As we inch closer to the end of the decade, many are reflecting on what the 2010s have brought to our culture. With the explosion of music-streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, the way we enjoy music is far different from decades in the past.
Because of this increased access to different kinds of music with such streaming services, American music has been able to become a part of the fabric of other cultures. The opposite is true as well, with music from international artists such as Adele and sounds from countries such as Jamaica influencing what we listen to here in the states.
Although there are many influential and noteworthy artists that gained their popularity in the decade, there are a select few who truly came out on top.
With pop dominating the charts for much of the 2010s, there’s no denying the impact the genre has had, but with genres such as hip-hop and indie becoming more mainstream, the list of decade-defining artists can be endless. The Oarsman has narrowed this seemingly infinite list down to five top contenders.
With nine chart-topping hits in the 2010s and over 20 top 10’s in the decade, Rihanna, originally from Barbados, has made an undeniable impact on the American music industry, with hits like “Work” and “We Found Love” dominating the airwaves in the early and mid-2010s. Even though she hasn’t released any new music for over three years, many fans are begging her to do so, verifying her influence on music this decade.
Arguably the biggest force in hip-hop in the decade, Drake took over as the face of the genre in the 2010s, beginning the decade with top-10 hits such as “Started From the Bottom.” He truly made a splash after 2016 with the global hit “Hotline Bling,” which burst him on to the world stage with tremendous force. After the song rose to the #2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, Drake was set on a course to have six #1 hits follow. Apart from his success in selling albums and singles, Drake has also been able to broaden hip-hop’s audience and has greatly commercialized the genre in the 2010s, putting it on track to overtake rock as the most widely consumed genre in the US.
The most successful female artist of the 2010s albums-wise, Taylor Swift has secured an undeniable legacy with the release of her albums “Speak Now,” “Red,” “1989,” and “reputation.” Considered a frontrunner to be named Billboard’s #1 artist of the decade next year, Swift’s commercial success serves as a marker to the bigger cultural impact she’s had in the 2010s.
After his hit song “Grenade” became the theme song to our elementary school crushes, Bruno Mars has left a groovy path behind him after his wild success in the 2010s. With fun-loving chart toppers such as “Just the Way You Are,” “Uptown Funk,” and “That’s What I Like,” Mars has been blessing our soundtracks for the entire decade. Mars also launched R&B and soul to international success, opening the world’s eyes to a different kind of popular music coming from the US.
After her huge international comeback in 2015 with “Hello,” Adele’s admiration by her fans was proven to the world. Despite being an artist who only releases music/songs every three to four years, British artist Adele has broken records unlike any of her more consistent competition, with her releasing two studio albums in the 2010s compared to Taylor Swift’s five. With songs like “Someone Like You” and “Rolling In The Deep” on her album “21,” Adele has broken the Billboard record previously held by Whitney Houston for the longest running #1 album by a female artist.