I've been spending the last couple nights watching YouTube videos of two of the great tragic figures of the twentieth century: Michael Jackson and John Denver. There were so many tragic figures in that century who lived too-short lives. For sure, they both were expertly marketed, but there's also no question that after both, "they broke the mold," to quote one YouTube commentor.
There are few, if any, living artists who compare--and that may be no accident. The capital that backs the entertainment industry has become all too aware of the risks of investing huge sums of money in properties, as it were, who are all too human. Today's stars, I would argue, are bred such that they can be swapped out when the scandals start. At most, for those artists who are truly distinctive, the industry is willing to go along with promotion due to the attractiveness of the tribe these artists attract. Examples would be Alanis Morrisette, Dave Matthews or Pearl Jam.
I've reached the conclusion that every 40-year-old since the beginning of recorded music has lamented, "Music just isn't any good anymore." And as much as I've tried to keep an open mind lately, I've come to grips with the fact that now, this lament is true.
Quite apart from their personal lives, consider this performance from a group of kids in their twenties: