I have talked a bit in my blog recently about image and branding in the music industry and how I feel that this has sadly now become more important than the music - to the point where there are probably countless budding Elvis Costellos and Ian Durys out there who probably won't even get a sniff at a record deal in the current climate.
Today I had thrust in my face on a channel 4 music programme a perfect example of this music versus image scenario in the form of The Pussy Cat Dolls. Pussy Cat Dolls are a mega success both here and in the US but largely because of the way they are sold. They have little musical talent, they don't write their own material and their songs are at best forgettable. So what is it that sells those shed loads of records - image of course. and with the Dolls it is all about SEX. Their latest video is little short of soft porn (although they do almost keep their clothes on). In the 60s and 70s you would have probably had to go to a seedy cinema with a long raincoat on to watch stuff like this. They suggestively rub their bodies, they heave their bosoms, they open their legs provocatively - it's classic stuff. And they look good, they are thinner than any normal person could hope to be without resorting to bulimia or illness, they are so brown one wonders if they have ever heard of skin cancer and they are shiny - yes shiny.
But I can't help wondering how things came to this. Music used to be about guitars, drums, a great voice. Yes image still counted for something. But often those great artists seeemed sexy because they were talented - lets face it if you met Tom Jones in your local supermarket you might think he ludicrous with his open shirts and medallions, so what is it that gives him the edge. It's talent, the great voice. Something that a lot of current artists seem to be lacking. Asked in a years time to sing a pussy cat dolls song most people will be stumped, at best they will remember the gimmicky one that encouraged the ordinary lad on the street to be discontent with the looks of his girlfriend - nice!