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Aluna and George - Promo Shots and Indie Duos

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I've been a big fan of AlunaGeorge ever since ‘You Know You Like It’ dropped back in April of last year, so I've been waiting for their full-length in semi-regular fits of anticipation and impatience for the last couple of months.

I'm not actually here to talk about the music though; ‘Body Music’ gets a solid ‘Meh’ rating, and nobody wants to read about ‘Meh’-inducing properties, lest the prospect of a ‘Meh’-like disposition is an appealing one, which it can’t be, it can only be a ‘Meh’-like prospect because it possesses the quality of ‘Meh’-ness inherently, which explicitly excludes the possibility of being appealing. Or something. Anyway: Shut up, Rosie.

What I'm actually here to talk about, hopefully in a more coherent manner than I've managed thus far, is why the album’s cover art prompted some whole teen-style revelation for me and how this revelation is potentially more far reaching than I had initially thought, having possible manifestations elsewhere in the music industry.

So, yeah: the cover art. It looks like this:

AlunaGeorge Body Music Cover Art

Which, apart from being well naff and an obvious future bad age-r, on account of its very (pre)teenies (is that what we call this decade? What do we call this decade?) 90s-revivalist Aztec Urban Outfitters aesthetic, it’s also just kind of weird.

I wouldn't be hugely surprised if it makes everyone who comes into contact with it assume that AlunaGeorge is one person and that the creepy guy at the back of the mirror box is happy to do his thankless production duties hidden behind his attractive bandmate like a hipster Quasimodo.

Turns out, this isn't actually the case and while George (said creepy guy) does do all the production, Aluna does write stuff and isn't just a pretty face to slap all over posters, which makes it extra weird that she seems to have been marketed as a trendier Rihanna.

Now, obvs, this isn't uncommon: La Roux, Goldfrapp and Hurts are all examples of duos who've elected one member (whether democratically or not) to act as the face of their outfit and while I've got no interest in slagging off acts who choose this route, as an independent music fan, I'm also no stranger to it.

The thing that kind of gets me is that I honestly have no idea why independent acts ever feel the need to do it. AlunaGeorge haven’t always been signed to Island and even when they weren't, there were millions of promo shots of Aluna draped over George in minimal clothing and whatnot. Now, I'm obviously skating over the fact that a lot of people are more likely to pay attention to something if there’s a sexy lady involved, and AlunaGeorge are probs quite aware of that.

But that can’t be the only motivation for such behaviour can it? There must be other factors at work if this is a well-documented pattern across both the mainstream and independent sectors of the music industry.

So, if not just for ‘Sexy Lady’s Sake’, why do it?

Consider a hypothetical independent-labelled duo; call them AwesomeDuo and call those involved Awesome A, the face of AwesomeDuo and Awesome B, the guy in the background twiddling knobs. (LOL)

AlunaGeorge Promo Shot

AlunaGeorge are pretty good at promo shots.. or are they? Image via abi.d

Let’s look at why they may want to stick with this set up and then see how well said reasons actually stand up against minimal, babbling scrutiny.

  1. Awesome B is not a great performer but acknowledges that a decent performer is an important part of getting people to pay attention to whatever you’re making.

PLAUSIBILITY FACTOR: Probably reasonably high for those just starting out – then again, this doesn't tell us much about why anybody’d stick with this set up for longer than it’d take people to pay attention, so overall, I’d probs give this one a 6/10 for plausibility.

  1. Awesome B loathes the attachments of fame and just wants to make music without being bothered but Awesome A is cool with it, so it works better for both members of AwesomeDuo if A elects to take the media coverage – the fact that A gets their unfair share of credit is just an unfortunate consequence of the arrangement and B has to suck it up but there you go. Life is hard.

PLAUSIBILITY FACTOR: I’d like to say high, actually: I don’t think it’s controversial to claim that mad confidence and mad music skills don’t often occupy the same skill-set, given that many modern producers are of the bedroom variety, holing themselves indoors for years, developing aversion to sunlight etc. And even if did often occupy the same skill-set, that doesn’t change the fact that they’re very different skills, pointing to different personal attributes: 7.5/10

  1. Awesome B thinks his/her songs would be the best songs they could be were they performed by A, so wants to do what’s best for the music. Similarly, B doesn't want his/her appearance to influence potential listeners’ preconceptions.

PLAUSIBILITY FACTOR: As much as I like to tell myself that musicians, for the most part, are ego-free, I don’t actually think that, so tbh, this whole reason strikes me as pretty specious: 3/10

  1. Awesome B doesn't want the time commitments that come with promotion and all that jazz, and would much rather make music and then experiment with mind-expanding chemicals to exploit altered states of consciousness for the purpose of making more music and so on.

PLAUSIBILITY FACTOR: 10/10

AlunaGeorge Press Shot

AlunaGeorge posing. Image via NRK P3

In retrospect, I probably could've just used AlunaGeorge as my example here and it probably would've been more concise, clear and less insanely cringe-worthy and lame, but what can you do? What has been typed has been typed and ne’er shall be untyped, as that ancient proverb goes.

(Actually, just go back to those reasons and replace every instance of Awesome A with ‘Aluna’ and Awesome B with ‘George’.)

Those are all the reasons I can think of, though and my brain feels a little bit broken today, so forgive me for closing with a less than elegant non-conclusion and a plea for your thoughts.

Here goes: Please can I have your thoughts?

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