So, my Musical Genius blogs, which were initially meant to be just a space to explore ideas that would be useless in my reviews, but still interested me and were worth my time. But from this, I started to think about it with a different factor. How does god given talent play into it?
For example. one of the first examples I presented was Morrissey. I do believe that he is in fact a musical genius, but his talent is not something to be ignored. His voice is simply fabulous, and it's hard to believe that something that good can be taught. A next is Thom Yorke. Again, the man is a genius and I see no doubt in my mind about that. However, his haunting, beautiful, unique voice has really been the only consistent sound that Radiohead have had. His voice is distinct, and is part of what makes a Radiohead song so moving.
The other side, is also true. There are certainly people who are born more talented in certain fields and will be more successful in them than the general population because of it. The first thing, musically, that came to thought, were soul singers. More modern examples like John Legend and Raphael Saadiq have voices that are disctinct and simply breathtaking. However, I wouldn't consider either of these men a genius. They have an amazing talent and utilize that in the best way possible, but when it comes down to it, the only thing that is really, really, special about them is their talent.
So, does talent have an affect on the way musicians create quality music? Of course it does, but that's not all that's necessary. Morrissey is truly special because of his ability to change, and Thom Yorke falls into the same category. They make their talent work for them in ways that most men couldn't fathom.
Early today I posted a blog abut what I thought musical genius entailed, and some people who fell into that category. There was one glaring omission (purposefully), so kindly pointed out by Edgar (liar23), Thom Yorke. The man is, the essence of a musical genius and more. To put into words what I believe he does is almost unfathomable, but here it goes:
Thom Yorke has somehow found a way to exist in two opposite worlds. The obscure and the mainstream. Two things that generally only meet if hipsters invade radio stations, is something that Thom Yorke (and co) seem to be able to do so easily, despite a seemingly conscious effort not to. His genius, is, and likely always will be, on another level. The ability to make something so interesting and creative, yet accessible enough to hit it huge with the masses is inconceivable.
Quickly, I'd like to mention his solo album. A quieter, more expected follow up to their electronic styling was captivating in its almost bare sound. He created the album so that no little nuance go unnoticed, they are all important, each aspect, most of which are executed miraculously well, and there are few albums that work like this.
His lyrics have always been a bit of a mystery to me, and I love that. Few to none of them make immediate sense, especially when placed in between his other abstract musings. Each line opens up a possibility of exploration and examination.
For now that's it on Thom Yorke, even though this isn't anywhere near close to sufficient.
I started pondering this concept for my Manchester Orchestra review, and I am going to try to use this blog to get my useless musings about other artists out as well as smooth out some of the kinks in the concept. Constructive criticism is appreciated.
What makes a musical genius? Is it the ability to be consistently good at a certain style of music? or is it the ability to change styles seamlessly? The ability to do both of these things at the same time is at least the basis of one. But something has to be added right? How about the ability to work as creatively with others a by themselves? Again, the ability to do both is essential. What about the ability to flow the vocals with the instrumentation? Of course, again essential. Andy Hull has all of these things.
Anyway, other artists that fit with this, are not plentiful, but certainly there.
Morrissey - During his time with The Smiths, he released some of the best records of all time. His lyrical style was dark but not always serious and there was never an awkward moment on those albums. When he went solo, things were a lot different. The style that he chose was not really what would have been expected from the head of one of the most important bands of all time. However, he made truley stellar alternative rock, and that was better than expected.
Colin Meloy - Head honcho in The Decemberists is irresitably quirky and interesting. His solo work, while less interesting is far, far, from bad, and his work with The Decemberists, is well, The Decemberists. Diverse and wholly captivating, each one of their albums is truly an adventure. His lyrics while at times cheesy, always tell haunting stories.
Feist/Jason Tait/Brendan Canning/Kevin Drew/Charles Spearin - So, yeah, I just highlighted 5 members of my favorite band, who have also released stellar solo material. Feist's underated solo work is actually very impressive. Jason Tait's work with The Weakerthans, while infrequent in releasing albums, are consistent in very high quality. Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew both released very good solo albums through the Broken Social Scene Presents... series, and Charles Spearin recently released The Happiness Project, which is an original album that's very intriguing. Of course, their work together is insanely good, and Spearin's work with Do Make Say Think is also very good.
I'll proably expand this later, but this is what I have on my mind so far.