In keeping with our iconic theme, we chart some of the biggest artists who have influenced the world that we live in, in more ways than one.

The ’50s undoubtedly belong to Elvis Presley, one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century. The King of Rock has sold over one billion records, starred in 33 successful films and made history with his television appearances and record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Revolutionising pop music, he is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music and won three of the 14 nominated Grammys awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award when he was just 36. In 2011, Forbesnamed Elvis as the second top earning dead celebrity. Relive this musical icon’s live performance of his first number one single, Heartbreak Hotel, here:

Who remembers Beatlemania? Globally recognised as the best-selling band in history, The Beatles have sold an estimated 600 million records worldwide. Formed at the very start of the decade, Liverpool-born, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr have racked up more number one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act, and garnered an ever escalating female fan base. The fab four have received ten Grammy Awards, an Academy Award for Best Original Score) and 15 Ivor Novello Awards. I Want to Hold Your Hand remains an all-time classic:

Platform heals, outrageously permed hair and embarrassing bell bottoms made the ’70s the fun and outlandishly carefree decade that it was. As Eurovision Song Contest winners of 1974 and following hot on the successful heels of Britain’s most successful boy bad, Abba rapidly became one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of popular music, topping the charts worldwide from 1975 to 1982 and selling over 380 million albums and singles worldwide. Time to get your dancing shoes on with this one:

Neither a stranger to controversy, we struggled to choose between The King and Queen of Pop, so decided to give each one the recognition they so rightly deserve. As The King of Pop, Michael Jackson has undoubtedly shaped the modern day pop industry and continues to garner global admiration even after his death. Jackson became the best-selling albums artist of 2009 with 35 million albums sold worldwide, in the first 12 months that followed his death. He also became the first artist to sell one million downloads in a week in download history, with a record-breaking 2.6 million downloads of his songs, including Thriller:

As Queen of Pop, Madonna continues to push the boundaries of mainstream popular music through provocative videos and constantly reinvents her image. She has released thirteen studio albums, six compilation albums, three soundtrack albums, four live albums, 11 extended plays, three remix albums, and 21 box sets and has sold 300 million records worldwide as is also the top-touring female of all time. Her song, Like a Virgin), topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six consecutive weeks:

Girl Power arrived in the form of Spice Girls. Scary, Posh, Baby, Sporty and Ginger Spice quite literally dominated the world in the 1990s, selling more than 85 million records worldwide, becoming the best-selling album by a female group in music history. Music sales, merchandise, an international tour and even a movie created an estimated gross wealth of between $500 and $800 million, with the group earning up to $75 million per year between 1996 and 1998. Their first song, Wannabe, shot to the number one position in 31 countries:

Dubbed the King of Hip Hop by Rolling Stones Magazine, Eminem is the best-selling artist of the 2000s in America. He has achieved ten number one albums on the Billboard 200 and has sold more than 155 million albums and singles. Despite his sometimes vulgar lyrics, Eminem continues to harvest international support; he has 13 number one singles, he is the most streamed artist on Spotify with more than 94 million streams and his YouTube page has more than 3 billion views; see for yourself here:

Cited as one of the world’s most influential people by Time Magazine, Adele’s soulful and mesmerising music has shaped the last few years. Her second album, titled 21, has helped her achieve record-breaking successes. It is the longest running number one album by a female solo artist in the history of the UK and US Album Charts. The British-born singing sensation is also the first female in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 to have three simultaneous top 10 singles as a lead artist, and the first female artist to simultaneously have two albums in the top five of the Billboard 200 and two singles in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100. Be enthralled by this amazing female icon here:

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Originally published on 1 Apr 2015
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