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.