We were kings – Why artist’s from eras past have stayed relative in today’s market
Serious longevity in the music industry comes and goes with the wind, and most artists now struggle to stay around for anything over 10 years. So how have such a large number of acts from eras gone by, stayed relatively relevant for so many years?
First of all, different genres play a big part in that lifespan. R&B tops the charts with an average thirty year relevancy. Rock at twenty-four years is a close second and Rap is dead last with a ten year span. The expectation in rap is that you have to constantly be doing something new. Anything over two years old is looked at as old news. While it keeps the genre exciting, many artists are disposed of rather quickly.
Artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bon Jovi have had lengthy careers, spanning decades, and they have released a lot of great music. This allowed those superstars to be such a big part of the listener’s lives that anything they released inevitably became a hit.
I’ve mentioned in a number of my previous articles the importance of a hit song. Longevity wise, the power of a hit song keeps the artist’s relevancy alive even if the song is decades old. We all hold onto those songs from our past, but does it mean they were better songs? My personal opinion is yes. The one other large factor is that most popular music from the years 1950-2000 was groundbreaking, new, fresh and sometimes iconically offensive. From Elvis to The Beatles, Elton John and Led Zeppelin, and Queen to Bon Jovi, the hits never stopped coming.
The untouchable amount of bona fide hit songs that these artists put out is still to this day amazing. Most, if not all, stand up today as arguably some of the best ever written. Songs like “Let It Be” by The Beatles or “Living on a Prayer” from Bon Jovi resonate with just how good those eras were, and how lucky those artists were to come along at that time. It’s so much harder now, even though there is so much more in the way of platforms to find and listen to new music.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many fantastic songs released year after year. Lady Gaga’s song “Always Remember Us This Way” is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a very long time. However, it was written by a team of today’s best country/pop writers. Paul McCartney wrote “Let It Be” after waking from a dream about his mother. One guy, writing a song about a purely emotional moment anyone can relate to. To me, that’s what makes it better. It’s one person’s relatable, emotionally true moment.
I feel that there are differences between a hit song and a knock it out of the park hit song. Lots of hits come and go and don’t have staying power. Anyone remember the band Sugar Ray? They had a couple of big hits, but no one will care in thirty years from now. I guarantee you that fifty to one hundred years from now, Elvis and The Beatles will still be relevant in music. They were pioneers and they will always have that on their side. Artists like Prince, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Elvis and Bruce Springsteen were kings of their eras. The music they produced continues on though, keeping them at the top of music royalty.