The music industry is such an interesting business. Yes, the quality of the music is important, but the image of the artist is also so important. Let’s look back at some artist images that were such a part of their whole package, that there’s no denying it helped them become mega-stars.
-The Rolling Stones. They were badass. They were tough. They were kinda dirtbags with a lot of talent and grit. Back in the day, they stood out from the pretty and melodic bands of the 60s as guys who made music that almost didn’t seem to care if it was good or not.
-The Bee Gees. They were slick, polished, perfect with beautiful harmonies and at least one of them had beautiful hair. They were perfect for their era and no other band of their period was anything like the Bee Gees.
-Micheal Jackson. He was handsome (at least when he was young) Ridiculously talented. And his videos (Thriller, Beat It, Black or White, Etc.) were the best in the world. He was so big that all-white MTV couldn’t deny him anymore and he became the first black artist to be played on the channel. Did his glove, pet monkey and sequined costumes have anything to do with his music? No, but they somehow made him more surreal and incredible.
-Madonna. The first woman to overtly use sex to boost her image. You may be too young to remember but before Madonna, there were artists who were sexy, but none were as sexual as Madonna. That image along with her catchy-as-f**k songs put her on top in the 80s. NOTE: Once Madonna got older and couldn’t pull of the “sexual” persona anymore, she very quickly lost a huge part of her appeal and pretty much went away.
Backstreet Boys: Well, let’s see. They had a boy for every girl’s taste. Nick was the cute one. Kevin was the mature one. Howie was the accessible one. AJ was the “Bad Boy.” And Brian was the sweetheart. Were they really that way? Probably not, cuz I think Nick was way more of a bad-ass than AJ but hey, whatever works, right?
Britney vs Avril. Britney was Madonna reinvented 15 years later. Sexual, but so young that it broke new barriers. Avril appealed to girls who didn’t want to be sexual, they wanted to be real and tough. (I’ve met Avril a few times and she is about the furthest thing from “tough” that you can imagine)
Miley: She’s making a mistake by just being odd. Odd is only attractive and relatable for so long, then it just becomes annoying. I think Miley sticking out her tongue, smoking weed on stage to show how edgy she is, and riding plastic penises on stage has backfired for her because, well, where can a smart, safe woman (and I think she is) go after that?
Now we have Ariana Grande, Camilla Cabello and Dua Lipa. All very attractive and sexy.
The music world had an opening for someone like Billie Eilish and she’s filled it so well. She’s not happy, she’s moody and her songs and lyrics are dark. She doesn’t dress to impress anyone but herself. Fans love this departure from the Ariana, Camilla, etc. (Oh, and they love Olivia Rodrigo too, cuz she seems so normal!)
But is it just too coincidental that the music industry found an unknown, inexperienced artist who had basically one song and turned her into a mega-star so quickly? Or maybe another way to put it, if there had been no real Billie Eilish, would the industry have created her?
Check out this article for a deeper dive into why Billie Eilish is very likely a contrived artist who’s really nothing like the character she plays.
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