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Music vs. Image


TheLizard
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It seems now that the image of a musical artist is just as or more important than their sound. Now I know that image has played a part in commercial music for a while (ex. Nice guy Beatles and Bad Boy Stones), but it really seems like the image is a main priority now, and that this is one of the main things that is hurting music. The record companies decide who fits the image they are looking for, and then try to make that person sound as good as they can, and then pay the radio stations to play their song enough that people like the music because they don't hear anything else. At what point in music history did the transition from music for music change to music for image take place?

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The whole image thing, IMO, started in the 50's, when sexy men like Elvis and others were made out to be rebels.

Since then, most any style of music started out as just music and an expression of self, but then evolved to an artifical image thing. Examples include psychedelic (hippie movement), hip hop, and grunge.

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Frank Sinatra had a very carefully crafted "bad boy" image in the 40's, Bing Crosby's "pretty boy" in the 30's, Al Jolson wore blackface makeup for effect in the 20's, opera has always relied on image for its music to work. Like I said before, image poked its nose into music as soon as money started to change hands; until then it was just a pleasant diversion. As it has been since the first person plucked a string and thought of something important to them that they wanted to immortalize, the purest form of music today is your voice enjoining something from the car speakers while travelling down the road and no one within earshot.

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All I know is that I've become so image-focused that I can't listen to anything by like Beethoven without half a dozen pictures of him to look at... :P

I'd say music videos might've increased the focus on image. But personally, I don't see idolized bands that look good very often.

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Ok, so the image has always been important. That makes since, because the way the world sees a band would affect the type of music played. Still, it seems to me that it's bigger than ever now. It overshadows the music.

It depends on what you're listening to I guess. I mean, if you're talking about the current state of pop, you can say that Britney Spears' image is more important than her music, but you couldn't say Sigur Ros' image is more important than their music, another contemporary group. The same goes for the past. You can say that Alice Cooper's image was more important than their music, but you can't say Tangerine Dream's image was more important than their music.

I don't think there's anything wrong with creating an image, as long as the music is good.

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I can see The Lizard's point, though. It seems like only in the last 20 years or so that bands are put together (Backstreet Boys, Spice Girls, N*Sync, New Edition) based on looks as well as talent. Before, it seemed like icing on the cake if you had talent AND happened to be good-looking, like Elvis or the Beatles

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Are you calling Ringo good looking?

Who are we kidding, at least here at songfacts people like the bands because of the music. And I also disagree with the fact that there is more image than music now in the past 20 years. To defend modern music, most rockn' roll bands, or blues bands etc. are pretty concentrated on the music.

Edited by Guest
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I have to disagree about Elvis' good looks being the icing on the cake, because IMO, his image was more important than his music back then. And I'm not talking about his looks, I'm talking about his skin color. If image wasn't such a big deal, the teens who listened to him would have probably liked people like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley equally. However, Elvis was more popular, and is often considered the founder of rock n roll, mostly because he's white, and in the 50's, a lot of white teens didn't really want to listen to a black artist. So there have always been bands where image was the most important aspect, but the image has changed over the years.

That didn't make much sense, and someone will probably take it the wrong way, but by then I'll have thought of a better way to put this, and I'll say "no no, what I really meant was..."

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I got it, Batman.

I agree with you guys, Elvis was "manufactured" to sell "black" music to white kids, but he was just one guy. In the last 20 years, it seems like there's more blatant use of looks to sell music to a certain demographic. Most likely it's because of music now being a visual and not just an audio experience.

Of course, I'm talking in general. I could trip over the members of Franz Ferdinand or Keane and not even know it. But I don't care what they look like, I just like the music.

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I say, who cares about image, as long as the music is good, eh? I mean, people can bash Alice Cooper all they want, and say their image was more important than their music, but frankly, I don't care, because I like their music.

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I say, who cares about image, as long as the music is good, eh? I mean, people can bash Alice Cooper all they want, and say their image was more important than their music, but frankly, I don't care, because I like their music.

You make a good point. Alice Cooper does rock.

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