Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Tragic ends become renewed life for record sales

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One day can make all the difference in a musicians career, that is the day you die of course. Only a mere 24 hours after the announced death of singer Whitney Houston, she had two songs on the iTunes top 100 list, both of them being in the top five no less.

Is this really an accurate depiction of an artists musical talent? If you ask me, no. While I am all for “wanting to dance with somebody” and have a soft spot in my heart for Whitney Houston and her tragic end, I don’t think she was really as great a musician as people made her out to be after her sudden and untimely death.

The same situation happened with Michael Jackson with his record sales going up phenomenally after his death was announced and the ensuing media storm surrounding him. Michael Jackson, however, had many more successful hits and had  a larger fan base than Whitney Houston to begin with, but one can’t argue that dying seems to be a great way to boost a career.

The same can be said of great artist’s, Van Gogh didn’t sell a single painting during his life and is now one of the most recognizable painter’s.

There’s also the fact that so many musicians meet tragic ends from drugs or other substance abuse problems, which makes for a great story and news coverage. Could it be for the best that certain artist’s die young before their “genius” runs dry?

The Notorious B.I.G. is still one of the most popular rap artists. Because of his short life in the music business and his death is still talked about today. There’s also Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Tupac Shakur and a slew of other great musicians that died before their time.

Even more recently was the wonderful Etta James who didn’t gain as much media attention as Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Could it be that if you make it past a certain age you don’t get the same media storm surrounding you? Etta James died at the age of 73 and hardly any attention was given to her after the appropriate day of news and a small Grammy tribute. I guess it all depends on how you die as a musician: the younger you are and the more unfortunate the circumstances of your death, the more of a career boost the media will give you.

While all musicians have their set of talents and their fans, I will always wonder how “talented” people would really think they are if certain artists lived a long full life with no sudden deaths to boost their record sales.

Maggie Cornelius can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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