The Panther Knows Best: Kings and Queens of the Music Industry


Isabel Lopez and Michael Angee

Each genre has their own share of essential artists that have helped shape the sound and the popular perception of their genre. Recent artists have presented a great amount of material and music for pop culture, but who has had the largest impact on their genre? 


Kanye West 

Nine solo albums, two collaboration albums, 21 Grammys, but one Kanye West. West, an innovative rapper and artist, began his career as a producer for artists such as Jay-Z. He has achieved critical acclaim on almost all of his artistic endeavours and, on the occasion that he does not garner that same acclaim, Ye stays true to himself through his lyrics and production. Almost every album of his has produced big hits. Ranging from the electric feeling of “Graduation” with songs such as “Flashing Lights” and “Stronger” to West’s 2010 exclamation of fame, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” with tracks such as “Gorgeous” and “Runaway,” Ye’s extensive catalog provides hits that sound nothing alike with completely different concepts. “Bound 2” from 2012’s Yeezus compared to “Touch The Sky” from “The College Dropout” shows the versatility of Ye. 

Nicki Minaj

As the first female solo artist to ever hit 100 career entries on the Billboard 100 chart, Onika Tanya Maraj, also known by her stage name Nicki Minaj, went above and beyond accomplishing her goal: she can do whatever she puts her mind to. Known usually as a genre dominated by men, Minaj tends to turn the tables. From an avalanche of female rap singers exploding in the rap industry nowadays, Minaj shows off with years passing by. Many consider her the queen of rap and one of the greatest of all time. The inspiration for her top hits came from her idol, R&B singer Monica, leading her to discover that any gender can produce good rap music. Some of her hits come from her debut album ‘The Pinkprint,’ including her “Anaconda” video which broke a most viewed music video record of 19.6 million views on VEVO. Along with her name continuously appearing  under #1 hit, Minaj solidified her reputation with the song “Super Bass” which garnered around 300 millions streams and counting to this day. With four albums, Minaj continues to create her next big projects…



The Weeknd

The 2010s, as all decades prior, provided a grand landscape for a new rise in the Pop genre of music. The Weeknd popped into the scene with his 2012 project “Trilogy” which gained critical acclaim in its first year of release. The Weeknd saw great success with his most recent endeavour, “After Hours” with its hit single “Blinding Lights.” which has remained on the Billboard Hot 100 for 62 weeks straight. The Canadian artist also released “The Highlights,” a compilation of his biggest hits from “Call Out My Name” to “My Dear Melancholy,” and “Can’t feel my face” to “Beauty Behind The Madness.” The Weeknd’s ability to mesh with artists such as Drake and Ariana Grande has also created some of his greatest moments. 

Lady Gaga

As her songs started to receive attention in 2008 under the American Pop category, along with The Black Eyed Peas and Taylor Swift, Stefani Joanna Angelina Germanotta acquired fame through her talents as a songwriter, singer and actress. Germanotta created her new name by taking inspiration from Queen’s song “Radio Ga Ga,” which released in the year that was born. From her first biggest hits, such as “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” Lady Gaga scores in making her hits in the Billboard Hot 100 No.1. This Queen of Pop releases one hit after another. Her recent number one record, introduced in 2019 under the album “A Star is Born” with “Shallow,”a duet she did with Bradley Cooper, becoming her fourth time hitting No.1 in the Billboard. Some of Lady Gaga’s iconic songs came from collaborations with artists such as Beyonce in “Telephone,” Tony Bennett in “ I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” and Ariana Grande in “Rain On Me.” From selling millions of copies of her albums in a short span of time, the Queen of Pop plans to continue surprising her fans with new music in the future. 


Bedroom Pop

Steve Lacy 

Starting in the GarageBand app on an iPod, producer and singer songwriter, Steve Lacy had humble beginnings as he began producing songs while still attending high school. Lacy has had nothing short of an incredible run in his time as an artist. His bass and guitar skills made him a sought after producer, especially after working with Alternative R&B band “The Internet” on their 2015 Grammy nominated album, “Ego Death.” Lacy has created high quality music since the beginning of his time in the industry and there is no sign that he plans to stop soon. Lacy’s first solo endeavor, “Steve Lacy’s Demo,” highlights the skills of the young artist and what the future possibly holds for him. 


American singer-songwriter Claire Elizabeth Cottrill, known by her stage name Clairo, went viral with her song “Pretty Girl,” which has over 69 million views on the Youtube platform. As a fresh face in the music industry, Clairo fits best into bedroom pop, marked by her collaborations with Cuco, SG Lewis and Jakob Ogawa. As a self-made artist, the sky-rocketing successful path came from her singles starting to pop up in Spotify playlists. These songs include: “Bags,” “Bubble Gum,” “Hello?” and “Flaming Hot Cheetos”. The Queen of Bedroom Pop performed some of her famous songs with other well-known artists, such as Tame Impala, Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino at the Coachella 2019 lineup. Overall, Clairo has received widespread recognition for  her songs releases and, in her interviews, she talks about her excitement in joining the powerful Generation Z women. 



Claude Debussy

French composer Claude Debussy became famous through his talented work under the magical fingers when creating pieces in the piano. As King of Classical music on the piano, Debussy became one of the most influential composers within the late 19th century and early 20th century. His most popular song, “Claire de Lune,” came across as a beautiful piece used for relaxation, studying or overall admiration of the instrument. From a turning point of romantic music during the Baroque period, Debussy showed his tenderness under the harmony and texture of all his music work. Known in French as the “light of the moon,” Claire de Lune perfectly encapsulated the song. Finding its popularity on social platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram, Debussy’s famous song showed up in movies as well, such as “Ocean’s Eleven”and “Twilight.” In summation, the song allows for different perspectives which lets the audience assign the song a personal meaning, whether the tune comes out as soothing and calming or an emotional mess.

Khatia Buniatishvili 

At only three years old, a young Khatia Buniatishvili began learning to play the piano and played her first concert with the Tbilisi Chamber Orchestra at age six. Buniatishvili has become a versatile influence for many classical artists. Through her courageous story and skillful instrumentation of her resources, she has cemented herself as an important figure in classical music as a whole. The musician has had the musical ability within her since  childhood and her career has come quite naturally. Born on the Summer Solstice in 1987, Buniatishvili has had a grand past with a great future ahead of her. 


Miles Davis

Undoubtedly one of the most influential musicians of all time, Miles Davis had a monstrous career spanning six decades. Davis adopted many stylistic choices within his take on Jazz and helped evolve and shape the current landscape of Jazz and genres influenced by it. These genres include rap, soul and R&B; needless to say, the Davis influence appears in almost all aspects of the music industry. Many critics regard the “Kind of Blue” as one of the most influential albums of all time. Davis’ use of his own trumpeter skills and collaborations from contemporary musicians such as John Coltrane provide a pallet of sounds for many tastes for music. Timeless tours from during the 1950s and 60s made the world of music morph into one where Jazz stood at the forefront. Although new music from Davis would create a spectacular opportunity, production of “The Legacy Edition” of Davis’ work after his death, have gained criticism as something that Davis would not have wanted for his music. The collection provides for a newsome of Davis’ biggest hits for a new generation for listeners and could increase the influence of the artist, but some may see it as the oversaturating Davis’ work due to Columbia Records. 

Aretha Franklin

From her biggest hit “Respect” released in 1967, Aretha Franklin wins Queen of Jazz and even Soul over the decades. With the famous hit that peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 at the year of the release, the world cheered on under the message from Franklin’s song. With a reminder, Franklin was only 19 years old when she came out with her hit single, making her career much more of a position of becoming well known at the time. With that, Franklin continued on her music business for almost 60 years, creating other hits such as: “I Say a Little Prayer” (1968) and “Chain of Fools” (1967). Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with a plethora of other achievements. Frank’s angelic soul touched everyone, with one of the biggest remembrances of Franklin coming from her performance of “My Country ‘Tis of thee” at Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration, in which more than one million people viewed her live.



Pink Floyd 

Rock has the most subgenres of all and it feels safe to say that putting all of the movements of Rock and Roll under one umbrella is also not fair. The movements of all the different times of the genre and those who contributed, helped shape the current landscape of music and pop culture. With that said, no band tops Pink Floyd as an influence for Rock and Roll and the perception of popular music during their time as a band and following the downfall of the group. Smash hit albums including “The Wall” and “The Dark Side of The Moon” note the issues presented in society at the time of the albums as well as in the current state of the world. The latter spent 15 years on the charts, from 1973 to 1988. With both “The Wall” and “The Dark Side of The Moon” in the Grammy Hall of fame due to their incredible runs and relevant stories, it only makes sense that the projects ended up in the place that they did. With the tragic story of Syd Barrett’s mental health and David Gilmour’s lack of respect towards the group, the music industry saw an interesting dynamic of artists that changed music forever. 

Stevie Nicks

From her astounding lowest of all female voices, the contralto Stephanie Lynn Nicks, known by her professional name Stevie Nicks, definitely wins the Queen of Rock title courtesy of her successful path as a singer. Although she joined the band Fleetwood Mac in 1975, Nicks created solo songs that contributed as big hits. Riding solo, Nicks created “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” as a collaboration with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, leading as No.1 on the Billboards Top 100. Another successful record from her lifetime came from her debut album ‘Bella Donna’ coming off as No.1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Nicks demonstrates how women’s independence should not be a laughing matter, it causes one to become a strong individual and assertive with one’s thoughts. Although many of these genres come off popular towards more men than women back in the day, Nicks prioritized change in the music industry through female empowerment in music genres. 

Throughout this rollercoaster of music genres, these kings and queens carried most of the influences for others to inspire. With the transformation of agreements or disagreements, these artists truly show their reasoning by using the beauty under their songs.