Artistic Evolution: How 3 Modern Pop Stars are Changing the Game
So many artists that have found success with a signature style are content to stick with a formula. The enormous effort it takes to break into the industry leaves many at the top unwilling to take risks. But there are certain pop visionaries who can’t help but reinvent themselves—and their craft. In this article I’ll look at some of the most creative artists currently rewriting the rules of mainstream pop.
Change is the only constant
Go back in history and check out the legendary pop artists that changed the game. The Beatles, Prince and Madonna all pushed to re-define the genre with each project they embarked on. Today, artists reinvent themselves to discover new creative realms, cultivate new audiences, and explore their unique cultural background. Today, artists reinvent themselves to discover new creative realms, cultivate new audiences, and explore their unique cultural background. A few recent success stories prove that sticking to the formula isn’t the only way to make a mark. That creative spirit is paying off—for listeners and the industry. Here are my top picks for pop artists who reinvented themselves in 2020.
ROSALÍA: traditional and contemporary
With her second album, “El Mal Querer”, Barcelona-born artist Rosalía proved that singing in English is not necessary to break into the mainstream. Until Rosalía came on the scene, most Spanish records were tucked away in a secluded category. But “El Mal Querer” is no ordinary record—music critics call her music “flamenco pop”. Rosalía’s music is heavily influenced by traditional flamenco, which she masterfully melts into modern R&B and trap. Rosalía’s music is heavily influenced by traditional flamenco, which she masterfully melts into modern R&B and trap. The minimalist, 808-driven productions paved Rosalía’s way towards worldwide recognition.
It’s a sound that’s familiar enough to engage mainstream pop listeners. But the mesmerizing timbre of her voice and rhythmically intricate flamenco claps create a unique feel that’s truly refreshing. While Rosalía’s roots lie in the traditional music of her culture, her forward-thinking adaptation of modern styles puts her at the forefront of international pop.
BTS: a style all their own
K-pop is a worldwide phenomenon that’s found a massive audience in the west. But before Blackpink’s star-studded debut took over the airwaves, BTS and other K-pop acts were laying the foundations for the genre to explode. With several albums sung in Korean and Japanese, BTS was massive in Asia long before the rest of the world took notice. That popularity continued to surge as K-pop artists began recording songs in English and experimenting with western genres. The disco-pop hit “Dynamite” was the first BTS single sung fully in English, but the band’s carefully rehearsed choreography and meticulous styling remained pure K-pop. It’s a perfect example of how these artists adeptly follow trends while infusing them with their own culture and vision. With more and more western stars releasing new work with K-pop acts, it’s clear that we’re not witnessing a temporary trend. With more and more western stars releasing new work with K-pop acts, it’s clear that we’re not witnessing a temporary trend. All in all, artists with unique cultural backgrounds are getting more attention than they ever had before. Hopefully, musicians who come from non-English speaking countries find this inspiring. If you are an independant international artist, remember that your unique background is a plus. People don’t care only about those who can adapt—they pay attention to those who stand out.
Lady Gaga: artistic chameleon
Trends in pop seem to evolve faster every day. That’s why artists who want to stay at the top have to reinvent themselves to survive.
If there’s one star who truly embodies this attitude in the American music industry, it’s Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga started out as a songwriter.
After signing with a major label, she enjoyed a highly acclaimed debut. Artists who want to stay at the top have to reinvent themselves to survive. She could have continued to make run-of-the-mill dance pop records. Instead, she used her success as leverage to claim her creative freedom. After releasing three pop albums, Lady Gaga first surprised her fans with a collaborative jazz album with Tony Bennett.
Two years later she gave us a completely different country pop project—“Joanne”. Little did we know that her experimentation with country music would lead Lady Gaga to one of the most successful hits she has ever released—“Shallow”, the rock ballad sang with Bradley Cooper in the hit Oscar winning movie, “A Star is Born”. As an actor and musician, Lady Gaga continues to prove that she’s not afraid to break into new mediums and transform herself completely to chase inspiration. If you’re an up-and-coming pop artist, take notes.
Be true to yourself
It’s so difficult to pick a creative direction when you’re developing as an artist. Everyone wants to make it big, but most want to do it on their own terms. Don’t make the mistake of sacrificing your vision to accommodate others. As you continue to build your project, contemplate what you stand for. So many re-inventors of pop have already blurred the lines between genres. Are you adventurous enough to do the same?