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Thanks to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for all the artist info.
Depeche Mode burst from the U.K. town of Basildon in 1981 with a New Romantic synth-blast. Remaining on the cutting edge for over three decades, Depeche Mode has explored new realms of postpunk, electronic textures, and futuristic industrial sounds, paving the way for the genre we now call ‘synth pop.’
On their first album,Speak & Spell, tunesmith Vince Clarke brought his sense of pop classicism to the dance floor in hits like “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Dreaming Of Me.”
After the album’s release, Clarke left the band, leaving Depeche Mode without a lead songwriter. Martin Gore stepped up to become one of his generation’s most influential songwriters, with his own black-leather blend of existential despair, political bite and sly wit. Dave Gahan’s strong vocals and charisma complemented their new sound.
Depeche Mode built a diehard cult, becoming one of the essential goth/industrial bands to cross over into the mainstream. Groundbreaking hits like “Never Let Me Down Again” could be heard on both alternative college rock radio and on a major outlet stations.
Depeche Mode’s electro reboot of “Route 66” showed off their wry take on R&B, while the albumsBlack CelebrationandMusic for the Massesled to their 1990 masterwork –Violator. The album blended ominous synths with rock guitar for classics like “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy The Silence.”
AfterViolator, their newfound flair for the blues exploded in the goth-grunge swamp gospel of 1993’sSongs of Faith and Devotion. Their inventive spirit has stayed with them on recent global hits likeDelta MachineandSpirit.
Known for their dark, industrial love songs for the modern era, Depeche Mode have earned a massive following by pushing sonic and lyrical boundaries with new synthesizer technology and captivating live performances. They continue to evolve, remaining a legendarily fearsome live act across the planet, with one foot in the underground and the other in the club – but always with an eye on the future.
The Doobie Brothers
The Doobie Brothers are an American rock band from San Jose, California. Active for five decades, with their greatest success in the 1970s, the group's current lineup consists of founding members Tom Johnston (guitars, vocals) and Patrick Simmons (guitars, vocals), veteran member Michael McDonald (keyboards, vocals), longtime member John McFee (guitars, pedal steel, violin, backing vocals), and touring musicians including John Cowan (bass, vocals), Bill Payne (keyboards), Marc Russo (saxophones), Ed Toth (drums), and Marc Quiñones (percussion).
The band's history can be roughly divided into three eras. From 1970 to 1975 it featured lead vocalist Johnston and a mainstream rock and roll sound with elements of folk, country and R&B. Johnston left the group in 1977 due to health reasons, and was replaced by Michael McDonald, whose interest in soul music changed the band's sound until it broke up in 1982 with Simmons being the only constant member having appeared on all of their albums. In 1987, the Doobie Brothers reformed with Johnston back in the fold; McDonald, who had previously made several guest appearances since their reformation, returned to the band full-time in 2019 for their upcoming 50th anniversary tour. Every incarnation of the group has emphasized vocal harmonies. The Doobie Brothers were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004, The group has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. Founding members John Hartman and Dave Shogren, Tiran Porter, Michael Hossack, Keith Knudsen and Jeff "Skunk" Baxter are former members of the band.
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Houston’s musical upbringing is one of the most storied in the business, and she seemed destined for greatness. Her mother, soul singer Cissy Houston, and cousin, Dionne Warwick, provided Whitney with expert training from a young age. “When I started singing,” she once said, “it was almost like speaking.”
Houston’s effortless vocal skill attracted interest from multiple record labels and at age nineteen, Clive Davis signed her to Arista Records in 1983. Her debut album netted three #1 singles. “Saving All My Love for You,” “The Greatest Love of All,” and “How Will I Know” topped theBillboard 200for fourteen weeks.
Houston’s awards—numerous enough to achieve a nod from Guinness World Records—included an Emmy and six Grammys. Her ability to connect with audiences set dozens of industry records. She was the first artist to have seven consecutive #1 hits and the first woman to enter theBillboard 200at #1 with her album,Whitney. She earned the longest reigning #1 single on theHot 100with “I Will Always Love You.”
Houston’s voice was as versatile as it was powerful, and her catalog shows a unique ability to incorporate a range of stylistic elements spanning pop, rock, gospel, R&B, funk, soul, and hip-hop. She moved from ballads that showcased her vocal range like “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” to dance tracks like “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).”
Her sound expanded through collaborations with a wide array of artists, including Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Babyface, Missy Elliott, Bobby Brown, and Mariah Carey. Covers of her songs and tributes since her passing in 2012 have come from all corners of the industry, and her voice lives on through the younger generations inspired by her work.
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Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor combined the sounds of the underground while challenging the status quo with a deeply personal ferocity. Nine Inch Nails began in Cleveland in the late 1980s as Trent Reznor’s studio project, but grew into a fearsome live act once he took the project on the road. He mixed the sounds of the underground together, merging the production and intensity of Ministry and Skinny Puppy with the visual theatrics of KISS.
Nine Inch Nails saw massive success in 1989 with the song “Head Like a Hole” from their debut album,Pretty Hate Machine.The emotion and rage of Pretty Hate Machine was wrapped in a pop music package, breathing life into an emerging underground generation.
The 1994 breakthrough album The Downward Spiral launched industrial rock into the mainstream, merging intense machine sounds with great pop melodies. Reznor’s genius confronted social norms in religion, government, and sexual taboos, relating them to personal experiences that fans could relate to – something not yet seen from his industrial predecessors. Because of this, the album spawned a top 40 hit with the song, “Closer.”
Johnny Cash later covered the song “Hurt,” proving that underneath the studio wizardry of a Nine Inch Nails song was a timeless piece of music with great lyrics at the center.
Several months after the release of The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails made history with a mud-splattered performance at Woodstock ’94. This singular performance catapulted the band to the arena level and landed them a slot on David Bowie’s 1995 US Tour. Reznor’s impact ignited Bowie’s 90s renaissance and spawned a remix of the track “I’m Afraid of Americans,”
Nine Inch Nails saw continued success through the remainder of the 90s as Reznor experimented with giant, thematic soundscapes on the tracks “The Day the World Went Away” and “We’re in This Together.” The 2000s brought some of the group’s greatest hits, including the intensely introspective “Every Day Is Exactly the Same,” which featured Dave Grohl on drums, and “The Hand that Feeds.”
After three decades, Reznor and Nine Inch Nails continue to express creative freedom and innovation, never resting on their success.Reznor has stood firm in his support of independently released and free-to-download music, seen with the 2020 release of the ambient albums Ghosts VandVI. With Atticus Ross, Reznor has produced multiple critically acclaimed soundtracks for television and film, including The Social Network, Gone Girl, and the 2019 series,Watchmen.
Reznor’s work has inspired artists from David Bowie and Marilyn Manson to Evanescence and Lil Nas X. Every time the mainstream seems to catch up to them, Nine Inch Nails push the bar even further.
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Christopher George Latore Wallace, better known by his stage names The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or simply Biggie, was an American rapper and songwriter. Rooted in the New York rap scene and gangsta rap traditions, he is considered one of the greatest rappers of all time.The Notorious B.I.G. became known for his distinctive laidback lyrical delivery, offsetting the lyrics' often grim content and his own intimidating appearance. His music was often semi-autobiographical, telling of hardship and criminality, but also of debauchery and celebration.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, the Notorious B.I.G. signed to Sean "Puffy" Combs' label Bad Boy Records as it launched in 1993, and gained exposure through features on several other artists' singles that year. His debut album Ready to Die (1994) was met with widespread critical acclaim, and included his signature songs "Juicy" and "Big Poppa". The album made him the central figure in East Coast hip hop, and restored New York's visibility at a time when the West Coast hip hop scene was dominating hip hop music.The Notorious B.I.G. was awarded the 1995 Billboard Music Awards' Rapper of the Year. The following year, he led his protégé group Junior M.A.F.I.A., a team of himself and longtime friends, including Lil' Kim, to chart success.
During 1996, while recording his second album, the Notorious B.I.G. became ensnarled in the escalating East Coast–West Coast hip hop feud. Following Tupac Shakur's death in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in September 1996, speculations of involvement by criminal elements orbiting the Bad Boy circle circulated. On March 9, 1997, while visiting Los Angeles, Wallace was murdered in a drive-by shooting. The assailant remains unidentified. The Notorious B.I.G.'s second album Life After Death, a double album, was released two weeks later. It reached number one on the Billboard 200, and eventually achieved a Diamond certification in the US.
With two more posthumous albums released, the Notorious B.I.G. has accrued certified sales of over 28 million copies in the United States, including 21 million albums. Rolling Stone has called him the "greatest rapper that ever lived," and Billboard named him the greatest rapper of all time. The Source magazine named him the greatest rapper of all time in its 150th issue. In 2006, MTV ranked him at No. 3 on their list of The Greatest MCs of All Time, calling him possibly "the most skillful ever on the mic".
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T. Rex were an English rock band, formed in 1967 by singer-songwriter and guitarist Marc Bolan. The band was initially called Tyrannosaurus Rex, and released four psychedelic folk albums under this name. In 1969, Bolan began to change the band's style towards electric rock, and shortened their name to T. Rex the following year. This development culminated in 1970's "Ride a White Swan", and the group soon became pioneers of the glam rock movement.
From 1970 to 1973, T. Rex encountered a popularity in the UK comparable to that of the Beatles, with a run of eleven singles in the UK top ten. They scored four UK number one hits, "Hot Love", "Get It On", "Telegram Sam" and "Metal Guru". The band's 1971 album Electric Warrior received critical acclaim as a pioneering glam rock album. It reached number 1 in the UK. The 1972 follow-up, The Slider, entered the top 20 in the US. Following the release of "20th Century Boy" in 1973, which reached number three in the UK, T. Rex's appeal began to wane, though the band continued releasing one album per year.
In 1977, founder, songwriter and sole constant member Bolan died in a car crash several months after the release of the group's final studio album Dandy in the Underworld, and the group disbanded. T. Rex have continued to influence a variety of subsequent artists.