As a singer/songwriter/musician I am occasionally amused by other singer/ songwriter/musicians who take themselves incredibly seriously and attempt to promote themselves as would-be seers and prophets. Admittedly unlike most of them I’m not a house-hold name (not even in my house most of the time) and so I’m in danger of coming across as bitter and twisted about it. Just for the record, I am.
There. I’ve admitted it. But I am utterly perplexed by why the opinions of pop-stars are taken seriously by an enormous volume of people. Of course, we all need heroes; certainly it is a necessary part of growing up, sometimes they help us manage our way through the rough patches. These heroes may not be necessarily musical, they may be film-stars, or sports people, but pop-stars seem to be the ones who start posing as mystical leaders of some kind – I don’t remember any centre-forwards doing it, to be the best of my knowledge (although football is something I know little about). Furthermore, they always seem to be men too; it’s hard to think of a female version of Bono, for example.
When and where did this phenomena start? I wonder if it has always been the case. Perhaps wandering minstrels were just as prone to it. Nevertheless I think the difference here is that the pop-stars in question are multi-millionaires, they often avoid paying taxes and depend on capitalism to transmit their worthy outpourings. I love protest songs, by the way, and admire a whole lexicon of outspoken musicians. Unlike Bono, Chris Martin, Sting and the other usual suspects, the musicians I like tend to be much more brave and intelligent (thus usually a whole lot less famous), and don’t hide behind cloud of vague rhetoric about saving the planet (while owning a private jet), Governments needing to cancel world debt (while living in a tax-exile), etc, etc. My point here is that nobody is going to openly argue about any of that and so they’re not exactly taking any risks with their record sales.
So why do we elevate these woolly-minded individuals to the status they have? What makes what they have to say have more consequence than someone in your local boozer? The only real difference is that they are famous and can carry a tune (sometimes).