Today Michael Jackson has been the headline story and theatrical media device for the day. He will go down as one of the top five greatest entertainers of all time, and one of the most massively mourned deaths in music.
Michael Jackson took what James Brown and Elvis brought to the stage, and heightened it ten fold. But what some don't understand is that Jackson's three prior records to Thriller (not including his work with the Jackson 5), were not successful in terms of later records.
In other words, at a major label today, ol' Michael would have probably been dropped or shelved by now. The same can be said for many artists our parents grew up wtih: Dylan, the Who, Rolling Stones, Prince, etc.
Instant gratification was not something that's made of stars then, it was about growth as a listener, and growth as an artist. Case and point: the so called, Panic! at the Disco hoopla yesterday. I think Jason made a point on Facebook (yeah, we're friends, how cool, right?) when he mentioned how a band like MxPx has been around, together, for so many years and a band like Panic! has been around with a rocket to success in such a short time.
Add that to the countless reunions that are taking place (Sunny Day Real Estate, Far, Grade, etc.) and the fact that the new Poison the Well and Coalesce records (personally) blow a lot of their post-hardcore predecessors out of the water, it's safe to say that an icon such as Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra or Elvis would not, and cannot, exist in the industry today.
But who's to blame. Demographics? Instant gratification? Shiny hooks and choruses? I think it's a number of a lot of things mixed with how young artists experience the industry and change their influences of music.
I am more than thrilled that a lot of 90's "idols" are coming back, or still throwing down for that matter. I think there are still great new bands out there making music, but at the same time, I don't think 90% of them will last in the end. I don't think our generation will have a U2, a Rolling Stones or a Beatles.
For the most part I believe we'll all have personal, and very few mass loved, favorite artists and records that we'll share with the next generation. Whether this is a good thing or not, only time will tell.
Again, R.I.P. MJ, I'm not sure if they'll be another like you in awhile.