Used to be, to make it in the music business you had to have musical talent. Then along came Elvis Presley. Now before we get mail, Elvis could sing, dance and play guitar, but what propelled this unknown from Tupelo, Mississippi to megastardom was sex appeal. Face it, if Elvis looked like John Madden, would anyone have paid to see Love Me Tender?
Elvis opened the door, and movies and television paved the way for artists of not-entirely exceptional talent to achieve otherworldly popularity. Delighted for the distraction, humanity developed an obsession for entertainment, and has become voracious in its consumption. The industry has nurtured our obsession to where it does not matter whether you look like the young cute Elvis, or the old let-himself-go version, as long as you get yourself on MTV, the public is going to yearn for you.
Don’t get us wrong, being beautiful – Beyonce, One Direction – will net you a lot more attention. Throw in some slutty – Katy Perry, Jersey Shore – and it doesn’t matter what you do, people will line up to watch. The rewards for simple stardom are vast, giving rise to a glut of marginal entertainers. Being attractive or of questionable moral character – Miley Cyrus – no longer gets you a good table at the Grammys. These days, like a rock star in the 50’s, you gotta turn some heads.
Enter the meat dress. Lady Gaga has an excellent voice, and an even better head for marketing. She understands that talent only gets you as far as Adele. Adele had a fantastic year, sure, but in order to maintain her 2011 popularity Adele will either have to produce another incredible album and sell her soul for airtime, or show up somewhere in public in her underwear.
Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj and today’s superstars know the underwear route is less difficult and, in 2012, more reliable. So now any food server with a voice can be bigger than the Beatles as long as they aren’t afraid to show a lot of skin, or flip the bird on camera.
Yet, the capricious audience that made Katy Perry an instant success will just as readily leave her floundering in has-been obscurity as soon as the next crazy thing comes along. The latest inexplicable sensation has arrived fresh from South Korea, courtesy of YouTube, naturally.
If you are as yet unfamiliar with Psy and “Gangnam Style” then you are as out of touch as the people who said, “What’s the big deal with this Justin Bieber?”
“Gangnam Style” is now the most watched video on the internet, meaning it is every bit as popular as LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem”, and took a similar creative mind to produce. The song is catchy. If you are over 40 you won’t like it, and you will be befuddled by, if jealous of, the attention it gets. If you are under 20 you love it, because your parents don’t like it, mainly, but also because you are loathe to defy your friends and the E! Channel.
It’s bizarre. That’s the hook. It is weird, incorporates a new and interesting dance, and is going to be more important than hygiene in the lives of millions until the right people discover and promote the next internet fury.