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Dress For Success

What do musicians' outfits tell you about their music?

by Dr. Spin
November 28, 2005

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Dress For Success

Dr Spin,
What's your real name???????????????

Abigail Wallace

Dear Abigail (if that is really your name),

Like Superman and the Lone Ranger, my true identity is kept secret to protect the innocent, namely me. People can't sue me or threaten to steal my dog if they don't know who I am. However, for you, I will reveal my true name. It's Kal-El.

Dr Spin,

Further to previous emails regarding Mitsubishi, but am I right in thinking Mitsubishi also featured a song from Planet Funk called 'The Switch' from the "Non Zero Sumness" album, in the UK advert for the Colt model?  If so can you tell me anymore?

Alvino

Dear Alvino,

I believe this was covered in a previous article. Yes, "The Switch" was used in a UK commercial for the Mitsubishi Colt. And no, I cannot tell you anymore; I'm not opening that can of worms again.

Dr Spin,

What's up with this new metal?  It sounds horrible compared to the older metal bands such as Slayer, Venom, Metallica, Danzig, and all the other great metal bands.  Do you think that the older metal bands will return and kick the new metal bands' asses?

Dear Metal fan,

What are you talking about? Slayer? Venom? Sorry, when I think of older Heavy Metal, I think of Motely Crue, Dokken, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. Okay, that probably dates me a bit. At least I've heard of all the bands you listed above.

I don't really follow Heavy Metal all that much so I can't say what's up with new metal. The fact that you don't like new metal probably says two things; one older metal probably is better than the newer stuff and two, you're getting old. This is nothing to be ashamed of; I realized I was old when DJs started referring the music I grew up with as "Classic ‘80's" and the oldies channels started playing it. The good news about all this is your favorite bands will start playing smaller venues and you may actually meet them.

Will the older bands kick the newer bands asses? I your mind, they already have.

Dr Spin,

Does what the musicians wear (their outfits) reflect their music? Is there any connection between music and what the musicians wear?
Thank you!
Nia

Dear Nia,

Especially since the video age, but even way before then, image is everything in pop music. Musicians have always tried to look "cool" and "hip," so fashion has always played a big roll in what musicians wear.

Before the Beatles made it big, they were scruffy looking lads who wore leather jackets and jeans, and had greasy hairdos, in other words, they tried to look like all young toughs circa 1959. Their manager Brian Epstein forced them to change to suits and change their hairstyles to be more appealing to the older generation (ie; the parents of their fans) and therefore their music was seen as a lot less threatening. Yet rebellion has always been a part of the rock image and what was then considered "long hair" was seen as threatening to straight-laced America.

Even before the Beatles, Elvis Presley showed his rebel spirit with his sideburns, and Johnny Cash perfected his "Man in Black" image. During the late sixties, musicians colorful outfits were often an extention of their psychedelic, free-flowing personas. Look at the way Jimi Hendrix dressed compared to the more bubblegum pop of that era (Herman's Hermits or the Archies).

If you look throughout the history of Rock, the more pop-oriented/teen idol acts are better groomed, more "polite" looking; the more aggressive a band is the more aggressive they dress; look at Punk bands. There is some logic to it; could you take a Heavy Metal band seriously if they looked like lawyers? On the flipside, a boy band that dressed in goth clothing with ripped clothing and in serious need of a razor and a good haircut would not fly either.

Especially in the post-MTV world of modern music, image is almost as important as sound, and with modern marketing the way it is, you can be assured that most bands are making a clear statement about their music in how they dress.

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