Making it big can be a huge challenge for upcoming musicians. The pressures of the industry and the resulting media onslaught can challenge the integrity of art but many musicians evolve during their careers as a result of this pressure.
Positive or negative, I believe any artist would be hard pressed not to feel pressured in some way by the avalanche of industry attention. To explore this I’ve chosen a handful of notable artists from the last decade who have slumped or soared in response to their fame.
An article titled ‘twerk for your money’ wouldn’t be complete without a look at Miley Cyrus. This post-princess is a great example of Disney Club gone bad, turning away from her sickly-sweet child acting career to face a controversial and exciting birth into pop adulthood. Her genre of music isn’t my cup of tea, but I still know all about her. You have to admit, the woman knows how to sell her music, and it’s by selling her persona.
A personal love of mine, Azealia Banks stormed onto the scene with her hit single 212. Clad in a big jumper and ripped shorts, Azealia sung c***t into the face of a geeky white dude, and I loved it. I must admit though, since she’s lost the jumpers to take a leaf out of Nicki Minaj’s book, my passion for her music has lost its lustre. I miss the confusion of her bad ass attitude and adorable pigtails.
My Chemical Romance
I may have indulged in a bit of My Chemical Romance in my youth, but they fell into obscurity for me until very recently when a notable image caught my eye. The pop punk quartet had rid themselves of black in favour of a clown pallet of garish primary colours. The band released their last ever single this year, saying goodbye to a career that has spanned over a decade. Their new pallet may be a celebration of their faded career or a move toward a brighter future, but either way it looks pretty brassy.
Kanye West was a mild mannered music machine when he launched his first album The College Dropout in 2004, and he’s come a long way since. He’s now not only a rapper, but a producer, director, fashion designer, entrepreneur and, lets face it, TV personality. I know more about Kanye West’s mislaid marble conference table than I do about his music, and judging by his shameless God-complex, I’m not missing out on much.
Though they were one of my favourite bands when I was younger, I now hardly recognise Muse. Their breakthrough album Black Holes and Revelations was an industrially epic experience, but as the years went on they passed beyond industrial rock and into a film-music making frenzy.
Matt Bellamy kicked things off by working on the soundtrack for spy thriller ‘International’, which paved the way for the band’s unfortunate contribution to the Twilight movies. I think I finally lost my passion for Muse after they released ‘Resistence’ which was a pseudo-epic memory of their former sound.
Kasabian blew me away with their self titled album in 2004. Their rich, bassy, industrial sound was unlike anything else around. The album stuck fresh in my mind until I heard their single ‘Fire’ five years later, and I barely recognised their music. Although a big hit, Fire was, for me, the point of no return for the band. Although they’ve promised that their soon-to-be-released as-yet-untitled album will be a massive ‘f**ck you to the critics’, I’m not holding much hope. The Kasabian ship has sailed for me, and it’ll take a lot for them to bring it back.
Kings of Leon
I don’t have to go into too much detail with Kings of Leon; the picture below is worth 1000 words. I loved the fact that Kings of Leon didn’t have to look like every other group of rock musicians, and I mourned the loss of their distinctive facial hair and sound.
I thought I’d round the list off with an uplifting case of musical evolution: David Bowie. After years of radio silence, Bowie struck back at the world with his 24th studio album The Next Day in 2013. It’s undoubtedly Bowie, but as we know from his long and rich musical career, he is able to shed preconceptions like a second skin, re-birthing into a new persona and sound with ease. The Bowie who released The Next Day is 66 years old, fresh, suave and as creative as he was at the very start of his career.