Musical trends of the decade
The melismatic vocals mainstream during the 1990s and 2000s in pop and contemporary R&B lost favor by mid-late 2009, as vocally lower key artists, including Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Rihanna, started to outsell new releases by perennial melismatic favorites, Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera. By the mid-2010s, the style of vocals popular in indie pop have become immensely widespread among pop instrumentalists as they are commonly used by younger artists, like Lorde and Birdy.
Traditional instruments, such as the mandolin, dulcimer, ukulele, banjo, and accordion, have been utilized more often, especially in indie rock musicians and singer songwriters, including Mumford and Sons, Vance Joy, Phillip Phillips, and The Lumineers, along with country players, such as Kacey Musgraves, Granger Smith and Zac Brown Band.
Progressive and experimental rock have started to become widespread, mainly in the second half of the decade. Artists, such as Nothing More, Highly Suspect, Twelve Foot Ninja, Dead Letter Circus, and Marmozets, and DIY ethic bands, including Bad Omens, Sylar, Æges, and Some Fear None, have enjoyed success through concerts and streaming services.
EDM has become more mainstream due to the releases of Britney Spears’ Blackout and Kanye West’s “Stronger”; some 2010s successes include David Guetta, Skrillex, Steve Aoki, Swedish House Mafia, Headhunterz, Wildstylez, Da Tweekaz, Clean Bandit, Major Lazer, DVBBS, Avicii, Alesso, Owl City, The Chainsmokers, Calvin Harris, DJ Snake, Diplo, ShockOne, Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Blasterjaxx, Martin Garrix and Alan Walker.
The genres of Europop and Eurodance have also achieved notable commercial success, evidenced by Swedish producer Max Martin’s ubiquity in the decade’s most successful pop albums. Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream (2010) drew heavily from this style and became the first album by a female artist in history to release five number one U.S. singles. Europop and electronica were used more extensively in the early 2010s as a result of the success of disk jockeys, like David Guetta and Calvin Harris, also influencing the work of female solo acts like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Kesha. Some of the best-selling songs of the decade, including “Only Girl (In the World)” and “S&M” by Rihanna, were strongly influenced by Eurodance. In 2012, a large number of songs by American instrumentalists featured quintessential Eurodance elements, especially synthesizer and strong beats during the chorus mixed with rapping or vocals for verses.
Teen pop has made a significant comeback throughout the decade, with the likes of Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Nick Jonas, and Selena Gomez. Like their predecessors, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, who rose to fame in the late 90s and early 2000s, most of these stars were exclusively associated or with Disney Channel and Nickelodeon at the genesis of careers. Throughout the 2010s, they have expanded control over their careers and come of age with their music to varying degrees of success, and many teen pop musicians outside of the former companies have continued to launch promising careers throughout the 2010s.
Since 2011, boy bands and girl groups have returned to mainstream popularity for the first time after the early 2000s, with the most popular examples being British-Irish boy band One Direction and American boy band Big Time Rush. A new generation of successful girl groups was ushered in by acts such as Little Mix and Fifth Harmony. In addition to this, K-Pop groups, benefitting from high visibility on Social Media and Video sharing sites like YouTube, began to capitalise on their viral power and monetise netizen fanbases overseas conducting sell out tours in western markets during the mid-2010s. Korean Acts Such as BIGBANG, EXO and BTS sold out US tours with little to no promotion or support from mainstream media sources like TV & Radio Airplay.
Soundtracks from films have topped the charts this decade as well, with number 1 singles from Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth, Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams, along with top 10 entries by The Weeknd, Ellie Goulding, and others.
Dubstep and drumstep became widespread subgenres in the early 2010s on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, especially in its native United Kingdom. There, other electronic subgenres, like grime and trap, have also been growing in popularity. Drumstep has continued its success while hardstyle has become mainstream in Australia and United States due to the success of music festivals, such as The Sound of Q-dance and Defqon 1.
In Asia, popular music has continued to be influenced by Western pop music. As with the past several decades, J-pop and K-pop has continued to be successful in the Far East. In J-pop, image songs and the influence of anime on widespread music have grown since the late 2000s. K-pop’s popularity continued to increase around the world throughout the decade and found wider recognition in western markets. Media entertainment brand, Billboard, responsible for tabulating the Billboard Hot 100 and 200, inaugurated its own K-Pop chart and column presented weekly, on its Billboard.com site. The Billboard K-Town column, launched in 2013, continues to report on K-pop music; artists, concerts, chart information and news events. In 2015, the US iTunes store added a K-Pop genre category. Major streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify both added K-pop categories to their repertoire to cater demand. In India, Indian pop, rock, and filmi have continued to be mainstream.
In Latin America, Latin pop has remained the main subgenre. Tropical, reggaeton, trap have also been popular genres while pop rock continues to be successful.
Pop has made a significant comeback due to dance-pop, electropop and synthpop in this decade. Chart-topping pop performers this decade include Bruno Mars’s “Just The Way You Are”, Katy Perry’s ” Firework”, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”, Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”, Justin Bieber’s ” Sorry” and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”. Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, and English-Irish pop boyband One Direction are some of the other acts that dominated the pop charts in the US this decade. Also this decade are critically acclaimed works from Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West among others.
Rihanna has earned the most #1 singles so far in this decade (nine), spending 41 weeks at the top of the chart, followed by Katy Perry with 8 #1 singles at a 26-week reign and Bruno Mars with 7 #1 singles leading 32 weeks. Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift both have five #1 singles this decade so far, Bieber spending 23 weeks at #1 and Swift with 18 weeks. Adele followed with four #1 singles at her name spending 24 weeks at the top. Kesha earned three #1 singles this decade so far, she spent 13 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Among all those songs who reached #1 singles this decade “Tik Tok”, “Rolling in the Deep”, “Just the Way You Are” and “Dark Horse” are some of the best-selling singles in the digital era.
Adele’s 21, and 25, and Taylor Swift’s 1989 have also performed well with their albums on the Billboard 200 chart.
Rock has remained popular, although it has declined in chart presence since the late 2000s alongside changes in radio format. These changes were driven by the decline in compact discs and rise of downloads in the music industry, which prompted a focus on top 40 music. Rock has also moved from hard rock and heavy metal, which have dominated since the mid-1980s. Mainstream rock since the early 2010s has become softer and more refined because of indie rock. Rock was reportedly still the most widely consumed genre in the United States during 2014 and 2015. The decade has also seen the return of successful rock artists from the past, including AC/DC, David Bowie, Metallica, Stone Temple Pilots, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden, Blink-182, Radiohead, Green Day, and Alice in Chains. All of these acts have had albums debut within the top 5. In particular, English rock instrumentalist David Bowie experienced his most commercially successful period since the 1980s with two U.S. top 5 albums, The Next Day (2013) and Blackstar (2016), the latter being released shortly before his death.
Indie rock-as well as other subgenres, like indie pop, indietronica, Psychedelic rock and indie folk-became popular in the early 2010s, most likely caused by access to media players, such as iTunes and Google Play. It has become one of the most successful subgenres of the decade. The top widespread indie musicians this decade have been Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, X Ambassadors, Twenty One Pilots, Lana Del Rey, The Black Keys, Echosmith, American Authors, The National, Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Haim, Queens of the Stone Age, Bon Iver, Fun, Walk the Moon, Elle King, Alabama Shakes, The Lumineers, Cage the Elephant, and Tame Impala. Well established or one hit wonder indie acts in this decade have been Tegan and Sara, Bleachers, Local Natives, Chairlift, Matt & Kim, Tokyo Police Club, Grouplove, Broken Bells, St. Lucia, Ryn Weaver, Crystal Castles, Portugal. The Man, Beach House, St. Vincent, Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Kaleo, The Decemberists, Joshua Tillman, Bright Eyes, Best Coast, Grizzly Bear, Future Islands, Fleet Foxes, Banks, Band of Horses, Grimes, Meg Myers, Mac DeMarco, The National, Sleigh Bells, Phantogram, Awolnation, Foster the People, and The Neighbourhood.
Although its subgenre, indie rock, is in the spotlight, successful alternative rock bands in this decade have been Imagine Dragons, Linkin Park, Kasabian, Muse, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Kongos, Evanescence, Metric, Nickelback, Arctic Monkeys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Skillet, Panic! at the Disco, Fall Out Boy, Twenty One Pilots, Radiohead, Paramore, and Nothing But Thieves. All of these bands have had albums debut in the top 5.
Since 2012, alternative leaning pop music has had exposure through Contemporary Hit Radio Music Stations. Among these artists include Charli XCX, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Ellie Goulding, Tove Lo, Melanie Martinez, Halsey, Marina And The Diamonds, Birdy, James Blake, St. Vincent, George Ezra, Blood Orange, Shamir, Sky Ferreira, FKA twigs, Solange, Soko, Daya, Zella Day, James Bay, Conrad Sewell, Grimes, Cults, Parson James, Ryn Weaver, Saint Raymond, Scott Helman, and Adam Cohen. These artists are notable for having the freedom to choose their music styles and influences; therefore they are often labeled as indie pop.
The decade has seen the revival of psychedelic rock as a popular subgenre for the first time since the 1970s. Bands of the decade have introduced synths and electronic sounds into the genre for the first time. Popular acts of the genre in the decade have been Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, Pond, Temples, MGMT, Mac Demarco, Allah-Las, Ty Segall, and The Black Angels.
Progressive and experimental rock
In the later part of the decade, genres crossing over with an indie-and-metal approach have become popular. These genres are considered progressive and experimental rock. Many of these bands are diverse in sound, and are influenced by genres like post-hardcore, math rock, and post-rock music. Artists making successful albums have been part of this genre, like Nothing More, Being as an Ocean, Circa Survive, Highly Suspect, Dredg, The Color Morale, Twelve Foot Ninja, Haken, Hands Like Houses, Code Orange, Sleepwave, Sworn in, Dead Letter Circus, Thank You Scientist, Turbowolf, Marmozets, Black Map, Smashing Satellites, Night Verses, and Arcane Roots. The rise in popularity came from major hard rock festivals like Rock on the Range and Aftershock Festival as well as streaming services like Spotify promoting such music. DIY ethic bands, like Separations, Sylar, New Volume, Whores, Big Jesus, Æges, Bad Omens, Wild Throne, Some Fear None, and Silver Snakes have also gained success on concert or festival bills and streaming services like Spotify.
Pop punk and punk rock
With a few exceptions, including Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Paramore, Blink-182 and Panic! at the Disco, pop punk has heavily decreased in mainstream popularity during the 2010s and has not been enjoying popular success as it once did in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Emo-which had gained heavy widespread success between 2004 and 2008-heavily declined in popularity by the early 2010s. Early 1990s punk rock bands, like Bad Religion, NOFX, and Pennywise, have not had mainstream success since the 1990s or 2000s but have enjoyed heavy touring. Second wave pop punk acts, such as Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Simple Plan, and New Found Glory have heavily declined in popularity. However, DIY ethic punk rock has seen somewhat of a cult resurgence with bands, including Martha, The Spook School, Neck Deep, The Story So Far, and Joanna Gruesome, growing in popularity and being played on radio stations, like BBC Radio 6 Music.
Hard rock and heavy metal
During the 2010s, popular hard rock and heavy metal bands, such as Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, Slipknot, Shinedown, Bring Me the Horizon, A Day to Remember, Royal Blood, Halestorm, Volbeat, Papa Roach, Chevelle, Nothing More, and Seether, have been releasing successful albums. With many newer hard rock and heavy metal acts from this decade getting more success (especially with the streaming service success of progressive and experimental rock and metal music), the decade has also seen the return of older hard rock and heavy metal players, including Soundgarden, Deftones, Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Testament, Exodus, Rush, Iron Maiden, Faith No More, Dream Theater, and Metal Church.
Thrash metal has continued to be popular in the 2010s, mainly due to Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax taking part in the Big Four tour in Europe and the United States. Following the Big Four performances, Megadeth released three albums in the 2010s, Thirteen (2011), Super Collider (2013) and Dystopia (2016), with the latter of the two cracking the top 10 on the U.S. charts. Anthrax and Slayer cracked the top 10 with their own albums as well in the 2010s,[ while other 1980s thrash metal acts Testament, Overkill, Exodus, Metal Church and Death Angel achieved more greater success on the U.S. charts by cracking the top 100. Other than the Lou Reed corroboration Lulu and EP Beyond Magnetic (both released in 2011), Metallica has released only one studio album in the 2010s: Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016). Some of the most successful thrash metal acts that got their start in the 21st century are Bonded by Blood, Evile, Gama Bomb, Havok, Municipal Waste, Suicidal Angels, Vektor, Warbringer and others, thus creating what is known as the “thrash metal revival movement”.
In the early 2010s, there was an astounding resurgence of interest in alternative metal, hard rock and grunge. This was kickstarted in the year 2010 with the reunions of Soundgarden and System of a Down. Two veteran grunge bands, Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, cracked the top five on the Billboard 200 with their respective albums King Animal (2012) and The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (2013). In addition, some of the most successful alternative metal bands that were broken up in the 1990s or 2000s, such as Primus, Jane’s Addiction, Faith No More, Helmet and Biohazard, released comeback albums in the 2010s.
Although the fusion genre is not as popular as it was during the 1990s and early-to-mid-2000s, the top widespread pop rock instrumentalists in this decade have been The Script, Train, OneRepublic, Maroon 5, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Avril Lavigne, while acts like The Fray and Daughtry have continued to have minor success.
Contemporary R&B and soul
Contemporary R&B has not been as prominent in the early 2010s as it was from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s when new jack swing was a fixture in popular music. Slow jams have largely been replaced by dance numbers and pop ballads. Contemporary R&B has begun to influence hipster musicians, creating a new genre called alternative R&B. New players have emerged from this subgenre, like The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Kehlani, Tinashe, Tory Lanez, PartyNextDoor, Jeremih, Khalid, and Bryson Tiller.
A few top mainstream contemporary R&B artists of the 2010s have been Beyoncé, Rihanna, Usher, Chris Brown, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Trey Songz, Ne-Yo, Jidenna, Miguel, Frank Ocean, Alicia Keys, and August Alsina. There was also a slight revival of soul during the early 2010s, with instrumentalists, such as Cee Lo Green, Janelle Monáe, and Adele.
Due to the domination of electro and dance-pop, contemporary R&B has partially become more influenced by dance and electropop, and many musicians that were typically contemporary R&B artists have started to release pop. This is notable in players, including Ne-Yo, Usher, Chris Brown, and Rihanna with songs, like “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” and “Forever Now,” “Scream” and “OMG,” “Don’t Wake Me Up” and “Turn Up The Music,” and “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been.” Usher started this trend with “OMG” in 2010.
There has also been a resurgence of contemporary R&B acts from the 1990s and 2000s to achieve commercial success during the 2010s, such as Monica, Kelly Rowland, Brandy, Maxwell, D’Angelo, and Janet Jackson.
While some contemporary R&B artists transitioned to a more dance and electropop sound, many artists still achieved success while still remaining true to contemporary R&B. Songs, including “Everything to Me” by Monica, “Refill” by Elle Varner, “Thinking Bout You” by Frank Ocean, “Motivation” by Kelly Rowland, “Put It Down” by Brandy, and “No Sleeep” by Janet Jackson, are notable for being contemporary R&B and popular hits while still obtaining an authentic contemporary R&B sound.
Beyoncé became the first artist in Billboard chart history to have her first six albums debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart in 2016. Additionally, Beyoncé also became the artist to have the most songs from one album to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 simultaneously (12).
A number of hip hop labels have also grown influential during this decade, among which have been 1017 Bricksquad Records, Taylor Gang Records, Cash Money Records, Roc Nation, Aftermath Records, Maybach Music Group, Top Dawg Entertainment, and Def Jam Recordings. Mainstream hip hop acts this decade have been Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Migos, J. Cole, Kanye West, Eminem, Jay Z, Wiz Khalifa, Meek Mill, T.I., Iggy Azalea, Big Sean, A$AP Ferg, Fetty Wap, Future, A$AP Rocky, Desiigner, Rae Sremmurd, Post Malone, Kevin Gates, G-Eazy, YG, ScHoolboy Q, Logic, Travis Scott, Wale, DJ Khaled, O.T. Genasis, T-Pain, Sage the Gemini, Dej Loaf, Chiddy Bang, Ty Dolla $ign, French Montana, Kid Ink, Young Thug, Azealia Banks, K Camp, Yo Gotti, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Lil Uzi Vert, Flo Rida, Pitbull, 2 Chainz, Juicy J, Rich Homie Quan, Mac Miller, The Game, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Childish Gambino, Machine Gun Kelly, D.R.A.M., and older hip hop instrumentalists, like Missy Elliott, Dr. Dre, Sean Combs, Snoop Dogg, and Nelly. Hip hop acts that have never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 but still retain a strong fan base within the hip hop community at large have been Chief Keef, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Casey Veggies, Dom Kennedy, Hopsin, Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, Earl Sweatshirt, Yelawolf, Hoodie Allen, Bow Wow, Lil Boosie, Tyler, The Creator, Vince Staples , Danny Brown, Isaiah Rashad, E-40, and Kottonmouth Kings. Hip hop acts that have gained fame with the social medium Vine have been T-Wayne, iLoveMakonnen, Silento, Bobby Shmurda, and iLoveMemphis.
In 2010, Eminem-who was named the best selling music act of the previous decade by Billboard-set an early record on the U.S. Billboard charts, with two number 1 singles and the second fastest selling album of the decade has seen, Recovery.
Throughout this decade, trap has maintained a strong presence on the widespread Billboard music charts with a number of albums released by rappers, like Fetty Wap, Future, Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug, and Yo Gotti. Electropop, sometimes combined with hip hop, saw the most mainstream success throughout the early 2010s. Several instrumentalists, such as Kid Cudi and Drake, have managed to attain chart topping hit songs, including “Day ‘n’ Nite” and “Best I Ever Had,” respectively, by releasing their music on free online mixtapes without the help of a major record label. New musicians, like Wale, J. Cole, Lupe Fiasco, Drake The Cool Kids, Jay Electronica, and B.o.B have openly acknowledged being directly influenced by their 1990s alternative hip hop predecessors in addition to alternative rock groups while their music has been noted by critics as expressing eclectic sounds, life experiences, and emotions rarely seen in mainstream hip hop. In addition to this, music industry experts say that more conservative young people are fed up with the violence, constant references to drug use, sex, and degrading imagery used in the genre. However, hip hop was the only genre to have a sales increase during 2010.
While dance music has periodically conquered the American pop charts, its current incursion has most likely been its deepest since the disco heyday of the 1970s. Throughout the 2010s, various electronic dance subgenres have conquered the music scene, such as house, dubstep, drumstep, hardstyle, electro house, techno, trance, synthpop, electropop, and trap. These genres have many musical influences from 1970s’ disco, 1980s’ hi-NRG, spacesynth, Italo disco, and new wave, and 1990s’ and 2000s’ Eurodance, techno, house, trip hop, Europop, garage rock, and trance. The rise of electronic dance has brought massive success to large festivals, raves, technoparades, algoraves, doofs, and teknivals that mostly take place in the United States and Europe though every year thousands of electronic focused music festivals are held throughout the world. These events are also well known for their long association with the use of recreational drugs, including MDMA, LSD, 2C-B, Ketamine, and Benzylpiperazine. The top mainstream disk jockeys in the 2010s have been Tiesto, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Nicky Romero, Afrojack, Deadmau5, Diplo, Skrillex, Armin Van Buuren, Avicii, Zedd, Martin Garrix, Hardwell, The Chainsmokers, Major Lazer, DJ Snake and Disclosure.
Country has continued to maintain its popularity both as a radio format and in retail; this is attributed both to the faithfulness of country fans and to a rise in popularity of the genre. The most popular country acts during this decade have been Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, Rascal Flatts, Kacey Musgraves, Jake Owen, Dustin Lynch, Kip Moore, Little Big Town, Chris Young, Hunter Hayes, Cam, Sam Hunt, Lee Brice, Eli Young Band, Darius Rucker, Randy Houser, Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Billy Currington, Tyler Farr, Brett Eldredge, Sturgill Simpson, and Chris Stapleton.
A large number of duos and vocal groups have begun to emerge on the charts during the 2010s, many of which feature close harmony in the lead vocals, a style that roots as far back as the 1940s and 1950s with acts, like The Shelton Brothers, Delmore Brothers, and Everly Brothers. It saw a resurgence in the 1980s with The Judds and The Bellamy Brothers although the more recent acts tend to not be related. Examples of successful duos have been Florida Georgia Line, Love and Theft, Dan + Shay and Thompson Square. In addition to Lady Antebellum, bands, such as The Band Perry, Gloriana, Eli Young Band, and Zac Brown Band have come to occupy a large portion of the new, popular country players. Meanwhile, artists who began their careers as far back as the 1960s and 1970s have continued to be active, including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, George Strait, and Reba McEntire.
Several popular country songs have taken influence from 21st-century hip hop, rock, and pop and have had themes of partying, attractive young women, blue jeans, Southern rock, and pickup trucks. These characteristics are typical in an unofficial subgenre known as bro-country. Instrumentalists embracing this trend have been Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert, and several others, with songs, like “Cruise,” “That’s My Kind of Night,” and Blake Shelton’s “Boys ‘Round Here” having been the most widespread songs in terms of sales and downloads. While many of the themes of bro-country songs–in particular, women and alcohol–have always been a part of country, the new genre came under fire by listeners, music reviewers, and classic country musicians, such as Alan Jackson and Gary Allan, and was satirized in the song “Girl in a Country Song” by the duo Maddie & Tae. The shifting styles also played a role in a brief feud between Shelton and country legend Ray Price in 2013-just months before Price’s death-after Shelton remarked that “Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music” and that younger consumers weren’t buying or downloading classic country music because the styles and sounds of songs from the past didn’t appeal to them. Price–who, unlike several of his peers, usually kept quiet in the debate on classic country vs. more modern music–expressed his disapproval via his Facebook page, stating that it was their styles and success that helped make newer stars’ careers possible and paved the way to modern country music. Shelton later retracted his statement, and Price accepted his apology, but once again – as it has been since the mid-1970s – the on again, off again debate about what constitutes classic, real country music was on.
In September 2016, “Forever Country,” a medley of three classic country songs — “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “On the Road Again” and “I Will Always Love You” — was recorded to honor the 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards. A celebration of traditional country music and the genre’s ongoing popularity, the song blended together 30 stars, ranging from newcomers to veteran to classic stars and acts of the genre. A similar medley, featuring many of the same stars that performed on “Forever Country” but with different songs, was performed at the CMA Awards. Both performances received widespread critical acclaim.
The decade has also seen death and tragedy in country. Mindy McCready, a rising star of the late 1990s whose personal problems soon overshadowed her music, committed suicide during early 2013. Glen Campbell, a vastly influential country guitarist and vocalist from the 1960s onward, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in late 2010 and consequently retired from show business in 2013; he died in 2017. Randy Travis, a neo-traditionalist star who helped revive the genre in the mid-to-late 1980s, had several run-ins with the law in 2012 and in 2013 suffered a massive stroke. Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry, one of the genre’s most popular duos, was killed in a helicopter crash in 2017. Prominent classic country players who have died during the decade have been Carl Smith, Kitty Wells, Patti Page, Jack Greene, Slim Whitman, George Jones, Ray Price, Little Jimmy Dickens, Lynn Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Sonny James, Merle Haggard, Jean Shepard, Glen Campbell and Don Williams. Glenn Frey, a member of Eagles, a rock band whose style has been vastly influential in country from the 1970s onward, also died during the decade.
Christian music saw a rise in success during the early 2010s, with several artists debuting within the top 5 on the Billboard 200. In 2011, the Christian instrumentalists Casting Crowns and Red both debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200, with their respective albums Come to the Well and Until We Have Faces. David Crowder Band also reached number 2 with Give Us Rest during 2012. Today’s Christian Music reported that Passion: White Flag, a live album of the performances of various musicians at the 2012 Passion Conference, debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200. On August 28, 2012, the TobyMac album Eye on It debuted at number 1 on that chart, the first Christian album since 1997 and third overall to do so. The very next week, Christian hip hop artist Lecrae debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200 with Gravity. Additionally, both the number 1 and 2 spots on the iTunes hip hop charts were taken by the deluxe and standard versions of the album. The commercial reception of Gravity was called “easily the biggest sales week ever for a Christian rap album.” In January 2013, Chris Tomlin became the fourth Christian player to top the Billboard 200 with his seventh studio album Burning Lights. 73,000 units were sold in its debut week. Lecrae then topped the Billboard 200 during September 2014 with his album Anomaly, selling 88,000 units in its debut week. This not only established Lecrae as the fifth artist to top the chart, but it also marked the first time that an artist reached number 1 on both the Billboard 200 and Top Gospel charts. Following – and partially due to – Lecrae’s peak on the Gospel chart, Billboard revised its standards for the chart, rendering most hip hop releases ineligible.
The success of TobyMac and Lecrae prompted an article in Time that examined the recent upsurge in crossover success of Christian instrumentalists. The magazine referred to Rod Riley of Word Entertainment as an indication that all of these successes could “be the tip of the iceberg.” Riley has cited the increasing talent of Christian musicians and the ownership of all major Christian record labels by widespread parents as a reason for the success of Christian. According to Time, TobyMac and the rock band Skillet have been featured in NFL telecasts, TobyMac’s music has played on The Simpsons and Transporter 2, and Lecrae performed at the 2012 South by Southwest festival and the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher. The accessibility of iTunes has also been listed by Time as a factor in the rise of Christian. Producer Mark Joseph claimed in an article by Fox News that TobyMac reaching number 1 was just one more example of the mainstreaming of “‘so-called Christian music that his happening all around us'”. He further stated that “‘the pop and rock charts are filled with artists who used to be in that industry-like Katy Perry, Switchfoot and Joy Williams of The Civil Wars, but also by young devout performers who in the past might have gone into that industry, like Justin Bieber, Mumford & Sons, The Fray, Cold War Kids and Twenty One Pilots.'” Following Lecrae’s performance on BET and appearance on Statik Selektah’s Population Control, in Chad Horton, co-owner of the website Rapzilla, stated that “Christian hip hop” had-in the past two years-“pushed into the mainstream more than ever before,” and citing part of its cause as better music quality presentation than “any other time before” in January 2012.
Alternative rock has experienced a modest presence in the United Kingdom singles chart during the 2010s, mostly from artists originating in the previous decade, including Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys, Gorillaz, Coldplay, The Wombats, Muse, Mumford & Sons, and Snow Patrol. Bands like Two Door Cinema Club, Foals, and Bombay Bicycle Club, which emerged in the late 2000s, have succeeded in the album chart. The genre has had a stronger presence album-wise, with acts such as The 1975, Bastille, alt-J, and The Vaccines enjoying success. Bastille have scored two number 2 singles on the UK chart, with their sound bordering on mainstream pop music in the charts. Royal Blood was the first band formed during the decade to win a Brit Award for the best British group in 2014, only one year after forming. Royal Blood’s sound is similar to 2000s garage rock, and they received positive reviews upon the release of their debut album.
European rock has also seen the return of successful instrumentalists from the past. David Bowie-in particular had two UK number 1 albums—The Next Day and Blackstar. Upon its release, The Next Day (2013) became Bowie’s most successful album in 30 years, followed by Blackstar (2016).
Acts, including Tribes, White Lies, The Maccabees, Miles Kane and Hard-Fi, have also witnessed success, mostly exclusive to the album chart.
Heavy metal and hard rock have been seeing a relatively increased presence in the UK albums chart, thanks to releases by Bullet For My Valentine and Enter Shikari. Many new British heavy metal bands are seeing worldwide success after years of American dominance, primarily Bring Me the Horizon and Asking Alexandria.
In northern Europe, especially Sweden, 1980s glam metal has seen something of a revival from acts like Hardcore Superstar, Crazy Lixx, Crashdiet, H.E.A.T, and Reckless Love.
In eastern Europe, acts like Repetitor, Vizija, Bernays Propaganda, ZAA and Artan Lili become successful with their experimenting in the music.
Folk witnessed a large growth during the early 2010s in the UK. The most widespread British folk musician has been Mumford & Sons, who won a 2011 Brit Award for “Best Album” and have enjoyed commercial success in both Europe and North America. Another notable player and winner of “Best British Female” at the 2011 BRIT Awards is Laura Marling. Other successful acts have been Ed Sheeran, George Ezra, Jake Bugg, Johnny Flynn, Noah and the Whale, Bon Iver, Ben Howard, and Alessi’s Ark.
Adele is considered one of the most successful English female soul artists of the early 2010s.
English female soul singer Adele attained considerable popularity in Europe and United States in the early 2010s, where she had several number 1 hits during 2011 and 2012.
Contemporary R&B, as well as classic soul, have defined much of the UK’s mainstream music in the early to mid-2010s. Notable artists who encompass this sound include Jessie J and Adele. As with previous decades, pop has enjoyed chart domination, with popular instrumentalists, such as Cher Lloyd, Birdy, Jessie Ware, James Blunt, Sam Smith, Rag’n’Bone Man, Lily Allen, Clean Bandit, Rixton, Disclosure, La Roux, Shura, AlunaGeorge, James Blake, Róisín Murphy, Olly Murs, M.I.A., London Grammar, FKA Twigs, Jamie xx, The xx, Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Zayn Malik, Chvrches, Years & Years, Charli XCX, Jay Sean, Paloma Faith, Emeli Sandé, Florence and the Machine, Cheryl Cole, The Saturdays, Ellie Goulding, Marina and the Diamonds, and Katy B. Teen pop boy bands-despite being unpopular for much of the 2000s-have returned to widespread popularity, with acts, including One Direction and The Wanted, having seen major commercial success worldwide. French singer Zaz is one of very few singers to have become internationally mainstream since Vanessa Paradis. The girlbands also have success, one of them being the winners of the eighth season of The X Factor, Little Mix.
Dubstep and drumstep started to become popular by 2010. This was particularly true in Britain, where it evolved from grime, a subgenre that became widespread during 2009. DJ Snake is known for having introduced trap into the mainstream in Europe during 2013. Eurodance-which has been consistently popular in Europe since the early 1990s-has become popular outside of Europe, in a more modern style than the first wave into North America in the 1980s and early 1990s. The emergence and commercial success of Dutch house and the associated ‘big room’ house style have also brought electronic musicians from the continent to the global forefront. In the mid-2010s, further development of house subgenres have been seen in the creations of future house and tropical house, with European players being influential figures within both. Prominent European disk jockeys during this decade have been Avicii, Martin Garrix, Nicky Romero, Tiesto, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Afrojack, Kygo, Calvin Harris, and David Guetta.