Last month, Paul McCartney claimed the title of ‘Glastonbury’s Oldest Solo Headliner’ at 80 years old. This comes in the same lineup that set Billie Eilish as the youngest solo headliner at age 20. These are both incredible accomplishments but makes one wonder how fame may come to change through the years. With ever changing trends, cancel culture and a massive library of music to choose from, becoming an icon in the public eye looks different than it used to when McCartney and the Beatles originally rose to fame.
Well known artists, such as McCartney, Cher, Madonna and more came to fame at varying times throughout the 60s to 80s and have held onto their star power since then. Obviously, continuing to create and release albums is important, but they also consistently deliver what their fans expect from them.
A major aspect of these artists’ rise to fame was also the accessibility and promotion of music at the time. It was harder to make it as a new artist or band, but those who got the attention of a record label faced much less competition than artists of today.
What current artists have the potential to hold this level of fame to last over 60 years and be a global name? Most people would like to think their favorite artist will be one to stand the test of time, but how can we know? There’s no algorithm to plug information into or step-by-step guide for an artist to follow. Yet there are so many factors in play and so many things that could change in an instant.
Looking at how an artist achieved their fame and what they did after gaining attention in the public eye are good indications as to if an artist will be around for a while. For example, one hit wonders on TikTok are less likely to have a McCartney level career compared to artists/bands that built up their sound, fanbase and discography over time. An artist or band that has done the latter will have continuously shown audiences who they are and what to expect, for the most part.
There are many artists that seem to have the potential for long lasting fame, such as Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift, but only time can truly tell. With Sheeran’s climb to fame from busking on the street to stadium tours around the world, he has made a powerful name for himself. In common with many of the artists whose careers span decades, he has proven to be a talented musician, performer and songwriter, and he walks the fine line between innovation and delivering what fans expect. With two baby girls at home, what comes next for Sheeran could determine what path his stardom takes. While taking time off from music can bring a great comeback with amazing music, disappearing from the public eye for too long could cause one to get left behind in favor of more up and coming artists.
Taylor Swift is currently one of the top female pop artists in the world and has set herself up to have a long-lasting impact in music. Swift began her career at age 16 with her debut album “Taylor Swift.” Many critics wrote her off as a one-hit wonder, disney star due to her age, but she has proven otherwise and has the talent to back it up. Over the course of her career thus far, Swift has explored a variety of genres and worked with different artists, from Keith Urban to Kendrick Lamar, to create her diverse discography. As other artists such as Elton John have demonstrated, being able to step out of your comfort zone and work with other artists can have a major impact on one’s career.
The concept of fame is easy to understand but explaining why one person became famous compared to another or why some people have stayed famous for longer is harder to do. It seems only time will tell who gets remembered and who merely had their five minutes.