When pop fans look back on the 2010s, they should celebrate its lack of a singular identity. The past 10 years have created music’s least homogenous era in history, thanks to internet fan culture and streaming which made monoculture impossible to exist. Sure, there were big stars, but even those stars were largely able to retain the top spot by paying close attention to the quick shifts in trends.
The 2010s have proven to be a great challenge for pop stars hoping for a chance to thrive in an over-saturated market. Many stepped up to the plate, pushing the definition of “pop,” what it means to have a hit song and who counts as a pop star further than ever. As the 2020s begin, pop music is at its most freeform in years.
How did we get to this moment? Let’s take a look back at the biggest influences on the sound of pop this decade, ranging from music history landmarks to modern trendsetters who helped nudge their peers in a new direction.