtly offensive lyrics depicting gang life. But with Tupac, this is simply not the case, and while he had songs that featured the party lifestyle, most of his music described the atrocities Black people in America were facing at the time. To say Tupac was a lyrical genius is an understatement. He wrote about the struggles of children, the struggles of Black men, and the struggles of the Black women, most notably his mom, as referenced in the tearjerker, Dear Mama. The late rapper’s position in the hip-hop world can be seen and heard everywhere so much so that an exhibition on his life is currently on display in Los Angeles!
The Notorious B.I.G
Another rap god who lost his life at an incredibly early age. Christopher Wallace AKA The Notorious B.I.G, Biggie Smalls, or just Biggie, dropped two massively successful albums. This Brooklyn native was the definition of a hustler, and he did it all to give his children a better life - they are currently reaping the rewards of their father’s challenging work and success. Biggie was always up against west coast rival Tupac (they were once close friends) and dropped banger after banger, after banger. Biggy showed a generation that it is possible to overcome obstacles to succeed.
This rock group was and continues to be for the weirdos. With songs like Creep, No Surprises, High and Dry, and House of Cards, it’s hard to imagine a world without Radiohead. Creep made it okay for people to be who they are and to finally feel comfortable in their skin, even if the world calls them a weirdo. This group of ordinary British folk making music for weird people is as inspirational as they come.
Formed in 1967 in London, Fleetwood Mac might not be as mainstream as the others on this list, yet they inspired and entertained entire generations. Mostly thanks to lead vocalist, the legendary Stevie Nicks. Ultimately, the group is known for the iconic album, Rumours, which featured the best soft rock/country song of all time, Dreams.
An eccentric multi-talented person, who was Prince. The Raspberry Beret singer was also highly intelligent and protected his intellectual property like there was no tomorrow. Prince Rogers Nelson was flamboyant and that was his appeal, besides his music of course. Prince went on to inspire millions across the world, so much so that his presence following his sudden death is still felt today.