Image Over Talent

There are many musicians nowadays who appear at the top of the charts each week with very little substance to thier actual music. Is the world beginning to care less about talent and more about what musicians look like?

Ultimate Guitar

What is an actual musician? If you watch shows like 'American Idol' or the original version over here in Britian 'Pop Idol' you are told that it is 'the whole package' not just the range and tone of your voice. If you listen to 'real' music (a term i find rather weak as i dont think pop, no matter how bad it is, can be considered as 'fake music') then you will probably not care about the image of the bands you choose to listen to, yet at the same time unaware that even you are a victim to the recent trend of image over talent.

As I sit here, my television volume down, a music channel is broadcasting Justin Timberlakes 'Senorita', i've heard it before, in fact i hear it about 20 times each day. Timberlake is a prime example of image over talent. Now, I consider myself quite diverse in terms of what music i choose to listen to, from Ben Folds Five to The Fugees, Beach Boys, Beatles and Brendon Benson to Bryan Adams etc, and I admit I did buy Justin Timberlakes album, more because of the fact i wanted to see if he was any good (i thought his first single was good, as i am a fan of Michael Jackson and the similarites were obvious in that track). However, after listening to the whole album, i was left thinking 'why on earth is this guy SO big?'. Is it his voice? Is it the over-bearing beats provided by Pharell Williams and co. that seem to appear unbearably on every track? Or is it the image? I think i will go with the latter.

Turn on your television and watch a music channel, there are an array of examples of artists who have so little substance to them and thier songs that you wonder how they are in the 'music biz'. Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul spring to my mind as examples with thier Dre-made song 'Breathe' which has proved a massive hit over here. Beyonce aswell, to this day has not released a song which can be rated as anything but crap. 50 Cent, I actually like, has released sub-par singles from his album (which contains alot of such sub-par songs) yet his profile seems to raise with each mention of 'G-Unit!!'.

The media (especially the newspapers) have an important role in the whole elevation of an artist, choosing whether this weeks new artist is hot or not, then either emblazoning thier pages with pictures of that person or totally ignoring them. Is the world so fickle that artists with talent (such as Damien Rice, Ben Harper and Tool) will never recieve public attention (okay, Tool dont want any, but the other two..) yet 'artists' such as Blu Cantrell can release one song, which she has barely much imput on, and have so much attention from the papers that they will probably be soon named after her?

It's not just pop music either. For the past few years image has played a HUGE part in punk music. Bands like Good Charlotte, New Found Glory, Bowling For Soup etc. have raised in popularity, with kids adorning 'hoodies' with the name of thier favourite band leading to new bands basically *having* to wear baggy shorts and make-up for them to recieve any attention whatsoever.

Good Charlotte for example have taken to moaning about how thier lives are tough, how thier childhoods were bad, and how its hard being 'different' yet are reaping the rewards in thier MTV-show paid mansions, and mingling with all the other MTV celebs. Yet fans lap it up, they slap on the make-up, they adopt an American accent (in Britian they do), they grab thier skateboard, and talk about how 'different' they are, and how other people are 'trendies' yet failing to realise they are NOT women, NOT American, CAN'T skate, JUST the same as everyone else, AND are following one of the biggest trends in music today.

Image will always play a major role in music. I can't see a 3 foot Mongolian midget playing the maraccas, with guitar skills better than Hendirx appearing on our screens in the near-future can you? Hell, id love too, but it wont happen. But when does it start getting too much? Do we have to wait until the most beautiful woman in the world just appears on screen for 3 minutes without any music, but titling herself as such, to come to the decision that talent needs to be recognised? I dont have the answers, so im just going to stop now. Thankyou for your time.

81 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It is all about the image for some kinds of music like pop, especially if you're a girl. I mean look at beyonce(don't know how to spell her name, not a fan) and Mrs. Spears , do you think they would have sold that many albums if they were 100 pounds heavier ? I think for guys its different cause no one cares if you have a beer belly or not. I believe in rock you don't have to have a perfect body cause we don't care about shit like that.
    ok... um... the majority of you people up there... u are all f*cking stupid... image matters quite a bit... whether or not you like the music... if the person has no image... they don't make it... simply put... but the person who has no talent... they don't last long when they get up there... believe it or not... most bands you all listen to are probably trends... just cause they're not a major trend doesn't mean sh*t... marilyn manson is one example of how image means quite a bit... his music... is shit... i still like it... but he really has no talent... sometimes he writes a few clever lines, and sometimes the music is somewhat original... but either way... it's all sh*t... believe it or not... now why is he so big you ask? cause of what he does on stage... he has no shame with what he does and causes alot of contraversy... he really doesn't have much talent... he just has an amazing show... image... in the case of good charloette... yeah... they aren't that talented... their guitars are simple... and their lyrics are often similar to thier normal stuff... but it's catchy, and they get big... yeah... they're still riding on a trend... but who gives a f*ck? they were labled well before young and the hopeless... now all everyone talks about is how they're untalented bastards... geeeeeze... who cares? yes... these pop punk bands are all up there because of a trend... but who cares? it's an evolving form of music... and if you say evolving music sux... well then your dissing jimi hendrix just as much... he was neeeeew... he was original! that set him off as different and got him big... he was evolving music... all these bands are evolving music... would you prefer that nothing ever changed and everything sounded exactly the same from beginning to end? 20 years from now the same things are being played! it would get boring... there for... music evolves... it gets better in some cases... in others... it gets worse... but things continue with the flow of popular movement... u don't have to like it... but don't b*tch about it so much... it's just annoying...
    and yeah i know my name is punkgirl, i got that part, i actualy like the power chord stuff but i do know there are other poeple out ther who have more talent
    i agree with coolguy. avril (and other artists) seem to think that if they fit in with the popular trend, they will become popular. sadly, this does work. if it was up to just their music, they probably wouldnt have made it. and also with bobisonthecob: it is stupid when punk-pop bands use about 3 power chords through the whole song. not much musical talent going on there
    perfect example of this-Avril Lavigne. This singer has loads of fans because she put up a fake punk/skater/guitar junkie image, and mixing in a bit of the old artistic creativity story. but in reality, she is just trying to SEEM punk, and her music is the same as any pop singer. she almost refused to skate in the complicated video because 'i suck!' and when requested to play guitar for one of her songs she said'i suck' and played for only ONE song. and yet people like her because they think they are rebels for being fans of a 'punk' singer. the forget that she has NO talent except a half decent voice which she uses for girly pop, not punk
    pop punk bands might put on a good stage show but only because they play the same 3 chords in every song, its hard to mess that up.
    Perfect example Third eye Blind, These guys are horrible live and not just every now and then Ive seen them on SNL, and Letterman, they cant hold a note it makes me think, just how many people have been ripped off buying their albums that have been electronically modified to sound great.
    What ever happen to the good ol days of MAMA CASS. Britney has nothing on her. lol
    oswald u like slipknot, so u dont have an opinion, u obviously have no taste.
    ill tell u guuys this much what really bothers me is this whole emo rock bs i hate i cant stand it and the image is fawkin gay as hell!!!i mean come on look at the way these guys wear there hair come on i think ur trying a lil too hard if ur gonna grow your hair out then do it dont half a$$ it and if ur gonna have a mohawk do it right not this american idol gap bs hair style !!
    oh and marilyn manson has an image, yet he can back it up as well. there you go wanker69. i mentioned him.
    i havent actually seen that bowling for soup video, but i saw them live and it was one of the better shows ive ever been to, fair enough, you dont like them, and yeah they are another one of these "pop-punk" bands that seem to be breeding at a rate faster than any human eye can see, but so what? they put on a good show, they can actually play their instruments properly, and in my opinion this sets them apart from the likes of good charlotte, so theyre the worst offenders because they have an image? big deal! they can back up their image with performance, so they dont play crazy solos, but then neither did greenday, and look how well they did. image is only bad when you cant back it up, and a lot of people need to remove their heads from up their arses and realise not all "pop-punk" bands are purely image.
    Image is also what keeps you rock guys on your side of the music spectrum, the only rap you see is puff daddy and 50 cent rapping about hoes and making money, theyre is so much better rap hidden behind this curtain, ie Outkast, The Roots. it probably works the other way for people that like rap and all they see is the simple plans of the rock world. i mean would you get into rock if the only band you say was simple plan prolly not.
    ***in A on this one man. pop music is the prime example of image over talent. its ppl like Marco of POD and and Fieldy of KoRn and the gorilla lookin dude from metallica(bassist i think) that show that their image isnt everything.
    punk lover, bowling for soup are one of the worst offenders. Im not moaning about todays music, i am merely looking at the problems within it. And "theyre funny as ****" ?!? And i suppose youre judging that on their videos with the oh-so original immitating a famous musician thing? Christ, that whole ripping off other musicians in your video thing is very tiring, yet many new pop-punk 'stars' just luuuurve to do it, because its a formula that works. And UG, Elephant is ***ing brilliant.
    yeah image is more important to MOST people... but did you ever consider that a lot of people out there like bands before they even know what they look like? i, for one, like most of the bands i hear before i even see what they look like. i listen to the radio and whatever i like i'll download online or whatever... and what's wrong with acting american in britan? u say it like there's something wrong with us. i think the english get a totally wrong perspective of America. all they know about is New Yorkers and Cowboys. Most of our country isn't like that so you know.
    dude, you listen to gay music..... try listening to something that isnt very famous for once you penis's. These idol people are puppets, but you can't deny they cannot sing, i mean it sucks they're fake people, but they can sing and dance
    you know what? one of these days soeone is gonna turn round and NOT moan about some aspect of todays music. theres only one question that comes to mind when i listen to something, and thats, does it sound good? and youre talking about image and you said about good charlotte-which i agree with, but bowling for soup? theyre all fat! hang on...maybe thats their image..whatever, they play good music and theyre funny as ***, good charlotte or pure image, image isnt a bad thing, but its gotta be teamed with talent.
    Totally agree with the article, image has overtook talent in many areas but an atleast an artist still has to have 'some' talent to be shown on TV. I also agree with what someone said earlier that image is inescapable. We are all victims to image, some more than others but we can't avoid judging people by what we see. Also i'd like to say that some musicians (if you want to call them that) are almost completely composed of image, mainly pop artists. Anyone who doesn't write there own lyrics is no better than a musical instrument, they may sound good if you know how to play them, give them some lyrics are music and you've got yourselves an artificial hit. Unfortunately thats how the music industry works. dammit
    ive never listened to a band for its image. that would be dumb. sure, i listen to bands who try to ride on an image, but its not why listen to them at all.
    the quality of the music a musician makes should be the most important factor of being a musician. it's not supposed to be just the image only. i mean, yeah you're pretty or handsome, but if your songs don't click to the listeners, then that would not make you a good musician...
    yeah...some musicians are just like that. they only care about their popularity. some musicians don't make good music. i mean, real musicians should be true and honest to themselves. good musicians are those people who make really good music, that comes from their heart and from what their intentions to the listeners. musicians should first and foremost think about how would the listeners respond to their music. those are really good musicians. musicians that could make people respond to their songs, and could make people relate on their written songs...
    I'd agree that image plays an important part to the success of a band. As my music teacher always said, half of what people hear, they see. But for those not privy to seeing who they talent is a must. The problem with this is peer pressure and current trends...not the artist themselves. Those with lesser talents and great image become popular due to too many people without an identity trying to find themselves by associating with the "cool ones" they see on MTV. They see all the flash and money L.A. can muster....and that seems much more appealing than their own meager existance. Many of the artists themselves are prone to this...the cookie cutter syndrome. But again personal taste, as long as you're being true to yourself( whatever that may or may not be ), will come out in whatever you do. And sticking to that has power...lose that and most people know if you're a poseur or not. So I think the best thing you can do is be you....those that copy others to me have no imagination or no idea who they are. Think for yourself, question authority.
    yea dude, ur right about images and stuff. but no matter how much YOU don't like a band, theres prolly a million other people who do. i saw some guy in here writing about how much he doesnt like slipknot, my friends FAVORITE, i mean,a ll time favorite band is slipknot. and he loves their music. he can play all of their songs and loves their lyrics. so just remember that, for every one person that doesn't like a band, there's prolly 30 who do.
    good article, but its nothing i didnt already know. i dont know what half the bands i love dress like.. it really IS about the music, and if some of you ***s know what im talking about, cheers..
    kryptonite22:its generally kids in the early teens who listen to avril, gc, linkin park, etc. its pop, its meant to occupy kids of that age. hey, i find that offensive. i am an "early teen" (i am fourteen) and i hate that s***.
    great article. image is far too important these days. i dont hear a song and wait to see a pic of the band before i say i like it. i couldnt care less. i am who i am, and most people i know are. its generally kids in the early teens who listen to avril, gc, linkin park, etc. its pop, its meant to occupy kids of that age. to be honest, i couldnt give a crap if busted have been to the year 3000, y didnt they stay there??
    thats quite cool. i mean, some people (as in, me) kinda like everything. what i don't get is why there is so much stress over what you dress and look like. i like all different types of music, from Slayer to Rancid to SOAD to Alkaline Trio to Spunge etc. i don't stop listening to them just because they start getting played on a major radio station. i haven't a f**in clue what they look like, or their names.
    i cant believe ppl here bother writing freakin essays in this comments section, so dumb... anyway not all rap sux, u gotta give some of it credit for being original and getting where they wanna on their own...and yeah i think we call all say that good charlotte are a really really bad "band" they suck miserably
    wat makes a musican to me is someone who sings or plays an instrument; a person who finds joy in writing music and playing. I c where ur going with image stuff but to thats a bunch of bull. good article
    EMINEM!!!! He is not a bad rapper..... ANd he is white!!!! That is pretty ironic.....
    great article... this hit the hammer... or the nail... or... I forgot how the saying goes! oh well, you get the point
    Slipknot is special because of there mask nad they dont PLAY bad. There singer just needs to shut up. He can sing great but he must stop screaming. I only listen to Slipknot because they are playing good. I mean the drums are great and guitars to.
    i got the blues
    Ever since pop and rap took over rock and metal in the 90's, it changed all the style and brought crap, but i believe that rock and metal like the darkness will take over again and things should be what they should be. OSWALD IF U COULD NAME ANY RAP OR POP ARTIST WHO COULD PLAY BETTER THAN HENDRIX I'LL BURN DOWN MY HOUSE AND SELL MY GUITAR FOR 10.
    hey oswald! you are out of your ***ing mind you crazy son of a bitch. Loved your article!
    yeh evolving music suks im 14 n listen 2 all the gd old stuff lyk hendrix The darkness rock they r the only decent nu band around
    I can think of two examples off the top of my head, Maynard James Keenan, who wears wigs and shit when photographed and rarely takes interviews. Fugazi too.
    Test Tube
    unless you know absolutely NOTHING about a band besided what they sound like, you are a victim of image. I'm not saying it's bad, and i know that if you put music before image, then that's fine - Frigginjerk And this is where MTV comes in. If you see a band all "punked" up, and that's the style of music you like aren't you more likely to listen to the song then you are to one that all you see is some whiny bitch moaning about how horrible her life is. This is why we need to illegalize pictures of the artist in question. Hell, if my band was famous, I would NEVER show up for photos or to go on TV (with the exceptions of awards) simply to avoid fans running up to me and telling me how great we are. As a matter of fact I'm surprised no one has done that yet.