Fake Bugg & The Power of Image

I have recently revised my opinion of “saviour of modern music”, indie heart-throb, Jake Bugg. I do not believe he is the next Bob Dylan. Or that he is the antidote to manufactured pop. I just don’t believe he’s the genuine article. I  do think that he is the product of extremely good marketing.

It was only a matter of time before someone recognised the enormous gap in the market for an ant-mainstream, NME-style, “legend” in the making, to fill the gaping whole left by the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Oasis. There is a huge market for this, which is most visible on Twitter. That girl who has Sally Cinnamon as her display name, #madferit in her bio (unironically), and A Town Called Malice as her location is exactly the type of person Jake Bugg would be aimed at. And, believe me, Twitter is crawling with these Sally Cinnamons, desperately looking for the musical legend our generation is undoubtedly lacking.

And so he was created! Put him in a Fred Perry polo; put a guitar case over his shoulder – and he’s the missing piece to the jigsaw! His quick rise to fame was hardly surprising. The video for “Two Fingers” is set against the backdrop of a troubled family life – what teenager couldn’t relate? He’s also sufficiently masculine, so as not to alienate half the demographic – boys who crave the Britpop arrogance of Liam Gallagher in a role model, and not the flamboyance of, say, Jarvis Cocker or Brett Anderson. Just so we don’t forget that nonchalance is cool. Arrogance is cool. Fred Perry is cool.

In this post, I don’t mean to attack Jake Bugg. He’s a perfectly good singer, and with a hungry fanbase, I’m sure he’ll do very well. He’s just a convenient example of an instance where image overrides talent. Or talent being blown out of proportion, just because an artist looks the part. Take Lana Del Rey, as another example. A brilliant singer, albeit unheard of until she was re-branded as a sexy, sulky Lolita. We’ve all heard the controversy surrounding her lips, accompanied by the infamous before and after pictures. With her new, Brigitte Bardot façade, she became one of the most successful female artists of 2012, providing a welcome alternative for those who weren’t buying into the Adele hype. Who simply thought they were ‘too cool’.

And so Jake Bugg is doing the same in 2013, becoming a saviour for the ‘too cool’. We can speculate on his authenticity, but he’s definitely here to stay.