Written by Jenna Dreisenstock
In all forms of media, when an artists breaks through into the mainstream and their name becomes public knowledge as their media is consumed more and more, we find ourselves associating the artist(s) with a specific style. Whether it be animators and game developers who have a distinct art-style and voice: directors, actors and performers who are known for the specific roles they play within a certain genre – or musicians and bands, whose music we’ve come to respect as they have developed their expression into something unique and powerful.
However, along with this admiration of these public figures and the inspiration that we take as die-hard fans from those we look up to, we also tend to create enormous amounts of pressure for these creators to live up to our expectations. When we know the style of a certain musician which is what attracted us to their music in the first place; we as listeners tend to have double standards. As they progress and evolve within their musical career, parts of us want to hear a similar type of sound they’ve produced before – as that’s their signature style, right? What sets them apart from the others; what makes them memorable and gains them continued success and admiration. Yet, what we expect from each artist, the style in which we are so attached to: we forget that these public figures are also human beings, whose voices, personalities and ideas change. Everything changes. Human beings who may find themselves immersed in one music scene for a long period of time, creating as their musical persona – yet in their evolution as a person, sometimes find themselves leaning toward another genre completely.
Where our double standards set in is where our expectations and hype overrule the understanding of the human-ness of these creators. When anticipating a new album, what is it exactly we want to hear? It feels as though many want the same distinct style and if the musician branches out into different areas, the fans are quick to almost disown them or berate them for ‘changing’ – for not creating what they have hyped this artist to be. However at the same time, if an artist stays within their distinct voice over time which is what initially brought attention to them in the first place – fans will too, berate them for releasing music too similar to their older works, wanting change and claiming derivative composition.
The expectation we place on creators to stick within the original auditory personas they’ve created – or to break away from them; is rather dehumanising to say the least. Many artists are able to evolve in such a way that they retain those original elements of themselves, yet can still create something new and distinct; if that’s what they feel is right for them, if that’s what they want to do with their platform of musical expression. Yet, with so much hype and expectation on those in the public eye we can hold these creators to unattainable standards, standards that, as their personal expression stays the same or changes – we reject them, essentially forcing creators into boxes to fit our own wants and needs without the understanding of personal evolution.
Hype can be a fantastic thing that keeps us on our toes for the newest releases, however we must remember that people change – and sometimes, that requires their auditory expression to change. To be so let down because we hyped up what we want as opposed to what we admire about the artists, we are hindering forms of expression and understanding that, as fans, is simply not fair on the human beings who, despite being in the public eye – are always changing, just like us.