Can you believe these celebrities weren’t household names a decade ago? These musicians have gone from unknown to mainstream in the past 10 years:
Donald Glover, the name behind Childish Gambino, is a multitalented writer, singer, comedian, director, actor and more. Leading up to the mid-2010s, Glover had released many mixtapes, along with an EP and studio albums, one of which was nominated for a Grammy. Arguably his most significant recognition, however, comes from the release of his most well-known track “This is America” in 2018, which focuses on themes of gun violence and racism in the U.S. The unnerving juxtaposition of joyful gospel-style choir music and dancing with the violence and lyrics of the music video earned Glover a Grammy. Other popular tracks of Glover’s include “Redbone” and “Feels Like Summer.”
Ariana Grande’s career first began with her roles in the TV shows Victorious and Sam & Cat, for which she often performed musical numbers. Her first studio album, Yours Truly, was released in 2013, with songs like “The Way,” which featured rapper Mac Miller, and “Daydream.” Many Grande songs, including “Break Free” and “Problem,” have earned over a billion music video views on YouTube; “Bang Bang” has received up to 26 million streams on Spotify. More recently, her albums Sweetener (2018) and Thank U, Next (2019) have been massive successes, and she now is a proud Grammy winner.
Frank Ocean began as a solo artist in 2009, signing with Def Jam before his debut album, Channel Orange, in 2012. The album received a total of six Grammy Award nominations and won the Best Urban Contemporary Album category. After his next album, Endless, Ocean left Def Jam to be an independent artist with more creative liberty. Today, one of his most well-known works is his 2016 album Blonde. Fans had eagerly waited for the album, and Ocean did not disappoint — it was certified platinum. Some of Ocean’s most popular songs to date include “Pink+White” and “Chanel” — a song that discusses sexual fluidity and serves as a window into the vulnerability that draws listeners to Ocean’s distinct, psychedelic style of music.
Shawn Mendes first gained popularity covering songs on the social media video platform Vine before going on to sign with Island Records in 2014, when he was just 15. Many teens remember listening to “Stitches,” a song on his first full-length album, Handwritten. Since then, Mendes has released two other albums: Illuminate in 2016 and Shawn Mendes in 2018. All three albums topped at No. 1 on the charts, with singles like “Treat you Better,” “In My Blood” and “Mercy.” Today, Mendes is undoubtedly one of the most well-known pop singers.
Camila Cabello began her musical career as a contestant on The X Factor, during which she became one of five girls in the group Fifth Harmony. After working with the group for several years, Cabello left in 2016 and began an independent musical career. Her 2018 song “Havana” became a Grammy-nominated hit with over a billion Spotify streams. Since then, Cabello has released albums Camilla (2018) and Romance (2019), which later became certified platinum. But she’s not just a great musician — since leaving Fifth Harmony, Cabello has garnered respect for her kindness toward fans and her passion for social justice.
What would this list be without Billie Eilish? Since the debut of the song “Ocean Eyes” in 2016, Eilish has received an impressive list of awards, including two Guinness World Records and five Grammy Awards. She is the second person to ever win in the four main categories at the Grammys and, at 17 years old, is the youngest person to do so. Some of her most well-known tracks include “Bad Guy,” “Everything I Wanted,” and “You Should See Me in a Crown.” With her haunting, ethereal voice and dark themes, Eilish is one of the most iconic pop singers of today.