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Faces of the Music Industry Today: Industry Vets Edition

What you need to know about pop music’s most familiar faces.

In part one of this series, I looked at some of my favorite new pop artists: Olivia Rodrigo, Lil Nas X, and Doja Cat. And I think it’s time I discuss my favorite industry veterans. Here are a few of my favorite artists who have been in the music industry for at least a decade and are still killing it! 

Ariana Grande

Known to many as the princess of pop (second only to Britney, of course), Ariana Grande has had one of the most satisfying music careers of all the artists on this list. Even before her role as Cat Valentine in the hit show Victorious,  she made her Broadway debut as Charlotte in the hit musical, 13, at age 14. Since then, Grande has gone on to conquer the music industry. 

With early hit songs like “Break Free,” “Problem,” and “Side to Side,” Ariana’s pop career has blossomed over the last decade. The sister albums Sweetener and Thank U, Next firmly cemented Ariana’s place as pop royalty. These albums contained her biggest hits of all time and showed her fans a new, more personal side. And if there’s one thing Grande does exceptionally well, it’s telling her story through her music.  Ariana’s most recent release, Positions, closed the chapter that began with Sweetener. These three albums take the listener on a journey of love, grief, heartbreak, and back to love again. Positions features some of Ariana’s most raw and vulnerable songs to date: “off the table,” “my hair,” and “pov”. Now that she’s newly married, I think it’s safe to say she’ll continue making these beautiful, vulnerable love songs–and I, for one, absolutely can’t wait. 

Artist Rating: 8/10

Recommended Tracks: “off the table,” “pov,” “love language,” “safety net,” and “six thirty”

Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber, AKA the prince of pop, is another favorite industry veteran. First discovered on Youtube back in 2009, Justin has since broken tons of records and sold millions of albums. And if you’re like me, an OG Belieber who joined the craze way back in 2009, you’re well-acquainted with Justin’s many hits.  Even if you’ve been living under a rock and just discovered him this year, everyone’s had Bieber Fever at some point. 

In 2018, Justin married longtime friend, Hailey Baldwin, and took a three-year hiatus. Towards the end of his hiatus, Justin revealed in a documentary that he suffers from major health issues including severe depression, anxiety, Lyme Disease, and Epstein-Barr. 

Many fans sent well wishes and support to Justin after hearing the news and soon after, Justin came out of hiatus with a brand new album, Changes, which I think is incredibly underrated. Changes is full of wholesome love songs like “All Around Me,” “Habitual,” and “Confirmation,” as well as bops like “Intentions” and “Second Emotion.” 

Justice, his most recent album, truly shows another side of Justin. The Pop and R&B tunes that carry messages of gratitude and love are underlaid with a more vulnerable side that reminds fans Justin is still human. Justin doesn’t shy away from talking about his struggles with lyrics like “all I do is wish that I could change myself,” and “I wait around and hate myself.” During a time when mental health is becoming more and more accepted, sometimes we forget to appreciate the honesty and effort required of the person sharing. Hearing someone like Justin write such relatable lyrics is comforting because it lets me and the millions of others know they aren’t alone. 

Artist Rating: 8.5/10 

Recommended Songs: “Deserve You,” “Off My Face,” “Ghost,” “Loved By You,” and “Anyone”

Taylor Swift

Of course, I couldn’t write this article without including the legendary country-pop crossover princess Taylor Swift. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never been the biggest swiftie, but occasionally crying it out to “All Too Well” never hurt anybody. 

With early albums like Taylor Swift, Fearless, and Speak Now, Taylor dominated the country music scene during the 2000s. In 2012 Taylor made the leap into pop, exploring the genre on Red and 1989. And even though I’m not the biggest Taylor fan, I can’t deny her songwriting skills. She’s written all of her songs– sometimes with a co-writer, sometimes not; musicianship like that, especially with a discography as large as Taylor’s, demands to be celebrated. 

Taylor released two more pop albums, Reputation and Lover, before switching gears once again. Her most recent projects, the sister albums Folklore and Evermore, mix folk and pop in a dreamy, spell-binding journey into a world of Taylor’s creation. Although I didn’t like them at first, both albums have grown on me since their releases, and I think they’re definitely worth a listen. 

Back in 2018, Swift was involved in a highly publicized fight with Scooter Braun as she tried to regain master recordings to all of her works. As fans will know, the battle ended with Taylor deciding to re-record and re-release all of her early works in order to acquire complete ownership over their master recordings. In addition to these re-recordings, Swift has been releasing songs “from the vault,” which are songs that were originally rejected from the final albums. With that in mind, swifties will be fed for quite some time.  I personally can’t wait for the nostalgic re-release of Red and Speak Now so I can relive some of my most treasured memories. 

Artist Rating: 9/10

Recommended Songs: “the 1,” “exile,” “this is me trying,” “no body, no crime” and “willow”.

Hi, I'm a Public Relations Major with a concentration in Intercultural Communication. currently navigating my third year at Temple. I enjoy all things pop culture, music, astrology, & Beyoncé. Feel free to connect with me on my socials to get to know me more!
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