Why is it that few artists remain as successful on their solo careers as when they’re in a band? The first ones that come to mind are The Beatles. No matter what you think of Imagine, or Got My Mind Set On You, or anything by the Wings, I think we can agree that the Beatles was greater than the sum of their parts.
WNYC’s Soundcheck had an interesting show about this. One of the ideas they had was the most obvious one: that each person brings something to the group, and the creative drive is hard to duplicate alone, or with different people. (Except when you are the band, like George Michael in Wham!)
Case in point: The Beatles. Harper’s Contributor David Samuels said that
Paul brought the craftmanship;
John the passion;
George the soulness; and
Ringo the humour.
I wonder, though, if the concept of band hasn’t changed lately? That maybe everybody wants to be an Idol, not a part of anything. Just one. The biggest-selling pop bands in the last decade or so have been put together by an outside force. Artificially, commercially. Like, The New Kids On The Block, Boyzone, Take That, Backstreet Boys. Boy bands, that is.
OK, the rock band is still alive and well, right? I am sure there are still guys and gals, placing ads, looking for drummers, and rehearsing in a garage.
It’s just that on this week’s Billboard Top200 album list, the first band comes at #9.
Where have the teams and collaborations gone? The Idol was preceeded by Popstars, but that didn’t become as successful (and most of the bands have also disappeared).
There is a similar trend in television and movies. This just occurred to me, so it’s no theory, but maybe the success of Seinfeld, and other stand up comedians have attracted a lot of followers.
And yet, Seinfeld is the perfect example of the power of a group. Ask Cosmo.