There’s a common belief among music fans, critics and artists alike that there is nothing completely original in music. Even the most unique artists are influenced by their peers and their sounds can be traced back to the pioneers before them, going so far back as the classical music of Bach and Beethoven. So when we discuss current music trends, it’s only natural that we look to the artists and bands from past decades to see where these sounds and ideas were really first generated. From The Band to Talking Heads, Hall & Oates to Black Sabbath, there’s a multitude of classic artists whose sound, lyrics and overall vibe can be heard amongst the popular music trends of today. Here’s a list of 10 classic artists that influenced current musical trends – along with the modern artists who followed in their monstrous footsteps.
Artist: The Band
Perhaps no band in pop/rock history epitomizes commercial Americana more than this (surprisingly) Canadian-American roots rock group. Utilizing classic folk and bluegrass instruments like mandolin, fiddle and accordion along with plaintive lyrics, they have been a huge influence on the current folk revival.
Who They’ve Influenced: Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers
Artist: The Replacements
Were The ’Mats a classic rock n’ roll band masquerading as a punk band or just punk rockers in love with the sound of classic rock n’ roll? Does it matter? Probably not, however this Paul Westerberg-led Minneapolis band’s brand of lo-fi guitar rock and all-American heart-on-sleeve songwriting continues to be a huge influence on the current crop of indie rock, folk and pop acts.
Who They’ve Influenced:Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs, Real Estate
Artist: Black Sabbath
Though commonly acknowledged as the fathers of Heavy Metal, this Birmingham quartet’s slow, doom-laden anthems were one of the more unique voices heard in the hard rock pantheon. Over the last 10 years however, their trudging tempos and de-tuned guitar riffs have become the lingua franca of underground indie metal.
Who They’ve Influenced: The Sword, Sleep, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats
Artist: The White Stripes
The Detroit band chose to forego the traditional rock setup in favor of just guitar and drums to achieve their signature brand of bombastic, abrasive, lo-fi garage rock and blues. Though they broke up in 2011, there has been a recent resurgence of the power duo – whether guitar & drums, bass & drums or any other arrangement – clearly influenced in both sound and style by the Stripes.
Who They’ve Influenced:Royal Blood, Japandroids, The Kills
Along with the Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer’s disco hit “I Feel Love,” this German “krautrock” group’s brand of driving, repetitive rhythms and purely electronic instrumentation has been hugely influential on the current EDM scene, specifically experimental electro, house, techno and synthpop.
Who They’ve Influenced: The Orb, Aphex Twin, Daft Punk
Artist: Talking Heads
The David Byrne-led New York band had massive success in the late 70s and 80s with their mix of new wave, art rock, dance grooves and world music. Over the last 10 years or so, many newer bands have adopted elements of their style, including their quirky lyrics and idiosyncratic stage shows.
Who They’ve Influenced: Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Radiohead, St. Vincent, Gotye
Artist: Hall & Oates
Though the current wave of blue-eyed soul artists would most likely cite African American artists like Otis Redding, Michael Jackson and Sam Cooke as major influences, it’s this duo from Philadelphia that broke down walls and set the stage for white artists with immensely catchy, heartfelt, soul-inflected pop.
Who They’ve Influenced: Justin Timberlake, Gavin Degraw, Sam Smith
Artist: Depeche Mode
This English new wave band had a string of big hits in the 80s and early 90s. Ranging from upbeat, synth-driven pop to moody, contemplative electronic rock, the band has had a major influence on the current electronic scene as well as rock bands who continue to incorporate digital sounds and push their music into more modern territory.
Who They’ve Influenced:Chvrches, Muse, Crosses, Linkin Park, The Killers
The Minneapolis pop superstar has made a career out of mixing various styles of music, from R&B to funk, rock to pop, new wave to synthpop. But his smooth, overtly-sexually music has been a huge influence on the current wave of alternative R&B (a.k.a. PBR&B) artists, who tend to employ the style of his signature falsetto into many of their tracks.
Who They’ve Influenced:Miguel, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Janelle Monae
The New York group, founded by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards, experienced huge success in the late 70s with their lushly-produced mix of disco, soul and funk-influenced pop. In the last few years, many soul, house and electronic artists have been adopting elements of the band’s style, even bringing in Rodgers to contribute to the writing and guitar playing on their tracks.
Who They’ve Influenced:Daft Punk, Robin Thicke, Pharrell