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Author Topic: Musical Cultural Icons
RivalOfTheRose
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In each of the following decades, which artists would you believe to have achieved icon status? Help me fill in some blanks!

50s - Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richie

60s - Bealtes, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Motown

70s - Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin, Disco

80s - Michael Jackson, Madonna, Punk, Metal

90s - Nirvana, Pearljam, Rap

00s - Indie Rock?, Club Music? Emo?

10s - Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber

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Lyrhawn
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As far as 90s rap goes: Tupac, Biggie and Will Smith.

For Motown: Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Dianna Ross.

Disco: The Beegees.

You missed a couple big ones in the 90s. For every person I can find that describes Nirvana as the music of 90s youth, I can find at least one, probably two, who would say the same thing about Green Day. Dave Matthews Band was big too (and remains my favorite 90s band to this day). They've both achieved cultural icon status by now.

Also don't forget the 40s. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. I think in many ways they paved the way for what a cultural icon in music really was.

I'd like to include a couple of Jazz singers, but it seems like a lot of them didn't really become cultural icons until later. But at the very least, Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong have to count.

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Xavier
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Some possible inclusions:

The Rolling Stones
U2
Aerosmith
Nine Inch Nails
Metallica

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capaxinfiniti
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This is difficult to judge, but I'd go with cultural impact, musical impact, and number of records sold. So:

The Ramones
Nsync or Backstreet Boys (sadly..)
The Eagles
The White Stripes
Beastie Boys
Springsteen
Biggie

That's all off the top of my head. I would also recommend some old-school rap and hip hop artists from the 80s and 90s that would be considered the 'pioneers' of the genre.

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capaxinfiniti
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DJ Tiesto
Bob Marley
Red Hot Chili Peppers (they're popular across decades, much like the Beastie Boys.)
Hendrix
Clapton
Jeff Beck

I don't know how long you want your list to be, but to do it any justice you'll need more than a few artists for each decade.

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RivalOfTheRose
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I guess I am looking for artists who easily define a stereotypical decade, not necessarily the best musicians or such.

All the replies so far have been very helpful!

Maybe another way to think about it.... give me the three most defining songs from each decade.

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Tarrsk
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For most decades, you can make separate lists for artists that dominated the airwaves vs artists that were highly influential. For example, in the late 80s, the charts were dominated by Madonna, Michael Jackson, and hair metal - extremely flamboyant, showy acts that have since defined what we tend to think of as "80s style." But those same years also saw groups like the Pixies, REM, and NWA, whose work ended up having a much larger influence on popular music.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by RivalOfTheRose:
I guess I am looking for artists who easily define a stereotypical decade, not necessarily the best musicians or such.

That's too narrow a question. Define the decade for who?

If you want to generalize, artists like Green Day and Nirvana defined the 90s for white youth. But Tupac and Biggie were no less cultural icons or decade definers than GD and Nirvana, they simply defined the decade for a different group of people.

And with the 40s, for example, it was the Rat Pack era, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were the defining musical force of that decade, but it was also still the Jazz era. Yet, Louis Armstrong, for example was far more a cultural icon for a different section of Americans than those who loved the Rat Pack. I'm dramatically overgeneralizing, but it's still true. You seem like you want a small list, but your question, I think, demands a somewhat lengthier answer.

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RivalOfTheRose
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Lyr, I know that making it a small list is extremely difficult. I do want to include music of different styles that were affected different groups of people.

So for instance, in the 90s, maybe I would pick Nirvana OR Greenday, Biggie OR Tupac, and a differing selection for the third choice.

Tarrsk: I totally agree with your last point, but in this instance I am looking for that total airwave domination, not the future influencing potential.

Capax: I agree with your multi-decade span point, but I want artists who scream a decade. By the way, RHCP is my favorite modern rock outfit. (see what I did there?)

Thanks again.

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AchillesHeel
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If we are talking about controlling all the radio stations around the country then you can't forget Barenaked Ladies, Smash Mouth and for my money Wheatus. I hated the Wheatus song Teenage Dirtbag for some time because I had heard it way too much.
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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by RivalOfTheRose:
in this instance I am looking for that total airwave domination, not the future influencing potential.

Well, in the 90's Mariah Carey probably had bigger airwave domination than any of the other artist mentioned so far. But not a lot of people would think that Mariah Carey as the biggest icon of the 90's. It seems that people have kind of forgotten about her.

But this link might be helpful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_music_artists_in_the_United_States

[ September 02, 2011, 12:02 PM: Message edited by: Tuukka ]

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RivalOfTheRose
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Also forgot about Elton John in the 70s
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Juxtapose
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For the 00s I'd say Outkast and Coldplay.

Also NWA for the 80s.

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AchillesHeel
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Limp Bizkit has its place in the 00's, no one is happy about that but its too late to worry about.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by AchillesHeel:
Limp Bizkit has its place in the 00's, no one is happy about that but its too late to worry about.

Mmmmm I feel like their star was rising in the very late 90's but it never really arrive because it was all downhill from that song about "nookie".
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Dobbie
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The Rat Pack era was the late '50s to early '60s.
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Phillyn
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Surprised no one's mentioned Pink Floyd for the 70s.
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Rawrain
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Where's Eminem /:
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lobo
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Burt Bacharach - 70s
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AchillesHeel
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by AchillesHeel:
Limp Bizkit has its place in the 00's, no one is happy about that but its too late to worry about.

Mmmmm I feel like their star was rising in the very late 90's but it never really arrive because it was all downhill from that song about "nookie".
But their cover of "Behind Blue Eyes" was post millennium and was the best thing they ever produced. I judge by highlights.
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BlackBlade
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What year did that song come out?
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Carrie
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Queen is missing from this list.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
quote:
Originally posted by RivalOfTheRose:
in this instance I am looking for that total airwave domination, not the future influencing potential.

Well, in the 90's Mariah Carey probably had bigger airwave domination than any of the other artist mentioned so far. But not a lot of people would think that Mariah Carey as the biggest icon of the 90's. It seems that people have kind of forgotten about her.

Keep in mind, iconography is somewhat separate from pure sales volume. You don't see the Monkees on this list, for instance.

Carey is not an icon, I think because she adapted so poorly to the evolving demands of television and the media. She was an artist better suited to a time when personality and charm were less important than stage presence. Watch her in an interview- she's unlikeable and charmless. Some people just aren't comfortable on TV.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by RivalOfTheRose:
00s - Indie Rock?, Club Music? Emo?

I don't think you'd find a lot of emo bands have achieved "icon" status, for some of the above stated reasons. When the image is "anti-" it's a little harder for a group or individual to unabashedly embrace icon status.

But for my part, Radiohead are as much an icon of the 00's as the 90's, if not more. Certainly, a good deal of the work that will immortalize them was produced in that decade.

And then you have Johnny Cash, who, though he died in 03' became a fairly big influence on the music of the 00's due to his involvement in a few different projects toward the end of his life.

For pure iconography, there's Britney Spears as well, although the music is forgettable.

And though highly influential, and the best selling modern band of the decade, Linkin Park is not iconic to most people. Though I think that has a lot to do with how they focused more on charity and touring than on high profile stunts.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
She was an artist better suited to a time when personality and charm were less important than stage presence. Watch her in an interview- she's unlikeable and charmless.
I dunno, after seeing her music video for "Honey" when I was like 13, I thought she was INCREDIBLY likeable. [Wink]
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Alucard...
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After seeing U2 in concert this summer, I would have to second their addition to this list for the 80s and 90s.

Although it ALMOST seems too early to pick bands from the 00s, I've been extremely into Shinedown for the past year, and wondered if there are any fellow fans on Hatrack?

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Lyrhawn
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I'm a Shinedown fan. They always tend to tour with a bunch of bands that I like as well.
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AchillesHeel
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Behind Blue Eyes came out in 2003 on the album Results May Vary, post "Rollin."

Point of interest Wes Borland, freaky make-up guitarist of Limp Bizkit was in an experimental rock group made up of members of various different bands. Mostly uninteresting but they did produce this incredibly long song with no lyrics.

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odouls268
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For club music, I nominate darude. I mean when un-techno people think of techno, BOOM, Sandstorm jumps into their head. *Bee Dedededede... Boo dededededee...*
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AchillesHeel
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Speaking of which, does Daft Punk belong on this list? if we are talking Europe then definitely, but its hard to say just how much effect they had on North America.
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Corwin
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Add Depeche Mode for the 80s and/or the 90s.
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Samprimary
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A musical cultural icon list is going to start fairly straightforward, because it was an age of the sort of musical fame monoculture that is impossible to replicate anymore. Then it's going to become much more fragmented and arguable and disconcertingly subjective, starting lightly in the 80's, then moderately in the 90's, then extremely in the 00's, then nigh completely in recent times. There is no "elvis" or "beatles" equivalent of this generation, there's a fractured kaleidoscope of individual icons for individual niches. The last monoculture remnant I think would qualify is MJ, and he's not really divestable into an individual decade portfolio.

For instance, you could take the era in and around the 70's — still a fairly (comparatively) easy prospect for cultural icons, and what are we going to end up looking at? Queen, Joni Mitchell, ZZ Top, The Who, Chicago, Boston, Dolly Parton, The Eagles, Ronnie Milsap, Rolling Stones, Allman Bros Band, The Doors, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, John Denver, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, Blue Oyster Cult, The Police, Grateful Dead, John Lennon, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Commodores, Bob Dylan, Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads, MJ, George Harrison, Steely Dan, AC/DC, Simon and Garfunkel, Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gloria Gaynor, The Sex Pistols, Marvin Gaye .. hmm, The Pretenders, Carly Simon ... rod stewart, the doobie brothers? bad company? Creedence Clearwater Revival, meat loaf, alice cooper, parliament, golden earring .... this is like freeform 'did they have a hit in the 70's' in my head right now ... the cars? van halen, van morrison, cheap trick, the temptations, eric clapton .. supertramp, james brown, earth wind and fire, .. jethro tull? barry white, stevie wonder, a score more I'm forgetting? And I could have a similarly iconic period song linked from each, if I weren't about to fall asleep. I guess I'll do that someday.

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Lyrhawn
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Maybe if we wait 20 years to see what people have still latched onto from the 90s and 00s that'll give us a better idea.

I agree though, there are simply too many people doing the same thing for anyone to stand out. Maybe that's why Lady Gaga does all the crazy stuff she does. If it had just been New Kids on the Block, or NSync, I bet one of them would have achieved that sort of status, but with them, and Backstreet Boys, and Five, and a half dozen others, plus the Boy Band explosion in Britain, no one ever stood out.

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Carrie
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
If it had just been New Kids on the Block, or NSync, I bet one of them would have achieved that sort of status, but with them, and Backstreet Boys, and Five, and a half dozen others, plus the Boy Band explosion in Britain, no one ever stood out.

Maybe I'm looking at this differently, having lady bits and all, but I have to say - Backstreet Boys is clearly the superior act of all these boy bands. I mean, if we're using the metrics of record sales, airwave time, international appeal, and what I like to call "ability to hear the song and sing along with it despite not really liking it," well, Backstreet simply takes it. I'm distressed that I know this, but their album "Milennium" is the eighth-best selling album worldwide ever, and if you can't parody any lyrics in "I Want it That Way," I envy you for skipping all of 1999 and 2000.

'NSync didn't become relevant until they broke up and Justin Timberlake did things (with the exception of "Bye Bye Bye," which remains hilarious). New Kids is memorable for being around when I was tiny and first developing crushes on boys, and having Mark Wahlberg's brother.

My pick for second-most-iconic boy band? Boyz II Men.

*blinks and takes a step back*

You know what? I'm kind of sad that I know all this. Why couldn't the popular music groups of my teenage years have been groups of quality?! Excuse me while I go weep.

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Lyrhawn
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lol. Maybe it's because I'm a guy, but they were all pretty much the same to me. Looking back in retrospect, I think Backstreet Boys were probably more talented artists (NSync relied too much on style, production and dance moves). And I even had a lot of their albums, I wasn't immune to boy band pop, but I certainly didn't care as much as my female counterparts.

On N'Sync, I remember when "No Strings Attached" came out and half the girls in my high school literally skipped school to go buy the album. Their popularity was absolutely insane. Whenever I see old timey videos of girls throwing themselves at The Monkees or The Beatles, I know it wasn't nearly a one time thing. Groups like Five and 98 Degrees, or that spoof band, 2Together (who I actually thought were catchy), and O-Town all kind of ran together to me. Hanson too, though I think of all the boy bands, they really matured the most going forward.

I put bands like Az Yet, Boyz II Men, Blackstreet, Shai, Next, KCI and JoJo, and All 4 One into a sort of boy band subgenre. They sang totally different songs more akin to R&B than pop. In the same sense that I don't think you can call the Spice Girls the same sort of group as Salt N' Pepper, En Vogue, 702, TLC or perhaps Destiny's Child (though they were closer to pop) just because they were all girl groups. It was clearly a different kind of music.

If we're calling them all boy bands though, of the same sort, then Boyz II Men was absolutely my favorite.

I haven't listened to the Backstreet Boys style boy bands in years. But I still listen to slow jamz all the time.

Edit to add: I feel like La Bouche needs a mention on this list somewhere. Even though they weren't an American band (which blew my mind to find out), and they only had two real hits, I still get those songs stuck in my head all the time.

Edit to add also: And seriously, Glee has been through two seasons and I don't think they've covered the songs from ANY of the groups in my last post. How is that possible? The 90s was ALL about group singing, and the R&B groups especially were about acapella harmonies over background music. The Warblers especially would find the 90s a gold mine. There must be some difficulty with licensing rights or something.

[ September 07, 2011, 05:04 AM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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dem
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I would say you need to include some country stars. Everyone tends to underestimate country artist, especially in the past. Randy Travis sold a ton of albums and singles in the early 80s, but the sales were way under reported by record store workers (who held the power of reporting who was selling back in those days).
Alabama 80s
Garth Brooks 90s
George Strait...somewhere
Reba or Kenny Chesney 00s
??? Taylor Swift (especially w/ the Kanye Stuff) 10s


Also Jimmy Buffet (he kind of created his own culture)

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Lyrhawn
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I'd say Reba and Garth in the 90s.
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TomDavidson
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*nod* If you're going by album sales and impact, Garth Brooks absolutely has to be on there.
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BlackBlade
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Agreed with Garth in the 90's.
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