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The Superstar vs. The Artist: Whose Music is Better?

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There are TONS of artists in the world, but most do not reach “legendary” status. What’s the differentiating factor?

The term “overrated” really grinds my gears when it comes to artists of any kind, and especially when it comes to musicians. I often feel that people get a little upset when their personal favorite doesn’t share in the limelight, but someone in whom they are less interested or whom they do not consider to be as talented as their favorite gets more press.

Music, as any art, is so relative to particular people that I don’t understand how we can justifiably argue about who is better than who, because the term “better” should often be replaced with “more prolific” or “more famous.” In my personal opinion, indie music is where the real music is. There are so many fantastic indie artists that will never pack out a stadium because they don’t have the right people backing them. However, does that say more about us or more about them? Are we sheep who are following trends, or are they, dare I say it, not ambitious or lazy?

We hear stories all the time about popular artists who would abandon all pride, quit their jobs, move across the country (or to another country in the case of Ed Sheeran), and just play small gigs and take their music to radio stations until they got a break. Then we hear the stories about people whose daddies were music execs and they got to put out a trillion records that may or may not have sucked but they’re still popular…because money.

So the question now is: Which artist is better?

Here’s the answer: Neither. Let’s go back to talking about Ed Sheeran. In many interviews, Ed has mentioned that he’s proud to have the most pirated songs online. He says he got in this business to make music, and to share music, and that’s exactly what he’s doing. He just happens to think it’s dope to write for a load of groups and sell out stadiums every now and then. Beyoncé, on the other hand, had a ton of help from her parents and doesn’t like not being paid for people to own her music (hello, Tidal). And both of them are completely justifiable.

It is arguable that what differentiates an artist from a “superstar” is the desire to be famous. We spend a lot of time arguing over who is “overrated” when some artists never set out to be rated, in the first place. Many artists just wanted someone, ANYONE, to hear what comes out of their brains. They could care less about our judgment, and while they’re grateful that we love them, it wouldn’t matter if we didn’t, because they love what they do. Those who aim to get us to love them always manage to do it, and they don’t care about who doesn’t love them, because at least someone does. It’s not really our place to tell other people who is overrated, underrated, slept on, etc., unless we’re trying to hip someone to something new that they might like. Perhaps our role as music lovers is to appreciate our differences and let people like what they like.

Who do we think we are, anyway?

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Hope Carter
Hailing from "Screwston," Texas, Hope has been immersed in music since birth, first being exposed to Motown by her parents, then discovering her love for all genres as she trained as a dancer. Her unique set of life experiences growing up in Houston's Historic Third Ward as a lower middle class child, attending schools in more affluent neighborhoods, all the while attending an international church in which she was very involved, created her open-minded approach to music and art. Hope is very socially conscious, and prefers to take songs as a whole - both lyrically and sonically - before making her final judgment on their quality. As a dancer, she is inclined to be interested to anything she can move to, but her Dirty South roots give her room to appreciate a more laidback, chill (screwed) vibe. Her taste in music continues to change as she discovers new artists and as genres evolve.