2013 has been hailed already as the year of musical comebacks, sparked by the return of David Bowie who had been musically dormant for almost a decade. He arrived back on the music scene with a new single “Where Are We Now?” And an album ready for release very soon. As one artist returns with a flurry of social networking tweets in his wake, other musicians and artists we haven’t heard from for years have followed in suit. But is this necessarily a good thing?
David Bowie’s new single “Where Are We Now?” has been released for a week now, and being predicted for number one it has in fact only reached number six in the charts, being held back by artists such as Taylor Swift, will.i.am and Calvin Harris. However, my Twitter and Facebook accounts were coloured with a flurry of posts describing the triumphant return of David Bowie. Indeed, the excitement concerning his sudden return created so much hype that it seemed inevitable he would reach number one. Leading to the question of whether the new single and musical comebacks in general are actually all that good?
Quite often I will pass through town on the bus and see advertisements for bands such as Thin Lizzy or W.A.S.P to name a couple of examples and think “hey didn’t they break up like 20 years ago?” It will almost irritate me because I know for a fact that Thin Lizzy, with two of the major band members now passed away, the band will never reach the heights of excellence which they did in the seventies. I almost wish that the band wouldn’t try to salvage the fame back again with the name of the band everyone knew and loved. I sometimes wish that bands and artists who have retired or broken up would stay that way, allowing us to remember them the way they were, their memories untarnished by what would be, let’s face it, an absolute anti climax to their hay days. So, I guess in this way I can be very sceptical of musical comebacks, almost in the same way that I detest tribute bands. For me, I want it to be the real thing that we love or nothing at all. And I guess this can be a pretty dismissive attitude but it has been the way I have thought for a while now.
So are these musical flops advertised on the walls of small time venues on the same level as the comebacks we are set to see in 2013, with the likes of David Bowie, Destiny’s Child, Justin Timberlake and My Bloody Valentine? I guess in many ways the answer would be no, but there is the potential for these musical comebacks to go so terribly wrong. Then we will remember all the great stuff and suddenly think “Oh wait, didn’t they have a musical comeback in 2013? Looks like that didn’t go too great.” Turning into one of those sad CDs we pass in Poundland or charity shops, the type that a person feels the overwhelming need to avert their eyes from. Indeed, that will be the memory we could potentially be left with. So, in short, musical artists take great risks when they decide to have a musical comeback, there is much more pressure to be great in the eyes of the public.
Only time will tell with the musical comebacks scheduled for 2013. The driving force of it all is really nostalgia, that excitement to have back the great David Bowie who, quite literally, coloured the 1970’s. Of course he won’t be the same, he is now in his sixties, artists cannot defy time and I think this needs to be remembered in light of musical comebacks. They have aged and they are entering into a new mature era of their musical careers so they aren’t going to be creating the same music they did in their twenties. And I think this is the mistake that a lot of people make, myself included, the idea that a musical comeback needs to be on the same level and style they were when they were young. Music and style evolves, musical comebacks do not stand outside of this.