Illustration by Matthew Faccio
Music is one of the most primal and integral forms of entertainment that we as humans have had the benefit of discovering. Music, as a broad term, is everywhere, and that is sometimes taken for granted. With the end of 2019, it seems almost necessary to do a recap of some of the most breathtaking and inspiring musical artists over the past decade to commemorate not only the artist but the art itself.
Starting out with hip-hop music, the face of this genre has been terraformed by a variety of talented groups and individuals over this last decade. Kendrick Lamar is undeniably one of the best lyricists at the moment, which may sound like a bold claim, but there is a reason he has won a Pulitzer Prize. Kendrick Lamar’s music acts as a medium for him to voice social change regarding ethnicity and socio-economic status inside of the United States. Speaking of unique and touching lyrics, XXXTENTACION is a name that has been no stranger to controversy, but putting that aside, what he has done for music is in a completely different vein. XXXTENTACION, also known as Jahseh Onfroy, sings about topics and themes not often explored by most rappers, and many people feel like his exploration of these topics helps normalize it and make it easier to talk about.
Pop is also a very interesting genre, though most people just think of the stuff they hear a little too frequently on the radio or while mall shopping. However, pop has much more to offer than shopping mall ambiance. Jack Stauber is a name that really came into the spotlight in 2017 with the release of his album “Pop Food”. To say Jack Stauber is an oddity would be an understatement, as this enigmatic artist has made some of the most unique and nuanced music to hit the spotlight in a while. It is unique in the sense that Stauber’s songs convey emotion in an abstract way that the listener can still easily understand but also appreciate the unique take on the material he is singing about.
Lastly, we have rock music, a genre characterized by its constant cultural prevalence in the United States that has seen many twists and turns throughout its history. Mac Demarco is one of these twists for rock. He brings a lot of unique lyrical material to the table with a very fluid and laid back rhythm that just about anybody could enjoy. With relaxed and subtly catchy overtones, it easy to play his music anytime and enjoy it. From a subtle and downbeat vibe to an almost erratic and chaotic feeling, welcome King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, another influential rock artist. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard is quite the name, and it is a fact that their music is just as interesting, if not even more. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard has an extremely unique sound, and every album they make has different themes explored, which really makes any and every listen a new journey. Their unique sound paired with their catchy undertones throughout their music really makes for an interesting experience for anyone who enjoys rock or psychedelic music.
We lost a lot this decade in terms of talent, with the deaths of some of the most talented artists of the century happening to fall in this decade. Prince was an amazing artist that perished in 2016, and to say his music was impactful would be an understatement. The 1980s were said to be Prince’s peak years, and it is hard to deny that his music was some of the most defining music for this era. Another name that comes to mind when thinking of losses in the 2010s is David Bowie. Bowie was considered one of the most influential artists of all time, and it is easy to see why with his collaborative efforts with groups like Queen and Nine Inch Nails creating songs with them like “Under Pressure” and “Man Who Sold the World,” and his cover of “Rocket Man” by Elton John is nothing short of beautiful.
This has been an interesting decade for music, with countless amazing artists coming into the spotlight and genres and subgenres being redefined by them. It is hard to imagine anything but excitement for the state of music in the future. As for the wonderful artists we lost in this decade, it is not hard to imagine them smiling down on the state of music and art itself, for art is constantly on the cutting edge.