Last night I was watching Behind the Music: Courtney Love (which was amazing, let me tell you) and I was so taken aback by how RAW she was performing in the nineties that it floored me. I know her tour manager called it a disaster whenever she would open her mouth on stage, but those performances have come to be nothing short of legendary in the past fifteen years.
I’m FINALLY, after almost four long years of unwavering support, getting to see Courtney live a week from today, and while I’m about to die waiting in antcipation, I can only imagine what it would have been like to see Love in her prime. Yes, she’s clean and sober now and is still putting on a great show, but who doesn’t love Love when she’s stage diving and telling audience members to “get up on stage so I can kick your butt”? Which got me thinking, which artists of my generation will be the ones that twenty years from now everyone will say, “I would have KILLED to see them in their prime”?
Read on for my possible predictions, and please add yours in the comments!Predicting something like this is tricky because for every Madonna, you have a Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera who was supposed to follow the same career path but then either lost their mind and drive to perform or lost relevance. Even more unsettling is the fact that there is hardly anyone in music right now who is truly committed to putting out good, memorable videos and live shows. There are so many indie bands lamely professing how they don’t care about being famous or the fans and who barely anyone besides a small group of hipsters and uber-cool critics know about. And the truth is, no one is going to remember or even care about Edward Sharpe in ten years. Give me an artist who will murder himself on stage and then go backstage and almost OD on drugs any day over some pretentious hipster band lamenting on the meaning of their music.
We also have a major shortage of rock stars. One of the main things I’ve noticed while compiling this (short) list is that no one in rock who is actually well-known is exciting right now. Kings of Leon is amazing, but do many people actually care about what their live show is like? My point exactly. We’re obviously in an age of pop music domination but is it so wrong to ask that grunge or alternative music comes back? We’ve been in pop for the past ten years and it’s getting tiring. I want rock stars who are known for being insane.
The most obvious right now is Lady Gaga. Other than Beyonce (who’s also featured on this list), she’s the only one in the game right now literally killing herself to put on a great show. Her off the stage antics are almost as wild as the ones she does on stage, and her Fame Monster Ball is known to be epically huge. Gaga has always found a way to incorporate some sort of shock value into her performances, whether it’s having fire come out of her tits or hanging herself, but she knows what the audience wants and will give it to them. If she doesn’t wear herself too thin and or doesn’t die in some freak accident like a hair dryer exploding on her, I think she could be one that everyone will be looking back to years from now.
Beyonce, like I mentioned earlier, is another artist who I feel 100% positive will be iconic in a good twenty years. The great thing about B is, she’s never been compared to say, Diana Ross. She’s her own artist and “Single Ladies” will go down in history as one of the best videos to come out in the past ten years. I’ve seen her live twice and both times she’s put on an incredible show. Her performance at last years VMAs only further proved what an incredible performer she is, and honestly I would love to see her again just to see that song live.
Another one, that if played right, could potentially be huge is Justin Bieber. He’s getting a lot crap right now for being young, but there is major talent and potential in him that many of his other peers like the Jonas Brothers or Miley Cyrus are sorely lacking. Bieber also has natural charisma that comes across in nearly every interview or performance. As long as the pressures of being famous so young don’t get to him and he keeps his fanbase, I can totally see him gliding into his twenties and on smoothly.
Jack White is one of the few in rock I see becoming a huge force in the next decade thanks to his label and image. The White Stripes themselves are already pretty iconic and I appreciate the fact that they pay so much attention to the small details like wardrobe and set design, something most rock bands would never dream of doing these days. He’s one of the last great ones we have and quite honestly we need more men like White in rock.
Jay-Z recently performed at Bonnaroo and received glowing reviews (literally, I think every Pitchfork-obsessed writer lost their mind during his performance) and for someone who’s been around for 10+ years, he just seems to get better with age. Jay is known for high energy shows and giving his all to the crowd, and he’s also a classy man who is rarely seen in feuds with other rappers and who stands by his woman which could only contribute to his popularity.
And finally, for a more lesser-known act, I have almost full faith in the fact that Carney could become one of the greatest things to happen to rock and roll since the nineties. The lead singer, Reeve Carney, will be seen as Spiderman this fall on Broadway, but it’s their live shows that has everyone talking. I can personally say that after seeing them live a few times, I have never seen a band as mind-blowing as them in concert. By all means, their shows are pretty simple. No crazy set designs or costumes, but their energy and stage presence is almost haunting. Carney’s voice is unlike any you will hear live, going higher than most men can ever dream of, and he plays the guitar like he’s making love to it. Zane Carney on lead guitar is also fascinating to watch because he is probably one of the most energetic and best guitarists to emerge in the past decade. It’s a great quality when a band can deliver on vocals and music alone and make you feel like you’ve just witnessed the best concert of your life, and that’s exactly what Carney does. If the band would get a greater marketing push from their label, I have no doubt they could be one of the biggest and most influential bands to come onto the scene in years.
And for added fun, here’s Hole performing live featuring a stage dive, her threatening a fan, and her screaming at the crowd to shut up! Enjoy!