The 21st century is full of immense talent. New artists are coming out left and right, and those who have been around for several years now are still coming out with marvelous material. It is a testament to pop’s never-dying quest to give us the best of the best. Over the decades we’ve seen stars come and go, but those from the past, just like those even before them, passed on their undying influence to those who hold the crowns of pop music today. Last week, pop star Ariana Grande talked about her recent comparisons to Mariah Carey. As she told US Weekly, “Mariah has been a huge influence on me since I was a little girl. I’ve even done a cover of one of her songs. I don’t think there are any negatives to being compared to one of the greatest vocalists of all time. It’s honestly a great honor.” The comparisons are there, as Grande can hit those high ranges like Mariah. However, Grande isn’t the only pop star today living up her influence. Here are some of today’s hottest artists who we’ve compared to from the past:
1. Beyonce and Whitney Houston
Beyonce is one of the most lucrative and elite pop stars of our generation. Ever since her days in Destiny’s Child, the singer has won 17 Grammy awards and had multi-platinum records top the Billboard charts. No other female artist today has had the kind of success and dominance in all aspects of popular music and culture like she has. Her predecessor Whitney Houston is the only one who did. Prior to her tragic death in 2012, Whitney was highly regarded as one of popular music’s greatest female solo-artists, and of all time. She sold over 200 million records over her career, and like Beyonce, she was well decorated when it came to awards. Whitney won two Emmys, seven Grammys and 31 Billboard Music Awards.
What makes Beyonce and Whitney such powerful icons? It is what they’ve done outside the studio and off-stage. Both have immense influence on fans, people, and artists. Whitney, dubbed as the “Queen of Pop” was one of the first black-female artists to break the color barrier for pop music in the 80s and 90s. Shortly followed after Whitney’s rise to fame, we saw other black-female artists like Janet Jackson and Anita Baker come alive in the 90s, and later Beyonce, who was heavily influenced by Whitney. In an interview with Rolling Stone back in 2012, Beyonce praised Whitney as one of her biggest inspirations. Told Rolling Stone – “I, like every singer, always wanted to be just like her. Her voice was perfect. Strong but soothing. Soulful and classic. Her vibrato, her cadence, her control. So many of my life’s memories are attached to a Whitney Houston song. She is our queen and she opened doors and provided a blueprint for all of us.”
Like Whitney, Beyonce is not one to shy away from showcasing her versatile talents, especially in film. While Whitney may have an edge when it comes to a drama movie career, having starred in the film The Bodyguard, Beyonce has the unforgettable role as Foxy Cleopatra in Austin Powers in Goldmember in her repertoire. There is deemed to be more roles to come in the future for the star.
2. Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra
Michael Buble is the modern-day pop crooner. The Canadian songwriter is one of today’s best pop artists, keeping the old past time of jazz, soul and pop crooning alive. Buble has won four Grammys and his 2009 hit album Crazy Love top the Billboard charts for three weeks after its release. The singer grew a passion for classic jazz and soul music at an early age, and his family saw his talent at age 13 when he sang Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”
One of his biggest inspirations was Frank Sinatra. It is evident in how Buble sings, though Sinatra was in a league of his own. Since his inception to the music world in the ’40s, Sinatra evolved his sound and voice as the decades past, making him unrivaled towards his fellow crooners. His songs were deep and personal, and his voice had its own shine, but this took decades for Sinatra to achieve.
With that said, while Buble is a modern-day version of Sinatra and the crooners of the past, it’s a scary thought that we may have yet heard the best of the 21st century crooner. His versatility can only tell us that in time we are going to see more of what he has to offer in the future. Buble has also not only appealed himself to the younger generation, but to those in the past who grew up listening to the style of music he is molded by. Also like Sinatra, Buble isn’t shy to draw influence from his style of performing live. He likes to talk and joke around with the audience during a performance, making it livelier.
Check out below Buble covering Sinatra’s hit Come Fly With Me:
3. Lady Gaga and Madonna
When you want to talk about an artist today in pop music that creates shock with his or her eccentric style and persona, the first person that comes to mind is Lady Gaga. From dresses made of meat, to getting vomited on by her dancers on stage, Gaga isn’t one to shy away from controversy and erratic behavior both on and off stage. Madonna was no different.
Ever since the ’80s, the singer has had her fair share of controversial moments. At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards in the opening performance, Madonna performed alongside Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, and at the end she open mouth kissed both. This was all over the news days after, causing major up cry. In 1994 she was brave enough on the Letterman show to drop the f*bomb thirteen times, and in 2012 YouTube enforced their age-restriction rule because of her music video for “Girls Gone Wild”, which featured Madonna and half-naked male dancers in leggings engaging in promiscuous activity.
Both Lady Gaga and Madonna have a long list of controversial moments and behavior in their catalogue, but inadvertently it’s what made them some of the biggest names in pop music. Also with their motto of free expression, it has drawn a huge following for both them, fueling their success even more. Their legacies (and their actions) will forever be remembered and archived as long as there are humans on Earth.
4. Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson
Yes I know, it is hard to say that there is an artist today that even comes close to comparison like the “King of Pop.” However, Bruno Mars is one who utilizes his influence of Michael Jackson in both his recordings and in live performances, and with confidence. Mars’ style is relatable to Jackson’s and it should come as no surprise. Bruno’s high, scream-like tenor voice is very reminiscent to Jackson’s, and the energy and passion from the music are similar.
Bruno Mars’ Michael Jackson influence is so evident in the song “Treasure,” that it’s almost as if it was a long-lost hit from the king’s catalog. Well if that were the case, Mars definitely paid big bucks for the rights to make it his own. All kidding aside, Bruno kills it on “Treasure.” He may not have the killer moves like Jackson, but Bruno isn’t one to have that diminish his confidence and ability to perform at a high level.
Watch Bruno release his inner Michael Jackson in Treasure below:
5. Shakira and Selena Quintanilla
Shakira is a dominant force when it comes to performing and writing music for both Latin and English-speaking fans. The bilingual singer from Columbia has songs and albums that she released in both English and Spanish, making her one of the most compelling Latina pop artists today.
Selena Quintanilla was a pioneer for that movement. She was awarded as the top Latin artist of the 90s and “Best selling Latin Artist of the Decade” by Billboard for her singles and number-one hits in both Spanish and English. We will never forget her hits “No Me Queda Mas” and the all English-sang cover of Donna Summer’s “On The Radio.”
Her presence in the Latin community was her strong point, but when she moved into the mainstream English community in the ’90s, that is where she shined even more. She was fatally murdered in 1995 by the president of her fan club Yolanda Saldivar. However, her legacy and influence will on forever, and her influence is prevalent to Shakira’s success as a top bilingual singing artist today.
Blog By Joe Hoffman