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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10 Artists That Will Still Matter in 30 Years

Posted By on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Yep: Odd Future.
  • Yep: Odd Future.

One of the most interesting discussions we heard at the SF MusicTech Summit yesterday was about which artists of today will still matter -- will be remembered and talked about and referred to -- in 30 years. The question was originally raised by NPR critic Ann Powers on Twitter, expanded on here, and it came up yesterday on a panel of four middle-aged white guys and one middle-aged black woman who works for a major label.

Their answers included Dave Matthews Band, the Shins, Radiohead, My Morning Jacket, and Beck. Which, ugh. Radiohead is obvious, but the rest of these predictions seem both outdated (read: old) and also a little off. Everything rests on your definition of "matter" of course -- as of 2012, various interested parties haven't yet forgotten Donnie Osmond, on one hand, or the Normal on the other. (And Powers, for what it's worth, originally just asked about pop stars.) But the spirit of the question seems to be which artists of today will have an impact that's still remembered three decades from now. Here are 10 recent artists we think will do that. It's not a complete list, but it's a start.

First, five obvious ones that aren't Radiohead:

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5. Daft Punk

Coachella '06 -- or any of the stops on the band's Alive 2007 tour -- will be remembered as one of the main events that lured a generation of young Americans into the clutches of European-style dance music. The current EDM boom is sure to fade eventually, but Daft Punk's legacy won't.

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4. Taylor Swift

Total packages like Swift don't come around that often. By 2042, the novelty of Swift's young age will have gone, but she'll be 52 years old, probably still putting out compact country-pop tunes about the latest jerk to break her heart.

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3. Kanye West

We often remember the heroes, but no one forgets the villains. Especially when their list of megahits is as long as Yeezy's.

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2. Jay-Z

From the streets to Carnegie Hall, no rapper has ascended to the mainstream consciousness of America like Jay-Z. As the assimilator-in-chief, Hova's place in history is assured.

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1. Lady Gaga

Duh. If people aren't still getting down to the "Bad Romance" video in 2042, it'll be because the oceans have drowned us all. Your kid will probably go to retro-cool Lady Gaga club nights in Shanghai, or whatever megalopolis they spend their 20s in.

And now for some less obvious predictions:

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LCD Soundsystem

The Talking Heads for arty oughts-era college kids. And what a finale they had.

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Arcade Fire

The U2 for arty oughts-era college kids. And with the hook of an unexpected Grammy, they'll have an everlasting claim to fame.

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Odd Future

The rise of Odd Future saw an entirely new generation exert its influence over the music industry. The L.A. rap collective won't just be remembered for its controversial lyrics, but rather for its striking and timely synthesis of influences: skateboarding, the Internet, a newly voracious attitude toward cultural consumption, etc. These rappers are reshaping the music world one Tweet at a time, and having an impact that their young fans won't forget.

Girl Talk
  • Girl Talk

Girl Talk

Gregg Gillis doesn't call what he makes mashups, but he's still likely to be remembered as the figurehead of the mashup era. He's also canonizing the last 30 or so years of pop music for a young audience, giving classic songs (or snippets thereof) at context that those new to them will remember a long ways down the line. Also, anyone who attended an early-2000s music festival somewhere in the world probably saw this guy play at least once. (Though it's an open question whether they have any memory of it.)

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Diplo

Thomas Pentz is that rare studio wizard who's also a major public figure -- much more than, say, Timbaland is. Diplo's had his hand in hit songs by so many big artists it's difficult to even remember them all, and some of his work -- like his productions for M.I.A. -- thrust the pop zeitgeist to adventurous new places. He also shows no sign of slowing down. In 30 years, people will scratch their heads at the mention of a Blackberry, but we bet they'll still remember Diplo.

-- @iPORT


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Ian S. Port

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