The thing that jumps out of the Rolling Stone Top 25 Teen Idol Breakout Moments is that not many of them lasted beyond the moment.
Fabian, The Monkees, The Cassidy’s, Bay City Rollers, New Kids On The Block … all gone. Long gone. Gone and forgotten.
The list has some noteworthy exceptions, of course: Elvis, The Beatles, The Jackson 5 (well, Michael anyway), and Frank Sinatra.
Frank Sinatra? Well sure. The whole idol, screaming girl thing started with him. But RS does describe the list as “of the rock era,” and the hysteria over Frank started in 1942 – hardly part of the rock era. OK, let’s not quibble. Strangers In The Night was #1 midway through The Beatles run of hits – and played on the same radio stations.
But most of the names on the list are in the “oh-ya-I-forgot-all-about-him/her/them” category. Not surprising, because most of the acts were manufactured. They were not the real deal. They were not artists who happened to make it big. They were a product, created to capitalize on the teen idol impulse, exploiting the popular musical style of the day.
Popularity was intense but fleeting, there being no substance to the material.
The list is actually an interesting reflection of our culture, though, isn’t it? A few timeless greats whose impact cannot be truly measured, and a bunch of fluff quickly consumed and more quickly forgotten.
The wolves are always hungry.