It’s no secret that many of our favourite bands now are inspired by some of the greatest artists of all time. Genres, identities and movements were pioneered by living legends. These modern artists are constantly innovating with those sounds that are so near and dear to us, while giving them a 2021 update.
In recent times, it’s felt like some of the best performers are wearing their influences on their sleeve, in the most exciting and interesting ways. At times it almost feels like their influences are performing through them - maybe like they're possessed by the spirit of our favourite GOATs (even though some of these legends are well and truly alive). It’s a fresh take on music that reminds us all that music is constantly chopping, changing and improving.
These are the artists that are creating new and exciting music while inspired by their biggest influences.
Silk Sonic (Anderson .Paak & Bruno Mars) - Marvin Gaye
I’m just gonna say it. Leave The Door Open is maybe the sexiest song I’ve ever heard. Silk Sonic is such an appropriate name for the collaboration between funky-yet-emotional Bruno Mars and R&B extraordinaire Anderson .Paak because their debut single is so silky smooth you’d think the track itself is made of pure velvet. The pure erotic aura of this song harkens back to the sensual crooning of Marvin Gaye on Sexual Healing. The high belts that Mars hits and the sexy guitar lines feel like a page taken straight from Let’s Get It On but Silk Sonic make the track its own romantic beast. It’s straight-up sex and feels like Gaye is singing directly through Mars and .Paak.
Dua Lipa - Madonna
“Don’t show up, don’t come out” from Don't Start Now is the power move of a line that made us all fall in love with the London-native pop superstar. New Rules is like the Ten Commandments for avoiding men and Break My Heart is the INXS-interpolating track about questioning your life decisions we didn’t know we needed. It’s pop that makes you get up and dance but it’s also pop that makes you feel empowered, which conjures memory of the diva herself, Madonna. Dua’s music boasts a similar energy to Express Yourself and it's all better because of that fact. Madonna is a boss that absolutely slayed it on every track but also made women feel boss themselves at the same time. Dua’s carrying on the same torch in the most empowering way.
Gretta Ray - Taylor Swift
Since winning Unearthed High in 2016, Gretta Ray has been one of the most exciting local acts in Australia. Drive was a beautiful love ballad and Passion is pure pining smooshed into a song. A big fan of Taylor Swift herself, Ray seemed to have been completely possessed by Swift in her latest single Bigger Than Me. It’s absolutely happy pop and suits Ray so much. There have been several comparisons made between the new track and many of Swift’s Red or 1989-era bubblier tracks but Ray takes these poppy wholesome vibes and spins them in her own unique way. It’s genuinely a song that’s impossible to not smile through.
Royal Blood - Queens Of The Stone Age
Out Of The Black caught all of our attention in 2014 with its fiery riffs (which were all played on just one bass, like how???) and blistering drums. Since then the rock duo has put out another album, with a new one, Typhoons, on the way. After all this time, their riffs are just as mind bending and the drum fills are just as mesmerising. With less than half the line-up, Royal Blood sound like all the best parts of Queens Of The Stone Age with an addictive dance edge to it all. If you’re not strutting your stuff to the beat of Trouble’s Coming, you might not be listening to it properly. The band takes the dark sounds of QOTSA and transforms it into something that makes any rock fan smile ear to ear.
Cardi B - Missy Elliott
The New York hip-hop GOAT herself has absolutely changed the way we think about hip-hop. The revolutionary anthem WAP (featuring the legendary Megan Thee Stallion of course) flipped the switch on how sexuality is discussed in hip-hop - that is, women talking about their sexual achievements overtly. Salt N Pepa did absolutely kill it on songs like Shoop but Cardi’s best work reminds us of a similar pioneering spirit in rap from the queen Missy Elliott. Not only that but Cardi’s beats have a similar minimalist but hard hitting nature to them, with a little sprinkle of fun production (see the train sound effect in WAP and the reversed rapping in Work It). Cardi’s loud and proud sexuality screams the best work of Missy in a way that makes us love her the way we did Missy.