The last 10 years have witnessed an explosion in creativity around the world and this has resulted in more musical artists producing top quality content than ever before. The internet and streaming platforms such as YouTube and Spotify have also levelled the playing field and now it is easier than ever for listeners to seek out and find the music they like, from anywhere in the world.
Although it is impossible to list all the albums which have topped the charts over the course of the last decade, below are a few of the greatest Eastern albums to have been released over the last 10 years.
Kenshi Yonezu’s ‘Stray Sheep’
Kenshi Yonezu, or Hachi, has enjoyed a long and successful career in the arts as a producer, illustrator, singer-songwriter and musician. He joined a series of different bands and musical groups and found some success, like a smart tactician would find success in online blackjack, but it was not until he began to create solo work that his career really took off.
Yonezu’s album ‘Stray Sheep’ massively boosted his music across Japan and became the best-selling album of 2020 in Japan. Yonezu’s music is somewhat frenetic and energetic, and it is hardly surprising that he was deeply influenced by Susumu Hirasawa, one of the titans of the Japanese music industry.
‘Skool Luv Affair’: The rise of K-pop’s golden child BTS
One of the biggest cultural explosions to rock the world has been the emergence of K-pop. The Korean pop scene has been incredibly lively, dynamic and fruitful for decades, but it was not until the last 10 to 15 years that K-pop artists gained a global audience. As it now stands, a number of Korean popstars and bands are among the most popular musicians around the world.
The most famous K-pop group in the world right now is BTS, or the Bangtan Boys, and they are certainly one of the highest performing musical groups in the world. BTS has sold over 32 million albums and is the best-selling musical group in South Korean history. On top of that, they have won nearly 50 different awards for their music, including six American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards and 24 Golden Disk Awards, along with nominations for two Grammy Awards and two Brit Awards. It is no wonder they have toured around the world and torn up the Billboard rankings on an annual basis.
Although Skool Luv Affair is now considered to be one of the lesser albums BTS has come out with, it makes this list because of what it signified: the beginning of a new K-pop era.
Although relatively unheard of outside of China, Lay’s album ‘Honey’ has grown to be one of the best-selling albums ever to hit the Chinese music charts. Lay is one of the top musical artists in China, and his albums Producer, Lit, Namanana and Lay 02 Sheep have all performed extraordinarily well.
Armaan Malik taking India by storm
India is one of the most populous countries in the world, so it is hardly surprising that there are thousands of different musical artists all clamoring for attention and to be heard. However, Armaan Malik has managed to claw his way to the top and has become one of the most popular Indian musical artists of the last 10 years.
Although Malik does not yet have a standalone album, his songs have been used in both Hollywood and Bollywood films and he became the first ever musical artist to hit number one on the Top Triller Global Billboard charts twice. He sings in both Hindi and English and he has attracted international interest through his compelling incorporation of traditional Indian instruments into modern music.
Cultural cross pollination
Culture does not exist in a vacuum and one of the most interesting aspects of music criticism is noticing how different cultures influence one another’s work. The influence of Eastern groups such as BTS is undeniable as many Western artists have worked to capture a similar aural aesthetic to K-pop groups.
However, there is also a definite influence of Western music on Eastern artists and musical groups. There is something timeless and novelty and kitsch about the Western music scene and this has been adapted by many different groups around the world. One example of Western music changing and adapting is Lil Nas X who rocked the world with his country rap hit Old Town Road.
Much of Western music’s charm and appeal is the fact that it has deep historical roots. For this reason, it is likely that artists from around the world will continue to draw inspiration from Western music and its visual and aural aesthetic.