When Bruno Mars and producer Mark Ronson released their now worldwide hit, “Uptown Funk,” the song resembled nothing the music industry had ever heard before. Its fresh new retro sound resulted in a record-breaking number of streams in the U.S. - 4.8 million in just one week - as well as countless award nominations. Looking deeper into the production process, it’s clear that the hit was heavily influenced by different funk and R&B artists of the 1980s, including Zapp, Earth, Wind & Fire and The Sequence.
Bruno Mars isn’t the only artist finding inspiration from the past. Whether you love the smooth guitar of the 1970s or upbeat pop of the 1980s, many of today’s artists are drawing inspiration from all different decades to create retro-sounding music with a modern twist. If you’re looking for classic-sounding songs to add to your music playlists, read on to discover five modern artists whose retro sound will take you back in time.
If you enjoy retro music reminiscent of early 1960s rock, listen to any of American singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne’s six studio albums. With smooth vocals, guitar and hints of piano and harmonica, LaMontagne’s music has been compared to that of iconic artists like Van Morrison, Tim Buckley and Otis Redding. These classic influences extend beyond his music as well. Rolling Stone reports that he lives in a 19th century farmhouse in the Berkshires and likes to drive old cars.
Leon Bridges, a singer and songwriter from Fort Worth, Texas, may epitomize the perfect mix of modern and retro gospel and soul sounds. Bridges quickly grabbed the attention of the music world in 2015 with his debut album, “Coming Home,” delivering unique 1950s and ’60s soul style retro sound to music lovers everywhere. In fact, Rolling Stone compares Bridges to “Usher as a vintage soul crooner in 1963, backed by Motown’s Funk Brothers.” He’s been named as an artist to watch in the coming years with chart-topping songs including “River,” “Better Man” and “Smooth Sailin’.”
American rock band Alabama Shakes bring together soulful vocals and instrumentals in perfect harmony to reproduce classic bluegrass music. After the release of their first full-length album, “Boys & Girls,” in 2012, it didn’t take long for the band to gather many loyal fans and followers. Their success landed them performances at top music festivals around the country like Outside Lands and Lollapalooza and resulted in sky-high record sales and three Grammy nominations. Listeners love their Southern soft-rock style with a retro sound, which pays homage to mid-20th century rhythm and blues.
Although country music artist Chris Stapleton was on the music scene for decades as the lead singer and guitarist for Tennessee bluegrass band The SteelDrivers, he’s more recently risen to superstardom as a solo artist with his 2015 album “Traveller.” With rich vocals and guitar, Stapleton embodies everything wonderful about classic country and bluegrass music. It’s no wonder Stapleton sold more than 1.5 million copies in the U.S. alone and took home three awards, including Breakout Artist of the Year, at the 2015 Country Music Awards. If you’re not a country music fan, take a listen to his hit song “Tennessee Whiskey” and you’ll likely be converted.
If rock music isn’t quite your style, there’s still plenty of modern music with a retro sound that mirrors other classic genres. For fans of ’80s pop music, the Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo will bring you back to the glory days of pop legends like Prince and Madonna. Since their debut on the music scene in 2004, Chromeo has brought a unique and modern electronic sound that reminds you of those classic 1980s pop songs. Their music has even been compared to some of the most famous stars of the era including Hall & Oats, Klymaxx and Sylvester. While Chromeo made their rounds on the festival circuit several years ago, they have a few shows coming up around the West Coast this fall.
Listen to Retro Music in Style
It’s not just music that’s getting a blast from the past; audio technology is also being influenced by the classics. Especially during the past few years, the music industry has seen a huge resurgence of retro music gadgets like the record player, cassette player and Walkman®.
If you want to enhance your experience while listening to these retro-sounding songs, consider investing in a music gadget like the Sony PS-HX500 Turntable. This device comes with a high-quality audio component system that enables you to enjoy all your vinyl records in the highest quality sound. In addition to enjoying older masterpieces on vinyl, you can convert your vinyl tracks into high-quality digital ones by simply connecting the PS-HX500 to your computer’s USB port.
Back to Yesteryear
Although artists from previous decades may be gone, the influential music of the past will never be forgotten. There may be fresh new music genres in the 21st century, but retro sounds and styles will always have a place in the music industry and will continue to influence artists for years to come. Whether you’re listening to retro music on an old record player or the latest high-tech gadget, these five modern artists will add great retro sounds to your music playlists.