The mercurial taste of today's music-buying public has only become more exacerbated by iTunes proliferation of digital downloadable singles. More than ever, careers of up-and-coming musicians, especially those put under the umbrella of "pop music" are particularly vulnerable to one hit-wonder's syndrome.
Case in point: the fall of rising mambo/salsa musician Lou Bega in the late 1990s. Bega's career illustrates the easy death an enticingly different album can succumb to due to the adoration and then rejection of an artist based on one single. Creator of the then-ubiquitous track "Mambo No. 5," Bega exploded into the pop culture scene with his trademark list of women, catchy synth-pop sounds, and heavy mambo drums and beats.
The song made Lou an instant star, but after "Mambo" faded, so did his career. However, upon listening to his entire album, A Little Bit Of Mambo, one could easily see that "Mambo No. 5" was just the beginning. As Ricky Martin, in all of his self-adoration, brought Latin music to the forefront even before Bega, so did Bega try to bring mambo, salsa, and other Cuban styles to American pop-culture.
His slick debut album held a wide variety of sounds and flavors that differed even from the unique single track. But with the public ignoring the album and only listening to "No. 5," his trailblazing pop-album was ignored, as were the sounds and influences that never had a further chance to permeate America.
His second album, Ladies and Gentleman wasn't released in the States, and still can only be imported from Europe. With a third album also released in Europe two years ago, it's apparent that the more patient European listeners have embraced his continuously well-honed sounds Ladies and Gentleman was a further progression from A Little Bit of Mambo, while the single-obsessed U.S. public ignored an artist that had once brought so much pleasure to the air waves and so many revelers to the dance floor. This sort of things is still happening today.
Even those artists that are trying to bring different influences and flavors to the U.S. pop-music scene are still, perhaps even more so, encouraged towards instant stardom, with their singles pushed into heavy rotation, while their albums flash in the proverbial pan, selling a high quantity of disks in their first weeks, and then falling off the charts, sometimes never to be seen again.
Rare acts such as Nickelback and American Idol finalists Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson stay on for months at a time, but overall, listeners have become more and more obsessed with new sounds and discardable artists.
However, in doing so, artists such as Lou Bega, those that try to pioneer new ideas and sounds for our own country, are lost in the shuffle. Artists become forced to cater their music towards a more appreciate audiences artists because America is too consumed with the next big thing, leaving the old big thing behind in the dust, regardless of what else it has to say.