Shawn Mendes, Fetty Wap & More on Their Favorite Future-Facing Songs and Albums

Remie Geoffroi


From an impending hologram renaissance to crowd surfing from your couch, Billboard's Future of Music feature covers the latest cutting-edge technology from AI to VR. Below, artists from Fetty Wap to Shawn Mendes look back on the songs and albums they remember fondly for being future-facing.

"Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak. It's not explicitly about the future in a lyrical way, but sonically you can feel Kanye consciously trying to project his music into the future, to make music that sounds like what music would sound like 5-10 years from when he was making it. And if you listen to the trends in hip-hop and pop now, he was pretty on point."
—Jeremy Lloyd of Marian Hill

Next Now: The Future of Music

“Clint Mansell’s score for the 2015 film High-Rise guides you through this odd futuristic setting that’s simultaneously a vision of the past and future. The anarchy and eeriness of the drama is all underpinned by his music, which both chills and excites me.”
—Grace Chatto of Clean Bandit

“When I was a kid, the entire Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band record felt futuristic to me. I actually did a cover just for fun of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” and that song is insane. Having to actually sing those lyrics, I was like, 'What the fuck?' Imagine being the biggest band in the world, putting out this abstract circus song that essentially connects to nothing.”
K. Flay

“Gillian Welch’s ‘Everything Is Free’ came out in in 2001 when Napster was the major internet obstacle to musicians getting paid. It reminds the listener that a writer will always have their songs, no matter if anyone hears them. It's definitely still a relevant topic. I often think about what I would do if I couldn't make a living on record sales: I would still write and play at home, and I’d carve out another life for myself.”
Sharon Van Etten
“For me, Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak felt futuristic. It was the first hip-hop album I heard blending R&B melodies with rap. He used Auto-Tune and electronic sounds to start a new wave of music.”
Fetty Wap

“Brandy’s Full Moon was sonically just so impressive; it sounded like the future of R&B. It was true to a certain sound while also feeling so large at the same time.”
Keke Palmer

“My journey with Michael Brun began with our vision for Artists for Peace and Justice supporting Haitian needs, but it grew into a brotherhood of creativity and the clear sounds and progress of tomorrow's music. The future of music is evident in all of his music --  it has soul of the past, today's rhythm, but tomorrow’s sounds. ‘Gaya’ is one of my favorite songs.”
“One of my favorite albums of last year was Chance the Rapper’s ­Coloring Book. It helped define the future of ­music in so many ways, both musically and ­commercially.”
Shawn Mendes 

"Kanye West's The Life of Pablo. There is such an art to true and authentic expression of self. When I listen to this album, I feel that the format of completely free and unfiltered musical expression will be the future."
Bishop Briggs
“Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' In The Wind.' It's a plea for a more empathetic society, and I feel like this song will always be a guiding light for a better future."
James Hersey
“Armand Van Helden's 2 Future 4 U. Through all of dance music’s mutations AVH has always been relevant, always top of his game, and he’ll always be one of the true heroes of house."
Jonas Blue

A version of this article originally appeared in the March 18 issue of Billboard.


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