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Evan Rule 10/11/13 Watch the Throne: Elvis as The King of Rock and Roll Like an!

influential "erfor ers# Elvis outlived his usefulness$ %s Lester &ang "onders in his

article Where Were 'ou When Elvis (ied)# this created a fascinating "heno enon *hen Elvis finall! did "ass a*a! in %ugust 1+,,- the % erican "u.lic had *itnessed his rise and fall# and no* the /uestion *as ho* *ould Elvis .e re e .ered) 0an! of our "assed a*a! "re aturel!# or ost .eloved artists are those *ho

ore "lainl!# *hen the /ualit! of their out"ut hadn1t !et started to

decline# .ut this *as not the case *ith Elvis$ 0an!# like &ang# took Elvis1s death as a ti e to reflect on his achieve ents# *eigh the against his failings# and tr! and reconcile their o*n o"inions of hi *ith

the idea of Elvis as The King$ Elvis *as certainl! not the first to in2ect "o"ular lust! overtones of the 5oku .lues and electric Rh!th usic *ith overt se3ualit!$ 4ndeed# it *as the and &lues that gave Rock usic it1s re"utation

for danger and se3ual devianc!$ 6or earl! Rock and Rollers# a""ealing to their target de ogra"hic of *hite teenagers eant "ortra!ing 2ust the right a ount of danger and se3ualit!$ 7o "aring uch of

the l!rics of &ig 8oe Turner1s 9hake# Rattle and Roll *ith &ill 5ale!1s cover version# *e find

the overt se3ualit! has .een re oved# leaving onl! a fe* hints that the song is not actuall! a.out food "re"aration$ &ut for the record e3ecutives at the .ig la.els# creating the right a ount of danger in Rock and Roll *as a.out ore than 2ust cleaning u" the innuendos or "olishing the instru ental i3# it

*as also a.out finding a "erfor er *ho *as dangerous enough to e3cite *hite teenagers *ith vague feelings of re.ellion and se3ualit!# .ut "resenta.le enough to "la! the 0ilton &erle sho* *ithout endangering 0ilton and his innocent *hite audience$ &ut Elvis did "ush his "erfor ance on the 0ilton &erle sho* to the ver! edge of decenc! :for the ti e at least;# and that is "erha"s his greatest triu "h$ 4f it had .een an %frican % erican rocker *ho had stirred his hi"s *ith such fervor and engaged the national television# then Rock and Roll icro"hone stand so suggestivel! on inds of

a! *ell have .eco e too dangerous# at least in the

iddle class *hite % ericans$ 7ertainl!# Elvis1s "erfor ance dre* a lot of criticis # .ut there *as also so ething undenia.l! attractive a.out Elvis- &ang recalls his o*n reaction < an erection of the heart < u"on seeing Elvis "erfor live in 1+,1$ To this end# it1s ver! difficult to dislike so eone *hen

the!1re giving !ou e3actl! *hat !ou *ant$ 4n Elvis1s case he gave *hite % erica the chance to e3"erience the full untethered se3ualit! of %frican % erican Rh!th and &lues# attenuated onl! .! the

*hiteness of the "erfor er$ $$$he *as the first *hite to sing like a .lack "erson$$$in ter s of cultural i "act# *rites &ang$ &ut *ith a host of a .itious "o" usic "roducers entering the scene in the late 1+=0s and

earl! 1+>0s# did the *orld need Elvis as a so"histicated artist) 4ndeed# &udd! 5oll! had alread! "ushed for*ard into the real of Rocka.ill! ?o" as earl! as 1+=@- *as there an! roo for further

innovation *hen Elvis returned to the scene in 1+>0) 7ertainl!# there *ere .ig changes ha""ening to the sound of % erican "o"ular usic at this ti e# .ut the! *ere largel! centered around the "roducer eant that record e3ecutives had iddle class *hites *ithout having

rather than the "erfor er$ 6urther ore# the rise of 0oto*n develo"ed a odel to ake %frican % erican usic

arketa.le to

to s*a" out the &lack "erfor ers for *hites$ This also hurt Elvis1s a""eal# as he had once functioned as a .ridge .et*een these t*o dis"arate co unities$ %s the 1+>0s oved on# Elvis1s increasing

involve ent in 5oll!*ood fil s signaled an ad ission that Elvis had al*a!s .een a.out st!le rather than su.stance$ %nd indeed the su.stance of these ore so"histicated "o" songs# such as Little

Eg!"t# *hich recalls the do estication of a .urles/ue dancer# see ed so e*hat antithetical to Elvis1s once inti idatingl! overt se3ualit!$ &ut *h! *ere an! still so attached to Elvis) Even to this da!# Araceland is a shrine$ &ang

"rovides an ans*er$ We *ill never agree on an!thing as *e agreed on Elvis$ Elvis reigned King in an era *hen % erican "o"ular usic had not !et .eco e a vehicle for social and "olitical struggle$ arriage of usic and re.ellion .! igniting a

%nd "erha"s even Elvis hi self hel"ed to catal!Be this

se3ual fervor that s"read *ell into the 1+>0s and is o.vious even to this da!$

&ut given the "oliticiBation and genrefication of % erican "o"ular until toda!# there si "l! .eca e less roo for agree ent# and ore roo

usic in the ti e fro


for contention# es"eciall! usical landsca"e# for e3a "le#

*hen social and "olitical ideolog! gets thro*n into the

i3$ 4n toda!1s

it1s hard to i agine those *ho identif! *ith the indie scene having an!thing to agree u"on *ith those *ho follo* the To" C0 charts$ This s"eaks to &ang1s recurrent 7ertainl!# there are an! toda! for *ho their uni/ue uch roo essage that soli"sis is no* King$

usical taste is a "oint of "ride# and *ith the

advent of the 4nternet# there is si "l! too Elvis once did$ &ut if there is roo

for dissent for an!one to reign in the *a! that

for a ro!alt! in toda!1s "o"ular

usic# then Kan!e West is close to the

cro*n$ Watch the Throne references aside# Kan!e does have so e legiti ac! to his clai s of .eing the King of our usical generation# and his career arc thus far has had usic an! si ilarities *ith Elvis1s$

Though West .egan his career in

uch differentl! than Elvis# as a "roducer rather than a

"erfor er# his earl! *ork sho*cases Kan!e1s distinct "roduction st!le and is largel! res"onsi.le for "o"ulariBing the use of sa "ling in fa e# Kan!e has also odern ra" usic$ 0uch like Elvis# follo*ing a eteoric rise to

ade atte "ts to .rand hi self as a serious artist# releasing several a .itiousl!

"roduced al.u s# *hich ironicall! have found Kan!e surrounded .! a sle* of ghost "roducers on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and even far ing out uch of the "roduction duties on Yeezus to

"o"ular and innovative "roducers like (aft ?unk# TDA5T# and %rca$ Though Elvis *as certainl! never a song*riter# it is interesting that .oth en eventuall! found the selves rel!ing heavil! on their

"roducers to craft a relevant and innovative sound$ ?erha"s the e3"ectations that co e *ith .eing the King are si "l! too usefulness$ uch for one an to live u" to# and a!.e ever! artist eventuall! outlives their