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Icons vs One-Hit Wonders: what makes some musicians so popular? (Op-Ed)

For every artist that makes it big, there are several one-hit wonders who, as the name suggests, have one popular song before ultimately being forgotten as the next big artist steps into the limelight. While sad for the artist, this shows that it takes more than having a good voice to make it in Hollywood. One of the biggest sayings is, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This phrase, as old as time, draws a clear line between who makes it and who doesn’t.

Pop star and icon P!nk mentions in her song “Don’t Let Me Get Me” how L.A. Reid, former CEO of Epic Records, supported her on her journey to stardom. Considered an influential figure in the industry, Reid’s connection to P!nk helped draw other labels and records toward her. When influential people in the industry believe in a new artist, they can connect them with others and encourage the industry to trust the new face.

Another aspect that helps performers succeed is their personality. Being an unconventional pop star for most of her career, usually mixing rock or punk into her music and not going for the classic “Hollywood pop singer” look, P!nk drew crowds because of how different she was. Unlike the lyrics in “Don’t Let Me Get Me,” she didn’t have to change herself to make it.

Though catchy lyrics can garner popularity, with Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” being a prime example, artists generally make it bigger when combining catchy and meaningful lyrics. When listeners relate to music, it gives them more reason to love the performers and what they are doing. While not every song has to be powerful, the effort should still be obvious. Giving listeners lyrics that tell a story or make them feel comforted or seen can help boost popularity.

From connections with people who are already big in the industry to connections with their own fans, people skills appear to be a crucial factor in music. Unfortunately, you can be the best songwriter or have the greatest voice known to man, but as history shows us, if you don’t have the right connections, not much will come of it.

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