Last Updated on April 20, 2023 by J.SCALCO
With the right conditions, a music label can help conjure a timeless sound and propel an artist to greater heights. Although more and more of today’s artists tend to sign with independent labels, many still partner with some of the major record labels. One such label with a respectable track record is Atlantic Records and the Atlantic Records Artists.
Atlantic Records Artists
When Atlantic Records was founded in 1947, the founders—Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson—intended to specialize in jazz, soul, and R&B recordings.
At the time, it became home to a cohort of soul stars—some of whom helped shape modern music as we know it.
Fast forward to the golden era of rock and roll (the ‘60s and ‘70s), the record label helped propel some of the defining acts of the generation into stardom.
This same trend extends to the current day and age of internet radio and music streaming—whereby some of the most streamed artists like Ed Sheeran are signed by none other than Atlantic Records.
The secret behind the label’s success appears hinged on its ability to evolve and adapt to the tides.
Who Are the Greatest Atlantic Artists?
As an industry-leading label, Atlantic Records has represented some of the world’s most cutting-edge artists.
Name iconic artists in a music era and Atlantic Records is guaranteed to pop up.
Legends? They have been scouting talents since the ‘40s, signing the likes of Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin, and Aretha Franklin.
Highly-accredited artists of the last few decades? Think Sia, Bruno Mars, Wiz Khalifa, Ed Sheeran, Cold Play, and Skrillex.
Maybe you’re more into some of the hottest artists? They have Cardi B, Lil Uzi Vert, Lizzo, and Ava Max, to name a few.
Legacy and Current Atlantic Records Artists
The embodiment of soul music, the father of soul, the genius – Ray Charles goes by many names. He is celebrated as an American visionary whose work quite literary created an entire genre of music.
As a producer, songwriter, and musician, Ray Charles ushered a new gospel-infused sound that later came to be known as R&B. Yes, that right—the same music genre that still makes headlines today can be traced back to this Atlantic Records artist.
Ray Charles was not just the most beloved artist from Atlantic Records—his reach was global. His message and ideals permeated the consciousness of anyone who dared to listen.
With an expressive voice, charismatic personality, and astonishing piano-playing skills, Ray Charles produced music that could either make you dance or well with emotions.
As a testament to his iconic status, Charles lays claim to a list of achievements and awards that could take up this entire post (so I’ll skimp on that).
But for a rough idea of what the stellar Atlantic Records artist means to the music industry—there is a U.S. postage stamp honoring him, he’s inducted in the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, and there’s an entire learning facility built in his honor (the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center and Music Academic Building).
When the scouting network of Atlantic Records extended beyond Jazz and Soul music, one of their “catches” turned out to be arguably the greatest rock bands of all time.
Led Zeppelin is a band that is mentioned in the same breath as The Beetles, The Rolling Stones, U2, and Pink Floyd. But how seminal was the band?
What is the stereotypical image and sound of a metal or hard rock band?
If your idea of metal is anything close to a group of care-free guys with tight jeans (maybe leather), a bare chest, and long hair that bobs around vigorously in a near-possessed manner, you’re picturing Led Zeppelin.
Nearly every hard rock group that was formed since the early ‘70s borrowed from the English rock band. In other words, Led Zeppelin are the embodiment of heavy metal—just as Ray Charles was to R&B.
The English band consisting of Robert Plant (vocalist), John Paul Jones (keyboard/bass), Jimmy Page (guitarist), and John Bonham (drummer) were a perfect combination of expertise, mystery, and passion.
The fantasy element in their music was a great escape from the harshness of reality. From singing about Viking mythology to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and anything in between—The Atlantic Records artists were something different.
Perhaps one of Atlantic Records’ best success stories, Aretha Franklin was an artist that warmed the hearts of even the coldest critics.
After failing to achieve the breakthrough success she hoped for, Franklin left Columbia and signed for Atlantic Records in 1967. She hoped to start afresh in a new home—much like a caged lioness raring to be unleashed into the wild.
Franklin was immediately paired with Jerry Wexler—the former Atlantic Records director credited with inventing the term ‘Rhythm and Blues’—and her full prowess was revealed to the world.
Wexler sent her to the F.A.M.E Recording Studios in Alabama, hoping that Aretha Franklin would rediscover her roots away from the fast-paced life of New York.
During that time, the pair produced and released the hit single, “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You),” ushering the beginning of a legendary career.
Aretha Franklin’s most defining attribute was her ability to shape and stay true to her own image/work. She either wrote her own music or personally picked out her songs—working out the texture and arrangements on her piano at home.
Some titles that made her a colossal figure in music include, “A Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” and “Respect.” These good songs and her contributions to music earned the Atlantic Records artist an impressive 18 Grammy Awards, among other awards.
Ed Sheeran—named the UK’s artist of the decade (2010-2020)—is a perfect example of an artist who broke through commercially and never looked back.
Since releasing the debut single ‘The A-Team,’ the ginger-haired Atlantic Records artist has grown into a household staple.
He is an artist that people can relate to. His actions, lyrics, and tune have an honest feel. It makes you want to close your eyes, lean back, and just vibe with the lyrics.
It’s not surprising that Ed Sheeran has held the mantle of the most streamed artist on Spotify at over 2.5 Billion streams (yes, with a B!) for a while.
Several of his albums and singles have been certified platinum—including his debut album (+) that went sextuple platinum in the UK.
As one of the most awarded artists in the last decade, his trophy cabinet boasts of roughly 115 major awards (PS: 4 of those are Grammys).
Perhaps one of his most notable achievements is the storm that followed the 2017 album,Divide.
Upon release, 14 tracks shot into the UK Top 15—one short of total domination. The subsequent tour went on to break several Guinness World Records.
This includes the highest-grossing music tour, highest-grossing music tour by a solo artist, and highest attendance for a music tour.
It’s worth noting that his latest album—No.6 Collaborations Project—features several other Atlantic Records artists such as Bruno Mars, Skrillex, Meek Mill, Cardi B, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and PnB Rock.
Arguably one of the hottest Atlantic Records artists today, Lizzo dominated headlines in 2019—and deservedly so.
According to Time Magazine, she was the “defining star of 2019 – not just for the music she makes, but for what she represents.”
Many regard her as a figure-head of unapologetic self-confidence and self-care. This is the making of a future icon—an artist who embodies an ideal and entertains the masses in the process.
Although she only recently blew up, Lizzo is far from a new artist.
Prior to becoming an Atlantic Records artist in 2016, she had released two other albums under a different label.
The same year she signed with Atlantic Records, she released her first EP—Coconut Oil. The album included a soundtrack for the film Barbershop: The Next Cut.
The name ‘Lizzo’ garnered global attention in 2019 when she released her 3rdsolo album, Cuz I Love You—which debuted at number 6 on Billboard 200.
It featured high-charting singles like “Juice” and “Truth Hurts.” The latter topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, sharing the achievement with Rihanna’s “Diamonds” from 7 years ago.
From staging uncanny impersonations of Elvis Presley at just 4 years of age to carving his own legacy—Bruno Mars easily ranks as one of the best artists under Atlantic Record’s roaster.
He holds a truckload of awards and achievements, including 3 Guinness World Records, Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, and a whopping 11 Grammy Awards.
The Hawaii-born artist is widely known for his musical versatility, retro vibe, and smooth vocals that seem to churn out hit after hit.
Maybe part of his success is attributed to his perfectionism. He has time and again claimed that he tends to tweak a song until he is completely satisfied with the outcome.
Mars signed with Atlantic Records in 2009 and coincidentally (or not) got his major commercial breakthrough the next year.
Four of his first singles—including “Billionaire” with Travie McCoy and “Nothin’ on You” with B.o.B—become top 10 hits instantly.
The same year, he released his first studio album containing chart-topping singles such as singles “The Lazy Song, ” “Grenade,” and “Just the Way You Are.”
When Sia sings, you know it’s Sia.
Her voice is arguably one of the most unique sounds on the radio today.
Understandably, her insane voice has been a favorite of movie producers—featuring in blockbusters like The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey, Star Trek, Pitch Perfect, Dolittle, and DC’s Wonder Woman.
Interestingly, Sia Kate Isobelle Furler was not always the pop star we love and admire today.
She started her career as a beloved Australian hit-maker—only for the fame to corrupt her to a point of contemplating suicide.
But despite her depression, she refused to give (as should all of us) and reinvented herself as the ever-wig-wearing superstar.
According to the artist, her persona and appearance is an attempt to shun fame in favor of privacy.
Although her career stretches as far as the ‘90s, she only recently signed as an Atlantic Records artist in 2017.
According to a statement by Atlantic Records’ Craig Kallman (CEO) and Julie Greenwald (COO) following the record deal, “Sia is a once-in-a-generation artist. Her extraordinary gifts as a singer and songwriter, her revolutionary approach to the art of performing, her groundbreaking videos – everything she does comes from a deep wellspring of inspiration and imagination…Sia is that rare artist who has formed her own singular, boundless musical universe.
We are so happy to welcome her into the Atlantic family and to be joining Sia on her amazing musical journey.”
In the same way that Ray Charles provided a visual image for soul and R&B, Skrillex is today’s avatar of electronic dance music.
Widely acclaimed as one of the top EDM artists, Sonny Moore is a DJ, music producer, instrumentalist, songwriter, and singer.
He is often credited with popularizing the thumpy dubstep subgenre—and he has eight Grammy Awards to show for his work
(PS: He holds the most Grammys of any electronic artists, including Daft Punk who he dethroned).
At the height of EDM’s popularity, the Atlantic Records artist helped steer the culture and bring the roller-coaster bass detonation (aka., the drop) to the masses.
Moore also paved the way for pop artists to embed dubstep into their music as evidenced by his remixes of Lady Gaga’s songs.
Fun Fact: Findings from a recent scientific study showed that Skrillex’s single “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” can “delay host attack, reduce blood-feeding, and disrupt mating” in mosquitoes. So consider blasting some Skrillex the next the pesky pests invade you home.
If you’ve never heard of Cardi B, the only acceptable explanation would be that you’ve been living under a rock somewhere in a remote island with no electronic device.
The Atlantic Records artist rose to fame in the blink of an eye and stayed there.
Sure, many threw shade at her longevity in the industry after her hit debut single, “Bodak Yellow.” But she swiftly thwarted the naysayers with her “tell it like it is” persona.
Time Magazine featured Cardi B in their Most Influential People of 2018, with Taraji P. Henson saying, “Cardi B’s here to stay, baby, and I’m happy to be a witness.”
Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” was part of her debut studio album (Invasion of Privacy) after signing with Atlantic Records.
When the album was released, it racked up 100 million streams on Spotify in a week. This effectively broke the record previously held by Taylor Swift.
Oh, and she also broke the record for the most simultaneous Billboard Hot 100 entries, dethroning the Queen herself (Beyoncé). In just 2 years, she has been nominated to 295 awards and won 106—including a Grammy and five Guinness World Records.
How far can a contemporary band go?
Well, you’ll have to ask Coldplay.
The group of Chris Martin (vocalist and pianist), Jonny Buckland (guitarist), Guy Berryman (bassist), and Will Champion (drummer) began playing together in 1996, but only achieved worldwide fame at the turn of the millennium when they released “Yellow.”
At the heart of the Atlantic Records artists’ appeal is their ability to turn the fundamental of contemporary living in a soothing melody.
It’s a melody that evokes emotion, making some of their best works nearly irresistible.
Coldplay has a knack for adapting to changing times and staying relevant for over 2 decades.
But despite their adaptations, they’ve never lost their identity—you can smell a Coldplay song from a mile away.
Throughout their career, they have amassed an enviable collection of awards—some after signing with Atlantic Records in 2013 and others before.
Photo Credits : Atlantic Records