cult of celebrity
In Music Society today, the majority of artists rank popularity, fashion and money above the importance of their music.
Everyday, more and more artists are getting discovered and welcomed into the music business. Millions of people around the world only dream of a lifestyle similar to stars like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and One Direction; which includes doing the thing they love every single day and getting paid extreme amounts for it.
To get their music out there, undiscovered artists will promote themselves via the internet, through friends and family, through street busking and some will even apply to go on televised shows like the X-Factor to get their musical name out there.
When you take a deeper look into the lifestyle and actions of some of the highest paid music artists of this time, I wouldn't class them as suitable role models for up and coming artists.
For example, Miley Cyrus. From 2006, Miley starred in a child's musical comedy "Hannah Montana" which was previewed on 'Disney Channel'. Until 2012, Miley was contracted to Disney Channel and due to her role as an innocent, funny, "rock-chick" figure, young girls all over the world looked up to her.
When Mileys contract ran out, RCA Records signed her again and her innocent "rock-chick" personality was forgotten.
She began by cutting her iconic long hair off and bleaching it, and then over time more and more reckless acts kept popping up. The outfits got skimpier and she began drinking, doing drugs and writing songs about it. This came to quite a shock for the children who looked up to her as a role model.
If you compare her actions to musicians in the 70's, they are quite similar. The reckless and rebellious behaviour that artists conveyed started spiralling out of control in 1977, which I will go into more in my next article.
One of the hardest hitting industries in the music business are televised shows like the X-Factor. These include thousands among thousands of people all over the country, singing solo or in a group to 4 celebrities who have already made a lifestyle in the music business.
Over the space of a few months, the 10's of thousands of "artists" are whittled down to just one who will win £1,000,000 and a recording contract. When watching the show, audiences at home vote for their favourite act to be put through to the final.
In 2013, a good friend of mine, Luke Friend, entered the competition to pursue his dream of playing acoustic guitar and singing in front of a big crowd. Out of the 30,000 people who entered the competition last year, he came out at 3rd place.
Knowing him personally before he entered the show, you could tell that he had to adapt to the fame and fortune lifestyle week after week.
I believe that Luke is one of the few people who has fame and fortune and popularity for his talents, but doesn't take it for granted. He worked hard for the fame he has now and he has proven to everyone that he could do it. I believe that he is a good role model for artists who do want to make music for a living, as he was in their shoes once.
I think people thrive to watch celebrities build up such a lifestyle with fans and money, but get a sensation when they fall back down again.
In June 2011, sensational pop singer Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning. Since 2003, she had been signed to major record labels Island, Lioness, Universal Republic and Republic. She became a global chart topping superstar and won 3 Brit Awards, 6 Grammy Awards and 2 NME Awards among many others. She collaborated with stars such as Marvin Gaye and Paul Weller and she inspired many by her charity work and her determination to do well.
Due to Winehouses' love life being carefully watched by the media. Her audience and fans watched as things began to degrade. When Amy admitted to alcohol and drug abuse, the media started picking away at her for information which started rumours and made her condition a lot worse.
I'm not trying to say that the media killed Amy Winehouse or Mileys change in lifestyle made her the way she is, but it sure doesnt help. The life and well-being of a celebrity is watched upon carefully by the general public and nothing seems to be kept a secret anymore. In Africa, musicians are widely admired and respected. Their fans want nothing but the best for them, it's not seen as a game like it is in western societies.
celebrities in the 70's
Evolving from the 60's which was the time of the Beatles, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and more, the 70's was the rise of Punk fashion and music in the UK and the US.
Teenagers and musicians rebelled against the "pretty-boy" rock music of the 60's and turned it into something heavier and more aggressive. Along with this, the fashion of the time changed and the moral views of musicians everywhere.
An iconic band from the 70's who indulged in a typical "rock 'n' roll" lifestyle would be The Runaways, pictured above. Joan Jett, Micki Steele, Sandy West and Cherie Currie built the band up from the ground and was instantly signed as they were one of the only 'all girl punk bands' of that time.
Not only were they seen as 'hard-rocking' musicians, but their audience knew a lot about their personal life as well.
Soon after the bands first LP release, Currie and Jett got heavily into drugs and alcohol, not mentioning homosexual acts between the two of them.
Similarly to the 21st century, audiences were shocked at how quickly fame changed the girls' personalities. Their reckless behaviour is imitated by stars like Miley Cyrus.
Another iconic punk band of the 70's would be the Sex Pistols. Releasing 4 singles and one studio album in their 2 year career, the Pistols were one of the largest punk bands of the time.
The lyrics written by the bands singer, John Lydon, were described as "touching and scary, which makes you feel uncomfortable". The bands songs conveyed their opinions of politics and society harshly. "It almost intimidated you to like them, they were scary and opinionated" said Pete Townshend of The Who. Their music was something which brought people of the same opinion together to rebel against people with opposing opinions. The Sex Pistols broke up after being dropped from their record deal in 1979, due to major heroin intake during live shows.
Overall, I can tell where the rebellious, careless actions celebrities are taking has originated from. In the 70's bands like the Runaways and the Sex Pistols pushed their lifestyle and opinions in the medias' face to try and gain themselves more popularity. But now the tables have turned and the media can't be more up in our celebrities faces'.
celebrities in non-western societies
The way celebrities are treated in Non-Western societies are completely different to western societies and the 70's.
An example of a highly respected duo, would be Amadou and Mariam. Both being blind since an early age and enrolling at Bamako's Institute for the Young Blind, they soon fell in love and got married.
Amadou was the director of the Institutes musical department and Mariam was a singer in the orchestra. When joining together to produce music, they wanted to inspire other disabled people, and people in general, to achieve their dreams even when things try to hold you back.
Normally, in Africa, blind people were condemned to a life on the streets begging, so to see a couple rise above that to inspire others was new and exciting.
Compared to the audience in western societies, Amadou and Mariams' fans backed them in everything they did. There was no criticism aimed at them and due to that, they are still doing what they love today and helping other people whilst doing that.
Miriam Makeba, another famous African singer, used her talent to help others.
Being born into a poor family of the Swazi tribes, she was discriminated against in every way possible during her childhood. Due to this, she moved to America for a few years and became a well known singer. When she tried to return home to her family, her citizenship was cancelled and she had to stay in America. She joined millions of other African citizen and protested to re-gain their independence.
Her music described exactly what the people were going through in that time, and she became "The Voice of Africa".
She sang for justice and humanity until the last minute of her life, when she collapsed and passed away, on stage, during a concert in Italy.
With her audiences back-up, she helped African citizens regain their independence. Her albums are still treasured and her fans did nothing but support her and her views.
Comparing the relationship between the celebrities and the fans in Western Societies and Non-Western Societies, it is easy to see the difference.
In the UK and the US, musicians will focus on how much money can be made from their quirky, reckless actions. They make an effort to get as much popularity as they can, whether that's by wearing skimpy outfits, drinking too much alcohol or doing drugs.
In South Africa, Miriam Makeba and Amadou and Mairam didn't care about the fame or the money, they wanted to help other people, using their talents. Due to this, their fans supported them and respected them as people.
I believe that the music business in Non-Western societies is healthier and isn't played like a competition.