Image Vs Music – Are Both Equally Important?

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m seeing an awful lot of banjos out there lately. I just want to know where they’re all coming from. Not that I mind, of course, the kind of music that generally includes banjos. It really has me wondering, though, whether or not more and more bands are picking this up because it’s truly the music their soul wants to make, or if they’re just trying to hop onto the bandwagon.

When I pose this question, people often tell me it started with Mumford & Sons. When I first starting writing music columns, I was asked to write a review of their most recent album at the time. Tried as I might, I just couldn’t get into it. Not only did every song sound the same to me after a while, but something about it just seemed fake. Maybe it’s not, I don’t know. A few months later, they were on the cover of Rolling Stone, and as I try really hard to give everyone a chance (although I am known for forming opinions pretty quickly), I read it hoping to be enlightened. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. The article spent a lot of time talking about what kind of clothes they were wearing, and how they didn’t really know what an Okie was, but they sure felt like Okies. Don’t even get me started on that one.

What it all comes back to is image. Back in the 60’s, there was a “revolution” when everyone started to grow their hair, take drugs, and experiment. I think that’s great, and I don’t see any of that as hopping on the bandwagon because it truly was something that was new and everyone kind of did it and their own thing came out of it. Nothing like that is happening now. Drugs are illegal and overall considered to be bad for you, and the general consensus is that the human race is becoming more accepting (though whether or not that’s actually true is sometimes debatable). Today, though, it seems as if when we see that something is working, we’re going to try our luck at it, too. I don’t see a whole lot of originality out there, which arguably may be inevitable, because most of it has already been done before.

This whole image thing goes back a long ways, too. Brian Epstein famously changed The Beatles from teddy-boys with their coifed hair to the mop-tops in well-fitting suits. Now you have people like Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga who are infamous for their crazy, attention-grabbing outfits. It’s all a part of image. Managers help to create a mold that they think will be a good business model for their clients to fit themselves into.

The press doesn’t help it, either. Like I said, that Rolling Stone article had a lot about the way Mumford & Sons were dressing. Who cares? What does that have to do with music? Why are we trying to sell an image rather than communicate through honest music?

I may have opened a can of worms here. Anytime I tell people that I’m not really into Mumford I get a lot of lip for it. If you can shed some light on that for me, please let me know.

Overall, I just think it’s unfortunate that the music business is focused so much on image and waves of nostalgia these days. How can we get things restored to proper order: being about the music? Maybe it never stood a chance.


-Ashley Hart - MU Columnist
What are YOUR Plans Tonight?
Start Your Search Here!