Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Figures of today: the pop singer

The "Figures of today" series starts with the pop singer. Why is the pop singer an important element of today's world? Because I said it was.

The pop singer is in the middle of a triangle. An equilateral triangle, whose initial apexes were: art, money and fame. Being a pop star was about doing art, getting rich and famous. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Jim Morisson, Bob Marley, Serge Gainsbourg, Kurt Cobain, the list is endless.

Let's have a look at what happened to the apexes nowadays:


Interestingly enough, all the people mentionned achieved the status of legend, which almost certainly is or will be denied to their contemporary followers, whoever they are and whatever they achieve.
Britney Spears won't become legend, neither will Eminem or Pete Doherty even if they decide to jump from the top of the Eiffel Tower on a sunday afternoon. The last who tried to turn into a legend that way was Michael Hutchence from INXS and nobody remembers him apart from those who do remember him.
So why is the right to become a legend denied to them? Not because of their (in)ability or their personnality (although I doubt Britney Spears has one), but because the world has ceased making legends.
A legend is a product of the times, and the post-war 20th century needed singing heroes to accompany the political, social and economical changes in western societies. Some artists were acknowledged to be different class, different material. Looking up on them was a normal thing to do.
Now these times are over. Not because there is nobody left to look up to, but because people no longer wish to see things that way. To keep it clear and simple, we don't want legends: we want the throne they used to sit on in order to obtain what Andy Warhol called your 15 minutes of glory. If the guy's dead, alright then. There's nothing we can do, he can remain legend (Elvis is safe, and so is John Lennon). But he is among the last of the Mohicans.


When Paul Rothchild, the future manager of the Doors, spotted the band on stage, he said: "what you do guys is above everything I've seen or heard. It's cabaret, it's rock n'roll, it's Berthold Brecht." Art, at the times, was a case of a few giving sight to the many.
Now that everyone can see or at least wears spectacles, it's a case of the many giving medals to the few. And how do you get a medal? By sharing the view of the many.


The successful pop singer still makes a fair amount of money, all right. But is he the only one around? To drive a limousine back in the sixties, you actually needed to be a corrupted polician or a rock star. Even in Kettering, Northamptonshire, floating thing called UK, you can see teenagers going to the night-club on saturday night in a limo.
Plus, the cake is thinner and the guests are more. As the famous rock singer Sebastian Stelzer from Wuppertal once said during an interview with the Daily Pornograph at the Peacock, "music isn't a good way to make money anymore."

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: