Saturday, 1 April 2017

Pop Stars In The Bath - A Conclusion Of Sorts

Over the last few years, if you’ve visited Breaking More Waves with any frequency or have kept up to date with my Twitter feed (here), you will undoubtedly be aware of the ongoing obsession I have with pop stars in the bath. Or rather, I’m intrigued by the number of photos musicians take of themselves in various baths to help promote their music; sometimes clothed, sometimes unclothed, sometimes in water, sometimes without.

The obsession all boils down to two fundamental questions.

First, why do they do this? Besides musicians I can’t think of any other profession that promotes its product / art by pictures of its manufacturer / creator in the bath. Not even bath manufacturers.

Then my second question is why, when music writers are presented with a promotional picture of a musician in the bath for the article they are writing do so many choose to ignore any sort of commentary about the picture? Yes, there’ll be realms of text about dreamy guitar riffs and haunting vocals, but nothing about the fact that this person or persons is/are sitting in the bath to promote their music, which let’s face it is abnormal behaviour.

So finally, today I’m very pleased to bring about some conclusions to this weird phenomenon and get some answers, from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Or at least to the first of my questions. The second remains unsolved.

Professor Apo Hillfort (BA) is a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Bath (where else?) and has been following me on Twitter for a number of years. He got in contact with me after reading a number of my blog posts. “You want answers to your pop star in the bath concern? DM me,” he wrote and so began a dialogue on this washroom weirdness.

Professor Hillfort specialises in the psychology of celebrities. He researches how celebrity affects people who become them and how our own personal psychology and behaviour is affected by the tag of those who are seen as celebrities. But more than that, professor Hillfort has studied in detail the behaviour of pop stars. In fact, when he was studying, his original degree thesis was called The Behavioural Impact Of Promotional Regimes In Pop Music Culture On Musicians. It turns out, this guy knows all about pop stars in the bath!

“Essentially, what you have to remember is that musicians are creatives. They hate to be constrained by corporate rules, regulations or to be told how they should or shouldn’t do things. The bath is the ultimate visual metaphor for that ideology.” he explains.

“In dream analysis, the bath can symbolise the cleansing of the soul, healing and that positive change is underfoot. In day to day life, the bath represents similar things. To see someone in the bath it is virtually impossible to think negative thoughts. We see that person as breaking out of their shell, cleansing themselves and being in a good place."

 "Studies have shown that musicians, particularly those in pop music, are psychological egoists and sensation seekers. Being photographed in the bath, for pop stars, explores areas that appeal to them, namely curiosity, exploration and aesthetic preferences. But in addition to this it creates constructs of arousal in the viewer. It is therefore a clever marketing technique to photograph yourself in the bath. The viewer will only be able to think positive thoughts of the person or persons pictured and as it has been shown that there are strong correlations between visual and audible cues. Therefore there is an increased chance of the viewer liking the music if they are pleased, humoured or aroused by the picture.”

So it seems that musicians are basically attention seeking, manipulative, creative dudes then?

“Yes, I’m afraid that’s pretty much it – as far as I have been able to conclude from my studies. I’ve have even tried some experimental research here at the University, although alas it had to be abandoned.”

Tell me more…

“As you are aware, Mariah Carey is very fond of a pop star in the bath promo pic, and after much persuasion Mariah agreed to participate in some research I was carrying out. The research, which we undertook here in Bath when Mariah was last on tour in the UK in April 2012 involved Mariah getting in her bath for a new photo shoot whilst we monitored her brain activity and thought patterns. Unfortunately, we had to declare the results null and void because the readings we got all pointed to just one thought.”

And that was?

“Christmas. I was a bloody fool to think she’s be thinking anything else. Even in April.”

No comments: