2016 has been a hard year in terms of celebrity deaths. We’ve lost the King of comedy Ronnie Corbett, an incredibly talented actor Alan Rickman and the entertaining presenter Terry Wogan to name a few. It’s been hard for music lovers too, David Bowie, David Guest and now the death of Prince has ricocheted through the world. Heaven is looking a lot better than Earth right now.
With David Bowie and Prince’s final curtain call, we are witnessing the end of an era, as the original stars of the explosive rock and pop culture that shook the world in the second half of the 20th century are slowly extinguished.
It pains me to think that when death eventually comes for Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Paul McCartney we may have to mark the entire rock and roll era over.
With the recent deaths of true iconic legends it’s made a lot of the public realise how great mid-century music was and how graced we were to have heard and listened to some of the greatest music of our time. But was it all that good or are we simply remembering the good and leaving out the bad? The sixties were supposedly the golden age of rock but for every Beatles and Rolling Stones song on the charts, there were also massive hits by Bobby Vinton and John Fred and his playboy band.
Today, it seems as if we’re constantly surrounded by electronic beats and auto tuned vocals which makes us question whether true musicianship, in the traditional sense, is still important? Prince famously claimed to be able to play so many instruments he couldn’t count, a stark contrast to the pop-stars of today who have very little to do with the songwriting process until they read the lyrics in the studio for the first time. I struggle to find artists in the charts today that don’t use auto tune or constantly repeat themselves (I mean have you heard Work by Rihanna?!). Evidently, the majority of people aren’t bothered by the way that the music is made, just how it sounds to them which is not necessarily a bad thing. In the 1960s Bob Dylan was renowned for his folk music and when he brought out his fifth album Bringing it all back home featuring an electric band, people were outraged and even in some sections of the audience people booed Dylan’s performance representing the disapproval of his new sound. After this Dylan went on to release arguably his greatest album; Highway 61 Revisited, using that very same sound, earning him his legendary status.
Perhaps, we live in the past. We’re too focused on the iconic legends of the 20th century that we forget about the here and now of the 21st century. With this era coming to an end, perhaps we’ll focus on the future.