Noah Kahan was one of the biggest artists of 2023 with 33,184,421 monthly listeners to his folk-infused pop songs. Kahan started making music with his first single "Young Blood" in January 2017 and his most recent release is the album Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever). This album was an addition to his 2022 album, Stick Season, with newly added songs included. His songs started gaining popularity on TikTok in 2022 but blew up in 2023 causing his rapid gain in popularity. The artist is even teasing a new song on the social media platform now, titled “Forever” with his fans going crazy over the anticipated release. Most of his songs are about Northern small-town living, driving, his parents, and dogs. Kahan first started pursuing his dream of producing music when he was 17 and cited some of his inspirations as Hozier and Mumford and Sons. His popularity slowly grew since the start of his career and wasn’t a sudden growth, however, the release of new songs continues to bring an outburst of new fans.
Zach Bryan is a current country artist gaining fame all over the internet. In September of 2023, his most popular album, Zach Bryan—you’ll never guess what it’s named after—debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. All 16 songs on the album ended up in the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100, “I Remember Everything,” his song with Kacey Musgraves, sitting at number one. Bryan made a breakthrough in country music and caught the attention of millions of country fans nationwide. Part of his popularity grew out of his “authenticity”, some people say that Bryan sings about real country even though he doesn’t cover the usual topics of fishing and drinking. Zach Bryan is a military brat from Oklahoma who served in the Navy and sings about the more simple things about living in the countryside. Despite today’s popular country, Bryan tends to take an apolitical tone in his music.
Speaking of today’s popular country, Morgan Wallen has blown up among young country fans this past year with many new releases of songs in 2023. Wallen takes the usual approach to country music and sings about heartbreak, drinking, and women. Though some view this as overused, it seems Wallen has taken a new approach that attracted almost 24 million monthly listeners. He ended up having a disturbing scandal in 2021 that he later apologized for, however, the country star didn't take too much of a hit from this inexcusable behavior and made an easy recovery. The artist even won 11 trophies at the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including Top Male Artist and Top 100 Hot Songs for his new release of “Last Night”, a fan favorite since it’s been playing on the radio. Morgan Wallen has been producing almost nothing but hit songs recently and has been defining the new generation of country music.
Onto the feminine side of the music industry, Olivia Rodrigo. This new star didn’t necessarily get her start in music. She first became popular in 2016 with the release of Disney’s Bizaardvark and kickstarted her music career with the release of her first album SOUR. This album blew up among teen girls everywhere and started a trend of girls "breaking up" with their boyfriends in order to relate to the breakup lyrics. Rodrigo came back into the spotlight this last summer with her brand new GUTS album in 2023, then produced a song for the new Hunger Games movie. Some of you might be saying that Olivia Rodrigo isn't very popular in music right now, however, she tops Zach Bryan and Morgan Wallen combined. The two generate about 53 million monthly listeners and she holds over 60 million monthly listeners with nearly 720 million streams on her most popular song.
Olivia Rodrigo is an icon among teenage girls despite only having two albums and a single.
Last but definitely not least, the woman who defines the music industry at the moment: Taylor Swift. Taylor is an icon who has been popular since she started making music in 2006 with “Tim McGraw” and keeps on growing. The song was an immediate success and throughout her country music career, all the way to her current "reinventing era", she has been growing in popularity until becoming one of the most famous artists at the moment. Taylor isn’t a new talent or a new icon but is an honorable mention due to her continuously growing fame.