The face of music

Who is the best musician of the past 50 years?

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Story by Grey Johnson, staff writer

The 20th century was a wild time for music. Rock ‘n’ roll was born. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones became famous when a British music craze swept America. Chicago and The Eagles thrived with soft rock. Hip hop was created along with disco. Over the past 100 years, music has changed and changed us. It wasn’t a small group of individuals that caused all of this, but if you could boil it down to a few key figures, who would it be? Who is the best musician of the past 50 years?

“I think that the best singer is probably Whitney Houston,” junior Anna Loanzon said. “Nobody has ever heard a voice like that before, so I think that she was a huge deal.”

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Whitney Houston was an actress and most notably a prominent singer in the ’80s up through the ’90s and even made some songs in the 2000s. Houston sang for genres such as R&B, pop, soul and gospel. One of her most famous songs is “I Will Always Love You,” a cover of a song by Dolly Parton that was released in 1992. The song topped the Hot 100 charts on Billboard for 14 weeks straight. She landed seven consecutive #1 hits, which was never done before. Her music career was fueled by her voice more than anything. The way she used vibrato and carried notes made her famous.

“Another musician would probably be Michael Jackson,” Loanzon said. “He was the king of pop. Nobody had ever seen anything like the way he portrayed himself and sang with his unique voice. I think that’s what makes somebody a great musician — when they have something that nobody has ever seen before.”

Michael Jackson was born on Aug. 29, 1958 and would later ascend to the throne as the “King of Pop.” Michael Jackson first served in the Jackson 5 music group that was comprised of his older siblings. The band split up in 1973, and Jackson pursued a solo career, singing hit songs such as “Billie Jean” and “Bad.” His album, “Thriller” is the top selling album of all time. Sadly, Michael Jackson passed away in 2009, but his musical legacy still lives on.

“Lil Wayne is the greatest of all time,” sophomore Jonathan Jobe said. “He’s been putting out hits for years and he’s still doing it in 2018 with his catchy music that appeals to people from my generation.”

Over the past 100 years, music has changed and changed us.”

— Johnson

Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., better known as Lil Wayne, was born in New Orleans 1982. Lil Wayne worked with a pop group called the Hot Boys, but went solo later on. He won four Grammy Awards in 2009 and one in 2016. Lil Wayne released his last album in 2017, “Dedication 6,” and is still active in the music industry.

“I’ll have to go with Hans Zimmer because of his piece in Interstellar and the piece he created called ‘Time,’” sophomore Dre Springfield said. “He’s a composer that creates classical pieces, so it’s kind of keeping the genre alive. It’s good to see composers that are actually creating music instead of going for what has been popularized.”

German composer Hans Zimmer was born on Sept. 12, 1957. Zimmer has provided the scores for over 100 movies, including “The Lion King” and “Dunkirk.” He has also composed the soundtracks for all the movies in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series. “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” all feature music composed by him. Surely, there will be more from Hans Zimmer in the future.

“I’d say the best and probably most influential artist in the past 50 years would be Elvis Presley,” sophomore Landon Williams said. “He really started the rock game. He’s the king of rock and still idolized to this day.”

Jan. 8, 1935 marks the date of birth for not only one of the most famous rock stars, but also one of the most influential music artists ever — Elvis Presley. Presley won 10 Grammy Awards, named as the undisputed “King of Rock and Roll” and received many other awards. Elvis was immortalized in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Elvis integrated rhythm and blues, gospel and country music into the famous genre, rock ‘n’ roll. This influenced not just future musicians, but future American musical tastes.

There are many musicians in the world — from singers to composers to the guy in the back playing a trumpet for them. Each individual has a part in the world of music. After all, it’s not a band with just one person. But, there is no doubt that some individuals have had more influence and more achievements than the others. When taking this into account, maybe it can be narrowed down. But at the end of the day, there is no universal “best” musician; it varies from person to person. The individuality and personality of music that comes with these personal opinions gives music its true beauty.