This post consisted of five hours of telling myself “no, this were better… wait. Maybe not?” Coming up with the top artist for each of the last 5 decades was challenging. So many names come up. Before we get started, here’s a list of the painfully deserted groups that were left out for each decade.
The 60’s: The Beach Boys, The Who, The Rolling Stones
The 70’s: Pink Floyd, Eagles, Elton John, Lynard Skynard
The 80’s: Queen, Madonna, The Police, Prince, Bon Jovi
The 90’s: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, 2pac, Soundgarden
The 00’s: Blink-182, Eminem, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, The Black Eyed Peas
The 60’s: The Beatles
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison came together to undoubtably form the most iconic and influential rock band in history. You can even say they were the most influential group period. The group would bag 16 awards with 35 nominations; 10 awards of which were Grammy Awards. They would win “Best New Artist” in 1965, and would win “Song of the Year” in 1967 with “Michelle.” The year after, in 1968, they would add “Album of the Year” with their hit “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
The 70’s: Billy Joel
Billy Joel took the 70’s into his own hands, creating single after single basically at a days notice. Although he has many, his biggest claim to fame came in 1977 with the album “Stranger.” With a track listing that many can recognize, and our parents & grandparents can probably jam out to at any given time, “Stranger” gave the piano man (pun painfully intended) 4 top-40 tracks. By the end of the year, it peaked at number two and had gone platinum, and within the course of a year, it would spawn the Top 40 singles “Just the Way You Are” (which would win the 1978 Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year), “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” “She’s Always a Woman,” and “Only the Good Die Young.” Over the next two decades, the album would sell over seven million copies. And, let’s be honest, we all scream “YOU HAD TO BE A BIG SHOT, DIDN’T YOU?” at some point of our lives.
The 80’s: Michael Jackson
The most iconic musician in history. Perhaps the greatest to ever create it. I really don’t know where to start on this one. He entered the music world at the age of 5, ironically as a member of the Jackson 5. The list goes on forever with what the King of Pop received award-wise, and what he did to influence the world. We all know of “Thriller” and the anticipation that the song opens with for a couple minutes. There really isn’t much to write here, because it’s generally known that MJ was the best to do it, so I’ll just leave this chart of winning awards here.
“This was a man who saw the increasingly interconnected world and gave it a music to share – and, he hoped, perhaps even improve each others’ lives with. His tracks Heal the World and Earth Song are often mocked for their tubthumping and mawkish environmentalism, but he was one of the few people who could actually transmit the message he set out to preach; he spoke across language and nation, pre-empting the global culture we share online today.” – Ben Beaumont-Thomas, theguardian.com
The 90’s: Nirvana
Although their immense influence in the lives of many came to a tragic end with the death of lead-man Kurt Cobain in 1994, Nirvana has become regarded as one of the most influential and important rock bands of the modern era. With the shocking success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana followed up with their second album, “Nevermind.” The band sold over 25 million albums in the US alone, and 75 million worldwide, which would put them on a list along with the greatest selling music artists of all time. Nirvana brought a sense of “do what makes you happy. Screw what others think” mentality with their music and media portrayal.
“In the intervening decade, Cobain, a small, frail but handsome man in life, has become an abstract Generation X icon, viewed by many as the ‘last real rock star’ […] a messiah and martyr whose every utterance has been plundered and parsed” – Eric Olsen, MSNBC.
The 00’s: Green Day
Green Day emerged in a time where punk rock music dominated the industry. Blink-182, Sum 41, New Found Glory, Simple Plan, Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance. They all ruled the world, and oh man I love them all so much. But Green Day emerged as the top dog in one of the most competitive era’s in music history. The bang broke out in the mid/late 90’s, but regained their fame in the early 2000’s with albums “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown.” American Idiot would open up at #1 on the charts, and would serve as the era’s icon. During this time, it was all about revolution and rebellion. The new generation standing up against the older parents, politicians, and those who seemed to have brought unjustified reasoning into their world. The album depicts modern American life under the control of an idiot ruler who let people be misinformed by the media and a “redneck agenda.” It gives different angles on an everyman, modern icons, and leaders. The album was also released two months before President George W. Bush was reelected, as a callsign of protest. Green Day would win “Favorite Alternate Artist” in 2005 and 2009. The band would total 95 awards won, and 215 nominations. Below is an interview done in 2004 after their release of American Idiot.