3 International Acts Who Transformed the World Music Landscape

We’re celebrating World Music Day by highlighting the music and stories of some of the most successful artists from around the world. Check out our World Music Map featuring the artists who transformed their musical landscape, and listen to all of their music!

Australia: Sia

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Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Sia Furler moved to London in the late 90s, where she contributed lead vocals to trip-hop pioneers Zero 7, and background vocals to British superstar band Jamiroquai. But her journey to the top wasn’t marked by a sudden, meteoric rise. Instead, Sia made her name through a gradual, steady ascension marked by constant reinvention, and the ability to continue recording and creating music, despite not quite finding her big break.

She began to attract mainstream attention following the release of her fifth album, We Are Born, in 2010. The following year, she appeared on American television as an advisor to judge Christina Aguilera on The Voice, which laid the foundation of her breakthrough. It’s fascinating to note that at the time, Sia had retired from recording in her own name to focus on writing songs for other artists. She wrote “Titanium,” which was eventually released by David Guetta featuring her vocals, with Alicia Keys in mind, never intending for her version to reach the public!

In 2016, Sia officially became a global superstar with the release of her seventh album, This is Acting. Fueled by the massive success of the single “Cheap Thrills,” This is Acting became one of the top albums of 2016 and catapulted Sia to global superstardom. She’s now one of the most successful Australian recording musicians, ever. Interestingly, she shuns the spotlight, preferring to obscure her face and hair with masks and wigs, and allowing her supporting dancers to take center-stage during live performances.

Mali: Tinariwen

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The timeless Tinariwen have helped put their culture’s traditional music on the world map. They’ve performed in five decades — the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s, taking their haunting message of protest, and pleas for peace, across generations and geographies.

Led by guitarist, singer, and songwriter Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, the Tinariwen collective comprises a group of Tuareg musicians who began performing together during their exile in Algeria and Libya in 1979. They would not perform officially in their native Mali until the 1990s, when a cease-fire guaranteed their safety. 

Known for their enchanting vocals and ‘Malian Blues’ style, Tinariwen first became popular amongst the French and Arabic-speaking world, before gaining a following amongst the global music community. It’s fascinating to note the parallels between their rhythmic guitar and chord structures, and the world of American blues. Interestingly, Tinariwen claim to have never experienced ‘blues’ music until they first traveled abroad in the early 2000s. 

South Korea: BTS

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On paper, The Bangtan Boys just don’t add up. A 7-member K-Pop boy band? Featuring three rappers? That dominates the U.S. charts, with just a smattering of English vocals? But when it comes to BTS, the numbers simply don’t lie. They sing, they dance, they write, they produce — and they do it all spectacularly well! Most inspiringly, BTS, and their devoted fan communities across the world, have become a rallying cry and and protective umbrella for young people dealing with the occasional loneliness, pressures, and struggles of adolescence.

Since releasing their debut single, 2 Cool 4 School in 2013, BTS have been prolific, recording a total of six studio albums (three in Korean, and three in Japanese). They officially became K-Pop’s biggest export when their latest album, Love Yourself: Tear, debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200. It was the first Korean album to ever top the American albums chart. In their lyrics, they’ve spoken honestly and powerfully about important issues, including the need to stand up for minority rights, the inevitability of death, awareness of mental health issues, and how to cope with grief. They’ve even been commended by the president of South Korea for their positive contributions to society!

If it were up to us, every day would be World Music Day! We hope you enjoy listening to these playlists on Saavn as much as we enjoyed curating them.

Tags : #BTS #Sia #Tinariwen

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