Well I guess it’s time for another casual rant post. I’ve seen a bit of fuckery in classic rock lately, pardon my French. I guess it’s time to talk about some things that have been on my mind this past week.
As a classic rock fan, I love buying all things classic rock: band shirts, records, books, other merch. It’s really a shame that some of my favourite bands don’t have any merch. Merch is something pretty well liked in the classic rock community. What better way to show your love for a band than to wear a shirt with the band’s name on it? And one of the best feelings out there is getting a compliment on your band shirt.
Rock bands slapping their names on products is nothing new. The Beatles did it, The Monkees did it, Kiss did it. Classic rock bands have Funko Pops, Monopoly games, pinball machines, lunch boxes, stamps, coins, guitars, all sorts of things that appeal to the target market.
Remember the old celebrity perfume trend? In recent years, celebrities all seem to be getting into the podcast game and the makeup game. Every celebrity and their dog seems to have a podcast and a makeup collaboration. Makeup, really? I’m sure you might be thinking. But remember, guys can wear makeup too, classic rockers even wore it, and lots of girls like classic rock. It’s not the most out there thing and a classic rock eyeshadow palette can be done well, but I haven’t seen it.
Now if you’re a dead rock star, you can’t exactly have a podcast, but your estate could licence out your name to be used by a cosmetics company and presto, that rock star’s name is all over an eyeshadow palette. The rock star themselves has no involvement and for the right price, you too can have your own classic rock collaboration. These collaborations are polarising, definitely not universally loved like the band shirt. Some fans love and have a collector’s mentality and will buy everything with their favourite band on it, while others are more discerning with their purchases and aren’t impressed just because something has their favourite’s name on it. I’m definitely in the second camp. I’d rather spend my money dressing like my favourite rock stars (with a whole lot of my personality in there), but that’s just me though.
The Disappointing Classic Rock Makeup Collabs
There are some indie brands like Indica Beauty that have done classic rock themed palettes, but let’s focus on the mainstream brands. There are two that stick out in my head as bland and uninspired.
The first one is Prince x Urban Decay. Urban Decay is a decent makeup brand, but in recent years they’ve turned their back on grunge and become more mainstream and milquetoast, releasing very “safe” products, nothing edgy. In beauty YouTube and Instagram, we see colourful eyeshadow palettes with interesting textures and colour shifts being celebrated, but we have to remember that’s only a small portion of the makeup buying customer base.
This collection, while it doesn’t look cheap, it’s bland and a far cry from Prince and I’m not sure it’s something that he would have wanted when he was alive. Prince was proud to be gender bending in his appearance and if he wanted to collaborate with a makeup company, he would have done it at some point in his lifetime, but he never did. I love the colour story of the purple eyeshadow palette, but to me it doesn’t shout Prince. This could be anything if you slapped a name on it. Even though purple was the colour most associated with Prince, his favourite colour was actually orange and it’s nowhere to be seen and purple and orange is one of my favourite colour combinations. Also, the palette design is so impractical. I like a big mirror on my eyeshadow palettes and the mirror is tiny because it opens up like double doors.
Now that wasn’t the first controversial Urban Decay collab. In 2017, they released the Basquiat collection. The palettes were definitely more fitting to his image, but here’s the problem: a lot of his artwork was anti-capitalist and anti-imperalist in theme. I guess whoever is in charge of his estate gave this the green light just for money and didn’t care about Jean-Michel Basquiat’s values. There are some labour and environmental issues in cosmetics: unsustainable packaging that can’t be recycled and in the supply chain from the minerals being mined (is there child labour? how does this affect our planet?) to the manufacturing when you’re making the products in countries with fewer labour rights like China (I think Urban Decay manufacture their products in the US and Europe thankfully). The advertising is where the bigger controversy is. Jean Michel-Basquiat was black and proud and race was a big part of his artwork. He wanted to see more black representation. Who was the face of the Urban Decay x Basquiat collection? Ruby Rose, a white androgynous lesbian, so it’s not like she’s not part of any marginalised groups, but you’d think the face of the Basquiat collection would be a black model. Surely there are plenty of black models to pick from who would fit the image well.
If you thought that was bad, well let me introduce you to Rock and Roll Beauty. When I first saw their social media and their website, they looked like a quaint startup brand but they’re allegedly an offshoot of Makeup Revolution, a big makeup brand that you’ll find in every pharmacy and big box store that sells makeup. I say this because the brand follow Revolution Beauty and it once said on their website that they were a Revolution brand, but I’m guessing because there’s a current controversy with their CEO liking racist comments that was conveniently and recently removed from their about us.
The brand’s first release is this Jimi Hendrix collaboration. Yikes! The biggest yikes of all is that there’s currently a controversy with Jimi Hendrix’s estate. Basically the heir to Jimi’s estate is his stepsister, Janie, and not one of his biological relatives. His biological relatives got peanuts. Janie is very greedy and will sell out Jimi’s name for a quick buck and she sued Jimi’s family for using his name for their charity, a music school that gives free music lessons to underprivileged children in Seattle. What a Karen move. And there’s a makeup related controversy. There’s a black owned brand called Melody Love Cosmetics that sold a guitar shaped eyeshadow palette before Rock and Roll Beauty did, and in my opinion it looks better and more creative and even more fitting to Jimi’s brand. Still though, don’t do any licensed collabs with Experience Hendrix because by doing that, you’re funding Janie’s Karen behaviour and intimidation of Jimi’s bio family. Don’t cross the picket line. Boycott any official Jimi Hendrix merch too. Just buy fan made merch instead, helps out independent artists too!
As far as the aesthetic of the collab, it looks really generic and so many missed opportunities. It would have been cool to see a guitar shaped hand mirror. The colour stories of the palettes aren’t authentically 60s, but that’s not really the point of it, but nevertheless, it’s generic. If I covered all the Jimi Hendrix branding, these eyeshadow palettes could be anything really. It doesn’t shout Jimi. It’s very blah. Only thing more disappointing in makeup is when you get the celebrity doing their own makeup brand and it’s boring. Lady Gaga’s brand, Haus Labs, comes to mind. You expect something memorable that makes a statement because Lady Gaga has great style, but the whole brand looked blah and generic. This could have been anybody’s makeup collection. It doesn’t shout Gaga. Even the packaging bores me. At least Rihanna got it right for her brand, Fenty Beauty, with a classy cohesive look and it appearing that she puts a lot of thought into the names and colours of the products. Similarly, Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty looks well thought out and cohesive. The Jimi Hendrix and Prince collections? No. Pure cash grab, and not a good one at that.
But at least if you buy one of these lacklustre licensed makeup collaborations, at least you’re getting a real product, so it’s not a scam. Unlike NFTs, a scam brought to you by the tech bros of Silicon Valley.
Classic Rock NFTs: Now you can be a Tech Bro too!
NFTs or as I think of them, astrology for crypto bros. I have no idea how they work no matter how you explain it. Even if you put it in terms a five year old can understand, I still think it’s a grift, no different from an MLM. It’s selling overpriced jpegs. So people spend money on something that isn’t tangible and it’s just saying you own an image? What’s stopping someone from right clicking and saving and going “yoink, mine now”. Why do people spend ridiculous amounts of money on this thing that you can’t even touch and you don’t even own the original? Do you even own the copyright? For bragging rights? I’m so confused. Weird flex. Cryptocurrencies and NFTs just sound like a fancy game of hot potato, buy low, sell high and don’t be the last one stuck with it. It’s worse than Beanie Babies and Pokemon Cards, which have been sold for ridiculous amounts on eBay. At least with those, they’re something tangible. Eventually the bubble has to burst, right? History repeats itself, right? Are we going to get a repeat of the dot com bubble crash? Are we going to end up with legal battles because someone minted an NFT of someone else’s work?
Most of the classic rock NFTs I’ve seen are Beatles related. Both of John Lennon’s sons, Julian and Sean started selling NFTs. Sean sells NFT art and Julian sold NFTs of pictures of things that belonged to his father. And what’s even worse about the NFTs Julian is selling is that they are greenwashing, like yeah let’s donate to a charity that helps climate change, even though NFTs and cryptocurrency are destroying our planet. He’s donating some of the proceeds to a charity that And now there’s a Voices of Classic Rock NFT collection where you can buy NFTs of classic rocker interview soundbites. Why? Did these musicians even give permission for their voices to be minted as NFTs? What’s next, NFTs of songs? That’s stupid.
In latest classic rock NFT news, Pattie Boyd has jumped on the train and announced her NFT collection of photographs of her and The Beatles along with some voice recordings. Ugh why? Just another cash grab and a way to scam fans with more dollars than sense. I get that you need to make money but why not put these photos in a book or make a documentary for all to enjoy? Or sell prints of these photos? Then again, not all artists take a democratic, inclusive approach to their art. And for the price that people are paying… jeez, this better come with a meet and greet, selfie, and an autograph. Not worth it. Then again, I’m not someone who has so much money I don’t know what to do with it all.
In a world full of Julian and Sean Lennons and Pattie Boyds, be a Brian Eno. If you want to buy art from an artist, just commission an artist and get a print of your commission. Don’t buy NFTs.
Loved this blog post and want to support and see more? If you cannot afford to donate to The Diversity of Classic Rock, there are many free ways to support the blog: Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, click the follow button on my website, leave a nice comment, send your music or classic rock related books for review, or donate your art and writing talents to the blog.
You can also download the Brave Browser and earn tokens that you can donate to your favourite creators (including me!), donate to charity, or you can keep them for yourself and redeem them for cash. The choice is yours! Thank you!