The inescapable nature of musical artists’ influence

A collection of fire albums from spotify.

Ryan Vance

A collection of fire albums from spotify.

Ryan Vance, Business Manager

Most people know how movie stars and influencers affect pop culture through their large followings, but the effect musicians have on pop culture is often forgotten. Musicians have the power to influence cultures and shape our modern society.

At the 2000 Grammy Awards ceremony, Jennifer Lopez wore a green Versace dress that struck the world. Soon after, her dress  became the most searched term on Google. The company created the Google image search engine to show users what they wanted. Jennifer Lopez and her dress are essentially the reason we have Google images.

This effect is not specific to musical creators. Movie stars, sports icons and other celebrities all affect American culture and what is considered “popular.” Understanding why musicians have influence on individuals can explain why they have the power to shape cultures worldwide.

Musicians seem to have a knack for spreading trends across cultures in a way that differs from traditional celebrities. In their music, they use sounds to trigger emotions that can sometimes change the way a person lives their life and sense of culture.

Along with influencing culture, research supports the idea that listeners have similar personalities to artists that they like. A 2020 study showed that “people prefer the music of artists who have publicly observable personalities similar to their own personality traits.”

A recent example of this phenomenon is Billie Eilish. Many of her songs have bits of electro pop and rap in them, but fans of these genres are not the only ones listening to her because of her music, but also because of her style and influence. People believed Eilish’s music was the embodiment of pop after her debut album’s release in March of 2019.

The young artist is known to wear baggy clothing that differs from the wardrobe of typical celebrities. Many fans shared their opinions about her lifestyle and fashion taste specifically. Then, Eilish released a video titled, “Not My Responsibility.” It addressed the body-shamers who would never be happy with what she wore. 

The video allowed many to stand up for their views and be proud of who they are. Eilish’s baggy clothing and viral video popularized embracing the imperfections everyone has. The popular artist shared her message and people then connected with the work and viewers became confident enough to share their own stories. This is just one example of people relating to a popular artist and connecting with their work. 

Senior Ethan Kilcoin’s favorite group, Radiohead, often influences him and others around him. “I feel like I could grab a soda with Thom Yorke,” Kilcoin said about the lead singer of the band. “It seems like Radiohead is talking to me through their music.” 

When people take time out of their day to listen to an artist, it shows how much the listener cares about the artist and is willing to take what they say into account as they go about their daily lives. Eventually, over time, the listener’s subconscious agreements with the artist slowly becomes part of their personality. 

Artists have the power to be friends through their music. Listeners hear the music and connect, just like how they connect to a friend that is confiding in them. Singing is one of the most vulnerable ways to communicate, but it can also have the power to move listeners and influence their behaviors. 

Artists often have a noticeable effect on the lives of listeners, similarly to how parents and friends influence our choices because we are willing to listen to them and take their ideas into account. When people listen to the same music, they are able to feel a connection to an artist who created it. 

Hearing a familiar artist can be comforting, like talking to a friend. The artist can help make a bad day better, they provide comfort in hard times and, every so often, they change a life.