How Has Pop Music Changed?

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Isabella Harmel, Writer

There have been lots of changes to the popular music scene in recent years. The upbeat, hyper-auto tuned pop of the 2000s hits has been discarded in favour of a more chill, hip hop songs with bass heavy beats and rawer vocals. This shift is due in part to artists like Billie Eilish and Frank Ocean – whose music brought this style mainstream – but they wouldn’t be nearly as popular without social media’s help. Over the last 15 years platforms like youtube, Soundcloud, TikTok and even Myspace have given some of the biggest names in music a platform to build their careers out of. We see more and more artists gain fame, record deals and devoted fans through just one viral song. This phenomenon began with none other than Adele

 

After graduating from the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in 2006, 19 year old Adele was approached by XL records. Her friend had posted a video of her singing some songs she wrote on Myspace, one of which would turn into “ Hometown Glory”, a track from her first album. The label had seen the videos and were very interested in her. They offered her a contract to produce her first album, which was titled 19. It was an immediate success, going double platinum in the USA and quadruple platinum in the UK, making it one of the top selling debut albums of all time. She followed this success with 21, which was released in early 2011. It was a record breaking hit, selling 352,000 copies in just the first week. She became the first artist since the Beatles to have a pair of top 5 albums and a pair of top 5 songs simultaneously. Her third and final (?) album reached similar success, rocketing Adele to superstardom.

 

Adele was the first in a long line of artists who would find success through social media. Artists like Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, Panic! At the disco, Alessia Cara and Doja Cat wouldn’t have the same amount of success if Adele hadn’t made record labels start to notice online creators. 

 

With the 2020 BBMAS approaching, discussion about the artist of the decade they name is right around the corner. Whilst I appreciate the style of hip hop Kendrick Lamar helped popularize, the road Nicki Minaj paved for today’s female rappers, Taylor Swift’s plethora of number ones hits and the entity that is Beyonce, you must consider the massive role social media plays in today’s music industry and acknowledge Adele’s major role in making it that way. She may not have had the most streams, but she created a blueprint for today’s generation of artists.