The trivial fervor that emerged earlier during the American Idol seasons when it was revealed that Carly Smithson previously had a record deal was interesting. Interesting in that so many people criticized the decision to keep her around and were saying she had an unfair advantage while seemingly overlooking the fact that despite the record label’s best efforts (or lack of), her album still failed to make her a superstar and she was now back at square one.
We already know Carly’s time on Idol did not result in her winning the grand prize claimed by the older of the two identically named final contestants but I do hope she does get to pursue new musical or related ventures from her Idol stint once the traveling karaoke bar show is over because obviously has a formidable voice.
Anyhow the point is to use Carly’s failed musical venture as an example of this pipe dream that many singers and bands envision and unfortunately fail at once they quickly notice how unforgiving major labels can be and how cutthroat the music industry is. Unless you’ve got genuine musical talent or something new to bring to the table, [long term] success is…we’ll say it’s iffy.
One thing I’ve never quite understood is why a lot of up and coming singers choose to stick with what the current trends are instead of taking some bolder risks and differentiating themselves. I witnessed the return of the late nineties teen pop boom when Britney Spears emerged to claim her throne only to see a huge influx of manufactured acts that employed the following:
- Chose to use gimmicky tactics as a selling point: Brooke Allison
- Tried to use their relation to famous family members: Michael Fredo
These days the problem is more of a lack of variety than using silly gimmicks. I remember hearing a lot about Kat DeLuna and how she was going to be the next big thing. I heard her debut single “Whine Up” and while catchy, there was nothing particularly distinguishing about it.
I follow the music charts enough to where I can make an educated guess on how the subsequent album will fare when it’s released and after seeing that “Whine Up” had modest chart performance, I figured the album would be equally dismal or disappointing. Needless to say, Kat DeLuna’s debut “9 Lives” failed to make an impression.
Very few artists, especially those that aren’t already established can rely on just a catchy tune that sounds like everything else on popular radio if they want to establish a career out of music. From what I’ve seen as album sales have dwindled, you’ve got to bring the whole package and you have to stand out in some way. Why has Alicia Keys achieved substantial success with her third outing “As I Am”? She does her own thing, she can actually write lyrics and music and she takes unique approaches where possible with her music while still creating radio friendly tunes.
The moral of the story: unless you’ve got the resolve and the talent, expecting to become the next multiplatinum sensation and making a long term career out of music involves a lot more than just aligning yourself with professional songwriters, at least in this day and age anyway.