Within the iconic surrealist sitcom, The Mighty Boosh, Noel Fielding’s character Vince Noir claims, “It’s not about music, it’s about what you appear to be,” whereas jokingly devaluing jazz music whereas conversing together with his jazz-obsessed pal, Howard Moon (Julian Barratt). In the present day, I’m exploring the validity of this remark. Is the picture extra essential than the music?
After all, you’ll now be pondering it’s a little bit of each. Certainly, it’s a little like saying what’s extra essential, the eyes or the ears? Musical purists amongst us will probably be tutting and saying, “It’s all concerning the sound! It’s music in any case, isn’t it?” In saying this, you’ll be completely right. Why ought to I care what David Gilmour appears to be like like? All I want is to listen to a few of his jaw-dropping lead-guitar voicings, and I’ll be on my method.
Whereas picture isn’t basically essential for music, it’s vitally essential in cultural and historic significance. With this in thoughts, it’s very simple to see why bands and musicians earlier than the Nineteen Sixties wore the identical outdated fits and had not one iconic haircut between them. If we flash ahead to the Nineteen Sixties, we all of the sudden had hippies wearing every kind of strange technicolour garments. Within the early Seventies, we had the beginning of glam rock, the place David Bowie and Co. popularised the heavy use of make-up and hair dye. Shortly thereafter, we entered the punk period, maybe the second in music most dominated by picture over music.
So wanting on the Nineteen Sixties and past, what modified? The reply lies in an growing hyperlink between music and style and in addition within the popularisation of music as a key component of the Western countercultural motion. After the tip of World Conflict II, the newborn boomers carried a newfound optimism and drove the capitalist machine, introducing new technological and societal concepts to shake the bones of their cussed mother and father.
Developments in know-how allowed music to develop at a rare price within the Nineteen Sixties, permitting artistic minds to understand their potential. With an elevated technique of document manufacturing and distribution, managers and document labels started to understand the facility of selling and the significance of standing out from the gang. An artist was to have a wierd summary design on their album cowl to attract the listener away from rivals and into their grasp.
This similar sentiment would step by step enter all facets of the music enterprise by the Seventies. Essentially the most profitable teams couldn’t seize the viewers’s consideration with 4 good-looking mop-top lads from Liverpool anymore. The enterprise now required Elton John in ludicrous glasses, Bowie in a glittery intergalactic bodysuit and Bryan ferry in leopard-print jackets.
The significance of picture in standard music grew concurrently with the growing concepts in style, and both one would catalyse the opposite incrementally over time. Wanting again on the previous 60 years, it’s usually very simple to inform what decade an artist was from and what type of music they could have been making based mostly solely on their style decisions and manner. For some bands, their picture was nearly all that they had, and the music was very a lot a secondary issue of their prevailing reputation.
Beneath, we checklist 5 artists whose picture was extra very important to their cultural significance than their music.
5 artists whose picture was extra essential than the music:
For this choice, I’m certain I’ll get my fair proportion of hecklers, however permit me first to claim that I’m a giant fan of The Stooges’ music and far of Iggy Pop’s subsequent solo work. However their sustained place in historical past was extra pivotally influenced by their countercultural picture of hedonistic proto-punk hell-raising.
For individuals who weren’t conscious, The Stooges preferred to make a daring assertion and so it wouldn’t be a shock to see band members wearing Nazi officer uniforms, Iggy Pop throwing objects on the viewers, acts of indecent publicity and even bloody acts self-mutilation. These stunts have been partially attributable to the group’s over-indulgence in medicine, however they have been hardly going to make a lot of a press release in the event that they turned up in go well with and tie and thanked everybody for a nice night on exit from the stage. The Stooges knew what rock ‘n’ roll meant and knew what it represented in society on the time – this was the important thing to their historic relevance.
After mentioning The Stooges, I really feel it’s now an excellent time to say presumably essentially the most deserving of a spot on this checklist. The Intercourse Pistols didn’t create punk music, however by golly did they embody the motion. Once more, their music, albeit crude, rough-edged and missing in expertise, was essential in its frequent anarchist statements and alienating stances on political issues and, after all, the English monarchy. Nevertheless, their public picture was arguably the extra essential issue at play, traditionally talking.
The Intercourse Pistols had little or no musical skill between them compared to, say, Pink Floyd as a up to date instance. However the group represented an indignant youth, a counterculture that appeared to scare mother and father throughout the nation. They named themselves identical to they dressed. Skinny reprobates clad in chains and scruffy leathers with greasy spiked-up hair opted for demonic nicknames like Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious. None of this was a lucky mistake; the band knew the significance of picture, as did their not too long ago deceased pal, the punk style pioneer Pamela Rooke.
The New York Dolls
The New York Dolls made some implausible music and made slightly little bit of historical past with their eponymous 1973 debut album. Their distinctive type that merged a primitive type of punk rock with heavy steel was an essential affect on a wealth of subsequent heavy rock acts, however what lingers in thoughts is their putting on-stage picture.
As depicted completely on the art work for the band’s debut album, the group have been identified for his or her propensity to cross-dress. This was by all accounts a bid to leap on the glam-rock zeitgeist, however the Dolls took it to the following degree with excessive heels, heavy make-up, spandex, clothes and eccentric headwear. The putting look definitely added to the band’s enchantment on the time and has since helped to earn them an immortal notch on the bedpost of Seventies cultural historical past.
This choice will probably be divisive amongst readers. Prince was partially profitable due to his expertise as a musician and singer. His rise to worldwide reputation was already effectively underway when he launched his most notable work, Purple Rain, in 1984. However this launch will assist as an instance my level that the pop star’s profession was bolstered by his eye for advertising.
Purple Rain was famously accompanied by a characteristic movie for the visible side of the recording, one thing that Prince thought of invaluable. His time within the limelight all through the Nineteen Eighties was additionally aided by the rise of MTV throughout this era. The music channel popularised Prince’s huge hits by displaying his accompanying music movies, the place he had one more off-stage alternative to specific the visible component of his efficiency. Lastly, in a extra apparent advertising technique, the pop icon determined that he would change his title to an unpronounceable image, the identical flamboyant image the singer used to form his purple customized made guitars.
The German electro-pioneers Kraftwerk are about as iconic because it will get within the realm of synthesised pop music. After a stint as an experimental krautrock group within the early Seventies, they dropped all conventional devices for an entirely digital sound utilizing drum machines, synthesisers and vocoders. Their physique of labor was undeniably essential in influencing fashionable digital music through the synth-pop craze of the Nineteen Eighties, however this seemingly wouldn’t have been achieved on such a grand scale had they not had such a putting picture.
They introduced themselves as eccentric robotic humanoids sizzling off the manufacturing line of a German manufacturing facility whose operate was to provide music to please the folks of planet Earth. In most individuals’s thoughts’s eye, Kraftwerk will probably be lined up in entrance of their gear on stage sporting the Man Machine period pink shirt and black trousers and tie mixture, however they expanded their style scope to all method of different eccentric outfits over the course of their illustrious profession. This vivid manner and visible picture immediately influenced numerous subsequent synthpop icons, particularly the likes of Gary Numan, Visage, OMD, Ultravox, and The Human League.