Live and Otherwise: Solo Serenades

Ever wonder what happens to those groups that reach superstardom?  Well, ladies and gents, they often do what most people with clout do: break up and become solo artists. This phenomenon has taken place for years, and continues to ride strong. The other day I was reading a blog about the newest solo artist collaboration (which include people who used to be in big time-ish bands) and it got me thinking: How often does this happen?

The gem I unearthed, involving a large portion of Gorillaz sprinkled with the former patrons of ensembles like Outkast and LCD Soundsystem, only confirms the trend of artists taking a solo walk around the town. More recently the White Stripes (and The Dead Weather and Raconteurs) guitarman extraordinaire Jack White has embarked on the solo train. I can honestly say I saw this one coming.

The Gorillaz with James Murphy and Andre 3000. Illustration from nme.com/news/gorillaz/62214.

So is there something in the wind? So many seem to come back to the fold after they were feared long gone or through with the music industry game. Which is not to say these reinventions are bad. Some have developed completely new sounds that have that rustic feel of the old tablature but lend themselves to new interpretations for a new perspective.  In addition to Jack White’s new ambiance, there are artists like James Murphy (who gave a lovely aside to the narcisistic tale of grandeur that was Greenberg, starring Ben Stiller) who are slated to play at major festivals or tour this spring and summer. While it’s not a new concept, it seems to occur over and over as the years go by. I see it almost as a challenge, inviting loyal fans to take a chance on their favorite artists without all of the bells and whistles. However, it’s not always the clean-cut process of getting too famous for team skill building. Some artists want to completely revolutionize their sound into something exciting and fresh. And others wish to capitalize on their fame for more money. Let’s hope the majority choose the former.

Jack White performs on Saturday Night Live this week to promote his debut solo release, “Blunderbluss,” out April 24, 2012.