This one is tricky. I’m sure you, like me, have lists of the temporary music phenoms that hit, make millions then wander off into the abyss leaving behind music that will not hold up well in history. Many for me are “tween/teen faves” where I don’t understand how the 11-18 set can so easily overlook the vocal styling equivalent to a moose in the duress of childbirth, but get that the person is popular from their team’s genius marketing blitz.
Take Britney Spears. Start off as a blend of innocent/naughty schoolgirl where you are sexy enough to attract the attention of young (and old) men and the admiration of young girls, but not alienate parents by being to risqué. Work that magic for a few years, then up the ante with a more sexy pose on a magazine cover (Rolling Stone) and adding tighter garments and suggestive lyrics. At the height of your popularity, marry randomly, kick it with one of your background dancers (who has kids with a long-term girlfriend), have two kids of your own then wander into a salon one night and shave yourself bald. Okay, the meltdown wasn’t in the marketing team’s arsenal, but you have to admit she’s staged a pretty good comeback story.
So for me, it isn’t not understanding the popularity. For all the artists I can’t stand—and I’ll fess up that I have Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra in this category—that the rest of the country seems to adore, I get that the record execs can (and have always) manipulated multiple media formats to secure buy-in. I also get that most of these performers have a short shelf-life (waving goodbye to Justin Bieber).
Afterthought – No actual music attached for this one. I just can’t bring myself to post an artist that makes me cringe.