Where are the charismatic idols in modern rock n roll? Perhaps I am jaded. Maybe spoiled by more fertile times, but lately I've been having a hard time locating interesting people to idolize. I don't mean to sound pretentious as I am a front person myself who understands the difficulty in aspiring to the standards of “the greats”, but in general why are we missing these important characters in rock n roll?
Are they in hip hop? Are they in dance music? I dabble in both, but I haven't come across a markedly charismatic front person in either of those worlds (Alice Glass of Crystal Castles is close). I can only speak specifically about the world I am involved in and know, which is rock and itds sub genres.
When I say charismatic, I mean an artist along the lines of say a David Bowie, Siouxsie Sioux, Mick Jagger, etc.. Is it simply too much to ask? It would seem there are more musical acts than ever before, yet there seems to be an ever growing homogenization of sound and image that is based on 3rd generation/watered-down copies of these aforementioned archetypes. This is the gentrification of the music community. It's Urban Outfitters in the auditory ghetto.
That is not to say that there aren't very talented people currently existing in the music world. I like and listen to many modern artists, but I feel we are lacking a sense of ambition and creative edge that should exist, particularly amongst our front people. Is it just a lull in the action? I doubt it. It could have something to do with how integral the internet has become to the modern musician. Maybe this has caused a switch in focus for a musician, who has seemingly gone from entertainer to digital file sales person who is forced to wear many hats.
In the era of Bowie, Siouxsie and The Rolling Stones, live presentation was hugely important to creating the band's image and appeal to their fans. Maybe this lead to talented people developing stage personas that would make an impression. There are countless other examples of this such as Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop etc, yet none from the modern era. Actually, Karen O comes to mind. She is probably the one singer that has emerged in the last 10 years that I'd pay to see perform, yet I hesitate to call her an all-time great. There are others that are outgoing and flamboyant, yet would seem to lack in the crucial aspects required to be considered great, such as songwriting or any kind of unspoken swagger, energy or presence.
This may sound like the ramblings of an over-nostalgic musician, but as a fan who is moved and enthralled by music, I hope for more from front people and artists in general. Buying an album is like buying a unique perspective. It is buying into an individual artistic thesis, and in making this investment, should not one expect to be transported somewhere special by those behind the music? Maybe modern artists disregard the mood they project and are often times too serious. An audience can be effected by the mood of the performer and in doing so, the artist can create a connection and participatory performance. I myself know the weight that music critics words can carry and how this can stifle and inhibit the creative flow, but music itself is the expression of emotion, the outward pouring of thoughts and ideas. I would like to see that demonstrated in a way that resonates deeply on many levels.
Flaamingos self-titled LP is out now on felte.