Contemporary Icons

My recent obsession with the Beatles has proven to have taken it’s course on my personal judgment. You want proof? Read the feature article that I recently wrote after a continuous Beatlemania-related listening session. I specifically state in one paragraph how doubtful I am that there will be contemporary artists that will not become icons in the next years. I am so wrong, and my judgment was clouded, for cryin’ out loud! Here’s a short and sweet list of some current artists (that I listen to) that I believe will still be known five decades or a century from today.

1. CHRISTINA AGUILERA

With a voice like that, who would not immediately name Christina as an icon-in-the-making? She’s one artist who transitioned from teenybopper and back with meaningful, soulful and Grammy-winning songs and performances in general. Plus, I’m a big fan of her Back to Basics album, which evokes a very glamorous vintage feel. I love her tribute to Old Hollywood in general, and in my opinion, she probably belonged there because of her voice, her belting power, her talent, her image and her self-confidence. Watch her portray a burlesque star in a biopic about the burlesque era, aptly titled Burlesque.

2. LADY GAGA

If Madonna made herself known in the eighties for her ever-changing image, Lady Gaga’s over-the-top sense of fashion and her lovable club/pop crossovers will be club staples in the next years. Despite all that, Gaga isn’t just a pretty face. We’re talking major songwriting talent and a musical background. Cookie cutter popstar? I don’t think so.

3. RYAN TEDDER

From the moment I listened to Apologize, I loved Ryan’s innate songwriting gifts. His works for OneRepublic are masterpieces in their own right: he gives life a new perspective with his words, and he gladly surprises with poetic words reminiscent of John Lennon’s ‘Psychadelic’ era.

4. RAP ICONS: EMINEM, JAY-Z AND THE WHOLE NINE YARDS

I’m not super familiar with hip-hop, but from what I know and what I’ve heard, Eminem and Jay-Z are two of the most real rappers I’ve ever heard rhyme. Eminem’s rags-to-riches story gives him concrete material to rap with, and he skillfully put those trials and tribulations into words oozing with anger and disappointment.

Jay-Z, on the other hand, gives the outsider an inside look into the “ghetto life”. His songs about the Big Apple and his previous rap collaborations with Eminem aren’t just about girls, sex and booze, they also tell wonderful stories.

I added in ‘the whole nine yards’ to refer to the other rappers of today that also tell wonderful stories. Just give me a few months or years to widen my musical horizons.

5. JOHN MAYER

After watching Cadillac Records (the movie), I’ve gained a new appreciation for the blues. Mayer sounds just like a modern-day blues singer. His soulful voice and sensible lyrics are products of a musical mind honed at Berkeley College of Music. Who knew, really?

Atypical rags-to-riches musical tales tell of highschool dropouts/ talented musicians or highschool graduates/talented musicians that become rich through shear luck. Mayer doesn’t just have music on his side, he also has the education to boot.

6. BEYONCE

She may not be the modern Etta James, but Beyonce Knowles and her music will live on. She cleverly transitions from dance music to meaningful songs smoothly, and the crowd loves her every tune, and who doesn’t enjoy this energetic songstress as she gyrates and belts it out with every piece of energy that she has?

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I’m positive more names will pop up in the near future. All we have to do is sit, wait, watch and listen.

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