One of the things that’s universally true across music genres is that any band can try any aesthetic and make it pop. From Daft Punk’s techno-bot act, to the Gorillaz’ animated personae, to the more standard looks we tend to associate with different genres, bands and artists have tried a ton of things. And the really good looks – Tupac’s bandana tied in front, Prince in purple, Keith Richards looking like a pirate, Bob Marley’s dreads – have a way of helping an artist become iconic.
This introduces the fun little question of what aesthetics haven’t been tried, or at least what hasn’t been made big yet. From full-fledged themes to simple styles that will stand out, we put together a few ideas.
The Latest Identity Statement
This is a vague idea, but probably the one we’re most likely to see again at the same time. By “identity statement” we’re referring to a specific element of style that comes to define an artist, and be defined in return. Think Fred Durst’s hat, Jay Z’s Yankees cap, Eminem’s one-time bleached and buzzed hair, etc. All it takes is for a successful solo artist to make something fairly recognizable part of an everyday uniform of sorts, and we’ll have our newest identity statement. The trouble is that we can’t very well identify what specifically it is that no one’s tried, because this is a very broad idea. Still, the bet here is that there is a next identity statement that hasn’t been tried but will be in due time.
This is a specific idea we’re borrowing from Brit & Co’s look at the weirdest fashion moments of 2018 because it just looks tailor-made for a female hip-hop or pop star. Actually, it’s a decent bet that someone has shown up with this look on stage before, but it hasn’t become anyone’s go-to wardrobe yet, and frankly it should. This idea – by which jeans are cut at the thigh and allowed to fall a few inches before being linked via chain back up to the upper section – is just weird enough to become iconic.
There have undoubtedly been fleeting superhero imitations by prominent artists, and some aesthetics – the rock group KISS comes to mind – have almost become their own superheroes. But can you imagine a funk group in regular Avengers costumes, or a hip-hop trio dressed as prominent X-Men? It’s almost shocking this hasn’t happened regularly with a single group yet given that we’re nearing the end of a second straight decade of superhero entertainment obsession. These heroes are pervasive in graphic novels, films, television, video games, and seemingly every other aspect of pop culture but music. Of course, it could just be a licensing issue, which kind of brings us to the next idea….
The Greek gods aren’t quite the Avengers, but they’re also more or less omnipresent in pop culture. They appear in films now and then every few years, and their presence in gaming is actually quite strong. The gods are at the core of a very popular series of online slot games, and are also the subject of numerous mobile games. They’re even weaved through the narrative of Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, one of the bigger game releases of 2018. As a result, most everyone has a general idea of the gods’ classic aesthetic, and unlike the famous superheroes, Zeus and Co. aren’t the property of a given company. So it’s an interesting possibility that a musical group could permanently assume the identities of Olympian heroes.
First Person Artist
This is the most thrilling idea here, and while it’s not strictly an aesthetic, it would certainly define an artist’s identity. We’re already seeing that virtual reality can affect the music listening experience, and can even give a home viewer the simulated experience of being on stage with a band or artist. But what if it could also let the same viewer be an artist? This is entirely possible through VR, though rather than seeing it become a regular experience, it would be awesome to see a particular artist make it his thing. Think Gorillaz or Daft Punk insofar as we wouldn’t know the artist’s appearance, but instead of looking at animations or costumes we’d be looking through the artist’s eyes, in VR or even in first person music videos. Perhaps we’re wrong, but it seems like an easy route to explosive fame.