Music literally touches our lives every single day, in almost every way imaginable. If you’ve been to the shop to pick up that extra packet of chocolate buttons (your secret is safe with me), I can guarantee there was some sort of tune playing in the background – you might have even driven there with the radio on and your fav legends came on. If you’re watching television, the adverts are filled with different bops and bangers, and don’t even get me started on what we’re blasted with if we want a decent night out! So, if you think about it, there’s so much music and melody everywhere, that it must be getting harder and harder to produce something new, right? Well, that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about lately, so I thought we could delve in together; are legends a thing of the past?.
Now, if it is getting harder to create new and interesting ideas in music, then surely there’s nothing to remember all these new artists by? Given the controversies surrounding our older, more seasoned musicians, perhaps it’s time for us to realise that music legends really could be a thing of the past. What was the last mind-blowing thing you can remember a recent artist doing? And I’m not talking about who licked what donut, or when the latest mic-drop was… No, I’m talking about something that will be remembered in decades; something that truly changed the face of the music industry.
What Makes a Legend?
Personally, I think that there are so many facets of what makes an artist a legend. So, it’s not just about that one dress, or that one paparazzi who felt the warm hand of a pissed-off celebrity. It’s a combination of fashion, actions, social issues, and the most important: longevity. I don’t know how many musicians we’ve seen in the past decade that have popped up with one song, only to be stopped dead in their tracks when they try to produce another. As a society, we just aren’t as open to latching to a single artist as we once were, and instead would rather latch to a specific song until the next one comes along (that wasn’t an intentional rhyme, but when life gives you melody)!
In fact, that very lack of longevity denies musicians the right to fully create their iconic, legendary moments, and thus, a star is seemingly never born. To totally evoke legend-ism (if it wasn’t a word before, it is now), one must incorporate everything they possibly can, and whereas previously there was a much lengthier time-period to do so, nowadays you’ve got about a month before the next big thing arrives. This leaves artists with a much shorter space of time to become a legend similar to the ones we know today; all of which incorporated their own fashion, controversial actions, and social statements. So, let’s look at a few!
Some Familiar Faces:
There are so many legends to list, from Prince, to Elton John and so many more, but I think it would be an injustice to talk about music legends and not kick things off with David Bowie, who single-handedly destroyed gender. Let’s be real, there are so many things that we, as a society, have to thank Bowie for; the controversial outfits, paired with the non-conforming makeup, and ever-growing incorporation of both the masculine and the feminine have formed the basis for many different variations of expression in our modern day. If you weren’t aware before now, the clothes you’re wearing reading this, can most likely be traced back to some sort of Bowie-esque lineage.
His redefinition of what it means to be who you want allowed his progression through stardom, culminating in the definition of ‘legend’. In fact, the icon once said ‘I have done just about everything that it’s possible to do.’ Now guys, I don’t know about you, but that pretty much says it all; if Bowie hasn’t done it, then it doesn’t really need doing. And if you want proof, head over to davidbowie.com to fill your boots!
If this isn’t enough to make you think about what there is left to do, let’s look at someone very close to my own heart. So controversial were her actions that the video for one of her most famous songs was actually banned from MTV for a period of time. The provocative nature (straddling a cannon wasn’t normal in the eighties) and daring outfits, showed that people can and should be able to do exactly what they want. Of course, we’re talking about Cher and ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’.
The actress and singer who has had a number one hit in every decade since the sixties said to the New York Post: ‘You pave the way for everyone to do whatever it is they want. I got in trouble for everything I wore, and now you can pretty much wear anything.’ Echoing Bowie’s own thoughts, it’s becoming clearer that everything has seemingly been done, and now it’s just about carrying the torch that was lit by the greats that came previously.
And finally, another worthy mention is someone I couldn’t possibly leave out: Madonna. Come on guys, if the ‘Like a Prayer’ video didn’t give you religious realness then you really weren’t watching properly, and this was something that definitely caused a massive stir back in the day. It is arguable that videos like this made more recent productions such as Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’ far more acceptable (and what an amazing and thought-provoking video we got from this – go check it out)!
Honestly, Madonna has done a hell of a lot to stir things up in the past, and I live for it.
Where We’re At:
Okay, after reading through some of these I’m sure you’ve come to the same conclusion that I have by now; it would be tremendously difficult to actually establish oneself as anything more than just a popstar of the time. Unless you find something completely out of this world that has truly never been done before, the musicians of today are going to struggle to be remembered in years to come. I mean, unless you’re Lady Gaga with that meat dress (that will stay with us for a while), then you’re going to really struggle.
Nowadays, the internet allows people to see exactly what they want, when they want to see it. Nothing shocks anymore, and without the shock factor there really isn’t anything one can do to solidify their place in history. One could even argue that fame nowadays is cheap; the latest social media star is oftentimes our newest celebrity (who dies out almost as quickly as they blew up). Years ago, the legends we have come to love, worked year upon year for their fame, with many setbacks along the way… Have we lost this work ethic?
Well guys, I guess what I’m trying to say is that music legends really are a thing of the past. There isn’t anything that hasn’t been conquered now; what was such a trailblazer decades ago would barely make the album nowadays, and it’s just far too difficult to remain a star. Perhaps it’s time to accept that the legends we have today, are the only legends we will ever have, and just start enjoying our artists here and now. Who knows how long they’ll be around?