Top 10 Ultimate Decade Defining Musical Acts

Script written by Jordan Ruimy. They make listening to music oh-so-worthwhile. For this list, we’ve based our choices on a mix of an act’s success, popularity and overall musical legacy with picks taken from our series of the Top 10 Musical Acts Per Decade. This video of the Top 10 Musical Acts of All Time is part of a series of video spanning the decades of music from the 1950s to the 2000s. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 ultimate decade defining musical acts. Special thanks to our users billyfresh23, SuperMonkeyGyrados, afarrelly, tom dray1, Dylan Cotton and Lance Bea Arevada for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Jordan Ruimy.

They make listening to music oh-so-worthwhile. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 musical acts of all time.

For this list, we’ve based our choices on a mix of an act’s success, popularity and overall musical legacy with picks taken from our series of the Top 10 Musical Acts Per Decade. This video of the Top 10 Musical Acts of All Time is part of a series of video spanning the decades of music from the 1950s to the 2000s.

#10: Elton John

This English legend has more than 25 top ten singles in a career spanning over 50 years. And it was during the ‘70s that his success really began. That decade saw Elton John and his song-writing partner Bernie Taupin create a unique style combining lyrical depth and piano-playing that allowed the artist to shine on songs like “Rocket Man,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, “Tiny Dancer” and more. Add his showmanship and vocal talent, and you’ve got an artist who today is one of the best-selling musical acts ever.

#9: Queen

Lead singer Freddie Mercury was arguably the greatest stage persona to come out of rock and roll since Mick Jagger first strutted his stuff back in the 1960s. And his band wasn’t too shabby either. Coming to the scene as almost counter-programming to the studio-built machinery of disco, Queen built on rock and roll by incorporating elements of heavy metal and hard rock to their sound. They weren’t afraid to experiment, and Mercury’s powerful voice truly helped them to stand out. Let’s not forget they produced legendary songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Will Rock You,” which seem destined to be played live.

#8: U2

This Irish 4-piece is still creating beautiful music today. But it’s thanks to such career-defining albums like Boy, and The Joshua Tree that U2 became critical, commercial and live successes. The Joshua Tree was particularly important in the perfection of their rocking sound and also gave us for the ages with tracks like “With or Without You” and “Where the Streets Have No Name.”

#7: Eminem

He was a Missouri-born white guy who grew up in Detroit and wanted to be the best rapper in the world. And by the end of the 2000s, Eminem was the biggest selling artist of the decade. With multiple Grammy wins, involvement with several musical projects, and an alter ego named Slim Shady, Marshall Mathers has earned critical praise with half a dozen chart-topping efforts. What’s more is that he found success outside his home country and even earned an Oscar for “Lose Yourself.” But it’s due to incredible material on albums like The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show that really put him above the rest.

#6: Led Zeppelin

The 1970s certainly wouldn’t have been the same without this English rock band. Formed in 1968, this 4-piece unit was composed of the late John Bonham on drums, John Paul Jones on bass and keyboard, Jimmy Page on guitar and Robert Plant on vocals. Together, these musicians had chemistry to burn and produced some of the most important music of the decade. Blending blues and folk with their hard rock and heavy metal sound, Led Zeppelin was revolutionary for the time and earned immense popularity for their musical output. They’re one of the best-selling acts of all time and their influence continues to reach war and wide.

#5: Madonna

The Material Girl was an ‘80s pop culture phenomenon. With her sexy lyrics and music videos, the provocative but highly successful artist also produced public discourse that would forever change music history. By constantly changing up her image, she defined the way other female pop artists would act in the coming years. Hit after hit, album after album, Madonna was a game-changing artist who mattered back then and still does today.

#4: The Rolling Stones

Formed in 1962, this long-lasting band is still kicking it to this day, even though its members are over 65 years old. This Mick Jagger and Keith Richards-led group became part of the British Invasion movement thanks to such career-defining hits like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Paint It Black,” “Gimme Shelter” and “Sympathy For The Devil.” With a style that fused blues, rock and R&B, The Rolling Stones have left a powerful effect on rock and roll as well as an iconic discography that’s hard to beat.

#3: Elvis Presley

With a nickname like The King, how could he not make this list? Bringing what was then known as “black music” to the forefront of white America, Elvis Presley set the stage for a musical revolution like no other and consequently changed the face of American popular culture. While hits like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” helped black artists like Little Richard break into the mainstream, Presley’s dance moves and commercial success in multiple genres made him one of the 20th century’s best.

#2: Michael Jackson

The success the King of Pop had in the ‘80s was rivaled only by Elvis in the ‘50s and The Beatles in the ‘60s. His 1982 album Thriller became and remains the biggest selling album of all time. Michael Jackson also popularized the music video with his big budget short films, all while simultaneously helping to shatter racial barriers that existed within pop music. With his singing and song-writing abilities, dance moves, and so much more, MJ was truly one of a kind – and today, his musical legacy continues to live on, even despite his untimely death.

Honorable Mentions
Pink Floyd
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Beach Boys
Prince
Metallica

#1: The Beatles

John, Paul, George and Ringo. That’s all you need to know. The biggest and most influential band ever may’ve just had a decade-long year career, but they still managed to redefine and reshape music and popular culture forever. With countless hits, groundbreaking LPs and a level of success so insane it was dubbed Beatlemania, it’s not surprising that the Fab Four topped our list of the Musical Acts of the 1960s AND our list of the Top 10 Musical Acts of All Time. Though The Beatles broke up before the decade’s end, they continue to be cited as major influences of artists to this day and undoubtedly will for generations to come.

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite musical act of all time? For more music top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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