There are a lot of different people who consider themselves music lovers but can't tell you anything outside of a specific genre or time frame. How many kids today can name three artists from the 1970s? How many people who watch only country music videos can name three hip-hop stars? These people may be experts in their specific area, but it's probably not correct to call them a true music buff.
Being a music buff is about more than just liking a variety of tunes. It's about appreciating the time, place and state of the world when that music was created, and in many cases, why it was created. You've got to a student of history to be a real music buff and you have to be willing to be open to listening to music you don't completely enjoy.
We could load up a quiz with plenty of musicians from the 1930s and then nobody would pass this test, so we made it more conducive to a younger, modern audience. The definition of music buff should change over time and we think it should always start with knowing about what is popular in that moment. Enjoy, good luck, keep you feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.
1Who is this popular musician?
His real name is Donald Glover and that's all anybody knew him as early in his modestly-successful acting career. It wasn't until the TV show Community was over when he went public with his first commercial album, which was a huge success. He recently said that his most recent effort is going to be his last as he thinks his music ship has sailed.
2Who is this popular musician?
OK, unless you've just been rescued from a desert island, you really ought to know who this woman is. She first was introduced to us on the Disney Channel show Hannah Montana and her father is the one-hit wonder singer of the 1990s song "Achy Breaky Heart." While she went through a very public wild child phase, she seems to have chilled as a semi-regular judge on "The Voice."
3Who is this popular musician?
There are those things in life that you do early on that you sometimes get remembered for, no matter what else you accomplish from there on out. For this Canadian singer, there are a group of people who will always associate him with ultra-cheesy teen TV drama Degrassi, where he played one of the students. Sure, he's done a lot since then...but, still. Who is he?
4Who is this popular musician?
He's been making music as the lead singer of Green Day for over 25 years at this point, yet the tunes still sound as contemporary as ever. If you wonder what would have happened to Nirvana if Kurt Cobain has survived, you may get a good look by examining this singer's career. Who is the longtime leader of this Hall of Fame punk band?
5Who is this popular musician?
He first came onto the national scene about 30 years ago as one of the members of Compton-based NWA, went on to have an amazing solo career and then discovered and served as producer for such acts as Snoop Dogg and Eminem. Oh, and he sold his headphones company for a cool billion dollars. Who is this music mogul?
6Who is this popular musician?
When it comes to Icelandic superstars, it doesn't get any bigger than this woman. Of course, we couldn't name who would be No. 2. She was the lead singer of The Sugarcubes then went on to have a successful solo career in the golden days of college radio with her biggest hit being "It's Oh So Quiet". She's also been known to take out intrusive airport photographers.
7Who is this popular musician?
While most of American probably can't name three of his songs, he's one of the biggest names in country music today because of his work as a judge on The Voice, his penchant for being one of the best talk show guests out there and the fact he's dating No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani. Can you name who this good looking crooner is?
8Who is this popular musician?
As goofy as she sometimes comes off, she's actually the fastest female rapper in the industry. Regardless of your position on her talent as a musician, if you know anything at all about music, you'll be able to identify her. Who is this vibrant female rapper?
9Who are these popular musicians?
It's not like they were the first white guys to rap. It's not like they were the first band to wear mostly black and white makeup when they were on-stage doing their thing. It's also not like they were the first celebrities to cross-over into the world of professional wrestling. But you put it all together and...who knows...it clearly works for some of their fans, known as Juggalos.
10Who is this popular musician?
Shape of You, Perfect, Thinking Out Loud...all songs by this talented Brit who has a way of transcending generations with his approachable style of music. He may not look like your prototypical superstar, but this 27-year-old has no shortage of fans and is one of the few acts that can sell out stadiums around the world.
11Who is this popular musician?
When she first appeared on the scene in the mid-80s it was clear she was headed for superstardom as somebody who could hit notes others could only dream about. Then, she hooked up with bad boy Bobby Brown, go involved with drugs, made a stinker of a movie in The Bodyguard, failed with comeback after comeback, had a reality show and then was found dead in a bathtub. It was a full life, at least.
12Who is this popular musician?
The couple of years after the break-up of a boy band is critical for a guy who wants to go solo. You get the guys who look like they'll be big and prove you right, like Justin Timberlake, or the guys who look like they'll be big and prove you wrong, like Nick Carter. This former One Direction singer looks to be in the Timberlake department, but only time will tell.
13Who is this popular musician?
Will there every be a time in history like 2005-2015 when it seemed like all Nickelodeon and Disney Channel did was turn out future singing superstars, and this was long after the new Mickey Mouse Club was off the air. This singer, who is a big fan of cat-ear headbands was first met on Victorious before doing the short-lived Sam and Cat.
14Who is this popular musician?
He's not considered a hardcore rapper because his songs are a little too catchy, yet he's not really a dance music superstar either. He did well with commercial radio for his hip-hop light anthems that were mostly about partying and having a good time. He may never be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but with all of his appearances at WrestleMania, he'll probably make the WWE version.
15Who is this popular musician?
Admit it...if you were listening to popular music when this artist's first hit, I Kissed a Girl, was released, you thought she was going to be a one-hit wonder with a novelty song. Who could have guessed that she would go on to perform the mostly highly-rated Super Bowl Halftime show of all time? Who is this firework?
16Who is this popular musician?
This should be one of those gimmies that even your mom could get since this artist has been rapping for nearly 25 years. He's branched out a little bit into acting and isn't as active as he was years ago, but with such songs as Stan, The Way I Am, The Real Slim Shady, Lose Yourself and My Name Is, it's hard for us to believe you wouldn't know what his name is.
17Who is this popular musician?
While he certainly hasn't had a career worth dismissing, there are just those artists who come along a little too early or a little too late with the genre they present. We believe that if this artist had come along in the late 1970s or early 1980s, he would have gone on to the kind of career that Prince or Michael Jackson would have had.
18Who is this popular musician?
There was a musician named Lou Bega who had a huge with a song called Mambo No. 5 about 20 years ago. You probably know it because they still play it, but he largely disappeared afterward. We thought that would happen with this artist, but he keeps coming back with song after song. Our favorite will always be Fireball.
19Who is this popular musician?
Despite the fact he croons like Frank Sinatra, there's just something about this guy that is very contemporary. If you see him as a talk show guest, he's hilarious and when he was on Saturday Night Live, he was one of the best singer-crossover-to-actor that they've had in years. Who is this throwback singer?
20Who is this popular musician?
We'll admit, we don't completely understand the undying, over-the-top attraction to this former Destiny's Child leader. She is very talented both as a singer and dancer, but the adoration she receives does seem to be a bit much to us at times. Truly, how great can she be if her husband Jay-Z admitted to cheating on her?
21Who is this popular musician?
There have been plenty of musicians in this quiz who have seen their career get a spike after appearing as a judge on The Voice, and this Maroon 5 lead singer is no different. What's ironic about The Voice is despite the ability to attract A-level musician judges, the show has never produced a breakout star from its contestants.
22Who is this popular musician?
It's been more than 15 years since this singer's biggest hit, Your Body is a Wonderland, was introduced to the public, but somehow this guy stays out there with minor hits and doing things his way. His latest venture has been a series of concerts with comedian Dave Chapelle. It's a weird double-bill but somehow it works.
23Who is this popular musician?
We could also ask who is this popular actor as this guy has been one of the most popular, successful and talented crossover artist of the last couple decades. With amazing roles in films like Dallas Buyers' Club and Requiem for a Dream, it's impressive that he can still turn out quality music with this band Thirty Seconds to Mars.
24Who is this popular musician?
Hey! It's the Son of God! Nope, it's just a singer who played him. This talented artist took the role of Jesus Christ this past Easter when NBC, jumping on board the live musical train that seems to popular now, in Jesus Christ Superstar. Oh yeah, he's also well known as being Mr. Chrissy Teigen, but we wouldn't call him that to his face.
25Who is this popular musician?
Within a year, this artist was able to work with Daft Punk and date Selena Gomez in between her stints with Justin Bieber, so we'd say he's doing well for himself. His Starboy album in 2016 propelled him to heights his career hadn't seen, but he's actually been putting out music for nearly a decade. Better late than never, right?
26Who is this popular musician?
You can count the number of artists who can stay popular for over 50 years on one hand and this man is at the top of that list. While his last steady stream of hits was now a couple of decades ago, he's still regularly seen on TV, at tributes and performing in concert. His first hit was a child in 1963...amazing.
27Who are these popular musicians?
Back in the late 1980s gangsta rap was building its base and finding its roots and this act was one of the most popular out there. After they broke up, one of its leaders, Flavor Flav, became a bit of a joke on the reality show circuit, but there is no denying that this group may have had an even bigger impact on society than rivals NWA.
28Who is this popular musician?
Yup, time for another Nickelodeon or Disney Channel starlet who became much bigger when she dropped the acting to focus on her singing career. She's had a lot of health issues and is in the newspapers as much for her private life and feud with her mother as she is for her talent. Who is this singer still at the start of her career?
29Who is this popular musician?
Here's another guy who had a run of good luck a few years ago that made him almost a household name (at least in the cool households). He participated in the summertime hit Blurred Lines, then the next summertime hit Get Lucky and managed to find time record a song where he wasn't second-fiddle, the catchy "Happy."
30Who is this popular musician?
We weren't going to litter this quiz full of singers from the 1960s or 1970s because that wouldn't be fair to people who never followed that time period, but there are a few standards, like Frank Sinatra or The Beatles, that everyone should be able to identify. This man tops that list of all-time famous musicians, so you should really know who he is.
31Who is this popular musician?
Popular is a relative term, depending on a specific time and place. Through late 2017 and early 2018, there was really nobody bigger than this guy, but he hasn't stood the test of time. Will we still be talking about this guy who came up with his stage name by allegedly using an online random name generator? Come back in 10 years and find out.
32Who is this popular musician?
Inducted into the Hall of Fame a few years ago by Michael Stipe and accepted by his widow, Courtney Love, this man who brought grunge music to the mainstream in the early 1990s has only risen in mythology and cult status as the years have gone by. We all know he was the lead singer of Nirvana, but what was his name?
33Who is this popular musician?
The best thing you can do for yourself if you want to be wildly successful is to appeal to as many demographics as possible and this singer who has belted out such instant classics as "Rolling in the Deep," "Hello" and "Skyfall" seems to loved by everyone. She also is good at delivering an amazing album, then disappearing for years at a time. So be it, as long as she comes back
34Who is this popular musician?
One Direction is without compare the biggest boy band of the last 10-15 years, but like all boy bands, when they get older they want to try things on their own. It works for some, but not others. We thought this guy had a chance at fame, and he still does, but he may also end up being the Joey Fatone and not the Justin Timberlake.
35Who is this popular musician?
There will always be people playing reggae music. There were long before this hero of Jamaica started and they're still doing it today decades after his death, but this man will always be put on a pedestal and it's impossible to imagine anybody coming close to achieving the kind of fame and legendary status.