Why 2014 needs Excess

Among the dullness of our often mundane lives, there is now and again an odd glimmer of brightness and creativity that brings excitement to our otherwise palid existences. It makes us open our eyes and look at the theatricality that is lacking in everyday society. Conversation is fired far more by discussions of wrecking balls and nipple slips rather than what time your essays due in. Excess brings a sense of drama we actually like having in our lives.
Google statistics of 2013 show that the most searched musician of last year was Miley Cyrus. It is clear to say that 2013 was Miley’s year. It was also the year that the new edgier Miley twerked, grinded on Robin Thicke with a giant foam finger and licked sledgehammers. If it wasn’t for all of these excessities there is a chance that Miley wouldn’t have been the most searched musician on Google. Although some of the things she did last year were eyebrow-raising, they were only shocking because we were so used to seeing her as a Disney Channel prodigy. If anything, her use of excess is the reason behind her success more so than her singing voice. More people were talking about her music videos for ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ due to them being wacky and outrageous with the use of sexual themes and nudity than the actual music. Whether or not this sits well with you, these music videos caused the songs to be massive hits and now she is more successful than she ever was.
Excess is just anything that goes against the norm on an extreme level and unsurprisingly it is the extreme rather than the everyday that makes headlines. When Miley twerked on Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards it was the only thing people could talk about. Who won what was barely relevant then and most definitely isn’t now. The moments that are remembered are the Madonna/Britney/Christina kisses and the Lady Gaga mid stage bleedings; not who won Video of the Year. Grandeous shock tactics or an ingenious manipulation of our rabid media culture, the fact that we’re still talking goes along way to validate these kinds of acts.
Queen of excess Lady Gaga is ever causing outrage through her excessive statement costume and performance pieces. Whether it’s wearing a meat dress during her ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ speech or emerging from an egg-like vessel to symbolise that she was ‘Born This Way’, she knows how to make an entrance and a dramatic statement simultaneously. Gaga continues this theme of excess in concert and did so magnificantly when I got to see ‘Born This Way.’ She provided a stellar performance amongst a set of massive props which thematically echoed her songs. Dressed in a black almost cyborg-like outfit, she entered the stage on a giant mechanical horse singing ‘Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)’. For the titular track, she simulated giving birth before emerging from the spread legs of a giant inflatable body. If this were any other musician, they would be deemed insane, but it’s part of her image. It’s what she is loved for. If she was another run of the mill musician, she wouldn’t be who she is. I am not saying her stripped down performances aren’t good. Personally, I think they’re stunning and her performance of hidden track ‘Princess Die’ and tribute to John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ actually had me in tears. But she isn’t known for that. I am not criticising balladeers like Adele or love song obsessives like Taylor Swift, but it is rare that they would do a performance as crazy, hilarious and thought-provoking as Lady Gaga.
Originator of dramatic excess David Bowie is known for his sense of theatricality beginning with Ziggy Stardust and his constant changing caricatures and musical style is part of why he is one of the world’s greatest musicians. He made sure he stood out in the music industry and his use of androgyny made people sit up and take notice. In the midst of such an iconic music decade, Bowie and his fellow glam rock artists achieved major success and their excessity glamorized what was already a fabulous musical era.
Excessivity stands the test of time as David Bowie proves and is loved and feared simultaneously. As American sex symbol Mae West said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful”.