Is there a modern day Elvis?

I was trying to draw a modern day analogy to my 18 year old son about just how popular and influential Elvis Presley was. Love him or hate him, he was unquestionably monstrously popular and IMHO, extremely influential if not the “King of Rock and Roll”.

Is there anyone from the past couple of decades that I could use as an example of just how huge (not literally) that Elvis was? I can’t think of any but I’m not a fan of recent music. If I had to use a non-musical example, what would be a good choice?

Justin Bieber.

Don’t hate me.

Is Michael Jackson too old a reference?

Not even close.

Elvis represented an evolutionary leap that doesn’t happen very often. Bieber is just one of many to follow in his footsteps.

Musically, I think you’d have to switch genres to find any comparisons. Maybe a rap pioneer like Tupac Shakur (someone more knowlegable might have a better name to fill in there) in terms of influence and endurance. But that’s going back a few years too.

Non-musically, maybe Mark Zuckerberg could be a good analogy in terms of societal impact?

There is no comparable person in music. I can’t think of a similar figure in films either. In sports, I’d pick Michael Jordan and Dale Earnhardt.

There is nobody comparable to Elvis. The fame of Elvis was a product of a very specific time and place in American history. Since music has changed so much and become so much more diverse and specialized, there can never be another Elvis. He was basically the figurehead for a brand new lifestyle that had never existed before.

That pimpy-eyed Presley boy is the cause of everything wrong with America; but I love him anyway, god damn it.

But to answer the OP: JFK. JFK is the only one I can think of that had E’s combination of looks, charm, and societal impact.

Michael Jackson is a pretty good comparison inasmuch as he changed the video music medium. Unfortunately, to an 18 year old, videos haven’t changed much in their lifetime. As much as Michael Jordan dominated the game, I don’t know that he changed the game that much. Opposing teams certainly had to adapt, but if they weren’t playing against the Bulls, he was a non-entity.

I believe that Justin Bieber will be a flash in the pan. There’s no way he’s anywhere near Elvis status at this point in his career.

Zuckerberg’s social media influence is also an interesting comparison. Just as Elvis didn’t invent rock and roll, Zuckerberg took others’ ideas and turned it into a phenomonam. the obvious difference being that if Zuckerberg passed away tomorrow, there wouldn’t be tens of millions of distraught mourners.

Nah. If you wanted a comparison to Elvis, it’d have to be some white kid making the genre more mainstream for whites. Think Eminem. Except Eminem writes some of his own songs.

In fact, Eminem was the top-selling artist of the past decade. Number two… the Beatles.

“I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley
To do black music so selfishly
And use it to get myself wealthy”

  • Eminem, ‘Without Me’

The Beatles were collectively as big as Elvis, but no one else has ever dominated the pop charts the way he did.

  1. Music is music. It doesn’t “belong” to anyone.
  2. Elvis didn’t “steal” anything.
  3. Elvis was influenced in equal measures by “black music” and “white music.” His sound was a fusion of blues, gospel and country.

Blues=black music
Gospel=black music
Country=heavily influenced by blacks. Hell, the banjo was invented by blacks.

Country is sung in English. English was invented by whites. Country uses the guitar, invented by whites; the piano, invented by whites; the fiddle, invented by whites; the bass, invented by whites; the drum set, invented by whites. Country music has roots in the folk ballads of Irish and Scots, who are white.

Blues, being played primarily on the guitar and sung primarily in English - both white inventions - is also significantly influenced by whites.

But that doesn’t mean that either of those generes are “white music” just because of those things. Again, as I said, I don’t think music is black or white. All ethnicities contribute something to American music.

It bothers me when people try to claim certain kinds of American music as belonging to one group or another. In a country like this, it can never be so simple.

Weird that black studies courses spend so much time on blues and Gospel.

Kit drums weren’t truly incorporated into country music until after Elvis’ first flower. Some of the “white” instruments mentioned have some black roots as well. I have a scholarly book on the just that subject, but not at hand now.

But my general feeling is that all the styles that made Elvis are properly considered Southern musics–where black and white couldn’t help but draw influence from one another.

Which of them?

I think that is the key. Music in America is more regional than ethnic. But, as soon as radio and recordings became common, even that regionalism started to break down.

Well, guitars, from the Moors in Spain. The book I mentioned goes into the history of the proto-guitars, the qitara, vihuela, and oud. I see the banjo was already noted separately.