Voices: Can you name an artist or band that will never be successfully replicated?

·4-min read

Recently, I found myself having an intense debate about music. An intriguing mix between a shower thought and an old pub-style debate – the kind where somebody sets strangely specific criteria you are all forced to work under. Where, on the spot, with little time to consider the depth of your thoughts, you must come up with an impressive answer that you can back up both quickly and confidently.

So readers, I have a challenge for you. While I will not be so cruel as to put you under any kind of peer pressure or time limit, I invite you to join my debate and offer your own answers. To that end, I ask: which bands or artists can never be successfully mimicked or replicated?

Given that the world of music is vastly overcrowded and oversaturated, it is virtually impossible to find something totally unique. Therefore, I offer a work around in the word “successfully” – someone is bound to have at least tried to copy your chosen artist’s work in some shape or form, but that does not mean it has been done to any degree of success.

You may pick any band or artist, from any era or genre (an atonal orchestra if you like!). However, this is a musical debate only – your choices cannot be based on any type of legacy. For example, I would not count The Beatles in this category. Controversial as that may seem at first, given that they literally defined a genre, that in itself is what disqualifies them. They may have been the first to take those steps, but rock n roll is a well-trodden field now.

How many artists can be described as having a strong Beatles influence, or cite the Fab Four as inspiration for records? People have found success in imitating their musical style (one of the downsides of being first – everyone copies you!), even if they have not reached the same lofty heights that The Beatles did.

This is based purely on musical originality. Being the first is not enough for this debate – but being the only is.

Image or infamy should not be contributing factors to any suggestions, either. For example, I wouldn’t include Oasis or The Rolling Stones based on stage presence, epic tales of untold partying, clothing or haircuts. This is purely based on the records each artist released. I understand that the factors previously mentioned can contribute towards what makes an artist unique, but this debate only works when within the somewhat limited framework I am outlining. Should you wish to argue these artists’ cases within a different set of parameters, however, be my guest.

Allow me to give you a couple of examples. I’m looking for artists that have ventured where no one else has ever gone before – and crucially – where other artists will never go again. I put both The Smiths and The Streets firmly in that category, two bands I can never see being successfully replicated.

First, The Streets. Mike Skinner and his crew not only created some of the best Noughties tunes I had the pleasure of growing up to, but have also successfully cast themselves apart from the rest of the garage hip hop scene. Something we see far too often in the industry is an over-reliance and a fascination with youth culture – with many trying too hard to fit in lines about heartbreak, going out and having a good time.

The Streets have always been steeped in authenticity, and as often is the case with the best artists, they are the best storytellers because they tell their truth. There is no obsession with trying too hard to fit everything in, if it doesn’t rhyme, it doesn’t rhyme, but it still works.

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An unofficial criteria (more of a guiding principle for myself) in this debate is that if I ever listen to anybody try to copy Skinner’s relentless vocals, I cringe. I cringe really hard. In my mind, that is an indicator that The Streets can never be successfully replicated.

The Smiths somehow managed to weld together a brilliant, rogue guitarist in the genius that is Johnny Marr with an almost operatic voice in Morrissey. No better man can sum up his approach to songs than the man himself, with Johnny Marr telling Melody Maker that he never saw his guitar as a solo instrument, instead, he wanted it “to sound like a whole record” by itself.

The Smiths are instantly recognisable before their frontman even utters a ditty into his microphone, which is an excellent foundation, but the biggest contributing factor to this debate is that no singer can sound like Morrissey without sounding like they were trying to take the mick out of Morrissey. Truly unique.

These are two examples I came up with, although I did seriously flirt with the idea of putting Queen in there too. However, I am certain that the comments section will put me to shame with far more insightful contributions. The gauntlet has been laid before you, we look forward to reading your responses.

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