What made Elvis Presley so different and special among other musicians who were comparably great singers and performers too during his time? As Mikal Gilmore (1998) has noted, Elvis Presleys popularity could be attributed to his ¦little more than an assertive mix of his own raw talent and provoking personality¦ Critics acknowledged the fact that Presleys talent is unique and outstanding, although he wrote none of his songs and was not the first American to perform blues. Apparently, it is his way of performing that captured the interest of the spectators.
He was wild, energetic, and somehow charismatic. Conservative Americans during the time strongly opposed the way the man performs, accusing that Presleys riding on the microphone represents masturbation (Saffle 2009). Teenagers following him have been critically watched, although late in his career, Presleys popularity continued to attract young people, especially women. Aside from his teasing personality, Presley sense of fashion drew much more attention. With his ducktail hair and open-necked shirts and loose black pants, Elvis offered a new and fresh trend in clothing.
He was also responsible in the popularity of black leather jacket that represents the image of a rock n roll icon (Bertrand 2000). Of course, having an outstanding personality is not enough reason for one to be renounced as a king. Actions and achievements are far more important. Elvis Presley, for example, was not only good with his dance moves and clothing. More importantly, he had done a very special and creative innovation in the field of music. Because of his rich background in various singing techniques, such as gospel, rockabilly, and country, he was able to blend these three influences in his music (Saffle 2009).
The result was a dramatic change in the music industry. Right after Elvis released his albums, the White Americans was introduced to the rhythm and blues, a music genre originated form the Black Americans. Although some critics accused Presley of stealing the genre, it was still undeniable that his action brought bigger and greater outcomes. He was able to combine two cultures, which typically misunderstand each other, into a world where music reigns and not race. This makes Elvis Presley so different and outstanding. He found a way to bridge two gaps, and that is through music.
As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow has noted, Music is the universal language of mankind. It knows no color, social status, or gender. Most of what Presleys ideas and innovations were liberating and inspiring. For example, his dress and dance movements were actually considered to attract sexual liberation among adolescents (Bertrand 2000). His way of dressing himself was labeled strip teasing. However, it should be noticed that without a liberating mind, any progress is impossible to achieve. What Presley had done is a big revolution in the field of music.
Just like what John Lennon of the band The Beatles has mentioned, Before Elvis, there was nothing. He truly showed that the title King of Rock n Roll is rightfully his.
Bertrand, Michael T. Race, Rock, and Elvis. USA: University of Illinois Press, 2000 Gilmore, Mikal. Night Beat: A Shadow History of Rock & Roll, USA: University of Michigan, 1998 Saffle, Michael. The Musical Characteristics of Elvis Presley. Published by The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Education Bureau, 2009