Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Pop Idols, Rock Gods and Saints.

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There is a need in humans to create a higher being to look up to; a distant untouchable identity, which can be adored, and worshipped - at a safe distance. Followers of a religion are called devout; followers of a football club are called supporters; followers of a music personality are called fans.

The word ‘fan’ is derived from the Latin fanaticus meaning "insanely but divinely inspired", which emphasizes the almost religious fervour many devotees have for their ‘chosen’ artist. This adoration can vary from a simple crush to the deluded belief that they have a "connection" with the star (or even that they "are" the star), and in its most drastic state can lead to Celebrity Worship Syndrome. I’m sure most of us who love music have at some stage imagined ourselves to be our favourite musical flavour of the year- I certainly did! Using a broomstick as a mike, or make-believe it was a guitar to an Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page solo!! I also lived under the belief, similar to most fans, that my rock and roll heroes were the result of a virgin birth; that they had magically appeared on this earth already masters of their chosen instrument. Groups like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and the Moody Blues- were my rock gods to be worshipped. They could do no wrong, and every song they recorded was a gospel, so along with the many, I pre-ordered my albums, before they had even been pressed! There were even those who professed their faith by graffiti; in the 70’s the words “Eric Clapton is God!” could be read on London’s city walls.

But the time came when I realized I was living my life through the dreams of others. A time when I became aware that the Rolling Stone album I had just bought was not to my liking and that Eric Clapton was not God! This was about the same time when girls stopped screaming and wetting their knickers at concerts, and you could actually hear how bad some of the bands were playing. Something had to be done to keep the mystic illusion present, so they brightened up the altar with lights and effects, which I have to admit accented many a guitar solo and vocals. The concerts became bigger, playing to audiences of thousands in arenas and large concert halls. Music stars, whose early dream was to make a million or so, were now becoming multi-millionaires and in some cases billionaires. Pete Townshend stopped smashing his guitars, David Bowie deserted Ziggy Stardust and Pink Floyd built a wall. Gradually the distance between the artistes and their fans widened. But the faithful continued to follow, not only that but their numbers grew from thousands to millions- fans became big business; a community to sell your merchandising to.

I am no longer a fan. I listen to a song because I like it- I put more importance on the song and not the singer. I love music for music’s sake. And if my taste does not reach the standard, or is not to the liking of another music lover, I couldn’t give a damn. Having said that, I do not underestimate the necessity of a strong fan base to an artist’s success, especially today with decreasing CD sales, and the swarms of  musicians and singers trying to be the next big thing. You may not like a Justin Bieber, or a Lady Gaga, but when it comes down to it they are doing what all pop idols have done through the years, building up a following. It has never been harder to make your mark on the music world as it is today; everyone is hunting for fans, and they are harder to catch. They have become the Saints to an artiste’s prayer.






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