Heya' people! I have decided to return to do another question that has been weighing on my mind since Ariana Grande's latest release. You can check out the review here, and if you have any question that you would like answered, you can head over to the contact page to find out more! So let's get underway, shall we? The question for this blog post is:
Are Features Becoming too Prominent?
The thing about features is very easy to misconceive, mainly because standard features are diverse and the scope from it can also be enlarged and varying. Some prominent features over the years includes hip hop artists and EDM artists. For this post, I will get into the nitty-gritty details of why artists decide to choose genre-specific artists, it's benefits, it's cons and how it appears in the long run. And of course, also cap off the blog post question too.
Now it's very silly to say that features are becoming too prominent. Is that a good thing? Why is it even bad? Do artists even care if the features they bring on aren't charismatic enough to even be shoved into the limelight or be overdressed? Sometimes, these questions answer themselves, or they can never be answered simply because the artist in question isn't always similar. And that means I could give a range of answers, but never fully resolve it with a definitive end.
If you look into the broad spectrum of genres, and say, for example, pop, you would have a lot of artists transcending from hip hop, rock and EDM, which each gives off their own benefits and cons. Now a lot of pop artists tend to lend from the more versatile hip hop artists such as Pitbull and Flo Rida simply because of a few things: they are flexible, have huge marketing and are generally followed by the generic crowd. From the sentence before, I can see that Pitbull fits the bill of being an artist with the ability to fit in multiple different tracks, even harnessing the ability to also do a bridge and chorus part decently well. However, I'm not going to be the first in line to a label and sign him up for an artist without even considering, because let's face it, an artist this diverse may not fit the billing of say Ariana Grande especially when her new album, released last week, was already tightly coated with features that were almost not needed. This is because the traits don't match, and their contents vary. However, the essence is there and we can definitely see a combination work out. The big problem is however, without accessibility, the marketability effect and the appearance of the names; most of these things don't even sit on the fence without being a force to be reckoned with.
EDM artists, on the other hand are the perfect pairings for pop artists especially. Bubblegum pop and the more love-spectrum songs definitely do borrow the essence from the EDM tracks that they are given and tend to push the envelope further. This is because production-wise, these artists are not in the know-how, but rather the when. This makes things ten times easier for them to reach out to and grab tracks that are at least half done, and turning it into big budget property. While I know not many of these tracks do have the same situation, the only other option would be collaboration with a specific sound, and oftentimes compatibility and being a fan. For example, the track that Hayley Williams of Paramore did alongside EDM artist Zedd (who had a breakout sensation year for him in the form of 2013), was probably one of the biggest marketing choices for that year alone. Not only did Paramore release their new album, and Zedd having multiple success (Clarity), this pair was not no-brainer and unexpected, but rather seemingly obvious that Zedd might flush in for newer tones, resulting in Stay the Night. I will admit, I liked the song at first, but once you start understanding the miniature concept behind it's doors, you start to realize that the song was genuinely made for radio. The only upside of the song that I remember was the acoustic guitar on the second verse. This makes features more marketable and translates into revenue for the label and the artist.
However, generally, not all artists do the same thing. Obviously you have an example of sharing equal expressions, such as Out of Goodbyes by Maroon 5 featuring Lady Antebellum on their almost-atrocious album Hands All Over, which was the tip of the iceberg really for their career, but the song was genuine and puts you in the spot that you understand at the snap of your fingers. With that in mind, not all features will work; take a look at Maroon 5's latest album which has a song featuring Gwen Stefani that was bombastic and flat, and Ariana Grande's list of C-list rappers that seriously proves that the album was served under-cooked, rather than under-prepared. Sometimes the ingredient comes from within the artists themselves, or just a very weird inflection of the industry itself; often opting for marketing options then taking a direct route. This conjures the image that is not just disturbing for the fans with high hopes, but distraught when they understand the quality that is clearly lacking from the track with the features.
Obviously, features do result in a rise of revenue in all fairness. Most notably, Iggy Azalea's name drove her to the top by simply featuring in Ariana Grande's Problem. Yes, she did had Fancy that featured Charli XCX, but that was the song that not only set her on fire, but made her sure as a Billboard star and definitely set her wings ablaze and skyrocketed her to even larger fame. Considering the articles about her since her album, The New Classic, hit the web earlier this year, it has proven to be good venture nonetheless. Even Charli XCX, who had a small role in Fancy, was the brightest spot in that track considering her vocals definitely was a hundred percent more visceral than what Iggy was doing halfway through. Now, she's built on the fame by having her own single hit the charts, Boom Clap, even featuring in the summer movie The Fault in Our Stars.
Honestly, in the long run, features may only become better when artists understand the influence that they borrow from others. While it can boost popularity and revenue, which are the two biggest things for an artist, it also puts them firm as an artist that is able to lend help to others, one of which includes Sia. With respect all-around and a satisfying discography for her own pleasure (apart from 1000 Forms of Fear), her career choices have been very well made. Since the hit single broke the web in 2012 with David Guetta on the song Titanium, Sia has gone on to appear alongside Flo Rida, Eminem and even co-written for a bunch of other artists such as the notable one, Diamonds which Rihanna made a huge success from. I would say that the features not only put her once more back into the range of others' view, but she definitely had an even bigger following for sure.
So back to the question, linking back all the way home, features are definitely becoming too prominent and as far as I see it at the moment, the cons outweigh the pros by a mile. That is in no way shape or form to say that songs aren't becoming more relevant; in fact they are, but to an extent where we understand it but feels exaggerated when not. Artists having too much features on an album could work, but when the disparity is humongous, it will fall apart. An album with far less features but does not work even harder to ensure attractiveness wholesale, will definitely be put off halfway through the track. So even though features may seem like a good thing and are rising, artists should definitely pick the right one and steamroll with it, rather than being stagnant and being less concentrated and outclassed by their counterparts on the tracks.