Pop music in the 2010s drastically changed from what it was a decade ago. It underwent a transformative era, providing people with new ways to acquire music. Moreover, the introduction of online fan culture, and the eclectic music genres, it became more difficult to get relevant in the pop scene. Yet, these men found ways to break through or hold their position in the mainstream. Here are some of the top pop male stars who thrived in the 2010s.
1. Charlie Puth
Charlie Puth launched into the pop scene through the hit single ‘See You Again’ with Wiz Khalifa. It sold more than 20.9 million units worldwide and topped the Hot 100 for 12 weeks. Banking on its success, Puth released his debut studio album, ‘Nine Track Mind.’ It produced multi-platinum smash hits, such ‘One Call Away,’ ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ with Selena Gomez, and ‘Marvin Gaye’ with Meghan Trainor. His latest album, ‘Voicenotes’, received a Grammy nomination and was certified gold by RIAA with having over 3.4 billion streams to date.
Both a hip-hop roughie and an R&B man, Drake surely has what it takes to be a pop star of his time. In 2010, he released his platinum-selling debut album, ‘Thank Me Later,’ and skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard 200. His next releases were received respect not only in sales but critical acclaim. In 2011, his sophomore studio album, ‘Take Care,’ won him his first Grammy award for the Best Rap Album category. It was only the start for Drake as he continued to release chart-topping singles and platinum albums throughout the decade.
3. Kendrick Lamar
With his inventiveness and distinct execution, Kendrick Lamar is a decade-defining rapper that achieved commercial and critical in the 2010s. His first major-label album, ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,’ was an initial glimpse of his brilliance, releasing smash hits like ‘Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe,’ ‘Poetic Justice,’ and ‘Swimming Pools (Drank).’ True enough, as two years later, he won his first Grammy for the single ‘I’ for the ‘Best Rap Song’ and ‘Best Rap Performance.’ That was only his first as the Compton rapper score 11 more Grammy under his name.
4. Jason Derulo
Jason Derulo first entered the music scene by composing songs for famous artists, such as Pitbull and Lil Wayne. But, with his flair for dance-pop singles and beautiful ballads, Jason Derulo quickly made a name for himself when he debuted in the late 2000s. By the turn of the decade, Derulo was already a mainstay on the hit charts, releasing hits such as ‘Ridin’ Solo,’ ‘It Girl,’ ‘Talk Dirty,’ ‘Wiggle,’ and ‘Swalla,’ and selling over 30 million singles worldwide.
5. Taio Cruz
Taio Cruz soared in the early 2000s through his sophomore album, ‘Rockstarr,’ which produced his chart-topping singles ‘Break Your Heart’ and ‘Dynamite.’ The former broke records by having one of the biggest jumps on the Billboard from number 53 to number one in just a week. ‘Dynamite’ was also a massive success, earning the top spox in six other countries. Cruz is as brilliant as a songwriter, having the chance to write songs for David Guetta, Cheryl Cole, and Usher.
With creative covers of reggae songs made famous by Sean Kingston and Sean Paul, Iyaz built his own kingdom in MySpace. Things had turned when Kingston stumbled upon Iyaz’s page and had him sign under Beluga Height Records. In 2010, Iyaz released his debut electro-pop single, ‘Replay,’ which peaked at number two on the Billboards chart and topped in Australia and the United Kingdom. His other renowned singles in the decade are ‘Solo,’ ‘Pretty Girls,’ and ‘Pyramid.’
7. Trey Songz
Trey Songz is an R&B singer-songwriter and producer that debuted in the mid-2000s. Since then, it became a prosperous career for him, releasing seven records that reached the Top 20 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2012, he nabbed his first number album in the same chart through his album ‘Chapter V.’ Its lead single, ’Heart Attack’ also earned a Grammy nomination for the ‘Best R&B song category in 2013. Some of the iconic singles are ‘Say Aah’ and ‘Bottoms Up,’
8. Jay Sean
A hip-hop lad with a flair for eclectic singing and songwriting, Jay Sean was already making waves in 2008 with his hits like ‘Maybe’ and ‘Ride It.’ But, with the aid of Cash Money Records, he soared into full stardom in the American pop scene. His dance-infused single, ‘Down,’ was the spark plug of his success, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100. He continued to spawn hit after hit and even collaborated with other famous artists, such as in ‘Do You Remember’ and ‘2012 (It Ain’t The Dead.)
Touting a creative mind and marginal eccentricity, B.o.B scored a considerable feat when he got his first major-label record contract at 17 under Atlantic Records. He then gained massive success in the 2010s with smash hits, such as ‘Nothin On You,’ ‘Airplanes,’ and ‘Magic.’ Most of the singles went platinum but, after doing three records with Atlantic, B.o.B. went independent and established his own label, No Genre.
10. Sean Kingston
Sean Kingston is a Jamaican rapper/singer who is renowned for his dance-infused medleys of hip-hop, R&B, and pop. Kingston went into mainstream pop with his hits, ‘Beautiful Girls,’ ‘Take You There,’ and ‘Fire Burning. However, it was ‘Eenie Menie,’ his collaboration with the pop icon, Justin Bieber, that launched him further into the pop circle of the 2010s.
11. Flo Rida
With a knack for feel-good club music, Flo Rida rocked the pop scene in the late 2000s with his smash hit, ‘Low.’ Since then, the trend continued for Flo Rida, releasing upbeat singles, such as ‘Good Feeling,’ ‘Wild Ones,’ ‘Club Can’t Handle Me,’ ‘Whistle,’ and ‘Right Round.’ Flo Rida boasts 100 million units sold worldwide, placing him as one of the top-selling artists of the decade.
12. Shawn Mendes
Shawn Mendes is a Canadian pop singer-songwriter who first gained following through his cover versions on different video sites. Having the appeal that resembles the aura of Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran, Islands Records signed Mendes in 2014. Mendes released his debut album the same year with its lead single, ‘Life Of The Party,’ peaking at number 24 in the U.S. charts. This feat was followed by subsequent hits, such as ‘Stitches’ and ‘Treat You Better,’ which propelled him to stardom.
Usher’s stardom never dwindled even in the 2010s. Starting from his first chart-topping hit in the nineties, he continued to evolve and offer something fresh, which helped him get a hold of his status as one of the best male pop stars of his generation. He started the decade with another Grammy award for his album, ‘Raymond V Raymond,’ which won in the ‘Best Contemporary R&B Album category in 2011. He released subsequent successful albums, ‘Hard II Love’ in 2016 and ‘A’ in 2018, proving that his prowess is here to stay.
14. John Legend
John Legend settled in the background for so long, writing songs and contributing music and vocal to different artists, such as Janet Jackson, Jay Z, and the Black Eyed Peas. However, in 2013, he scored his first massive pop hit, ‘All Of Me.’ It was a piano-voice ballad that captivated the hearts of many and ranked among the top five top-selling singles of the year. Legend enjoyed another smash hit with ‘Like I’m Gonna Lose You,’ which was a multi-platinum single led by Meghan Trainor.
15. Kanye West
Banking on his success from the first post-millennium decade, Kanye West remained to be a force in the pop scene in the 2010s. He released his album, ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,’ a proof of his regenerative prowess that inclines on trends that gains momentum. It was a new era for Kanye with this theme now focusing on sex, fame, and luxury. Aside from music, Kanye also designed for signature brands and even started his own shoe line, making him an overall artist.
16. Sam Smith
Boasting a uniquely expressive and soul-inspired voice, Sam Smith has become one of the most prominent figures to enter the pop scene in the 2010s. In May 2014, he released his first full-length album, ‘In The Lonely Hour,’ which spawned hits such as ‘Stay With Me,’ ‘Lay Me Down,’ and ‘I’m Not The Only One.’ The album earned Smith numerous awards from different organizations and became one of the top-selling albums of the year, only behind household names Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift.
17. Chris Brown
Chris Brown arrived in the late 2000s and never looked back. The pop R&B artist spawned hit after hit after hits, such as ‘With You,’ ‘Kiss Kiss,’ and ‘No Air.’ In 2011, he released ‘F.A.M.E.’ which gave him four hits on the charts and a Grammy for the ‘Best Rap Album’ category. Since then, Brown never stopped improving his artistry, releasing equally successful albums, ‘Royalty’ in 2015, ‘Heartbreak On A Full Moon’ in 2017, and ‘Indigo’ in 2019.
18. Ed Sheeran
Having no limits with regards to his style, producing music and lyrics that are personal, and blending genres like pop, dance, soul, rock, and folk, Ed Sheeran is the quintessential male pop star of his generation. He propelled into mainstream pop, producing a series of hits, such as ‘The A Team,’ ‘Thinking Out Loud,’ ‘Sing’ and ‘Shape Of You,’ – songs that provided him with the universal appeal and catapulted him to pure stardom.
19. Justin Bieber
The pop phenomenon Justin Bieber rocked the music industry with his debut album, ‘My World 2.0’ in 2010. It spawned the catalyst of his fantastic career, the single ‘Baby,’ which became a worldwide hit and received a 12x platinum status. Over his career, he drifted away from the teen pop style and shifted to EDM as a more mature artist. Some of his freshest hits include ‘Sorry,’ ‘What Do You Mean?’ ‘Love Yourself,’ and ‘Despacito.”
20. Bruno Mars
A Grammy-award winning artist and a globally-renowned performer, Bruno Mars captured the world in with his debut album, ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans’, in 2010. For nearly two decades, he became the first male artist to enter the top ten with his first four tracks, including ‘Grenade’ and ‘Just The Way You Are.’ This feat was only the start as he nabbed his first Grammy-award for this sophomore album, ‘Unorthodox Jukebox,’ which won in the ‘Best Pop Vocal Album’ category. Throughout the decade, he continued to release hit after hit and sold over 130 million units worldwide. Since his debut in 2010, he spawned seven number-one singles on the Hot 100, making him the fastest artist to achieve five number-one single since Elvis Presley.
There are the male pop stars that thrived in the 2010s and made it more vibrant. Who’s your favorite of them all?