With athletes, celebrities and fans from across the world gathered in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, we thought the time was right to celebrate the artists that have made their home countries most proud by winning gold (records) and making a lasting, global impact on the music world.
By using a combination of Billboard chart data, Nielsen SoundScan sales numbers, and a little secret editorial sauce of our own making, the Billboard.com team attempted to pinpoint the most important and influential musician(s) to emerge from 40 countries around the world. Some choices were no-brainers (who but the Beatles could represent England?), while other led to all-out office brawls (which is one reason why there are four artists representing the U.S.A.). The task was far from easy, but when the dust finally settled, we were left with a list that we stand firmly behind and (mostly) agree on.