This morning I pulled out my “greatest hits of the Supremes” disc to listen to as I had my morning coffee. I looked at the back cover (I don’t have the specific cover photo, but this is a close approximate) and was struck by the fact that the three ladies in question actually weren’t especially beautiful. Not even Diana Ross. In fact, Florence Ballard & Mary Wilson were actually kind of homely looking by today’s standards.
It struck me that if the Supremes were a brand new act in this day & age, with the same caliber of singing, and songwriting & playing behind them, they wouldn’t make much of an impact solely because they are not - by today’s standards - pretty.
In today’s post-MTV, post-Britney, post-American Idol world, being telegenic is not the most important factor in determining success as a pop music act; it’s the only factor that matters. Who cares if the latest pop tart can’t sing or play a lick of music on any instrument whatsoever? So long as they look good on a tv screen, they’ll get pushed on the American public.
It got me to wondering what legendary, classic-rock musical acts wouldn’t have been successful if they were forced to play by today’s music industry body-fascist standards?
Virtually all the most famous classic rock stars would be marginalized. The Beatles would have made the cut, but the Rolling Stones would be nowhere. Janis Joplin would never have made it out of Texas. Joe Cocker? Tina Turner? Patti Smith? No, nuh-uh, and nope. Neither the Cars nor the B-52s would have gotten record deals. Record labels would have demanded that the Mamas & the Papas dump Cass Elliot (the most talented member of the group IMO) before signing them.
You’re kind of talking about two different things. Teeny-bopper pop music, where image trumps all; and rock, where image is important but musical talent and ingenuity also count. Both scenes were around in the '60s and both are still around today.
I’m not a watcher of American Idol, but even I know that few of the names that have emerged from the show are beautiful pop tarts or their male equivalents.
In fact, there was a big battle for the Dreamgirls role of the talented but overweight member of the group between Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson, two non-pretty Idols who have gone on to more success than the pretty things.
So you’re wrong in several ways. First, there have always been pop tarts and male pin-ups, dating back to the 1950s. American Idol-type singing has nothing to do with pop star singing or success. Groups have nothing to do with pop tarts or what makes them successful. Prettiness is like a separate genre, one that has little if anything to do with the rest of popular music.
You’re mixing apples and oranges and rutabagas and truffles together. As rants go, this one’s lacks any coherency. It has a lousy beat and I can’t dance to it.
Secord - okay, what did the judges think of our latest contestant, Bob Dylan?
Randy: I thought he was a bit pitchy
Paula: I just want to thank him for being such a great guy - he’s our Denim Teddy Bear!
Simon: Well, Mr. Dylan - if that’s what you call yourself - frankly I can’t see you having a hope of making it. You stink - your songs are not commercial and your renderings of them make me want to poor flaming oil into my ears so I never hear again.
I don’t know. Admittedly, I’m looking at things from the perspective not only of a 35-year-old, but of a gay man, but Jennifer Hudson seems absolutely gorgeous to me. As did (and does) Jennifer Holliday (the original Effie in the Broadway run).
Besides, with voices like those, who the hell cares how they look? Listening to Holliday on “And I Am Telling You” from the original cast recording absolutely blows me away. I’m eagerly awaiting hearing Hudson take that song on.
Well, this seems as good a place as any to bring this up (although it might be a whole nother thread). Anyways, my buddy and I have repeatedly discussed the subject of “What classic rock singer could have actually WON American Idol?”
The only person we could agree on was Freddie Mercury.
(BTW If anybody wants to move/continue this hijack in another thread, be my guest - maybe one of you serial threadstarters is running a little low this month. Holidays and all…)
Yes, Bob Dylan would have been ripped apart if he’d been on an “American Idol” type show, but Simon wouldn’t have criticized Dylan’s songs, because Dylan wouldn’t have gotten to sing his own songs! He’d have to sing covers of Pop/Top 40 songs.
And even if you think, as I do, that no one could have sung “Tangled Up in Blue” better than Dylan, you have to admit, he’d have sounded horrible (and ridiculous) if he had to sing Celine Dion or Whitney Houston songs for the panel.
I mean, even if Clay or Taylor or Fantasia were a great songwriter, we’d never know it, because performing your own material on “AI” isn’t an option.
The OP does had a bit of a point. Although most of the winners haven’t been gorgeous they were voted on by the American public on talent and likeability factor. Those that were mostly just pretty faces usually made it a little farther than they should but were usually gone by halfway through the eliminations. However, there is a process the singers have to go through before they get to the point of being judged by the American public and there may have been a few “unpretty” people left behind by the judges in favor of those with better images.
I think Jennifer Hudson is pretty and the better singer of the two.