As a general assumption people love rebellion. There is something embedded in each and every one of us that makes deviating from the social norm attractive. This seems to be true for teens especially. Groups such as Wavves, Death Grips Iceage, WU LYF, The Black lips, Justice, Times New Viking, and Tyler the Creator use profane and rebellious imagery in order to make their image more attractive and exciting to potential listeners. At some points this imagery is so over the top that it seems as if fans are no longer in it for the music but rather for the specific artist’s self image.
The best example of this is evident when examining popular musician Nathan William’s (Wavves) rise to popularity in the music world. What started out as a twenty something year old making music on garage band on a MacBook turned into super hyped underground sensation. However the music Williams was making was not extraordinarily breathtaking or original in any way. Rather the artist rose to fame based on what many believe to be his hip rebelliousness and ways of presenting himself.
As seen in the above promotional artwork for the musician the way in which the music is delivered is in a rebellious aesthetic. Many of the images seen (Upside down cross, drug references, pentagram etc.) appeal to the general attraction to rebellious ideologies that are prevalent in teenage culture. Many artists who are less focused on their aesthetic appeal and more focused on their actual music have become fed up with this new trend. This frustration is aptly portrayed in The Washington Post’s interview with Matt Whitehurst (Psycadelic Horsesh**t). Whitehurst sums up his frustration with bands like Wavves coasting off of their imagery to remain relevant by saying “in the last year due to a few figureheads talking a bunch of [expletive] on Terminal Boredom. And now it’s exploded into this thing there where Wavves is getting $30,000 to [expletive] crank out this [expletive] generic [expletive].”(Whitehurst) This example of the way that more talented musicians are being overlooked because of their image is the main problem with this new rebellion trend.
Although the rebellious aesthetic seems to be viewed as a negative thing it has also helped a lot of people find new music that they enjoy listening to by catching their eye and allowing them to discover something that they might not have otherwise discovered. I have been personally guilty of getting into musicians for this precise reason and ending up being really happy with what I had discovered.
After watching the electronic music group Justice’s music video for the song “Stress” I felt immediately drawn towards finding out more about this group.
Rather than the music the video’s violent and abrasive imagery is what initially made me take up an interest in the group and eventually become a fan of the group. I believe that this was no accident. I believe that this group made this video in order to grasp people’s attention therefore drawing in new fans. Although the video did receive a lot of negative response it did in the end grab the attention of a larger audience that wouldn’t have normally been acceptable.