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Thread started 06/01/19 1:51am

robertgeorge

What is an icon and who qualifies as one in your humble opinion?

I can't define it but I know it when I see it. If I had to try, I would say that an icon achieved a degree of sales, popularity and cultural significance or notoriety, pioneering musical impact. This would be a combination of the above and I think ultimately every list is subjective. Long read, do not attempt if you magazines are your books.

It really is interesting when it comes to who is an icon or iconic. People like the Beatles, the Stones, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Bob Marley, 2Pac, Elton John, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder be called icons. (note I am not the biggest fan of at least 3 of these picks)

Looking at this list, you can look at who I listed and say well if they are in, why not include (insert example here).

For example, I mentioned the Beatles, what about the Doors

I did not mention Jazz... ok Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk are you happy now?

I mentionedStevie Wonder what about Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Sly Stone, James Brown. (I would add Sly and James from that list)

I mentioned Madonna what about Britney, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera Cyndi Lauper, Taylor Swift. I will stick to Madonna and ignore the argument about her comparitive lack of talent due to her preminence as an icon.

You mentioned Aretha, what about Tina Turner? I would make the case for Tina despite some long career lulls.

I mentioned Bob Dylan, what about Leonard Cohen? No.

2Pac some people would say Run DMC, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Nas, Jay Z any ideas.

I mentioned Elton John, what about Billy Joel? I have heard Billy Joel do too many bad songs.

Elvis Presley what about Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Didley etc. Yes icons.

I forgot about Blues, add BB King, (personally I would add T Bone Walker and Buddy Guy but unsure if this is personal bias.

I forgot Jimi Hendrix - add him.

But there are so many more. Black Sabbath, Joni Mitchell. for example.

Where do you draw the line. Aerosmith, Bruno Mars, Radiohead, Oasis, Dolly Parton. Talking Heads (I veto the Talking Heads), Patti Smith

I would like to add the Cure, the Smiths, and NIN. Does this mean I have to add U2 for their profile all round popularity.

I would include Michael Jackson, but how far the Jackson line do you go down. Janet maybe.

If I go down the Brit pop where do I draw the line Oasis, Suede, Blur, Pulp, Supergrass, Elastica. Where do I stop.

If I go grunge I go Nirvana but do I go Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and the Screaming Trees.

This icon thing is hard to impossible. Does anyone have any good ideas of how to define this rather than my specious ad hoc knee-jerk reactions?

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Reply #1 posted 06/01/19 4:09am

mnbvc

What I do know is that Britney Spears created Justin Timberlake's solo career.

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If Timbaland continued the work he started with Ginuwine in the 90s through the 2000s, Timberlake wouldn't even have a solo career. And even then he only managed two notable albums post-NSYNC.

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Yeah, I know some don't like him but still, if you are ever adulate Timberlake you don't have a choice but to appreciate Spears for creating his solo career.

https://www.youtube.com/w...&t=17s

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Reply #2 posted 06/01/19 5:20am

robertgeorge

mnbvc said:

What I do know is that Britney Spears created Justin Timberlake's solo career.

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If Timbaland continued the work he started with Ginuwine in the 90s through the 2000s, Timberlake wouldn't even have a solo career. And even then he only managed two notable albums post-NSYNC.

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Yeah, I know some don't like him but still, if you are ever adulate Timberlake you don't have a choice but to appreciate Spears for creating his solo career.

https://www.youtube.com/w...&t=17s

I would agree that Justin was launched off the supernova of Spears' peak popularity. I really enjoy the Justified album which is more Neptunes but had some Timbaland work (Timbaland's best work was with JT for me).

This ability to create another star by association shows Britney's iconic fame. I just don't see her as strong as a Madonna, and think her time in the sun seems pretty fleeting comparatively. I don't see her as a superb talent, compared to others, but you could build this case for Madonna.

To my list above, I would say Queen would be an iconic act with an Oscar winning movie and a famous lead singer, and a shelf of classic songs from some albeit patchy albums.

The youtube clip was interesting. Thank you.

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Reply #3 posted 06/01/19 8:20am

BlackCat1985

avatar

robertgeorge said:

I can't define it but I know it when I see it. If I had to try, I would say that an icon achieved a degree of sales, popularity and cultural significance or notoriety, pioneering musical impact. This would be a combination of the above and I think ultimately every list is subjective. Long read, do not attempt if you magazines are your books.

It really is interesting when it comes to who is an icon or iconic. People like the Beatles, the Stones, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Bob Marley, 2Pac, Elton John, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Stevie Wonder be called icons. (note I am not the biggest fan of at least 3 of these picks)

Looking at this list, you can look at who I listed and say well if they are in, why not include (insert example here).

For example, I mentioned the Beatles, what about the Doors

I did not mention Jazz... ok Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk are you happy now?

I mentionedStevie Wonder what about Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Sly Stone, James Brown. (I would add Sly and James from that list)

I mentioned Madonna what about Britney, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera Cyndi Lauper, Taylor Swift. I will stick to Madonna and ignore the argument about her comparitive lack of talent due to her preminence as an icon.

You mentioned Aretha, what about Tina Turner? I would make the case for Tina despite some long career lulls.

I mentioned Bob Dylan, what about Leonard Cohen? No.

2Pac some people would say Run DMC, Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Nas, Jay Z any ideas.

I mentioned Elton John, what about Billy Joel? I have heard Billy Joel do too many bad songs.

Elvis Presley what about Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Didley etc. Yes icons.

I forgot about Blues, add BB King, (personally I would add T Bone Walker and Buddy Guy but unsure if this is personal bias.

I forgot Jimi Hendrix - add him.

But there are so many more. Black Sabbath, Joni Mitchell. for example.

Where do you draw the line. Aerosmith, Bruno Mars, Radiohead, Oasis, Dolly Parton. Talking Heads (I veto the Talking Heads), Patti Smith

I would like to add the Cure, the Smiths, and NIN. Does this mean I have to add U2 for their profile all round popularity.

I would include Michael Jackson, but how far the Jackson line do you go down. Janet maybe.

If I go down the Brit pop where do I draw the line Oasis, Suede, Blur, Pulp, Supergrass, Elastica. Where do I stop.

If I go grunge I go Nirvana but do I go Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and the Screaming Trees.

This icon thing is hard to impossible. Does anyone have any good ideas of how to define this rather than my specious ad hoc knee-jerk reactions?



I would definitely call Michael and Janet Icons. I qualify an Icon as someone who you can see the influence from them on the next generation. They set trends. And have created art that continues to inspire and be talked about for years.
BlackCat1985
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Reply #4 posted 06/01/19 9:31am

oceanblue

An icon to me, is any entertainer that stood the test of time, sang from their own real vocal chords without any help of anything to improve it or deceive you, played real instruments with live bands, and scratched their way up from bottom to top on their own skills and talent.

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Reply #5 posted 06/01/19 10:37am

MickyDolenz

avatar

oceanblue said:

An icon to me, is any entertainer that stood the test of time, sang from their own real vocal chords without any help of anything to improve it or deceive you, played real instruments with live bands, and scratched their way up from bottom to top on their own skills and talent.

But Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Superman, The Smurfs, & Alvin And the Chipmunks are icons and they never did any of these things. lol They've stood the test of time though and are known worldwide.

For 65 years straight, the #1 genre in music, selling wise, was rock n' roll worldwide. Last year (2017) in June, it got de-crowned by hip hop. Hip hop is the #1 genre. It's hip hop - rock - country - pop or pop - country. ~ Pras
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Reply #6 posted 06/01/19 1:02pm

oceanblue

^^I'm talking singing icons, not cartoon icons. lol

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Reply #7 posted 06/01/19 2:57pm

robertgeorge

I would say if you do not write your own songs or play any instruments you can still be an icon. I mean Pavarotti or any of those opera singers are not scoring new operas to my knowledge. I would still call them iconic.

Frank Sinatra to my knowledge or Tony Bennett did not write a lot of songs but were icons for their singing and performing. Who even knows if Sinatra could play an instrument but he had a cultural, musical and film influence. Even with his loves, rat pack and style.

If Aretha Franklin only sang she would be an icon. That being said she was a special and amazing piano player, but people act like the ability to sing to an elite level is not a supreme achievement. I would love to have talent to that level! We are spoiled by Prince but he is not the norm.


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Reply #8 posted 06/01/19 3:03pm

robertgeorge

What interests me is the second tier. When is someone not quite an icon?

So for example for are Guns N Roses icons (for me yes). I love Crowded House (and Split Enz and Neil Finn) are they icons or just a very good band. What about INXS? (maybe not).

I would put Aerosmith as icons, I would include Led Zeppelin. would I include Metallica. Would I include Evan Dando and the Lemonheads? would I include Garbage? Would I include The Happy Mondays? These are tough questions when you get to the nitty gritty. Lemon Heads, Garbage, Happy Mondays not icons but bands that have good music.

This comes round to the Rock and Roll hall of fame. When does somebody get accepted here? Have we got some people that never should have been there.

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Reply #9 posted 06/01/19 5:01pm

tump

Crowded House. Neil Finn. Aerosmith.
I'm just here to say I'm happy they were mentioned here. I couldn't care less about the definition of what an icon is or isn't.

Does the music move you? Yes or no. Do you show a keen interest in following the work? Yes or no. That's it.

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame? I don't need a business justifying my art choices or advertising to me about what they deem worthy. Good for them and their businesses, but irrelevant to me. I show zero interest in awards of any kind. They are mere sales tools and ego-stroking mechanisms for the artists and money-generating businesses.

Does it move you? Does it amuse you? Does it give you a great deal of pleasure? The transaction ends there. Reviewers? Awards-givers? Silly labels? All irrelevant.
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Reply #10 posted 06/02/19 11:41am

Empress

oceanblue said:

An icon to me, is any entertainer that stood the test of time, sang from their own real vocal chords without any help of anything to improve it or deceive you, played real instruments with live bands, and scratched their way up from bottom to top on their own skills and talent.


---I think this is a terrific way to describe an icon. Of course, it's always subjective as what I think, another may not, but I think you've captured the essence of it very well thumbs up!
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Reply #11 posted 06/02/19 12:20pm

jfenster

this question vwas mentioned previously and got crapped on

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Reply #12 posted 06/02/19 12:27pm

oceanblue

Empress said:

oceanblue said:

An icon to me, is any entertainer that stood the test of time, sang from their own real vocal chords without any help of anything to improve it or deceive you, played real instruments with live bands, and scratched their way up from bottom to top on their own skills and talent.

---I think this is a terrific way to describe an icon. Of course, it's always subjective as what I think, another may not, but I think you've captured the essence of it very well thumbs up!

Thanks Empress. smile

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Reply #13 posted 06/02/19 8:21pm

lowkey

Iconic has nothing to do with how talented someone is, there are really bad people and things that are iconic. If its instantly recognized, represents a certain time period, has become part of pop culture...its iconic.
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Reply #14 posted 06/05/19 2:02pm

namepeace

lowkey said:

Iconic has nothing to do with how talented someone is, there are really bad people and things that are iconic. If its instantly recognized, represents a certain time period, has become part of pop culture...its iconic.


Agreed. For better or for worse, impact is the primary criteria.

For my twocents . . .

Context is important. Some artists may be icons within their "genre," but not within music as a whole.

Prince, for example, is a music icon. But is he a global icon? I still say not quite.

Michael Jackson, however, however, is both a music icon and global icon because of his spheres of influence.

A lot of this is purely subjective, of course, but impact and scope of impact are key.

Good night, sweet Prince | 7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016

Props will be withheld until the showing and proving has commenced. -- Aaron McGruder
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Reply #15 posted 06/05/19 4:51pm

mnbvc

There doesn't need to be more time spent on the topic but I'm sure people wonder why Britney just couldn't enjoy her 15 minutes of fame and disapear (rather than continue to make millions more money which continues to this very day without even performing)

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How the hell is that going to happen when she created Justin Timberlake's solo career?

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I've been critical of her but Beyonce leaving Destiny's Child and going solo? She legitimately made a successful, great transition.

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Timberlake did not whatsoever and it shows big time with his 0% success without the fromer Ginuwine producer.

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So you can deride her displayed apparent musical talent all you want but it doesn't change the fact that she still created Justin Timberake's solo career and that's FOREVER going to be the case.

https://www.youtube.com/w...&t=21s

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And Blackout>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>FutureSex/Lovesounds

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Reply #16 posted 06/05/19 10:59pm

robertgeorge

mnbvc said:

There doesn't need to be more time spent on the topic but I'm sure people wonder why Britney just couldn't enjoy her 15 minutes of fame and disapear (rather than continue to make millions more money which continues to this very day without even performing)

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How the hell is that going to happen when she created Justin Timberlake's solo career?

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I've been critical of her but Beyonce leaving Destiny's Child and going solo? She legitimately made a successful, great transition.

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Timberlake did not whatsoever and it shows big time with his 0% success without the fromer Ginuwine producer.

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So you can deride her displayed apparent musical talent all you want but it doesn't change the fact that she still created Justin Timberake's solo career and that's FOREVER going to be the case.

https://www.youtube.com/w...&t=21s

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And Blackout>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>FutureSex/Lovesounds

Actually I enjoyed Blackout more than FutureSex/Lovesounds. FutureSex/Lovesounds was overrated, my favorite Timeberlake album was Justified. Blackout was quite a listenable album of Britneys.

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Reply #17 posted 06/06/19 3:09am

TheFman

Icons are those that are referred to over 25 years after they stopped.
Icons are those that even me and your grannie know about.
Icons are those who lesser artists wish they were.
Icons are those that set the bar.

[Edited 6/6/19 3:10am]

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Reply #18 posted 06/06/19 6:15am

ChocolateBox31
21

avatar

Janet Jackson has reached icon status. Although years ago. But just now getting her accolades...

[Edited 6/6/19 9:30am]

So Prince, whom fought 4 his first record deal & got it, fought 4 a movie deal & got it, fought 4 freedom from his WB contract & got it, fought 4 his masters & got them.Gets a curable illness & says 2 himself ok, I'm done. "Life is a Box Of Chocolates"
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Reply #19 posted 06/06/19 8:57am

thedoorkeeper

Britney created Timberlake's career & Janet almost destroyed it.
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Reply #20 posted 06/06/19 5:28pm

daingermouz202
0

TheFman said:

Icons are those that are referred to over 25 years after they stopped.
Icons are those that even me and your grannie know about.
Icons are those who lesser artists wish they were.
Icons are those that set the bar.

[Edited 6/6/19 3:10am]



Well said. I agree. Personally I would not consider ANYONE who came out after 1987 an Icon.
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Reply #21 posted 06/06/19 5:47pm

MickyDolenz

avatar

lowkey said:

Iconic has nothing to do with how talented someone is, there are really bad people and things that are iconic. If its instantly recognized, represents a certain time period, has become part of pop culture...its iconic.

You mean like Al Capone, Bonnie & Clyde, Billy The Kid, Jack The Ripper, Charles Manson, Idi Amin, & Adolf Hitler? People wear T-shirts of Manson and some women have a crush on Ted Bundy.

For 65 years straight, the #1 genre in music, selling wise, was rock n' roll worldwide. Last year (2017) in June, it got de-crowned by hip hop. Hip hop is the #1 genre. It's hip hop - rock - country - pop or pop - country. ~ Pras
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Reply #22 posted 06/06/19 5:58pm

TD3

avatar

Icon and legend has been so abused and over used, these words have become meaningless.

I don't think length of a career is necessarily vindication that anyones an "Icon". I judge artist on their material. I have a hugde collection of one, two, three album artist who've made an impact on music and /or me.

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Reply #23 posted 06/07/19 6:10pm

onlyforaminute

Their impact can cross generations and classifications. There are a bunch of people whose music i enjoy greatly yet i wasn't even born during the height of their career. AND tons of people in my age group can say thd same thing about them. They can gravitate beyond their targeted fanbase.
[Edited 6/7/19 18:17pm]
Year of Return 2019
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Reply #24 posted 06/08/19 10:53pm

robertgeorge

TD3 said:

Icon and legend has been so abused and over used, these words have become meaningless.

I don't think length of a career is necessarily vindication that anyones an "Icon". I judge artist on their material. I have a hugde collection of one, two, three album artist who've made an impact on music and /or me.

James Dean is that iconic hollywood image of the star who died young and left a beautiful corpse (at lease on celluloid if not in his wrecked spyder automobile), and his substantive films were Rebel without a cause, east of eden and giant.

It seems like there are different rules (ok let's be real there are no rules) for those who people who died young. Jimi Hendrix only released three studio albums, but his image and estate releases have lasted decades. Some of them are enjoyable like the Jimi Hendrix blues compilation.

I think is where you draw the line. For example I would struggle to find Maroon 5 or My Chemical Romance iconic. I really detest greenday, so I have a high amount of personal bias when it comes to thinking of them as anything iconic.

Is eminem an icon? what about a tribe called quest, 50 cent or ll cool j. What about kurtis blow, or missy elliot. Has Lauryn Hill done enough to be an icon?

It is fascinating the drop off point. The Beatles yes, The Rolling Stones yes, what about Herman's Hermits. What about the Monkees.


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Reply #25 posted 06/12/19 2:20pm

SoulAlive

It's hard to explain exactly what makes someone an "icon",but it's easy to identify the icons...

Prince,Madonna,Michael Jackson,Elvis Presley,The Beatles.......mega-superstars like that.

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Reply #26 posted 06/13/19 3:11pm

uPtoWnNY

TheFman said:

Icons are those that are referred to over 25 years after they stopped.
Icons are those that even me and your grannie know about.
Icons are those who lesser artists wish they were.
Icons are those that set the bar.

[Edited 6/6/19 3:10am]

yeahthat

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Reply #27 posted 06/14/19 3:57pm

TD3

avatar

robertgeorge said:

TD3 said:

Icon and legend has been so abused and over used, these words have become meaningless.

I don't think length of a career is necessarily vindication that anyones an "Icon". I judge artist on their material. I have a huge collection of one, two, three album artist who've made an impact on music and /or me.

James Dean is that iconic Hollywood image of the star who died young and left a beautiful corpse (at lease on celluloid if not in his wrecked spyder automobile), and his substantive films were Rebel without a cause, east of eden and giant.

It seems like there are different rules (ok let's be real there are no rules) for those who people who died young. Jimi Hendrix only released three studio albums, but his image and estate releases have lasted decades. Some of them are enjoyable like the Jimi Hendrix blues compilation.

I think is where you draw the line. For example I would struggle to find Maroon 5 or My Chemical Romance iconic. I really detest greenday, so I have a high amount of personal bias when it comes to thinking of them as anything iconic.

Is eminem an icon? what about a tribe called quest, 50 cent or ll cool j. What about kurtis blow, or missy elliot. Has Lauryn Hill done enough to be an icon?

It is fascinating the drop off point. The Beatles yes, The Rolling Stones yes, what about Herman's Hermits. What about the Monkees.


Its all relative and very subjective. (IMHO) Audiophiles usually don't stick or judge artist based on Billboard music charts and record sales. To each her or his own but if people have limited their music listening to music charts or record sales... I'd argue they have a very narrow experience, musically. The music business model was always built on a very controlled and a limited amount of music being played (back in the day) on the radio. I think in the long run that model came back to bite them.

One of the most interesting things to is early days when Rappers sampled, they grabbed artist who's works weren't all that well known, let alone charted in the top 100. NPR tiny desk is the a perfect example of musician's and musicianship at it best. Not to say to say charted and succesful acts shouldn't be dismissed either... we just need to expand our definition of what icon means. (IMHO)

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[Edited 6/15/19 9:53am]

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