An array of awards line their shelves. Millions line their bank accounts and album sales statistics. Adoring fans line concert venues, fan pages, and front stan wars in defense of them. Yet, interestingly, even with all the aforementioned, stars like Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, and Madonna find themselves placed in quite the pop pickle. For, in their hey day, they revisited, revamped, and, to then contemporary music fans, replaced the divas of old. Putting the Chers, Diana Rosses, Aretha Franklins, Barbra Streisands, and co.s ‘out to pasture’ while they dominated the pop charts.
But, insert a 20 year fast forward, and they find themselves in (or approaching) somewhat of the same jam.
Redefining the standards of pop excellence, the latter 21st century divas (unlike those before them) used the music video medium to push their agenda. Glossy visuals, accompanied by high octane choreography, cinematic quality themes, and live performances to match. But, now the pop queens that paved the way for Britney Spears, Beyonce, Rihanna, and more are now finding themselves in their direct competition – sonically and visually. Some will argue that no copy will ever trump the original, while others say they’ve had their day and should step aside.
We at TGJ want to know: when one reaches a level of legendary status…what’s to gain from continuing? You’ve paved the way, had the fame/fortune, and the adulation. What’s next? As Madonna’s 12th LP ‘MDNA’ landed on shelves this week, and Janet and Mariah (amongst others 40+ year old divas) are hard at work at their latest offerings, sales dwindle and once universal praise turns into mock.
The inescapable age/gender bias leads us to ask:
Former Glory Vs. Future Gain: Do stars who continue to push “pass their prime” ruin their legacies? Is the gain – at the risk of ridicule, changing one’s sound for the sake of sounding “current”, or dressing/acting much too young – worth the gain of a new generation of followers?