The definition of an icon is, “a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration”. However, it appears that the word icon has been misused so much nowadays that it has lost its strength and meaning. What once established someone as an icon seemed to be their ability to create movements and beliefs that inspires people across the world. Nowadays in our digital society, it seems that any celebrity can be labelled an icon if they have millions of followers on Twitter or have paparazzi following their every move.
For example, there has been much unnecessary hype over the release of Harry Styles’ debut album, Sign of the Times in which reviews from sites such as Sugarscape are claiming that him and Mick Jagger are both “icons” and “legends”. Personally, I am baffled at how anyone could call Styles an icon in such little time. I can see where we’ve got the comparisons from with the similar physical features but just because Styles has exchanged his boy band looks for floral shirts and has stopped going to the barbers does not mean he is the new Jagger.
What makes a musical icon is someone who causes change and leaves a lasting and influential impact on the music industry with their original talent and beliefs. For example, one of the many reasons why Bowie is named an icon is because his sexual and artistic music questioned convectional masculinity that had previously been ignored in a strict heterosexual society. While Styles is only being compared to Bowie because his song features a slow power ballad with soft piano notes and towering vocals. As one reviewer says he, “sounds like a contemporary mashup of some of Bowie’s best work from Hunky Dory”. Styles hasn’t even released his debut album yet and people are acting as if he is Bowie risen from the dead.
In an age of social media, where people can follow celebrities every move through an iPhone, has put these stars on an ethereal pedestal in which their lives are constantly hyped and glorified. What makes a person an icon has changed and it appears that anybody can sustain a career as a celebrity from their five minutes of fame from appearing on the X-factor to Gogglebox.
The word icon is deserved for artists with consistency and longevity, who inspire and connect us with their music and not for a man who has only been in the music industry for a few years and is only 23-years-old.