An Industry of Imitation: How Unoriginality is Damaging Music

Following a recent post re: today's music industry...

“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants” – Isaac Newton. What Newton meant by his famous phrase was that he only accomplished his goals because he built on the work of those brilliant scientists before him. That same reasoning can be applied to other areas, including the music industry, and was strongly supported by the late Michael Jackson. Yes, the King of Pop was one of the greatest artists of our time, but he was also a student of other men and women who influenced him in many ways.

Unlike Jackson, however, performers from the current generation rarely strive to build on the work of industry leaders and pioneers. Instead, they emulate, copy, mimic, mirror and every other synonym for the word ‘imitate’ greats without adding anything new to the tapestry of music. As a result, the industry has become stagnant; stuck in a limbo with little signs of progression. To develop a better understanding of this issue, let’s take a look at a few examples of copycats from across the music industry. First on the list is Beyonce but before I starting typing, give me a few seconds to lock my doors, shut my windows and check the locks to ensure that her maniac fans can’t enter my house…

Beyonce is a very talented singer, she has fiery stage presence and she can shimmy with the best of them but nothing she does is original. When the diva isn’t copying Jackson’s stage productions – thanks to the input of “creative” director Frank Gatson – or the videos of countless other acts, she is blatantly stealing routines and costumes from Tina Turner.

That lack of creativity is observable in every sphere of Beyonce’s brand and it has stunted her growth as an artist. Imagine how amazing she would be if she simply took the time to craft her own songs instead of allegedly purchasing a slot in the credits from real songwriters. Imagine how exciting her concerts would be if we hadn’t already seen the various costumes, light shows and routines performed by other acts. I guess we’ll just have to keep dreaming because as her documentary stated, Beyonce’s life and her originality are but a dream.
Another popular copycat in the music industry is Chris Brown. He is a fantastic dancer and his moves certainly rival those of Jackson. Yet, is Brown as good as the latter or do people only draw such parallels because of his many recreations of Jackson’s old performances? Think about it: How many times has Brown executed a routine onstage or in his videos that wasn’t previously done by Jackson?

Our final example of an industry copycat, as you may have guessed from the main image above, is Ariana Grande. Relatively new to the music scene, this 20 year old is taking the charts by storm with her sugary voice and sweet high notes. However, the only reason that she has made any impact this far, aside from the hordes of tweens who watched her on Nickelodeon, is because she looks and sounds almost exactly like a young Mariah Carey. Grande’s team has styled her to look like Carey in her prime (1993-1996). Also, following Tommy Mottola’s model of success that made the latter a megastar in the 1990s, they have branded Grande as the innocent, ambiguous girl next door with the big voice yet polite demeanour that even the most conservative consumer would appreciate.

Still, it is important to note that although the problem is more rampant today, blatant imitation isn’t new to the music industry. The real point of this article is closely related to the issue of mediocrity we discussed early this week. As we previously stressed, labels aren’t developing their signees as true artists and those with the potential to reach new heights are refusing to take risks as they release generic material just to score a hit. Most artists are nothing more than copycats who imitate those who came before them and rarely contribute anything to this culture of what we call popular.

Full article & other examples at the source