MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: Influential Artists of All Time

To say that this post has been stewing in my mind for the last few weeks is really a very big understatement. This series has been swirling in my mind for months. As my brother undertook what I reckon was perhaps one of the boldest decisions he has ever done with regards to this site (unveil a series about his most influential and impacting albums of all time, all in the span of this last year), I have decided to take up a similar, yet different task. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what constitutes a great artist or band, and what makes a band or artist impactful, and impacting in a society that is continuously churning though and spitting out artists as if they’re nothing more than just a stepping stone for record companies to be famous. Which bands and artists are timeless? Which artists and bands evoke emotion amongst old and young, black and white, across races, religions, creeds, beliefs and even sexual orientations, to create a sense of camaraderie and unity, as well as stir up questions that would’ve otherwise not been discussed had it not been for artists and songs, and the space to create freely and without restriction? Can crossover artists succeed without compromising on fundamental and core values that have made them successful initially in the industry they started off in?

All these questions are essential, if not central, to music and the universal impact music can have in the lives of people around the world. Can an artist be followed, respected, admired, advocated, and even championed if their personal lives do not coincide with what they’re singing about? Maybe, maybe not, it’s a hard question to answer. But what I will say is this- artists have come and gone, and artists have stuck around for longer than even they have maybe even realised. Songs transcend the artist, that is a fact. But sometimes, an artist and their discography, can embody ideals and values that can challenge the status quo, and remind us all that it is ok not to be ok, that often the song unveiled by the artist, used as a medium for asking for help and assistance; is all that is needed to bring together people from all walks of life, culture and upbringing.

For me, I’ve been very insular and uncultured in what I have listened to. All throughout primary school, I only listened to Christian music. Not a bad thing at all, I love the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) ‘genre’, but when you’re only eating rice for a long time, you think that the only nutrients you can get is from rice, and nothing else. That’s the thing about this little circle of Christian music. CCM is in my opinion, one of the most vulnerable and inspiring ‘genres’, if you could call it a genre, of music; but we must not forget that God doesn’t just speak through Christian music and that is it. He speaks through all music. Mind you, if the music from the outset isn’t glorifying to Him (songs about sex, drugs, having a good time at the expense of everyone else), I can find it extremely hard if someone were to say that God even speaks through that. But, I must understand that God is God, and if He wants to speaks through music that isn’t really glorifying to Him initially, for the listener to gain some conviction about God and themselves, through the process of listening to such music; who am I to judge or even question God’s methods?

Music is a very big sonic landscape, so for me to title this post- Momentous Mondays: Influential Artists and Bands of All Time; can be a bit of a big spoon to swallow. Now let me say from the outset that this list is by no means a definite one. There are hundreds upon hundreds of lists out there about influential artists- Billboard and The Rolling Stone being two publications where opinions were voiced about what the authors of the articles thought should be in included in the top ___ artists of music history. So this year-long (most probably more) post is another such list, and thus, subject to opinion. Because of my own background, and my appreciation for certain music over others, my list of who I reckon should be deemed as ‘influential’ is going to change when you would ask someone else. Still, what I am to unveil and expound upon over the next year or two, is just yet another man’s opinion about an ever-changing music industry and atmosphere. If people disagree with my list, for whatever reason, that’s ok. My music tastes have changed from birth and teenage years, till now, and throughout this year, as I give this year-long (maybe longer) post series a crack, my musical tastes will continue to change as well. They’ll be shaped and moulded, as I’m open to whatever the Lord is wanting to speak to me through these artists, some that I haven’t really taken the plunge to listen to…yet!

So without further ado, here below are artists that I believe have shaped the industry as a whole in creating a space of creativity and honesty, of hope and encouragement, of laying a platform for other artists to follow. Note that this list is as across many genres of music as possible, and hopefully, most time periods. I’ve decided to write and expound upon artists, grouping them into three. The first is a group of 100, artists who I have found to be influential across my own life as well as influential within their own genre of music that they specialise in- inclusive of artists like Josh Groban, U2, Pentatonix, Newsboys, PINK, Taylor Swift and Kirk Franklin, to name a few. My brother Josh on the other hand, is also relaying his own thoughts to 20 other artists, whom he feels are ‘up-and-coming’, artists that will have a lasting impact on music…but would be really influential within 5-10 years from now- inclusive of Lauren Daigle, Alessia Cara, Tori Kelly, and more. Then there’s the final list of 20- that both Josh and myself will partake in. These artists will be the classic and timeless ones- QUEEN, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, ABBA, Beach Boys, Keith Green and Rich Mullins (to name a few).

Notably absent from my rather subjective list of 100, is quite a lot of the current landscape of pop right now. While I don’t necessarily need to justify my selections of who I believe is influential and who isn’t (both on a music history level and a personal level), I must make an opinion through observation- that much of the pop artists right now haven’t really made much of a mark on the industry as people have claimed they have. Just in terms of creating music with unique creativity and a space for honest discussion. While many can disagree with me (and that’s ok), in a general sense, the pop industry as a whole isn’t really that inventive. And my lack of inclusion of many current pop artists in my opinion piece of ‘influential artists of all time’, shows the state of music currently. Nevertheless, artistically grounded and unique pop artists from today are mentioned in my list below, from Adele, Ed Sheeran, Guy Sebastian and Michael Buble, to Shania Twain, Lifehouse, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake and Avril Lavigne; so I guess the current state of pop/rock is not in total disarray.

This new post series is going to be new for me as well as all you guys reading these posts, so let us all embark upon this journey together, and discover what it really means to be immersed in what music has to offer, and understand that if God can speak through Balaam’s donkey (as shown in the Bible, in the book of Numbers 22:21-39); then he can definitely speak through a certain style of music that you may not like stylistically, or even not agree with from a persona standpoint. Every week on Mondays, I’ll be unpacking an artist/band, and its impact on humanity as a whole, as well as its impact on myself. I’ll discuss the artist’s creativity and how much of their discography relates on a universal level, to current society (and sometimes the society of the world when their famous songs were written!). So let us sit back, and bring on the music that has been impacting generations in the past, and generations to come! Til next time! [Note- the list below is not in order of writing the posts, but rather, random order. The list will update as the year progresses, and links to individual posts will be linked below].

Influential Artists/Bands of Music History (my own personal list…please don’t treat this as gospel!):

  1. Michael W. Smith
  2. Switchfoot
  3. Avril Lavigne
  4. Delta Goodrem
  5. Lifehouse
  6. Josh Groban
  7. Carrie Underwood
  8. Owl City
  9. Martina McBride
  10. Andrew Peterson
  11. U2
  12. DC Talk
  13. Sara Bareilles
  14. Ronan Keating
  15. The McClymonts
  16. Train
  17. Phil Collins
  18. Shania Twain
  19. Casting Crowns
  20. Kelly Clarkson
  21. Michael Buble
  22. Newsboys
  23. Skillet
  24. Tenth Avenue North
  25. Ed Sheeran
  26. Guy Sebastian
  27. Evanescene
  28. Selena Gomez
  29. OneRepublic
  30. Pentatonix
  31. Adele
  32. Creed
  33. Johnny Farnham
  34. Coldplay
  35. Lecrae
  36. Spice Girls
  37. Billy Joel
  38. PINK
  39. Needtobreathe
  40. Daughtry
  41. Rascal Flatts
  42. Carman
  44. Chris Tomlin
  45. Rebecca St. James
  46. Destiny’s Child
    • Beyonce
    • Kelly Rowland
    • Michelle Williams
  47. Taylor Swift
  48. PETRA
  49. Delirious?
  50. Plumb
  51. KJ 52
  52. Keith Urban
  53. Bruce Springsteen
  54. Fleetwood Mac
  55. One Direction
  56. Snow Patrol
  57. Backstreet Boys
  58. Hillsong (All Its Facets and Incarnations)
  59. Kirk Franklin
  60. Steven Curtis Chapman
  61. Human Nature
  62. Tim McGraw
  63. Faith Hill
  64. Reba McEntire
  65. Lionel Richie
  66. Crowded House
  67. Mary Mary
  68. Jason Crabb and the Crabb Family
  69. Jason Mraz
  70. Larry Norman
  71. AC/DC
  72. The Police
  73. Mumford and Sons
  74. SEAL
  75. Nickelback
  76. The Eagles
  77. Simon and Garfunkel
  78. David Bowie
  79. Lady Antebellum
  80. Flyleaf
  81. Justin Timberlake
  82. Sarah McLachlan
  83. Bon Jovi
  84. Stevie Wonder
  85. Olivia Newton-John
  86. Linkin Park
  87. John Mayer
  88. Gavin DeGraw
  89. Westlife
  90. Dixie Chicks
  91. Huey Lewis and the News
  92. Lulu
  93. Leann Rimes
  94. Leonard Cohen
  95. Neil Diamond
  96. Shakira
  97. Norah Jones
  98. Natalie Imbruglia
  99. Eric Clapton
  100. Journey

And now, here are 20 artists that are very iconic and well known by just about anyone who is a fan of music, period:

20 Influential and Timeless Artists:

  1. The Beatles
  2. Elton John
  3. Elvis Presley
  4. ABBA
  5. Prince
  6. Bob Dylan
  7. Whitney Houston
  8. The Bee Gees
  9. Michael Jackson
  10. Queen
  11. Ray Charles
  12. Arethra Franklin
  13. Johnny Cash
  14. Rolling Stones
  15. Cliff Richard
  16. Celine Dion
  17. Rich Mullins
  18. The Beach Boys
  19. Keith Green
  20. Amy Grant

And now, here are 20 more up and coming influential artists, whom we will blog about separate from this series at various points this year and next year!

  1. Maren Morris
  2. Lauren Daigle
  3. Tori Kelly
  4. Alessia Cara
  5. NF
  6. Rachel Platten
  7. Shawn Mendes
  8. Jess Glynne
  9. Cimorelli
  10. Jana Kramer
  11. For All Seasons
  12. The New Respects
  13. Peter Hollens
  14. Echosmith
  15. Dami Im
  16. Veridia
  17. Charlie Puth
  18. Meghan Trainor
  19. Kelsea Ballireni
  20. Apollo LTD

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