Musicians Who Defined Their Genre
Some musicians don't just make music; they make genres.
There are a million different ways to judge a musician's or band's talent. Regular listeners might judge it by seeing if the singer can hit high notes, or if guitarists are able to do high-speed riffs. For music company execs, listening for skill deals more with a band's image, brand, and marketability in many cases. Others may see talent in a concrete, numbers way.
But, there are some people who go beyond typical standards of excellence in music. Rather than be defined by views, looks, or sales, these musicians went beyond standard music to create, or even define, the genre that they played in. The musicians below really did define the genres they're known for, and no one can argue that.
Grunge in the 90s was a genre that was defined by rage, a hatred of the overly polished look of life that the decade embodies, and the desire to see music return to a genuine chord of raw emotion.
During the 90s, many disaffected teens felt like they were stuck in a commercial dystopia - and no one put that sentiment into music better than Cobain himself. Kurt Cobain's emotional lyrics, troubled past, and deep struggles with trying to cope with the commercialization of his music resonated with audiences around the world.
Sure, there may have been a number of other bands out there who played grunge music, but no other band ever seemed to embody it in the way that Nirvana's angst-filled music and anti-commercial attire could.
During the early 2010s, vaporwave and new retrowave were both beginning to gain clout among denizens of the internet. As the resurgence of synth beats, geeky music titles, and 80s aesthetics began to grip music lovers, one artist took a different twist to the genres...
Rather than focus on internet meme culture like vaporwave did, or try to take a trip down memory lane into the 80s new wave and goth scenes, Kavinsky gained inspiration for his music from retro action movie soundtracks.
The end result was an album called Outrun, along with a series of music videos that struck a nerve with geeks everywhere. The music's striking style and aesthetics became the beginner of a subgenre of synthwave all its own.
Pop was a genre that had long existed before Michael Jackson, but if you ask anyone who was the biggest pop star to ever live, they would tell you it was Michael Jackson. And, they wouldn't be wrong.
Michael Jackson was the first pop start to ever really bring such a heavy focus on appearances, showmanship, and epic dance moves into music. Part of the reason for this, of course, was because he grew up in showbiz. For him, it was simply second nature - and that brilliant talent shined through in every music video, performance, and song he ever created.
Even today, Michael Jackson's influences can be seen in major artists like The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, and Sia. He was, and always will be, the King of Pop.
Prior to becoming a reality TV star, Ozzy Osbourne was famous for being in the biggest heavy metal band of the 70s. As the lead singer of Black Sabbath, Osbourne's vocals ushered in new eras of darker, edgier rock with gloomy lyrics and heavy guitar riffs.
Between his insane onstage antics (including biting a head off a bat), his black clad clothes, his drug addictions, and his amazing musical talent, Ozzy laid out the groundwork for a new genre that would later be known as heavy metal.
Even though he was dismissed from Black Sabbath, Osbourne still managed to become a world famous musician through his solo career. Today, he's still considered to be the god of metal...even if he was a pretty weird reality TV star.
Tied for the distinction of really defining hip hop are Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Prior to the breakout success of these two rappers, hip hop often focused on lighthearted party themes without actually touching on lyrics that really spoke about life in poverty.
Both Tupac and Biggie dared to talk about the real issues they faced growing up in tough neighborhoods. Moreover, they also were fearless when it came to using hip hop as an outlet for black voices.
And, though there were others who also employed the urban "gangster" aesthetic, it was Biggie and Tupac who defined the 90s through the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry that eventually claimed their lives.
Nowadays, hip hop still retains that gangster vibe - much thanks to the two biggest rappers to ever hit the stage.
Electronica has always been known for evolving faster than labels actually can be placed on music, but this wasn't actually the case with hardstyle. Back in the 1990s, hardstyle remained a deeply underground electronic dance movement that was almost exclusively heard in warehouse parties and raves.
While most other rave DJs were focused on helium-filled singers and standard unce-unce beats, DJ Isaac took raving to a new level by creating mixes that involved bouncy kicks, faster pacing, and beat drops.
Ravers took to it like fish to water, and even began to create dance moves that were specifically geared towards the music's killer beats. Today, Isaac still mixes - and still continues to perform in sold out warehouse parties around the world.
Vaporwave first came out in the 2010s as an aesthetic that hearkened back to a time when commercialism was king. We're talking, of course, about the 1990s - a time when Windows 95 was king, and where corporate culture always meant suits.
Though there were a number of musicians who began to experiment with creating music that meshed well with the internet culture's aesthetics, most people can tell you that one artist really nailed it. That artist is Macintosh Plus, an experimental musician who's infamous for using dozens of names to create different sounds.
Something about the eery, slowed down pace of her breakout song was oddly catchy, strangely addictive, and impressively emotional. And, that resonated online - and in turn, made her the most well-known vaporwave music artists on the net.