“OK, fellas! Smile for the album cover photo shoot! Your fans love you! Give ’em a smile!”
“Well, OK. Just look up. We’ll make it work.”
Our favorite singers and musicians sneered or looked bothered to appear on their own album covers. A look of complete detachment validated their street cred. We idiot kids shelled out our grass cutting money to buy their albums, dreaming of being half as cool as these hedonists we idolized.
A funny thing happened on the way to the old folks home (or cemetery).
Twitter & Instagram put us in instant contact with people who suddenly became quite human. More of today’s artists walk the walk and participate in societal change. Some of these old school pampered douche nozzles matured and actually learned how to smile. Behold.
Well…some of them get it. Up until the 1960s rock and roll revolution, marketing always relied upon sunny, positive imagery.
Artists like Frank, Nat, and Ella smiled on their album covers. It relayed a bond of friendship, even if only to separate a bobby soxer from her babysitting money.
But rock and roll delivered an arrogance and separation of marketer and consumer. The message was simple. You’ll never be me. Now worship me and buy my albums and concert tickets. Your life is better for getting a whiff of my greatness.
Why did Led Zeppelin usually look like they were traveling on the Hindenburg? Dude, you’re killing it! Show some teeth! You have accomplished what so very few musicians could ever dream of attaining.
At the Kennedy Center Honors, the three survivors were able to muster some joy.
Hip hop brought an entirely new level of condescension and detachment. Beyonce sings about “a billion dollars going down (on an) elevator.” MESSAGE: I have lots of things and a private jet but, yo, I’m down with the struggle, y’all. Just keep buying our hype tripe.
Hold up. I got a billion? Yeah, I’ll smile now.
After all of that attitude, it turns out that the kids are alright.
And some just never stopped being douche nozzles. Ask The Eagles if they wish they’d have been nicer to each other. Glenn Frey is dead. Don Henley is bitter. Don Felder still believes Hotel California would have been better if he had been the lead vocalist on Victim of Love. Seriously.
There are happier people performing today, delivering powerful messages of empowerment, renewal, societal change, and doing it with smiling faces.
2016 features many more popular songs touting personal development instead of “look at me…I’m cooler than you.”
Life is a quick ride for everyone. Smile and savor every day. You never know where the road ends.
Hey Steely Dan. You’re not too hip for this planet. You’re grandpas now. Take it down a notch.