MP3 Mafia: Top best-selling music artists of all time

Almost anyone who enters the music industry shares the same goal: to become a best-selling artist, gain critical acclaim with their albums and fill massive stadiums in just one show. They dream of leaving a legacy that would be remembered for years to come, eventually changing the face of music in the long run. Unfortunately, no matter how talented and passionate they are, only a few of them can reach the top of the ladder.

Some of them may have released a song or two that stayed on the Indian music charts for years, while others have had successful albums that earned them an audience. However, there are music artists that forever changed the trajectory of music with their craft. Get to know them below:

Led Zeppelin

Even if you’re not a huge fan of rock music, it’s almost impossible to not be smitten with Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. The band was considered to be one of the best groups when it comes to folk-rock and blues-rock, but they are also recognised for their contribution to heavy metal. Because of that, they have garnered a huge following throughout their career.

Every time they went on a world tour, it was always record-breaking. Their released albums were always best-selling, hitting the top 10 on music charts during their peak. However, their meteoric rise and ever-lasting success isn’t just a product of luck or timing. One of the main reasons why they reached the top is because every member of the band is a master of their craft. 

Led Zeppelin also took the world by storm when they released Led Zeppelin II, snatching the top 1 spot from The Beatles’ Abbey Road. Their first three albums received commercial success, along with bad reviews from critics. Although fans certainly enjoyed the albums, others called the band ‘lacking in creativity’ and ‘unoriginal’. But that all changed when they released their fourth untitled album. Even the harshest critics of the band fell in love with the tracks!

Eminem

Grammy-winning rapper Eminem didn’t have an easy life, especially when he was still a kid. Born Marshall Mathers, his father abandoned the family when he was just 18-months old, leaving them in shambles. They moved from one public house system to another in Kansas City where they were the only ones who were white. Eventually, he dropped out of school and was determined to be a well-known hip-hop artist in the United States.

The start of his music career was rocky. Since the hip-hop genre was predominantly for black artists, he wasn’t taken seriously by his peers. Eminem also had a rocky relationship with his wife Kim when they had a baby. They weren’t from rich families, so they had to live in a neighbourhood where a crackhead once broke into their home to make a PB & J sandwich.

As luck and hard work would have it, Eminem rose to fame. He is also seen as one of the most controversial artists in the music scene due to his never-ending beef with other artists and vulgar lyrics that often caught the attention of women. 

However, this doesn’t rule out the fact that he is one of the most, if not the best, rappers out there. His incredible sense of flow, speed and creativity can be seen in most of his songs.  In fact, in his song Rap God, he rapped 101 words in just 16.45 seconds!

Michael Jackson

Just hearing the name Michael Jackson already gives you a clue of how impactful his music was on the global music scene. Popularly known as the King of Pop, he was considered to be one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. Even if he was still a part of the Jackson 5, his musical legacy was already begging recognised and made him the most-awarded musician of all time.

Aside from his music, Jackson was also known for his unconventional fashion sense. He often defied the norms, wearing sports clothes onstage as he performed his hit tracks. If you’ve watched his concerts and music videos, he loved sporting a red-zippered jacket and white gloves. Up until this very day, his fashion choices are still remembered, including aviator sunglasses, fedoras and high-waisted pants. 

Michael Jackson did not just focus on singing, but also made dancing a part of his craft. Who would ever forget about the moonwalk that became popular on the debut performance of Billie Jean? His dance moves also include the Anti-Gravity lean, toe stand and pelvic thrust, to name a few.

Taylor Swift

Another influential pop star that forever changed the face of music is no other than Taylor Swift. However, despite her massive fanbase and critically acclaimed albums, the music industry had several attempts at staining her reputation. If you were following the news revolving around Swift, you’d see how the media constantly focuses on her personal life, especially the people she has dated. 

This didn’t stop Taylor Swift from making it to the top. Her entire discography contains various genres and her songwriting prowess is unmatched. In every song that she writes, there’s a narrative that you have to follow so you can make sense of the song. And although she is mainly known for being a country singer, she experimented with rock and electronic genres with her album Red (2012).

Swift is also vocal about political issues and topics concerning music, unfazed that she might lose fans and contracts along the way. In 2014, when Spotify only gives small royalties to its artists, she decided to remove her entire discography as an act of protest. The following year, she wrote a letter to Apple Music informing them that her album 1989 will not be released on their platform. This was because Apple Music refused to pay royalties for small-time artists. 

Rihanna

There’s a good reason why Rihanna is recognised as the 21st century’s ultimate popstar. Throughout her career, her artistic revolution had made great strides, exploring R&B, EDM, hip-hop and dance-pop. Even though she hasn’t released new music today, Rihanna has a great discography that earned her 9 Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards and 31 top-ten singles, among many others.

Currently, the Barbadian singer is on hiatus. She is focused on her cosmetics brand Beauty Fenty and her parenting journey with A$AP Rocky. However, her hits like Umbrella, Only Girl in the World, Don’t Stop the Music and Diamonds are available across streaming platforms. It’s time to listen to her old hits as you wait for her upcoming 9th album!

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber’s life turned around in 2007. Record executive Scooter Braun was looking for another singer on YouTube when he accidentally found Bieber’s video on the platform. Then, he got in contact with his mother and convinced him to take the young man to Atlanta where he signed a contract for Usher’s record label RBMG (Raymond-Brown Media Group).

Today, Justin Bieber is a household name, even in India. He had sold approximately 261,400,000 albums across the world, making him one of the youngest kings of pop. However, his music career wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Bieber was involved in a couple of controversies that almost kicked him out of the music scene. He earned the nickname ‘pop brat’ for crossing the lines without remorse. When he was staying at a hotel in Toronto, he spat on the Beliebers waiting outside his place. 

His less-stellar actions had been the talk of the town for a long time. Despite everything that’s happened, he still pursued his musical ambitions. In 2015, three of his tracks in his 4th studio album Purpose charted number one on Billboard Hot 100. The success of the album further encouraged the Canadian singer to collaborate with popular pop artists, including Daddy Yankee, Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish and many more. 

Queen

There’s no denying that Queen is one of the greatest bands to ever exist. They remain popular across the countries in the world, especially in India. Although it has been decades since the original members of the band performed together, their anthemic songs still serve as the music for sports stadiums. Their inspiring songs also never get old, no matter how many times they play on the radio. 

Every time you hear their hits We Will Rock You or We Are The Champions, there is always this urge to sing at the top of your lungs! But their success in stadiums mainly revolved around the late lead vocalist Freddie Mercury whose stage presence was unparalleled. He always had the crowd in his grip, delivering performances that would be remembered for decades.

Moreover, the band was incredibly influential to many modern artists today. For example, Lady Gaga got her stage name from Queen’s Radio Gaga, while Thom Yorke of Radiohead wanted to create a guitar sound after Brian May. 

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