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The Beatles. Rolling Stones. Led Zep. Ask most people, and they will acknowledge that these are legendary artists. Everyone knows them, and (at least) respects them at some level. Every decade has had a band like this to show off.
This discussion has always got me thinking: What modern artists will be remembered 50 years from now?
This topic has been brought up quite often, but it’s plenty relevant. As bloggers and music fans, we are try to find the next best thing. The purpose of finding a new hot band used to be to find the next big band. Now it’s just an arms race to see who can find a hot band first. It’s more about being there first then actually finding a quality act. The thing is, even when we find a quality act, do they matter? Sure, they may do decent album sales, play Letterman, and maybe even get billed on Coachella and Bonnaroo. Give it a few years and then what? There’s no guarantee that people will care for bands anymore. Bands have a duty to constantly prove their worth. If they don’t, we will just move on.
When I ask this question, the usual answer is Radiohead. I probably will agree with this at some level. However, I don’t know if most people today would agree with this. I mean, look at the radio charts. Radiohead does get some mainstream radio play, but no where to the level of pop artists and rappers. If we play that card, will people give a damn about The Black Eyed Peas in 50 years? They may remember them, but it’s hard to argue their status as our generations best band.
Maybe that’s the problem. Music is arbitrary after all, and there really isn’t any one band that’s defined great anymore. Music has become do it yourself, and that’s exactly what fans are doing. We go find our own artists and decide that they are our favorite. It’s great that we can all have unique taste and admiration for different artists, but there is no longer that one artist that is truly defining our generation.
I don’t think we will ever have a band like The Beatles that is both critically and pop culturally adored. The playing field has changed. Personally, I just feel like we are missing out. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all just absolutely love a band together? It would be pretty awesome if a band could cause a Beatlemania sensation again. I guess I’m just jealous. I feel like we truly missed out.
Don’t get me wrong. We are lucky to have acts like Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and Coldplay. These are bands that have achieved both commercial and critical success. They are all popular as hell, but how many people would call them the defining band of the decade? I probably would, but I don’t know about the rest of the world.
Having a musical hero just makes life easier. It connects people. Look at how the world reacted when Michael Jackson died. Music can be larger than life, it’s just that we need to find a reason to believe it.