Defined as both an event marking the beginning of a new and distinct period of time and a period of time distinguished by a particular character; in musical terms an era can be seen as a particular moment of reinvention in an artist’s career. With pop singer Dua Lipa announcing the end of her ‘Future Nostalgia’ tour, we decided to take a look at some of the benefits of artists crafting distinct moments in their careers. So what really makes an era? Loosely put, eras are evidence of evolution - this could be in the form of changed musical directions, shifts in aesthetic or updated wardrobes. From Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Drake; almost every successful artist aims to reinvent at least one aspect of their artistry at a point in time. Here’s some short case studies illustrating the value of such choices:
The Weeknd & The Evolving Persona:
Seemingly orbiting several universes; The Weeknd crafts a new alter-ego for every release. In keeping with the cinematic feel of his sound - in the guise of a method actor - his characters tell a story matching his sonic direction. From the darker hues of his early work and first commercial release “The Trilogy” to his eclectic “Dawn FM,” the Canadian singer commits to his roles fully. These distinct periods involve tailored album rollouts, performances and music videos that keep his audience engaged by extending the boundaries of the worlds his art lives in. It also gives people a look at his growth as his characters separately grapple with notions of loneliness, celebrity and maturity much like an actual film character would.
Beyonce & Embracing Other Mediums:
Beyoncé’s discography has always been varied; tapping into sounds such as R&B, trap and dance-leaning genres like disco and house. Arguably, her most memorable phases as a musician have involved pushing the boundaries with her visual output. Similar to The Weeknd, Beyoncé utilized film to delve into her personal dealings with the iconic “Lemonade”. Utilizing symbolic imagery to address themes such as infidelity, black joy and rebirth, the Houston-native achieved a relatability with her fans through embracing a different medium in this context. More than a string of music videos, “Lemonade” incorporated visuals in a filmic manner that allowed the singer to explore a broader array of narratives. This vulnerable, yet firm mode of communication broke new ground for Beyoncé and revealed different sides to her.
Snoop Dogg & Refreshing Re-invention
Speaking of different sides - while The Weeknd aesthetic went from raw, dark and mysterious to more accessible and Beyoncé’s visuals humanized her - Snoop Dogg’s knack for experimentation has made him the master of evolution. Effortlessly exploring new forms of expression; the rapper has tried his hand at everything from reggae to sounds of affirmation. Apart from keeping himself creatively stimulated, these dalliances have meant every generation has experienced a version of Snoop and that has made him a mainstay on the entertainment circuit. His eras are as interesting as The Weeknd’s characters and engrossing as Lemonade’s chapters. That, afterall, is what eras are about - helping artists push themselves creatively and opening avenues of expression that help them evolve. As they do, so do their relationships with their fans, who are always keen to see what the future holds and how their favorite artists portray their vision.