Ok so I couldn’t help but think to myself the other day while I was driving, listening to the radio as the radio DJ made a statement referring to a certain female artist as the all time pop goddess on the air waves, who I’d consider to be the ultimate queen of pop!
An interesting question I thought, as in all honesty I think that the term King or Queen of pop is an over used, hollow and meaningless phrase used to depict someone that we cannot quite put into one box or another. Take for example Michael Jackson, a real icon of the pop industry. All too often we hear that significantly irritating term, “The all time King of Pop!” used by radio DJ’s, news readers and so many other people who take a talent far superior than royalty and coin a term that they feel puts the person they are describing on a pedestal of adequate comparison. I for one find this habit quite irritating as royalty are most certainly not individuals to admire. How many Kings and Queens through history have been criminals, tyrants, villains and complete failures as leaders and men and women of power? So why then compare the genius and talent of someone like John Lennon to a status in society that is not always necessarily looked up to as being of iconic regard?
Ok, ok I hear you ranting that we compare these unique individuals to monarchy in the aspect of their indisputable status as sole and divine leader over all others in that space and time. In this way, we have come to use the expression “Queen of Pop” as a direct parallel to that indisputable place in time where that person held the sole position of power over all others within the world of pop. Yes I understand too the argument behind this train of thought, however would point out that Kings and Queens are human and finite. There are limits to how long their power or position may last, dependant on so many variations of scenario, that you can begin to see cracks appear in the direct line of thought when it comes to naming an all time “Queen of Pop!”, because the person I name today will only stand to be knocked off that pedestal in time to come.
So for that reason, I decided to rethink the question slightly differently. Who, do I consider to be the most iconic, phenomenal and memorable contributor to the world of pop, taking into consideration everyone that I know of and have heard. That has become no easy question to answer and one I have spent some time considering now.
While I think that there have been a number of masters of the art of pop, and have certainly stood the test of time, and consistently produced popular, timely music, there are few that leap out from the crowd and stand out as true trend setters of their era.
Some of the names I have considered include many infamous icons of pop through the years. Take for example Norma Jeane Baker or otherwise known to the masses as Marilyn Monroe. In the 1960’s when Marilyn Monroe was in the height of her fame, it can certainly be said that she had a massive impact on society and the world around her, but I do have to wonder if it was not the mystery behind her death that has lead over time to the iconic status with which Marilyn Monroe is now regarded. The public love nothing more than the idea of a conspiracy and the whole aura of mystery; uncertainty and intrigue have built an infamous status with which Marilyn Monroe has become regarded. Does this really set her aside as what we could possibly consider to be the all time matriarch of pop?
On the other side of the scale I did consider the multi talented pop icon that has become Lady Gaga. The 24 year old American pop sensation Stefani Germanotta has over a period of two years become on of the most powerful forces in modern pop music, having amassed herself a small fortune of US$62 million in that time, and has been listed by Forbes Magazine as the 7th most powerful celebrity in the world.
That is certainly an impressive feat to have accomplished within a two year time frame, but I have to ask myself if given time, memory of the current cultural sensation that has made Lady Gaga a phenomenon in the current chart will fair so favourably once the media hype and clever marketing that has been used to make her such a famous celebrity has exhausted its usefulness. I mean lets be realistic, it is Lady Gaga’s ability to break boundaries and consistently shock normal sane people that leaves much of the public in awe of her ability. When it comes down to pure talent, I certainly do not believe that it was by talent alone that Lady Gaga has become the sensation that she is today.
So while I allow credit to the likes of Stefani Germanotta of the pop world, and I do believe that there are a few, I believe that it is by their ability to be controversial and through powerful and clever marketing that they have become as popular as they are. A few examples of this would have to be the likes of Brittany Spears, Gwen Stephanie, Christina Aguilera, Cher and a multitude of other singers. While talented to a degree, and performers of notability, I’d not go as far as to say that they are the true description of an all time pop legend.
So let’s take a look at the power of facts and stats then. There are three big hitters that I think defiantly rule the roost when it comes to phenomenal accomplishments in terms of their contribution to pop. Shania Twain, Madonna and Celine Dion. Between these three ladies alone, they contribute to selling in excess of 500 million albums world wide. Now before you start shouting and screaming that there are other women who have sold incredible numbers of albums, I have discounted them as I do not feel that I regard them as pop icons. Credit where credit is due, this contest is just not for them.
So of the three I’ve listed, there are several key factors that come into play. Madonna has certainly sold the most number of records, contributing in excess of 300 million albums to that combined total on her own. Celine on the other hand has been singing and producing albums since she was 12, and many of her albums are in French and not taken into consideration when producing much of the available statistics. Shania remarkably has to be a firm contender having sold 45 million records across 5 albums and all within a decade, making her one of the most successful female recording artists in terms of the sheer number of sales in the shortest period of time.
But of the three there is one clear winner in terms of her ability to stand the test of time in her ability to reinvent herself, and have wide appeal across multiple generations of people. In terms of awards, the list of nominations and accreditations that Madonna has wracked up over her time in pop music, and recognition and respect in the pop world, Madonna stands out as a clear iconic symbol of pop power and achievement.
So is this me saying that in my opinion Madonna is the all time mistress of the pop world? In many ways I do consider Madonna to be the principal icon of pop power around the world, and considering that she is now 52 years of age and is still producing music that challenges peers in the industry that are still in the teens and early 20’s I think is very remarkable indeed.
From Rock to Dance, Pop to Country, Classical to Contemporary Madonna has crossed every genre of music and nailed it to perfection along the way. Her concerts have become a performance not to be missed and her music will long into the future still be trend setting the way we dance, party and relax. Certainly Madonna is an icon to consider for that ultimate title of Pop Goddess.
Yes, I have to admit that when it comes to popularity and affection, I don’t think that Madonna quite has it. Yes in much the same way that Princess Dianna out shone the entire Royal Family in the UK, I believe that there is a pop ambassador that stands far out in front of many of today’s celebrity icons.
So in finally answering my question, my vote and honest belief is that Kylie Minogue is our modern day definition of pure positive impact on an industry, society and the people who call themselves fans.
I regard Kylie as a complete woman. A role model, a pure professional, a real success story and someone that I regard with admiration. Not many people can say they know about the personal life of Kylie Minogue, a mark of a true celebrity in my opinion. Someone who is loved and admired not for her lifestyle, controversial performances or ability to stir up a storm in a tea cup, but merely for her ability to consistently produce quality and great entertainment. Kylie has resolutely been a true ambassador for woman in both success and in the face of peril. Through trials like breast cancer, stormy relationships and periods of uncertainty, Kylie has always managed to bounce back, invigorated, energised, reinvented, sensual and seductive, yet thoroughly lovely and lady like. She knows how to push the limit without becoming crass or cheap, and has turned herself into a remarkable role model for generations of young women the world over.
Yes I truly believe that what ever term you choose, Kylie Minogue is in a league of her own. She is a remarkable lady and one of our finest female artists of all time. To you I salute you and give you my vote as the most iconic female artist of all time, Miss Kyle Ann Minogue OBE.