The Evolution of a Star: Analyzing Two Icons Through their Fanbase and Music
We'll be looking at Harry Styles and Stevie Nicks. These are two icons that have gained their icon status from their charm, adoration for their fanbases, and relatability.
Concert culture started in brassy and velveteen rooms where musicians played their instruments for those who wanted to see them. In the 1950s, it evolved into something else entirely. The phenomenon of the rock concert occurred for the first time in 1953. It fuelled the evolution of the fanbase and the rockstar, and by the 70s, Rock was in full swing, and the concert reached its first peak.
Concerts became more than intimate events that focus solely on music. They transformed into experiences to go through with friends. They became about dancing to the upbeat melodies and crying to the heartbreaking ones. They became about that instant when the musician's eyes caught yours in a dusty crowd, or the moment the bridge of your favourite song took over the amphitheatre.
In 2019, the euphoria of the concert is still alive. Though technology has made music infinitely more accessible, the charm and allure of seeing your favourite artist live still sells out stadiums.
How does one decide their favourite artist? A singer that can attract millions is a melange of musician, entertainer, and friend.
Yes, friend. The test of time has proved that being a friend is the deciding factor in whether a musician can attract an audience. The crowd has to be able to feel a connection to an artist for them to stay relevant. In the past 40 years, the standards of relating have evolved drastically.
To understand how fans can relate to an artist, we're going to be looking at the fanbase of two artists. These artists, one from 1979 and the other from 2019, have kept their fans for a long time. We're going to break down the evolution of their fanbases; what’s relevant to them in 2019, and what was relevant to them in 1979?
On Atlantic Avenue, smack dab in the middle of New York City stands the Barclays Centre. Located in a commercial part of Brooklyn, it's ordinary throughout the day, but during the evening, it transforms into something exceptional. Magnetism fills the air; the arena lights up, and crowds arrive for the sports events and concerts.
Tonight, an extra layer of enchantment is applied. Stars stride across the red carpet and pose for flashing cameras. Inside the arena, blue stage lights shine as people pour in through the doors. The excitement of the crowd is palpable.
Tonight, is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Those who are already sitting, wait for the show to start and for the stars to shine.
Clad in flower-covered dresses and pantsuits, young starry-eyed girls settle into their seats and take in the scene in front of them. Eyes documenting every detail of the arena, they jot down immaculate memories in their heads. As anticipation blankets the girls, their whispers increase in tempo and start to ring out loud. Giggles and oh-my-gods can be heard as the girls discuss what the night might be. This day was on their minds for a while now. Months ago, they scrounged for tickets and bought them without hesitation. Each day, they gushed about it through constant tweets and counted down the nights of sleep until tonight.
Tonight, they are seeing Stevie Nicks, the first woman to ever enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. In 1998, the 70s icon alongside her band Fleetwood Mac entered the Hall of Fame. In mere hours, Harry Styles, member of the dissolved British boyband One Direction, is inducting Stevie again, this time as a solo artist.
For the girls in the audience, Stevie makes up the soundtrack of their childhood. Their parents passed down the songs of Fleetwood Mac through old records and road-trip soundtracks. Harry Styles, however, symbolizes the music of their teenage years. The girls spent their adolescence chasing One Direction concerts, and when they couldn't be there, they would tweet about it. They would message the members of One Direction and asked them for follows. Other times, they would make inside jokes about moments they’d see on videos of the boys; most of the time though, they shared photos of the boys, and talked to other fans. They kept the spirit of the fanbase alive, and through that, they made friends.
These girls met through Twitter. After meeting at concerts and sharing tears of joy, they bonded for life. Years later, the girls, now fans of Nicks and Styles, decided to reunite here.
As their initial excitement dies down, a lull comes over them as they spring out their phones and assume the role of journalists for the night. Some phones slowly turn in circles, recording the arena before them, while others have Twitter wide open.The girls tap away at capitalized tweets, emphasizing every detail of the night before them. Throughout the years, each girl has amassed over a thousand followers, and across the street, country, and the world, observers inhale every tweet and video, feeling as if they’re sitting in the audience of the Barclays Centre.
And then, everything turns pitch black. Hearts beat rapidly against chests as the first drumbeats of Nicks' solo song “Stand Back” bounce against the walls. The arena transforms from darkness into vivid violet as Stevie Nicks appears from behind the stage. She dons a loose and inky dress and looks to the crowd. Her voice enchants the audience, capturing their screams and converting them into swaying hips.
As the audience loses themselves in the rhythm, one of the girls pulls out her phone and captures a photo of Stevie’s face on one of the many the jumbotrons. She quickly posts it on Twitter, feeding watchers across the world. The show has begun, and the night is still young.
We'll be looking at the rise of fame of both Stevie Nicks and Harry Styles. We'll learn about how fans can feel like they're friends with a musician that has a million fans! We'll observe how fan and concert culture have changed since 1979. By observing this, we'll see how musical icons have evolved in the past 40 years.