So the new David Bowie single came out, after over a decade of silence. My 10 year-old daughter heard it the other night, I decided to ask her what she thought, “It’s boring. Sounds old” she said.
I told her about Bowie’s heritage, how he had played a key role in the cultural development of modern music and performance.
“Really? Well may be he should have quit while he was ahead. I think he should just stop now.” she replied.
I like a bit of Bowie but I’m not rabid about it. I never hung on every word or lyric or bad turn of acting.
Let’s be honest, for his Ziggy Stardust there’s a Tin Machine, though I actually didn’t mind the latter. I’m not going to even try and look for a contrast in his movies; not even Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence or Dark Crystal, goodish films –him rubbish.
But for every success and glorious failure, what you have to acknowledge is that the man was hugely creative and brave.
The two do go hand in hand. You can’t be creative if you’re not prepared to take a risk and accept that you might get it wrong in the process.
Put it another way, would you expect Justin Bieber to stop being Bieber? God please let that happen. But it won’t. He’ll just simply hash out the same stuff until he hits a certain age at which he’ll be quietly removed and replaced with some other YouTube sensation.
But Bowie was very much on top of the world with Ziggy Stardust when he decided to rip it all up and start again. There’s many an act that could have sat back on those plaudits and royalty cheques.
That’s what being creative is all about
You can’t accept it as it is. You have to keep looking to change. Otherwise everything just becomes beige. And in our business, beige is a death sentence.
But that means taking risks and having the space and support to do so.
If we play safe, we take the middle road in our thinking and creativity. And eventually there is only one result. The campaigns and communications are ignored and the return on investment takes a proper bashing.
The challenge is on all of us not to end up heading down the Bieber Highway. Because that is a very, very bad place.