New York City is one of the best cities in the world. Split off into five boroughs, each have their own distinct flavour and culture. As such a huge cultural influence it is no surprise that many great musicians call New York City home. We take a look at some of the best musicians to ever come from the city that never sleeps.
Velvet Underground Quite possibly the coolest band ever, The Velvet Underground gave way to countless other artists and set the standard for how a New York band should look. They also win the prize for having one of the most recognizable album covers of all time.
Blondie Iconic 2-piece Blondie rose to fame in Manhattan in the late 70s and while technically only one half of the new-wave duo is a native New-Yorker (Debbie Harry is originally from New Jersey, don’t hold it against her), they have a well deserved place on the list.
Patti Smith AKA the godmother of punk, Patti Smith influenced the punk-rock scene in New York City like few others have. Her debut album ‘Horses’ (produced by John Cale, member of Velvet Underground, another band on our list) is still considered one of the best albums of all time.
Sonic Youth It’s hard to deny that most rock critics give Sonic Youth too much credit and music snobs wear their band merchandise too much, but it’s even harder to deny Sonic Youth’s influence. The alt-rock group did a lot for New York’s music scene, but more importantly, we have Kim Gordon to thank for countless hot girls picking bass guitars. Kudos Kim.
The Strokes Forming in 1999, five incredibly handsome rich kids decided to rebel and start a band. Quite possibly the best looking group of guys in a band ever, the Strokes reaffirmed to the world what we had all momentarily forgotten: New Yorkers are cool.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs The art-rock trio reminded us that women can front rock bands and be really good at it. Their debut album Fever To Tell was recorded at Brooklyn’s iconic Headgear studios, making their breakout album a product of New York through and through.
LCD Soundsystem The indie band with maybe the most well known song about New York in the past decade, LCD Soundsystem seem to have a love-hate relationship with the five boroughs, but did eventually play their last ever show at Madison Square Garden earlier this year.
Ella Fitzgerald Lady Ella exemplified what it meant to live in old New York: she worked at a brothel, had ties with the mafia, went to an asylum, ended up homeless, then became the biggest star of the town. With an amazing career spanning 59 years, Ella Fitzgerald deserves a top spot on the list.
Miles Davis Miles Davis is the reason New Yorkers ventured above 110th street to Harlem in the 40s. Iconic bebop clubs like Minton’s and Monroe’s were the backdrop for some of New York’s greatest jazz collaborations and Davis is still considered one of the only cool trumpeters ever.
Jay-Z Having sold 50 million albums and won 13 Grammy awards, Jay Z is the most successful rapper who never sold out. Growing up in Marcy Projects in Brooklyn’s second baddest neighbourhood, do or die Bed-Stuy, Jay penned New York’s latest anthem, for which we’re eternally grateful.
Beastie Boys Sorry Eminem, we know you like to think you’re a pioneer, but the Beastie Boys were not only the first, but the best white hip-hop artists to date. Their ode to New York, their album To The Five Boroughs cements their place on the list and eight albums later, the Beastie Boys are possibly the only guys to be cooler at 40 then they were at 20.
RUN-DMC The coolest rappers to come out of Hollis, Queens (sorry LL Cool J), RUN-DMC are responsible for re-legitimising Aerosmith. Pioneers of a new brand of hip-hop RUN-DMC were the first hip-hop group ever to be nominated for a Grammy award.
Billy Joel Billy Joel is responsible for making millions of drunk, broken-hearted people pick up a mic and wail Piano Man on karaoke. Apart from writing some of the most iconic songs of the 70s and making piano bars popular again, Billy Joel also wins the award for whitest guy to ever come out of the Bronx.
Public Enemy We know it's hard to take Public Enemy seriously anymore (we’re looking at you Flava Flav), but we can’t deny their influence on New York's hip-hop scene. Apart from their solo efforts, we also have them to thank for the first collaboration between hip-hoppers and metal heads. Their 1991 collaboration with fellow New Yorkers Anthrax produced one of the biggest hits of the 90s.
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