I recently was dragged into a conversation about Miley Cyrus while out with friends due to her new music video being released. The same arguments of, “what happened,” “how could she,” and, “what a disgrace in music.” Getting beyond the bad girl image she’s trying entirely too hard to present, she isn’t the first and won’t be the last. Musicians have for hundreds of years used these methods to get their names out and market themselves. Sex sells, gossip spreads, music is bought, and money is made.
Some of our favorite composers were known for their rock star antics just like Miley, even all the way back in the 1800’s we can see the insanity of the entertainment world, minus the twerking of course.
First on the list is the composer and pianist Franz Liszt. Franz Liszt caused such commotion amongst his female fans that there’s an actual diagnosis for it, Lisztomania. He would cause total mayhem wherever he would go walking in the streets. Women would fight each other for items he dropped or lost, such as broken piano strings or handkerchiefs. Sound familiar? It should, Bieber fever is a modern example of this old phenomenon. Whether it be 19th century women or 21st century teenage girls, people will idolize celebrities to the point of violence for locks of hair or autographs (seriously people wanted pieces of Liszt’s hair). Famous violinist Niccolò Paganini was thought to have struck a deal with Satan for his lightning fast and demonic technical performances. He enjoyed this image so much he would have a black carriage with black horses drive him to performances to add his dark persona as a musician. No other than Lady Gaga can be seen using the same techniques as Paganini. Her obsession with her image and musical talent is not unlike Paganini. Also, there’s dozens of conspiracy theories connecting her to the Illuminati and believe her to be a Satan worshiping soulless being. Yet, she continues to use the imagery in her music. Does she worship Satan? Probably not, however, the imagery gets people talking which is what really matters in the long run.
Two musicians, same marketing techniques
These are only two musicians from the Romantic era of music but there are dozens of instances in the history of music of outrageous acts to gain appeal and publicity. From Mozart to Iggy Pop, all have used gimmicks with their passion to sell their craft. Miley is no different from the hundreds of entertainers that come before her and we’ll see the same cycle again in give or take within 10 years with another Disney protégé turning into a bad girl.
As a side note, it is rather remarkable how she’s gone from this,
to this (I consider this one NSFW )…