The Greatest Global Music Icons 2021 — 10 Living Legends Who Inspire Billions
10 Modern EraIcons of Music — whose voices and symphonies that transcended boundaries and transformed the art — and who inspire millions on their way to the Global Music Industry Hall of Fame.
The current shape of the global unified music industry is the result of poignant talent and sheer perseverance of an endless parade of exceptional artists over the years. From folk, country and jazz to heavy metal, hip hop, punk rock and electronic house, music has traveled centuries. And, fair enough to say, aged fine like a wine. But in the giant ocean of talent, there have been some significant milestones in the music industry in every decade and era. Top global music icons who shattered glass walls that obstructed the bandwidth of art. Their vision’s for music transcended borders, boundaries or geographies. Savants of music who who tore apart the strands of gender, social, and political construct to make a new spot in the industry all together. They gave the music circuit new directions with their talent and impact.
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10 Modern Global Music Icons who changed the face of the Industry:
Pioneering Musical Eras
Nas — Hip Hop's Prophet Magnifique
The world is run on narratives. But narratives are nothing but the marketed term for stories. The better the storyteller, the more people relate. And there lies the power of Nas. Unlike other rappers, Nas is a great storyteller, directly influencing people's imagination. And why not when almost every album of the 'king of street hits' certifies gold or platinum.
For these reasons and many others, Nas is not just admired among the fans, but also other rappers in the industry. In fact, Nas is a top global music icon who is an inspiration for other famous MCs like Lupe Fiasco, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar.
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones
Nas Escobar Nasty Nas
The Firm Bravehearts Jr. Gong Mary J. Blige will.i.am Olu Dara Mobb Deep Salaam Remi
NY State Of Mind One Mic If I Rules The World Life's A Bitch I Gave You Power Flyest Queen Gets The Money
Watch: Nas Top 10 Songs
No idea is original, there's nothing new under the sun, its never what you do, but how its done.
Words of wisdom by Nas
How Nas' “Illmatic” Changed Hip-Hop?
The New York rapper created the urban masterpiece “Illmatic” 25 years ago that left an indelible mark on music. However, still fresh, it remains one of the most remixed album covers of all time. When a rapper aspires to greatness, Illmatic is the cover format. He’s that kind of vivid storyteller that when he wants to draw you into his world, you’re in it. It is important to note that Nas’ influence reaches far beyond the music industry.
Tiësto — The Moghul of EDM Land
It's time to talk about another exceptional top global music icon of the music industry- DJ Tiesto, undoubtedly, the greatest DJ for last two decades. The secret to Tiesto's success lies in not letting the dynamic music industry change him. In fact, the man believes in changing himself everytime and says that he produces hits for himself, not for Spotify.
No one knows EDM better than DJ Tiesto. Where the world thinks that EDM is just about hard beats dropping at moments, Tiesto says, "I think EDM stands for electronic dance music, so if suddenly it is not, I don't get it."
From underground clubs to large stadiums throughout different countries in the world, DJ Tiesto is keeping EDM alive by not damaging it in the name of change. So in simple terms, it's like having an artist who is changing the music industry by not changing the soul of what he loves.
Tijs Michiel Verwest
Trance EDM House
Tiësto OON Gouryella
Kamaya Painters Armin van Buuren Hardwell Steve Aoki Martin Garrix BT KSHMR DallasK Avicii Mabel Oliver Heldens John Christian
Watch: Tiesto Tomorrowland - Official Video
Memories will take you back but dreams will take you forward.
Inspirational Quote by DJ Tiesto
How much is DJ Tiesto Worth?
Tiesto would jam at school parties when he was a teenager and then a few years later at a host of clubs in the Netherlands. In 1994, he began to release his own songs, and that’s when his career began to take off. Tiesto now ranks third on the list of the richest DJs in the world with an estimated net worth of $170 million.
Name another top global music icon whose songs have lingered at the corners of our hearts in the most intimate ways possible. We will wait!
When we say Taylor Swift, there are two things that come in mind. First is back to back never ending hits. Second, the insane fan following relating with Taylor and humming on her her melody during the different phases of life. From life, love, breakups to hookups, Swift is probable the most influential artists in the world. Contrary to how many would describe her as uniform pop artist, we say that Swift's fan following made an entirely different industry and the sensational singer continues to be the undisputed queen of the industry since decades. And with 10 Grammy, it isn't really hard to tell, why!
Taylor Alison Swift
Pop Country Rock Folk Alternative
Swiftly Tay T-Swizzle
Teardrops On My Guitar Our Song Love Story You Belong With Me Mine Back To December We Are Never Bad Blood Cardigan Willow
Watch: Best of Taylor Swift
People are going to judge you anyway. So you might as well do what you want.
Motivational Quote by Taylor Swift
Why is Taylor Swift Re-Recording Her Old Albums?
Swift has vowed to re-record her first six albums after music manager Scooter Braun announced that his Ithaca Holdings company had acquired Big Machine Label Group, the home to Swift’s first six albums. However, Swift called the deal "my worst-case scenario," alluding to Braun's involvement in a number of feuds between her and artists he has managed, including Kanye West. By re-recording her hits, Swift can reclaim control over her recordings, or at least the new "Taylor's Version" of them.
Revolutionizing Art Forms
Honey Singh — Emperor of Indian Rap
Imagine being at the highest peak of stardom where everyone in the entire country is looking up to you, grooving on your songs, and imitating your walk and talk. We truly can't think of any other Indian music artist who has enjoyed fame like Honey Singh did. The man is to be truly credited to make rap the integral part of Bollywood and the fans.
Being the highest paid music artists of Indian music industry for consecutive years during the start of the decade, Honey Singh has gone on to become truly a top global music icon. it was an unshakable superstardom the glory of which still continues. Honey Singh still continues to be the second highest paid music artist of India.
Lak 28 Kudi Da Brown Rang High Heels Blue Eyes Issey Kehte Hain Hip Hop Makhna LOCA Billo Tu Agg Ae
Watch: The Best of Honey Singh
If you like me, raise your hand. If you don't like me, raise your standard.
Quote by Yo Yo Honey Singh
Why Honey Singh is regarded as India's greatest rap artist?
Yo Yo Honey Singh is credited with defining hip hop's positioning in India's pop culture. He pioneered a new era Indi-rap and has remained the number one rapper in India for over a decade. Honey Singh inspired several young artists who themselves are now industry veterans.
The queen of quirks and eccentricities, Lady Gaga is so important for American Pop Culture music. Gaga literally came from nowhere, took over the world of pop culture, and turned it into an art. Not just her music, Gaga's fashion is also a testimony of how creatively, art can communicate messages to masses. There is no other music artist in the world who has taken a staunch stand for the LGBTQ community like the 'Poker Face' star, both through her talent and her bold sartorial, hair and makeup choices.
The winner of Nine Grammy awards and several VMA awards, along with one BET and one BAFTA, she is a top global music icon. Lady Gaga not only stands out of the crowd, she owns it.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
Pop Dance Electronic
Gagaloo Mother Monster The Germ Stefi Little Mermaid Sister Swine
Lady Starlight Tony Bennett Bradley Cooper Justin Timberlake Lonely Island Kendrick Lamar R Kelly Christina Aguilera Elton John
Poker Face Shallow Alejandro Born This Way Bad Romance The Edge Of Glory Just Dance Paparazzi Million Reasons
Watch: Lady Gaga sings the US National Anthem at Super Bowl
Fight and push harder for what you believe in you'd be surprised, you are much stronger than you think.
Words of Inspiration by Lady Gaga
How did Lady Gaga get her stage name?
Born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Lady Gaga has become a household name. In an early interview with Oprah Winfrey, Gaga attributed her name's origin to the 1984 Queen song "Radio Ga Ga." She went on to describe how "Gaga" was "just a nickname [her] friends had for [her] in New York and [her producer], and it just kind of stuck." At the time, the artist told Oprah to call her "Gaga," as she thought it "felt weird" when people called her "Lady."
Drake — The Don of Melody Mansion
Another rapper on the list and the name that needs no introduction. When an artist picks up record 13 awards a single Billboard Music Awards (2017), it's needless to say that something groundbreaking is taking shape. Drake is the big gun representing the modern men of 21st century who talks about their mistakes and goodness instead of women and drugs. When Drake entered the scenario of American music industry, none of us were used to listening to raps that not only talked different, but also sounded different. To quote NYTimes, "Rappers are singers now. Thanks Drake!". Listening to a renovated and actual version of masculinity along with a some melody for change, sounds like a perfect choice.
With total 275 music awards, four out of which are Grammy and whopping 44 Grammy nominations, we are no one to introduce you to the success of the man himself.
Aubrey Drake Graham
Hip Hop Pop R&B Trap Drill Dancehall
Lil Wayne Future Rihanna Nicki Minaj Rick Ross The Weekend
Hotline Bling Know Yourself Best I Ever Had Started From The Bottom God's Plan
Watch: Video of Drake's Gods Plan
I was born to make mistakes, not fake perfection.
Words of wisdom by Drake
How did MJ collaborate with Drake?
Michael Jackson has been dead for many years, but last year he featured on a song by Canadian rapper Drake. "Don't Matter to Me" is a song by Canadian musician Drake featuring posthumous vocals from American singer-songwriter Michael Jackson, from Drake's fifth studio album Scorpion (2018).
The wonders of technology never cease, as now Drake and Michael have collaborated, almost 10 years after Michael’s death. Michael’s vocals from the song were taken from a similar time in his life to the music on the album Xscape, from a session with Canadian songwriter Paul Anka.
If you can boast of defeating Eminem on his own track, Love Game. if you can make a remake of legend J Cole's 'A Tale of 2 Cities' and the crowd actually says that it's better than the original. Then it's needless to say, music industry will be forever indebted to you.
That's Kendrick Lamar for you! The rapper who made 'taking bold stands and calling names' cool in the hip hop industry. Remember when the infamous 'Control' verse dropped in, challenging 100 rappers directly with names (Drake, J.Cole, Pusha T, and others)? Hip hop has still not recovered from that unforgettable moment.
However, the most admired of all Lamar's traits has to be his strong political stands and calling outs through his music. The best example where the artist proved that he is on top not only to change music industry but world, has to be his work like 'To Pimp a Butterfly' and more. The top global music icon, Kendrick Lamar is also the only rapper to win a Pulitzer.
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth
Hip Hop Jazz Rap
K-Dot Kung Fu Kenny
Black Hippy Anna Wise Bilal Dr. Dre J Cole SZA Thundercat Imagine Dragons
HiiiPoWeR King Kunta Radioactive m.A.A.d city i
Watch: Kendrick Lamar accepts the Pulitzer
If I'm gonna tell a real story, I'm gonna start with my name.
Inspiring line by Kendrick Lamar
Did Kendrick Lamar retire, or is he taking a break?
The Grammy-winning rap star, Lamar has been dormant since his last studio album release, 'Damn' in 2017, but according to Top Dawg Entertainment president Punch, fans could be set to hear some new material from him very soon. He was spotted recording a music video in California suspended over the sea on a private beach not long ago.
Breaking Industry Barriers
Nicki Minaj — Hip Hop's Prima Donna
Who knew that the indelible journey from South Jamaica, Queens to the top of the hip hop industry would bring a revolution! Hip hop industry has plenty of rags to riches stories, but Nicki Minaj only goes a notch higher as with her astounding success came a big change in the male-dominated industry. Being a woman of razor-sharp lyrical prowess and flow alone at the upper belt with all the men for the first time ever, was indeed a new dawn that also paved the way for other female artists.
Queen Minaj has filled the gender void in the American hip hop industry with numerous accolades like 12 BET Awards, six American Music Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, 4 Billboards, 2 Billboard Women In Music Awards. However, despite being nominated for Grammy 10 times, the revolutionary female rapper hasn't won any but we hope she does soon.
Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty
Hip Hop Dance Pop R&B
Nicki Lewinski Nicki The Ninja Nicki The Harujuku Barbie Roman
Ariana Grande Drake Chris Brown Meek Mill David Guetta Lil Wayne Tekashi69
Super Bass Starships Anaconda Trollz Bang Bang
Watch: Best of Nicki Minaj
People will love you and support you when its beneficial.
Pearls of Wisdom by Nicki Minaj
What is Nicki Minaj’s Indian connection?
Born to parents of mixed origins, Minaj is one-quarter Indian. While her father Robert Maraj is of Indo-Trinidadian origins, her mother Carol Maraj is of Afro-Trinidadian descent.
"My real last name is Maraj. My father is half-Indian and makes the best chicken curry in the world," she was quoted as saying on CBS Love show American Idol Season 12 in 2013. She also mentioned how she loves Indian food, culture and Bollywood.
BTS — K-Pop's Barons beyond Borders
Something absolutely sensational has emerged from South Korea- the BTS boys! In 2019, BTS became the first ever Korean artists to win two BBMAs back to back. And since then, everyone's favorite Korean boys have been winning multiple Fan Choice awards, thanks to an extremely loyal fan base that they enjoy.
Most importantly, the Korean boy band is talking about significant issues in their songs, from mental health to Korean cultural difference, while also promoting self-love. Looks like the message is clear- music has no geographical boundaries and is definitely more than just singing and rapping.
BTS Boy Band
RM Jin Suga J-Hope Jimin V Jungkook
K-Pop Hip Hop R&B EDM
Bangtan Boys Bangtan Sonyeondan Beyond the Scene Bulletproof Boy Scouts
Mic Drop Dynamite Savage Love Life Goes On I NEED U Spring Day Fake Love
Watch: BTS Mic Drop video
You're too young to let the world break you.
Motivational Quote by BTS
Why does BTS call Fans their A.R.M.Y.?
BTS’ fan base is considered one of the most devoted in all of popular music. The band members themselves coined the phrase “BTS A.R.M.Y” to refer to their followers.
The name stands for “Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth,” another reference to the military symbology that the group favors. Many members have taken the name literally, and believe that the fanbase is like one big family, with BTS leading the way. The fandom name basically means that fans will always be together with BTS.
An exceptional journey from being a stripper to number one rapper on chart, Cardi B's musical journey has been one hell of an inspirational journey. And now, she is inspiring other women throughout the world to work hard for the top spot in the hip hop industry usually booked by men. The unconventional and fabulous success of Cardi B is making spot for more bold female voices in the industry. In 2017, B also made history by becoming the first female rapper to earn #1 single on Billboard's Hot 100 chart without any featured artist. Undoubtedly, the top global music icon is definitely a call for every woman who dream of rising to the top from the ghettos.
Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar
Bruno Mars J Balvin Josh X Offset Ozuna Adam Levine
WAP I Like It Bodak Yellow Up Money Please Me La Bebe Be Careful
Watch: Best Moments of Cardi B
I'm the rose that came from the concrete.
Famous quote by Cardi B
What does Cardi B's name mean?
The Bronx native, whose birth name is Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, said the name "Cardi B" was inspired by the liquor brand Bacardi. "You know what, my sister's name is Hennessy, so everybody used to call me Bacardi," Cardi B said. "Then it was my Instagram name, Bacardi, Bacardi B. But for some reason, my Instagram kept getting deleted, and you know what, I think it was Bacardi that had something to do with it. So I just shortened it to Cardi B," she revealed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Arudhi writes on Politics, Economy and Latest news. A commerce and psychology graduate with a soft corner for classic novels, nothing spells 'love' like art and coffee for her. When not writing/reading poetries, she can be found dancing alone in her room with loud music or painting by her window. She has played professional roles as Writer, Editor and Assistant Director in past and doesn't hesitate from trying new boxes every now and then.