TELEVISION MUSICIANS TAKE A STAND

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By Jasmine Mueller

The venue falls to darkness punctuated by camera flashes, accompanied by the sound of screaming that only grows in pitch as Big Time Rush’s set time approaches. The music starts before they appear. They begin with “Elevate”, the title song from their second album. The entire set is more than just four boys standing on a stage with synchronized dance moves, and there is an edge of excitement in their eyes that never really leaves. The band performs for about an hour and a half, running through a set that ranges from fast paced songs to an acoustic interlude, and plays each song with the same energy as the last.

Big Time Rush has grown as a band. Although writers hired by Nickelodeon wrote the band’s first album, they were granted more creative freedom over their 2011 album Elevate, and their upcoming release, 24/7.

Bands like Big Time Rush, who originate from television stations such as Nickelodeon, can only rely on those stations for so long.  Allstar Weekend gained much of their success after being contestants on Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing. Soon after that experience, they signed to Hollywood Records. Their music videos were often shown on commercials on Disney Channel and they released a cover song for Disneymania 7, an album of new artists covering classic Disney songs.

In January 2012, they departed from their label, believing it was preventing the band’s development. With the release of “Not Your Birthday,” it became obvious that Allstar Weekend had started to take a new direction. That August, the band signed to Universal Music Canada. On the Glamour Kills 2011 tour, it was obvious they were trying to make a new impression by working with artists not normally associated with Disney, such as The Ready Set, The Downtown Fiction and We Are The In Crowd. Most recently, Allstar Weekend announced that they will be playing Warped Tour 2013 as a new band with a new name and a new sound but the same members.

Although Allstar Weekend did try for a new sound while still a part of Disney, it seems the name “Allstar Weekend” held them back. The album All The Way showed more musical and lyrical maturity than their previous efforts. It was more than just a poppy sound. Songs such as “Blame it On September” focused on relationships ending and life moving on. They were sick of being seen as that band from the Disney Channel. They wanted a new image and the only way to do this was to start over almost completely.

Most artists that are highly associated with these television channels may gain a lot of publicity, but in the end are left branded with “Disney” or “Nickelodeon” labels. The public’s initial reaction is to write these bands off as “children’s music” or even “jokes.” It is easy to think that these television stations do almost all of the work for them but this is not true. It does give them a name in popular culture, but the bands are often overlooked and accused of not working as hard, or accused of having all of their music written for them.

Other artists renown from Disney fame include Demi Lovato, The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus. Most of these artists have moved on from their days at Disney but their humble beginnings will never be forgotten by the public. These artists work twice as hard to make up for the limitations posed by television fame. Allstar Weekend cited their label preventing them from touring internationally as one of the reasons they left. Big Time Rush has had trouble promoting their albums and television show in the past.

It isn’t a secret that Nickelodeon has neglected promoting its shows in the past, and lately has been focusing on its love for One Direction instead. One Direction bring high ratings, and it is rumored that Nickelodeon rigged its Kid’s Choice Awards against Big Time Rush. An online poll showed Big Time Rush had won by a landslide for Best Musical Artist, but when the awards were announced, One Direction were named as the winners.

“Television musicians” arguably have more to prove than most other artists. They have something to say and have to work past different boundaries and creative differences with labels to get those ideas out. They all have a message, all work just as hard to plan and promote tours, and just like everyone else, they want to be recognized for their hard work. Not many of them have it as easy as people may think and it is difficult to outgrow any image, especially one that is imposed by society.

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