Emerald City Arts

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Walking Contradictions: Artists, Be True To Thyself


Do you know what your favorite artist really stands for? Unfortunately, most people do not; They’re fed images of artists that have been manufactured by a large team of people. Almost everything that they say was been thought out prior to their delivery, while their outfits that scream “self-expression” have been strategically planned by professional stylists. People that are in the industry may know that a lot of these international superstars are in a way puppets to their record labels, however the majority of consumers in the U.S. have no idea. This is in no way a recent phenomenon, however the facade has increased with the overexposure of entertainers over the last couple decades. One could visit any of the millions of websites dedicated to the most relevant stars of today and notice the idol worship that occurs to individuals they’ve never met. And where does this sense of blind investment come from? Radio, TV, magazines, and the web give a voice to these artists who look to remain embedded in the public’s head. A sense of familiarity enters into our minds and unbeknowst to us we slowly become brainwashed.

Gone are the entertainers that have genuinely expressed their unique perspective on life, akin to Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Instead, they’ve been replaced by walking contradictions the likes of Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. These pop stars of today stand for nothing and do not utilize the power that they possess. Their stardom can be used for so much more than starting trends and wearing the latest fashions; when there is a world slowly preparing for a revolution.True artists have a perspective, cause and a clear point of view. These revolutionaries don’t keep their mouths closed in order to satisfy their “team”. One could say that majority of these artists in popular music today lack individuality and are boring. This would seem to be valid when you focus on the artists of the past. Picture the moment when Jimi Hendrix played the infamous Star Spanned Banner on guitar at Woodstock and you get the sense of freedom that could be expressed back then. The risk of being blackballed for having a point of view is a scary thing in contemporary times.

However, there are some mainstream artists that aren’t afraid to genuinely be who they are. Two notable artists that exhibit this are Lady Gaga and Lupe Fiasco. Familiar to controversy, these artists hold their ground and don’t apologize for their unpopular beliefs. As of late, Lupe Fiasco has been a highly controversial figure due to his remarks regarding Obama. While being interviewed by a CBS News video segment, Lupe went on to say “In my fight against terrorism, to me, the biggest terrorist is Obama, and the United States of America,”. Majority of the U.S. public was taken aback by such a bold statement, while some people felt as if he was on to something. Never immune to controversy herself, Lady Gaga has created much debate herself. Whether the pop star is wearing a meat dress or speaking up for human equality, she has been a constant hot topic. Gaga’s passionate rally speech regarding Don’t Ask Don’t Tell adds to fact that she is an artist of action and not just talk.

Speaking publicly on topics ranging from human rights to international affairs, these individuals are never ones to bit their tongue. Of course there has been backlash, but ultimately the public appreciates people that have perspectives such as their own. Hopefully, other artists can learn from these acts of courageousness and focus on more than monetary means. As music proceeds into the future, let us hope that it finds inspiration in the past.