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Friday, April 18, 2014

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Do Present Day Music Artists Lack The Caliber of Past Performers?

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There seems to be a gap in the musical industry at this time. It seems that only the most extremes of music have survived this very fickle industry. For example, if you turn the radio on, what you'll hear are extremes and styles of music. On one station you'll hear just talk. On another station you'll hear rapping, with words of violent underscores. On another station you'll hear classical music. On another station you'll hear someone singing about whiskey and forgetting their pain. On yet another station you'll hear what's left of what we used to call, "pop music."

The change in pop music, and what may be lacking, is what I would like to address at this time. It seems there used to be a larger variety of pop music available when listening to pop music stations. However, at this time it has decreased to a narrow amount where one singer sounds like much like the last singer. There is not many songs available to hear of Celine Dion. One's singer that has managed to stay on top consistently is Christina Aguilera.

One could not argue with the fact that twenty years ago popular music was much different than today. And I'm not sure it could be argued that it is getting better all the time. Just about ten years ago Elton John had hit songs from the movie The Lion King, Celine Dion had a hit song from the movie Titanic.

The eighties and nineties had many hit songs from movies, including CaddyShack, Officer and a Gentleman, Dirty Dancing, Good Morning Vietnam, Moonstruck, and La Bamba. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that there are not many hit songs or hit song soundtracks from popular movies these days. Hollywood has attempted to do this but has not reached the peak it once achieved.

Going back farther in time, one could trace pop music back to the roots of rock-and-roll itself. Elvis Presley carved out a whole new trend in music. The Beatles followed with great songs and performances that changed the music world. The Beatles seemed to go through several stages and reflected it in their music.

When the Beatles first came to America, they recorded songs of love with lollipop lyrics. Following this, they let their hair grow out, and recorded music with more convoluted meaning, which seemed to question the rulers and authority of the times. When the Beatles finally broke up, brand-new music trends evolved with the music of Paul McCartney and Wings, and John Lennon's solo work.

Elvis started out as the Hillbilly Cat, recording for Sun Records. His Southern drawl was very prominent and his hair was a dirty blond color. Then he entered into the era where he died his hair black, completed a stint in the Army and had a whole new career in movies. This was the "movie Elvis." Then, Elvis entered into his musical comeback phase. He recorded music and performed live in Las Vegas during this time. The final stage was his jump suit stage, sometimes called the last days of Elvis Presley. This was the time during which, although he still sounded good vocally, he appeared overweight and bloated.

Let's change styles right now in music and turn to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were part of the Rat Pack. They performed in Las Vegas, recorded records, and made several movies. Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra certainly reflected unique talent, good voices, and wonderful music that we have to enjoy.

However, who is the next big talent we follow with a fine-tooth comb, from beginning to end? Who is the next Elvis Presley, Beatles, Dean Martin, or Frank Sinatra?

There is certainly a gap in popular music today. Sure, you can find many popular artists with popular songs. However, they all lack that certain uniqueness in caliber of performers of days passed. Maybe it's a lack of charisma. Maybe it's the lack of mystery. I don't know.

However, shows like American Idol are certainly trying to recapture that with what they are doing. American Idol is trying to discover talent that could be turned into another Elvis Presley or someone who will change music and be remembered forever.

Although they have discovered many unique and great talents, if you ask Simon Cowell or Randy Jackson, I believe they would tell you they have not found talent that has achieved what they originally intended.

Yes, they have found great talent. The talent they have discovered certainly lacks nothing on the vocal side of things. However, perhaps it is something in the personality of the performer that's missing that has not launched them to the status of Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Dean Martin, Jim Morrison, or Kurt Cobain.

Perhaps it is something these legendary artists possessed that was mysterious and unknown to us. There is definitely something missing. American Idol, along with many other music labels, are certainly still looking for someone to turn the music industry upside down.

I don't know, perhaps that won't ever happen again.

Perhaps the performers that managed to change music forever, like Elvis, the Beatles, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, are of our history and days past. I hope not.

Jonathon Bates is a reporter and researcher of past myths and legends of Rock and Roll, and publisher for various news programs and publications. His weekly column can be read at http://www.searchforelvis.com.

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