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Title: Pop icon  
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Subject: Christina Aguilera, Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story, Teen pop, Popular culture, Spice Boys (footballers)
Collection: Popular Culture
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Pop icon

Musical artists from Mozart to Madonna have been credited as pop icons for their contributions to music.

A pop icon is a celebrity, character, or object whose exposure in pop culture constitutes a defining characteristic of a given society or era. The categorization is usually associated with elements such as longevity, ubiquity, and distinction. Moreover, "pop icon" status is distinguishable from other kinds of notoriety outside of popular culture, such as with historic figures. Some historic figures are recognized as having reached "pop icon" status during their era, and such status may continue into the present. Pop icons of previous eras include Benjamin Franklin[1] and Mozart.[2]


  • Longevity 1
  • Ubiquity 2
  • Distinction 3
  • Examples 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8


Usually, the pop icon status of a celebrity is contingent upon longevity of notoriety.[3][4] This is in contrast to cult icons, whose notoriety or recognition may be limited to a specific subculture. Some pop icons have left a lasting and indelible mark in the area of their career, and then gone on to attain a lasting place of recognition in society at large.[5]


A common element of pop icon status is the ubiquity of imagery and allusions to the iconic figure.[note 1] It is common for the figure to be recognized and even celebrated in areas outside the original source of celebrity status.[note 2] An example of this is Albert Einstein, a physicist whose image and legacy have been represented in comic strips, T-shirts, greeting cards and many other contexts.[6]


Often pop icon status implies distinguished association with a societal ideal or archetype. It is not uncommon for iconic figures to have a nickname or sobriquet that is used to emphasize this association. Sometimes the very name of such individuals is even used as a synonym for common words or ideas.

Some pop icons, such as Mickey Mouse,[7] Big Bird, Winnie the Pooh, Bugs Bunny,[7] Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Harry Potter,[8] the Simpsons,[7] and even Sherlock Holmes are fictional characters. Even inanimate objects have been recognized as pop icons.[9][10][11]

Some figures attain transitory or context-specific "pop icon" status for particular events that captivate public attention, such as in the case of the O.J. Simpson trial.[12]


See also


  1. ^ Kaku,[6] p. 11
  2. ^ See e.g., Kaku,[6] Chaplin,[1] et al.


  1. ^ a b Chaplin, Joyce (2006). The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius. Basic Books.  
  2. ^ Nettl, Bruno (1995). Heartland Excursions: Ethnomusicological Reflections on Schools of Music. University of Illinois Press.  
  3. ^ Dearborn, Mary V. (December 9, 1999). Mailer: A Biography. Houghton Mifflin Books.  
  4. ^ Gottesman, Ronald; Brown, Richard Maxwell, eds. (1999). Violence in America: An Encyclopedia. Simon and Schuster.  
  5. ^ Ratcliff, Ben (November 6, 2002). The New York Times Essential Library: Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings. Times Books.  
  6. ^ a b c  
  7. ^ a b c d e f McNary, Dave. "Icons of the century". ( 
  8. ^ a b c d Schmidt, Robert (February 24, 2004). "The 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons". Blue Corn Comics website. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  9. ^ Vail, Mark (April 1, 2002). The Hammond Organ: Beauty in the B (2nd ed.).  
  10. ^ Sheff, David (April 27, 1993). Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children.  
  11. ^ "The Liberty Bell: From Obscurity to Icon". Teaching with Historic Places. National Park Service. October 16, 2006. 
  12. ^  
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "'"Beckham 'greatest pop icon of all time. Thomas Crosbie Media. November 12, 2003. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  14. ^ "The World". Time. April 18, 2013. 
  15. ^ Robinson, Kat (19 December 2012). "Happy birthday, Christina Aguilera: The pop icon turns 32!". Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  16. ^ "Christina Aguilera Collections". Microsoft. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Kim, Esther (March 7, 2011). "Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera in 2011". Seventeen.
  18. ^ Jules-Rosette, Bennetta (2007). Josephine Baker in Art and Life: The Icon and the Image.  
  19. ^ a b "'"Beatles named 'icons of century. BBC News (BBC). October 16, 2005. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  20. ^ a b c Danesi, Marcel (2007). Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 112–113.  
  21. ^ "Bee Gees To Be Named BMI Icons at 55th Annual Pop Awards". Broadcast Music, Inc. March 27, 2007. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "All-Time 100 Fashion Icons". Time. April 2, 2012. 
  25. ^ GuhaRohin (August 28, 2009). "Madonna, Mariah Carey, & Whitney Houston: Why Queens of Pop Will Flop". BlackBook Media.
  26. ^ Everett, Cristina (January 27, 2012). "Cher is not dead: Pop icon falls victim to Twitter death hoax that fools many including Kim Kardashian, Patti Stanger".  
  27. ^
  28. ^ The Canadian Press (August 17, 2008). "Pop icon Celine Dion wows her Canadian fans". CTV News. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  29. ^ Elle UK. """Donatella Versace: "Lady Gaga is a pop icon. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Janet Jackson Music News". Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  33. ^ a b c Agencies // MED.B. (June 26, 2009). Pop icon" Michael Jackson dead at 50""". ECHOROUK Online. Retrieved February 8, 2010. 
  34. ^ Pareles, Jon; Sisario, Ben; Stelter, Brian; Barnes, Brooks (June 25, 2009). "Michael Jackson, 50, Is Dead". Arts Beat ( 
  35. ^ "
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ Tagliaferro, Linda (March 2000). Bruce Lee. Lerner Publications.  
  40. ^ The Steel Butterfly Still Soars. The New York Times. October 6, 2012.
  41. ^
  42. ^ =
  43. ^ a b "Streisand, Minnelli and Garland: Pop Icons, Gay History". Huffington Post. June 26, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Jay-Z's Roc Nation Signs Deal With Pop Singer Kylie Minogue". 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  45. ^ Grow, Kory (November 24, 2013). "Rihanna Wins First-Ever 'Icon Award' at American Music Awards".  
  46. ^ Rothman, Michael (April 21, 2015). "Rihanna Serves as Bridesmaid for Her Assistant".  
  47. ^ Hardwick, Jack (April 4, 2015). "Rihanna to debut new single American Oxygen tonight at March Madness festival".  
  48. ^ Mokoena, Tshepo (July 2, 2015). "Ten reasons why Rihanna has become the 21st century's ultimate pop star".  
  49. ^ =
  50. ^ =
  51. ^ ="
  52. ^ "Global Pop Icon Britney Spears To Join L.A. Reid And Simon Cowell On "The X Factor" Judges’ Panel | The Official Rca Records Site". 2012-05-16. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  53. ^ [3]
  54. ^ [4]
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^ "Lynda realiza su internacionalización" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2014-11-12. 
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ D'Addario, Daniel. (2012). Retrospective Body of Work: Screen Siren Raquel Welch Gets Her Lincoln Center Retrospective. Retrieved April 13, 2015.

Further reading

  • Danesi, Marcel (2007). Popular Culture: Introductory Perspectives. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 112–115.  
  • Cullen, Jim, ed (2001). Popular Culture in American History. UK: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-21958-7.
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