It's strange to come to the end of a decade and suddenly have to figure out what it all meant. One of the fundamental ways a decade defines itself is through its music (and of course, the talented artists behind it all), and the 2010s generated some of the most impactful and culture-shifting artists of the past hundred years.
But what makes an artist one of the most influential musicians of the decade? Is it the number of records they sell? How active they are on social media? Or does it come down to the artist simply being themselves and standing up for what they believe in? Below we'll look at some of the most influential artists who changed music and culture between 2010 and 2019.
Despite many people not even knowing that there was a Pulitzer Prize for music, Kendrick Lamar was the first non-jazz or classical musician to win the coveted prize in the Pulitzer's 75-year history.
Lamar faced stiff competition though: the Pulitzer board reviewed 180 pieces of music, and decided that Lamar's album Damn sounded like nothing they had ever heard before (in the best possible way).
Adele set the bar high for what music could be in the 2010s with her indelible, award-winning album 21.
Six years after the album's original release, it surpassed Carole King's 1971 album Tapestry as the longest charting album by a woman on the Billboard charts, spending 319 consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200.
In addition to Lady Gaga's musical evolution over the past decade, she has become a staunch advocate for social justice and survivors of sexual assault. Gaga's advocacy even took center stage at the 2016 Academy Awards, when over 50 survivors of sexual violence joined the singer on stage during an emotional performance of "Till It Happens To You," a song she had written for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which dealt with sexual assault.
Gaga herself came out as a survivor of sexual violence in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
In addition to creating some of the most memorable music of the decade, Rihanna had a major role in flipping gender stereotypes with songs like Te Amo and Cockiness, giving other female artists the opportunity to break from conventions set by the music industry.
A native of Barbados, Rihanna has, with her success, opened the door for a number of successful Caribbean artists throughout the 2010s. And let's not forget the number of female musicians who followed Rihanna's lead in working with DJ Calvin Harris. Rihanna proved herself to be a musical trailblazer this decade.