Where’s The Next Pop Artist Legend?

There seems to be something about today’s pop artists such as Miley Cyrus, Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga to name a few, that render them unable to carry on the torch from their predecessors.

I’ve mentioned before about how we, as the audience, need to hold our musicians to higher standards, but that is only one side of the equation. The problem with today’s pop artists also lies in their lack of great content and approach to fame.

(Before I go any further, please keep in mind that I am solely talking about pop music. I understand that other genres have good lyrics, instrumentals, talent, etc.)

We have yet to have another truly defining pop legend since Britney Spears. As big of a fan I am, I have to admit that even she can’t live up to her legacy anymore. She has copped out and makes auto-tuned dance music with shallow lyrics just like the rest of them. Some may argue Justin Timberlake and Beyonce are pop legends too, but I don’t think they have made as big of an impact in pop music history as Britney did. They also recycle past music too much.

But why? Why can’t today’s pop artists live up to or surpass their predecessors like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Whitney Houston? Surely we couldn’t have run out of originality and creativity after 100+ years of music. Or have we?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these pop legends were perfect. They have done questionable, scandalous, and bizarre things in their time. For instance, Michael Jackson was allegedly accused of “bleaching” his skin, molesting young boys, and having reconstructive surgery amongst other things. But regardless of his shocking personal life, he was a damn good performer with phenomenal talent, incredible creativity, and extraordinary passion. The content he produced overpowered all negativity and the world still recognizes him as a great artist even after death.

Let’s go back to Britney Spears. Yes, her voice was mediocre but her music and image refreshed and defined the teens of the late 90’s/early 00’s. Most of all, she was a great entertainer. Again, the content that she put out surpassed her debacle of 2009 and fans were raving when she “came back”. Regardless of her copping out now, she has already left her legacy and just like Michael Jackson, her fan base is forever loyal no matter what she does.

I believe today’s pop artists think that they can have this god-like complex their predecessors had without producing the great content. They forget to first serve their art of music, performance, and entertainment. Instead, they focus more on what will get them the most plays and publicity. They focus more on the fame.

Katy Perry started off singing songs with substance, but when she broke through as a pop artist, her style completely changed to catchy and eccentric dance music with shallow lyrics, and it did serve her well. However, since her breakup with Russell Brand, she’s starting to insert substance back into her songs. Her overall image and performances also have an original quality about them. She is one of the few pop artists with a lot of potential for the kind of pop legendry I’m talking about.

Granted, fame is more attainable and hasty than ever now thanks to YouTube and music competitions. Perhaps these artists are just trying to make the most out of their 15 minutes of fame because it can end just as quickly as it came. Since we’re always looking for the next big thing, these artists are just doing what it takes to stay in the top charts by sounding like everyone else or recycling what’s already been done by their predecessors because that’s what works. Artists like Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus premeditate and overuse the shock factor for fame because that’s what seems to keep record sales. Some say it’s genius, others beg to differ for the sake of music and creativity. Then when they’re down to their last whim, they’ll usually go as far as become a judge on a music competition show and/or do a reality show.

If pop artists continue this approach with their music, their legacy will be a couple of singles that gets appropriated and overplayed on YouTube and by other artists, along with whatever “shocking” stunts they decide to pull. But then again, maybe it’s impossible to harvest the kind of legacy pop artists of the past had and this is merely where the state of pop music has resulted to after 100+ years. Whatever the case may be, as long as they focus on producing great, original content and staying true to their passion for music itself, the legacy they leave behind, big or small, will be worth more than fame.

About Ronnell Morris

Ronnell is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NWYT. She is a copywriter by day, a performer by night, and a triathlete by weekend. She loves Disney, musicals, eating, YouTube videos, list-making, and the colors pink and gray too much for her own good. See All of Ronnell’s Posts

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