I have often thought about this and not because
I don't really listen to modern music.
I have no idea who any of the 'artsts' are that are out today. And sure, I bet some of them have a sliver of talent, but let's face it. Most, and I mean that seriously, is marketing.
That's not to say Ella was not a marketed product, of course she was, but Ella had something else, talent. Serious unprecedented amazing talent. Couple that with the golden age of jazz, where it was the popular music of the time, where song writers and musicians were just as popular with the public as movie stars, and you have a recipe for amazing things.
I guess that brings me back to my original question.
Could Ella be famous today? Or rather, could a young Ella make it in music today? She didn't write songs, or act much, or do anything but her job, singer. Is that enough today, or is the multi tasking necessary to make it now?
My short answer is no, she could not. Combine the possibility of yesterday with the atmosphere of her talent and still, only by a few chances was she given a shot. Why? Because even back then Ella was considered too ugly.
I'm not looking for the politically correct statement of "I find her beautiful." I'm sure a lot of us do, but come on, the only way we judge beauty in the USA is, "Would I sleep with her?"
That's the gauge of female artists today. Men for the most part are still able to escape that standard. Not women. You have to be fuckable (pardon my french) in order to sell a record. Hell, Madonna is still doing it, and she's been making 'music' for 30 years.
So where does talent come in when talking about today's music? Is it as important as looks in this industry, or can you just be auto-tuned, have a modicum of rhythm and be able to cut a best selling record? Considering that I really don't listen to much modern music, I'm going to have to say the latter.
It frustrates me because we could be loosing so many Ellas of every genera of music simply because they are not too easy on the eyes. Ella's beauty was her voice. I frankly think it out shined even Miss Monroe, one of the most overrated women of the era, in my opinion. And I'm not just saying that because of the inner/outer beauty dynamic. I honestly don't get the obsession with Marilyn (and please don't fill up the comments with theories of why she was so great).
We tout that inner beauty is way more important than outer beauty, but we rarely practice that in what we do, what we buy, or who we like. I miss the opportunity of going to buy music and not seeing a half clothed young girl straddling something with something else dipping off of her, falling off of her, or nothing on her. THAT'S how you sell music!
I miss real talent in the industry.