Mind the age gap

Published June 4, 2012

The Jubilee concert was a real mixed bag, as these things are, but at one point, it did make me stop and think. Many of the acts are from yester year - Elton John, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox, Cliff Richard, and Shirley Bassey. These are artists who are all still incredible (give or take a Cliff Richard or two), but can’t possibly claim to be anything but sliding past their best.

On the flip side, there was the new blood of Cheryl (no longer Cole or Tweedy), Jessie J (who can’t go anywhere without anymore), and JLS (one of them did a backflip, just to prove the youth).

My question is, what is in between?

Say, for example, in twenty years time when Gary Barlow is organising the next jubilee for the never-ending Queen, who will be performing? You’d imagine that some of the acts performing today will no longer be with us, or will have retired from performing.

We’ll have more new talent, no doubt, and some of the youngsters performing now will either have disappeared, or will be hitting their stride. But who will be the oldies?

It’d have to be those who were super duper famous in the 80s and 90s, are mainstream enough to perform on a Royal Variety type show, and are still amazing enough to retain popularity.

The only people I could think of were Madonna, Kylie and U2.

When I raised the topic with Mr C, he suggested having a look at the Live Aid performers, to see who would still be relevant. That gave us Dire Straits, The Pretenders, Duran Duran and Phil Collins.

It’s not looking like a strong line up to me.

If you’re going seriously mainstream, you might be able to convince the Spice Girls to stay together, and I’d be first in line to see Backstreet Boys. (I wouldn’t, but you get the idea).

What comes from this is the real question - why isn’t there a multitude of mainstream acts from the 80s and 90s?

My pondered and not definitive answers are manyfold:

  1. The 80s in particular was a time when everybody wanted to be edgy. No one would be seen doing the Jubilee Concert.
  2. There was so much good music in the 80s that it was kinda hard to stand out so much from the rest. Everyone’s a winner!
  3. There were still so many good acts from earlier years that they were dominating things in subsequent decades and not letting anyone else have a go.
  4. The 80s and 90s were rough on famous acts and they have since died/quit. (Whitney, Michael J, etc).

Of course, once you get past the jubilee in twenty years time and move on to one in forty or so years (at which point, we’re going to be looking at a different leader, although given the genes in the Windsor family…) then you have to worry about who will dominate from the noughties. I can think of only Beyonce, and then I’m out.

Are mainstream megastars a thing of the past?

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