So many variables determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history. On-air and online, we celebrate the musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack for the past fifty years. Let’s love these FUV Essential artists while they’re here, and honor those who have departed too soon.
Radiohead might cherish its outlier status and relish more cerebral tangents, but it's also a band that intimately understands the hearts of so many of its admirers.
Radiohead's Thom Yorke (illustration by Andy Friedman)
Joni Mitchell (Original photo: Asylum Records [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
The sardonic bite of "Loser" might have helped vault Beck Hansen into a label deal and a career, but it was almost regarded as a novelty song. Its loopy, self-deprecating refrain—"I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me"—wasn't a confession, but a challenge. Beck was always far more sophisticated and complex, a man on a long road of self-discovery.
Beck (photo courtesy of the artist)
[September 2018 update: “I’ve often wondered what it would feel like to reach the point where I’d consider bringing my perfor
Paul Simon (illustration by Andy Friedman)
Not only is Peter Gabriel one of the most innovative and influential rock artists of his generation, but he's a visionary human rights activist and a cultural ambassador for world music.
Peter Gabriel (photo courtesy of the artist)
Over the course of 13 studio albums since 1979, from the post-punk minimalism of Three Imaginary Boys to 2008's grandly euphoric '4:13 Dream,' Robert Smith and the Cure have intimately bonded with their devout fans, offering a healing salve for sadness and self-doubt.
The Cure's Robert Smith (illustration by Andy Friedman)
[Update for June 7, 2018: On what would have been Prince's 60th birthday, the much-missed musician is being remembered via a p
Prince (illustration by Andy Friedman)