The Pop Star: whether it be the otherworldly air of Bowie, the sneering showmanship of Rotten, the fragility of Morrissey or the cocksure arrogance of Gallagher (Liam), whether they’re a frontman or guitar hero ,they are the heartbeat of what makes music interesting and exciting.
Making headlines, making teenage girls (and boys) faint or outraging parents (who just don’t understand) they are centre stage, centre of attention and we’re crying out for one.
Since Doherty was packed in by Kate Moss and packed up his belongings and set sail on the good ship Albion towards Paris the country has been bereft, the tabloids devoid of an ‘enfant terrible’, the fans without an icon. British pop has been left in the clutches of Cowell’s cronies and graduates of the Brit School production line. Whilst, you wouldn’t let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone, you probably don’t know what a Rizzle Kick is.
Across the pond it’s much the same malaise, Lady Gaga is a Madonna pastiche, whilst, Rihanna’s feigned interest in S&M is as devoid of outrage as it is sexuality.
It’s why the NME every few months turns to the aforementioned Rotten, Gallagher or Morrissey for an interview, a soundbite, every couple of months. Why the demand for tickets amongst people who weren’t old enough to see returning stars of the past – like The Stone Roses – the first time round is so high.
Pop music is a by product of the era it’s from and reflects its age and its culture. In the 1960s the success of Motown came to represent the Civil Rights struggle, whilst it’s no coincidence that Ziggy Stardust was conceived shortly after Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. Equally, the raw pent up urban frustration of punk and the excess and flamboyance of the New Romantics represented the aspects of the late 1970s and early 1980s in turn.
So it is that some commentators suggest that in this internet age, this time of widespread availability of music instantly, the accessibility of recording artists on social networking that has destroyed it. You can’t put pop stars on the same pedestal when they’re tweeting what they had for lunch, the mystic is missing.Yet bands such as The Libertines successfully treaded the line between accessible and reverence. Inviting you round to their flat one minute, shagging super models the next.
Perhaps it’s instead a wider reflection on the 21st century homogenisation of our culture, where all our high streets looking the same, our ‘pop stars’ do too. As our towns and cities lose their individualism so do those in the charts. Art imitating life as it has done throughout history.
No matter what has inspired this void, it begs the question posed by The Stranglers: whatever happened to all the heroes?
By Callum West