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 cultured 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 arguably 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 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 year, 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 lean a lot in my list, on the classic and timeless artists- QUEEN, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, U2, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, ABBA, Beach Boys, Keith Green and Rich Mullins (to name a few), rather than 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, PINK, Josh Groban and Pentatonix, to Demi Lovato, Lifehouse, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake and Avril Lavigne; so I guess the current state of pop 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. Newsboys
  18. Phil Collins
  19. The Bee Gees
  20. Amy Grant
  21. Keith Green
  22. PETRA
  23. Demi Lovato
  24. Steven Curtis Chapman
  25. Michael Buble
  26. Spice Girls
  27. Human Nature
  28. Bob Dylan
  29. KJ 52
  30. Backstreet Boys
  31. Ed Sheeran
  32. Carman
  33. Coldplay
  34. Michael Jackson
  35. Lionel Richie
  36. ABBA
  37. Queen
  38. Adele
  39. Keith Urban
  40. Crowded House
  41. John Legend
  42. Rascal Flatts
  43. Mary Mary
  44. Jason Crabb and the Crabb Family
  45. Creed
  46. Jason Mraz
  47. Prince
  48. Jars of Clay
  49. Snow Patrol
  50. Larry Norman
  51. Delirious?
  52. Lecrae
  53. Kirk Franklin
  54. Ray Charles
  55. Elton John
  56. Billy Joel
  57. Arethra Franklin
  58. The Beach Boys
  59. Destiny’s Child (and their subsequent solo careers)
  60. Whitney Houston
  61. Elvis Presley
  62. Celine Dion
  63. Johnny Cash
  64. Taylor Swift
  65. The Beatles
  66. Guy Sebastian
  67. Rich Mullins
  68. One Direction
  69. AC/DC
  70. Hillsong (All Its Facets and Incarnations)
  71. The Police
  72. Mumford and Sons
  73. SEAL
  74. Evanescene
  75. Nickelback
  76. Selena Gomez
  77. The Eagles
  78. Skillet
  80. Chris Tomlin
  81. Simon and Garfunkel
  82. Fleetwood Mac
  83. Johnny Farnham
  84. David Bowie
  85. Lady Antebellum
  86. Rolling Stones
  87. Pentatonix
  88. Flyleaf
  89. Rebecca St. James
  90. PINK
  91. Needtobreathe
  92. Casting Crowns
  93. Plumb
  94. OneRepublic
  95. Kelly Clarkson
  96. Daughtry
  97. Bruce Springsteen
  98. Cliff Richard
  99. Shania Twain
  100. Justin Timberlake

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. Kelsea Ballerini
  5. NF
  6. Dami Im
  7. Cimorelli
  8. Alessia Cara
  9. Rachel Platten
  10. Jess Glynne
  11. Shawn Mendes
  12. Charlie Puth
  13. PEABOD
  14. For All Seasons
  15. Jana Kramer
  16. Apollo LTD
  17. Meghan Trainor
  18. OBB
  19. Branan Murphy

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