It seems these days that if we are told someone is a star and they are put on stage with enough back up dancers to make a Broadway producer green with envy people accept the performer as a star. This appears to hold true even if the performer in question is nearly or completely talentless. Put on stage alone this absence would be obvious, but, distract the audience with glitz, glam and occasionally pyrotechnics and this talent deficiency disappears.
The performer than uses the cynical, media created fame to launch a clothing line, promote make up, sell cars or other commodities and, for some, market their own "signature" fragrance, soon available at a department store, Walgreen's or CVS near you. I think back to Joni Mitchell, with just her, her remarkable songwriting skills, her voice and her guitar. Janis Joplin, the ravaged, soulful voice backed up by a revolving door of stoned musicians. The Beatles or The Who, English lads with instruments they actually played. To be fair Keith Moon did not play the drums so much as beat the crap out of them on a routine basis. The thought of them, as well as any number of other rock musicians of the past, indulging in the crass commercialism practiced today is virtually unimaginable. Although their style sense may have been copied by seemingly countless fans they were not promoted by the musicians themselves. They were too busy making music, experimenting with sound, being true creative artists.
Not that they were completely unconcerned about money. The producers of the Woodstock festival tell a story of how 2 of Saturday night's headline bands were not going to play unless paid with a certified check. It was clear at that time to the band's managers that the festival promoters had no cash to pay the performers. They managed to get the check, using a helicopter to ferry their banker to the bank as the roads were completely blocked by the cars of festival goers and the bands performed. Eventually the legendary festival did make a profit due to the income from album sales and the release of the landmark movie, but times were apparently tight that August weekend in New York.
But let us return our attention back to the musical money whores of today. So far as scents go we probably have Liz Taylor and her "White Diamonds" perfume to blame, although I am perhaps willing to give her a pass since she was, after all, Elizabeth Taylor. Today celebrity scents seem ubiquitous. A coworker told me that on a recent trip to North Carolina he walked into a chain drug store and found himself confronted with an entire wall of celebrity scents. Beyonce has a scent, Cher has a scent, Miley Cyrus has a scent. This last one puzzles me. What would a Miley Cyrus scent be? Perhaps a mixture of the subtle aromas of hay seed and a yeast infection? Justin Bieber has a scent. Does it smell like pot? Would I spend money to douse myself in a smell I spent a large part of my teenage years attempting to cover up?
There are still performers of substance. Paloma Faith, Pixie Lott or 2 Cellos come to mind. Several years ago I fell in love with the elegant, slightly world weary album made by Elton John and Leon Russell. Excepting of course Mr. John and Mr. Russell, if their names ever became big enough to market a scent would they? Or would they, like musicians of the past, be content with enriching our lives with quality music, while we, smelling like ourselves, relax and enjoy.