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The Hiatus

by Karissa Perry

Photo Courtesy of Facebook

No matter how much recognition an artist’s work may be getting, a short break from fame and constant work is necessary.

However, it becomes worrisome for fans when the break is not so short. It seemed like the Red Hot Chili Peppers were done until they surprisingly came back after a huge five-year gap in 2016 with The Getaway. Bands break up and lineups change, so it can be difficult to tell if a “hiatus” is simply an easier way to say goodbye.

One band that desperately needs to release new music is The Killers. At the height of their career, they were major frontrunners for alternative music. Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of the group, has been finding success in his solo endeavors, which can be worrisome for fans that love him as the front man of The Killers.

“When it comes to releasing albums and other forms of music, I think bands really should think about their audience and their own sound,” said Neelu Mohaghegh of the BU Music Business Club. “They should also think about the timing, because some people can actually create a lot more power behind their music if they keep it consistent and in the forefront of peoples' minds.”

Other well-known bands that found success early include The Black Eyed Peas, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Offspring and Fun—all of which have disappeared from the music scene. It seems confusing to listeners as to why these artists would take a sudden and lengthy break after topping the charts. Fun was nominated for six Grammys, yet lead singer Nate Ruess’s 2015 solo album was the last that anyone has heard of them. Even singer Frank Ocean’s hiatus affected his listeners.

“Frank Ocean took a hiatus for almost 6 years and though some may feel that that was a great marketing tactic, it seemed to be too much,” said Mohaghegh. “It took him away from his listeners, made us feel betrayed when a promised release would be delayed even further.”

There is a commendable amount of time and effort put into making an album that makes it is nearly impossible to expect artists to have yearly releases that live up to the hype of their former ones. However, maintaining a consistent and constant presence for fans is doable. They become a part of the public eye and have a lot of listeners depending and waiting on them for new content. This comes with a large amount of pressure, and instead of focusing solely on the development of constant singles, fans would also appreciate simple and accessible signs of communication to fill in the wait time for their next release.

“Generally, it's critical that artists have a steady stream of content to share with their fans,” said Hailey Magee of Talisman Music Group, a local artist consulting group. “If a band takes a hiatus from recording and releasing albums to embark on another project, they should continue to release content to keep their fans engaged.”

A good example of this is blink-182. Now nominated for their first Grammy, the band has successfully handled a long hiatus. They had steadily released studio albums every two years until 2011 with their release of Neighborhoods. The next album, California, was not released until mid-2016. In between, however, blink-182 made sure to establish its presence.

There may also be a direct correlation between achieving success and taking a hiatus. Rock band Evanescence won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2004 and people everywhere expected more chart-topping singles to come from them. However, all activity has since halted since their self-titled album in 2011. The band separated from their record label and even though there is no formal statement of a break-up, the hopes for new music are slim to none.

“I find that the wait is exciting. If an artist takes his or her time to perfect a project, why be upset?” said Carolina Betetta (CGS ’20). “Beyoncé had us in the dark before the release of her newest album, Lemonade, and yet she created iconic songs. I love the anticipation of hearing an artist's new album to see if they changed their style.”

It is true that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Popular and award-winning artists such as Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Drake and Rihanna seem to always be in the media. Although they are more consistent with their releases, there can be some downsides to not taking a step back from the spotlight. If an artist is always dropping new music, he or she will lose the hype and anticipation.

“Drake is constantly putting out music and is found in everything, but that can lead to disillusionment to his craft, and then we become used to the sound and lose interest in the actual artistry that goes behind it,” said Mohaghegh.

In the end, it is important to find a balance. Artists should always be aware of their following and the impact their music has. Band breakups are anticipated, and perhaps necessary and beneficial for musicians. However, there is a distinction between calling it quits and taking a breather. It is important that artists notify the public on where they stand, otherwise they will just continue to spiral into a discouraging, eternal hiatus.

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