As London has been often considered one of the most influential places for popular culture, it is not surprising that it has generated notable singers and bands over the years. Everyone has their own story and has been influenced by London and its different multicultural aspects. It seems impossible to rate all of them, so we selected 10 that have best captured the whole sound of London in its various genres.
Born in Tottenham, Adele has been recognized as one of the most successful singers and songwriters of the last decade. Graduating from BRIT School of Performing Arts and Technology, Adele has earned numerous awards including eight Grammy Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the James Bond theme Skyfall. Recently nominated as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine, the soul artist has been inspired by her hometown and released Hometown Glory in 2007, describing London’s myriad of environmental wonders and its different shades.
Every Londoner will remember her as one of the greatest and most original voices of the last 10 years. Amy’s enormous talent encompassed a mix of jazz, R&B, soul and pop. Back to Black was her final and arguably her best studio album and earned five Grammy Awards in 2006, including Best Pop Vocal Album. Despite worldwide recognition, Camden remained close to Amy’s heart and so sculptor Scott Eaton created a contemplative bronze statue to forever mark her presence in the neighbourhood.
Led Zeppelin are recognised as one of the progenitors of heavy metal and marked the 1970s with their wide variety of influences and styles. Increasing their experimental tendencies in the late 1960s, they held record-breaking tours and are the second best-selling band in the United States behind The Beatles. Formed in London in 1968, the progressive rock band made its first appearance at the University of Surrey, and after one year they broke records with their first album Led Zeppelin. Despite never releasing the track Stairway to Heaven as a single, it is still quoted as being the most requested and played album-oriented rock FM radio song. Jimmy Page & co sadly broke-up in 1980 after the death of drummer Bonham. However, fans will always be hoping for a reunion.
Despite achieving major crossover success in Berlin with the so-called Trilogy, the White Duke will always remain a London boy, and one of the greatest music innovators. Born in Brixton, Bowie built up his fan base in 1965 at The Marquee Club based in the City. Creating most of his work among London’s venues, his experimental music touched on a multitude of genres, including glam rock and electronic. His influence in popular culture has been defined as incomparable. The Starman sold an estimated 150 million records worldwide, rated 39th on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004. After his surprising passing on 11th January 2016, we can state that the stars look very different today.
Words are not enough to describe the importance of Queen to the music world. As one of the most successful rock bands of all the time, Queen made their initial footsteps attending Ealing Art College and then performed their first gig in 1971 with a line-up of Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon at Surrey College. The British rock band released a total of 18 number one albums and 18 number one singles, selling around 300 million records and consequently becoming one of the world’s best-selling music artists. We can mention iconic songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody To Love, Don’t Stop Me Now and We Will Rock You, but the list is just infinite.
For anyone who wants to produce psychedelic music, they should undoubtedly refer to this London band before attempting their own. Known for their sonic experimentation, extended composition and philosophical lyrics, the 1960s band is currently one of the most commercially successful and musically influential groups of all time. After gaining popularity performing in various London underground venues, they released two best-selling albums – The Dark Side of the Moon (1973) and The Wall (1979). But it was with Wish You Were Here (1975) that their originality and experimentation really shone through. The album features Shine on Your Crazy Diamond, which is universally considered as one of their finest compositions.
Selling more than 80 million records worldwide, George Michael was one of the most-played artists on British radio between 1984 and 2004. Michael’s popularity rose during the 1980s and 1990s, and with his style of pop-disco music he is considered as one of the world’s best-selling music artists. He spent his childhood in north-west London and before forming the duo Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley, he started his career busking on the London Underground. After finding success with singles like Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Freedom, Club Tropicana and Careless Whisper, he began a solo career, and worked with artists like Elton John and Aretha Franklin. His latest album was released on March 2014 and was his 7th number one album in the UK.
The Rolling Stones have been identified with the rebellious and youthful counterculture of the 1960s. They played their first gig in July 1962 at The Marquee Club in Oxford Street and then secured their first residency in Richmond, north London. After a short period of experimentation, the London group affirmed its potential in pure bluesy rock and roll roots writing songs like Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St (1972). Continuing to release records and perform, Mick Jagger & Co were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, being ranked fourth on the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. In 2012, the band celebrated its 50th anniversary and their estimated sales are still above 200 million copies.
Formed in 2007, the indie rock band was one the most acclaimed revelations of the last decade. Totally inspired by London, the leader singer Florence Welsh with Isabella Summers and other tailored musicians started performing around the world just after the release of Lungs, their first album. Florence’s unique and hypnotising voice has also reached the US, where the band has collaborated with various writers. Back in the UK they recorded Ceremonials at Abbey Road Studios and released one of their best songs, Shake It Out. After promoting their new album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful in a private London show in 2015, they began a world tour, which included four performances at the amazing Alexandra Palace.
Lead vocalist Chris Martin with guitarist Jonny Buckland spent their entire first year at University College London (UCL) in 1996 forming band. After performing gigs for locals in Camden Town, the band finally settled on the name of Coldplay by 1998. They then achieved worldwide fame with the release of single Yellow (2000) and have won multiple awards with albums A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) and X&Y. Having sold more than 80 million records in the world and consistently trying to experiment with different styles, the alternative rock band is still one of the most original and loved groups of our time.