Don’t get me wrong; I love exploring new music releases, listening to the experimental tracks of current artists, and being in touch with the most popular hits of the day, but in my humble opinion, most of the greatest music was released decades ago. Hear me out: old music has set the tone for today’s masterfully overproduced modern hits. Music from the mid-late 20th century was full of creativity and the raw sounds of exploration, allowing the production to feel more genuine and balanced. Since many artists had more control over their sound back in the day, their enhanced freedom translated into inspiration for today’s music. For your own exploration and Spotify browsing, here are some modern artists and throwback musicians who share similar sounds.
MARINA and Miley Cyrus vs. Blondie and Stevie Nicks
Marina and the Diamonds’ classic hits and Miley Cyrus’ new spunky music both emanate angst, power, and liberation. Their music is reminiscent of iconic female rock artists, such as Debby Harry from the band Blondie and well as Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac. These women all have fantastically strong voices and incorporate elements of rock, pop, and genius instrumentals into their songs. Some of my favorite Blondie songs include “Rapture,” “Atomic,” and “Hanging on the Telephone.” For Stevie Nicks, “Edge of Seventeen” and “Wild Heart” are perfect to blast in the car.
SZA and Solange vs. Sade, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu
The smooth and funky songs of SZA and Solange curate the perfect laid-back vibe with their soulful roots from the more smooth jazz of Sade, Lauryn Hill’s pop-reggae fusion, and the R&B sounds of Erykah Badu. For more relaxed songs, check out Sade’s “Smooth Operator,” “Turn My Back on You,” and her entire Lovers Rock album. For a more upbeat sound, check out Lauryn Hill’s go-to songs such as “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Ex-Factor” as well as The Score (a collab album). Erykah Badu is a sort of happy medium between Sade and Hill with groovy songs such as “Didn’t Cha Know,” “Next Lifetime,” and “On & On.”
Maggie Rogers, Taylor Swift, and Phoebe Bridgers vs. Joni Mitchell
Maggie Rogers and Taylor Swift’s new music both exude a free spirit and calming energy backed by their angelic voices. If you like Rogers’ and Swift’s music, you have to check out my favorite singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Her simple, beautiful, and expansive songs and albums will be sure to please anyone who is into more chill — and sometimes sad — music. Her albums Blue, Court and Spark, and Ladies of the Canyon are my personal favorites. Additionally, Mitchell’s slower songs such as “Amelia,” “Urge for Going,” “Cactus Tree,” and “Both Sides Now” are perfect for fans of Phoebe Bridgers.
Tame Impala vs. Fleetwood Mac and Led Zeppelin
Tame Impala exudes the modernization of music and the melding of pastime inspiration. Tame Impala’s alternative albums span rock, instrumental, and electronic beats that draw inspiration from many psychedelic bands of the 70s. The slightly softer sides of Tame Impala meld with the enchanting harmonies and far-out guitar solos of Fleetwood Mac, while Tame Impala’s rock vibe is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s hits such as “Immigrant Song,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” and the Mothership album.
I hope you get the chance to explore some of these 20th-century musicians whose sounds paved the way for today’s rock, R&B, and folk artists that dominate the ever-expanding modern music industry. Check out this Current vs. Throwback playlist on our Spotify for easy access, and listen on!