Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 12, 2021

The Endless Battle Between Good and Popular

The Endless Battle Between Good and Popular

Have you ever watched an awards show and wondered how the judges reached their decision? Specifically, is it really the most talented artists who receive accolades, or is it just about popularity? Some argue that it doesn’t matter how accomplished you are – if your work is not popular, it will never be perceived as “good.”

Let’s take the Grammys as an example. The Best New Artist, Song Of The Year, Record Of The Year, and Album Of The Year categories could theoretically be won by an artist of any musical genre. However, no classical work has ever won one of these awards.[1] Year after year, the Grammy judges seem to reward musicians who are popular, as opposed to those who are “good.”

Looking at the numbers, Taylor Swift’s “1989” won the 2016 Best Album award, whereas Adele’s “25” has been nominated for the 2017 prize. Both these albums have sold in their millions – “1989” sold five million copies by July 2015, and “25” sold over nine million copies in 2016. It would appear that there’s a clear split between “good” and “popular.”

How does this split come about?

At the beginning of an artist’s career, they use their creativity as a means of expressing their feelings. When they make music or create a painting, their aim is to work through difficult emotions and restore a state of contentment and calm. If the result isn’t to their liking, they work hard to make it as good as possible – perfection is the end goal for beginner artists. Popularity isn’t their first priority.

Advertising

    However, as someone learns their craft, they start to crave more attention, and to let others share in their work. Unfortunately, because art is subjective, their audience might not understand what they are trying to achieve, which can be disheartening. At this point, they have an epiphany – if they want to gain popularity and a wider audience, they need to tailor their art to the masses.

      The typical artist will then work around other people’s tastes. Their first priority is no longer excellence. Instead, their focus has shifted to increasing their personal popularity.

      Advertising

        Good vs Popular

        People who focus on producing good work instead of popular end to strive for excellence. They do not care what other people think, and they know that it isn’t always a good idea to follow the crowd. In fact, the masses may not actually care what is best for them, and simply want them to churn out popular works. People who place “good” over “popular” are also free to be more creative.

        At the same time, people who do not care whether their work is popular runs the risk of ignoring constructive criticism. They can become too single-minded, and may also become depressed if only a small minority of the population enjoy their work.

        Advertising

          On the other hand, people who cater for a wide audience create pieces of work that take into account multiple perspectives, because they are concerned with the opinions of other people. Popular works are more commercially successful, and these people can gain a lot of satisfaction when they achieve a wide audience.

          The downside is that people who try to appeal to the majority will lose their personal creativity. They might even develop a reputation as a predictable, “boring” person who produces a string of similar works. When you create things primarily for others, rather than yourself, it can become impersonal and bland.

            Those who strive to be popular turn into people-pleasers. When your identity is tied up with your reputation, it’s a constant battle to keep up with the latest fashions. People who try to live up to others’ expectations will run into problems, because the whims and tastes of the public will change over time. A popular person may succeed in changing themselves to suit the majority of their fans, but this could come at a cost of their personal development. They might shift over time, but perhaps not for the better.

            Advertising

            However, people who strive to simply produce good work and be the best of themselves can also stall in their development. They may stubbornly refuse to listen to others, and might never evolve beyond the present state.

            Why not have both?

              When you aim to be either good or popular, you will run into trouble. The answer is to make great stuff, but also takes the perspective of others into account. You need to remain true to your vision, yet remain open to comments and criticism from outsiders. When you combine your vision with the needs of your audience, you have a winning combination.

              Let’s look at how this can work in practice. The Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI upholds the principle of minimalism. They take pride in producing high-quality products that come with few features. However, they also cater to a wide market by offering shoppers functionality. For example, they strive to create items that fit with their minimalist aesthetic, but they also take the average person’s needs into account, offering everyday items such as pens and notebooks that fit their philosophy.[2]

              Advertising

              Just because our culture tends to divide us into these two categories doesn’t mean that you can’t balance both in you. The trick is to get clear about what you are trying to achieve, and stick to your principles – yet at the same time remaining open to new influences.

              The next time you create something, work until it’s the best you can make it, be the best self you can be. Once you are satisfied, ask others for their opinion. Listen carefully, but don’t automatically assume they are right! Keep your integrity intact, and be what makes you happy. It’s great to bring joy to other people’s lives, but your self-respect is important too.

              Reference

              More by this author

              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

              17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques What Are The Levels Of The Mind And How To Improve Them How To Improve Short Term Memory: 7 Simple Ways to Try Now

              Trending in Success Mindset

              1 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd 2 Is There a True Measure of Success? How to Define Your Own 3 How Do You Measure Success: 10 New And Better Ways 4 50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn 5 8 Daily Habits of the Successful People (Which Are Rare)

              Read Next

              Advertising
              Advertising
              Advertising

              Last Updated on July 21, 2021

              17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

              17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

              If you are like most people, you probably have big goals and dreams that you would like to succeed in — you want to be the top in your career, live a healthy lifestyle, or flourish in your relationships.

              Everyone dreams of a positive future, but most people don’t realize the secret to a truly successful life:

              You determine your future in the way you spend your everyday moments. If you want to be a successful person, you must consistently develop good daily habits. As Aristotle pointed out:

              “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.

              Building positive daily habits is a huge challenge, but can you imagine the amazing things you could accomplish with just a little commitment and determination?

              Creating lasting, healthy habits is the real key difference between people who are successful in life and those who are unsuccessful.

              You might be wondering which specific habits make the biggest difference. Not to worry, I’ve compiled a comparison list to help you get a jump start on a successful future.

              1. Successful people embrace change. Unsuccessful people fear change.

              Change is a constant for all of humanity, and it is important that you develop a positive relationship with it.

              When unexpected or unwelcome changes arise, ask yourself how you can embrace it instead of running away. A few practical ways to reverse a change-fearing mindset include:

              • Take a moment to recognize and address any fears associated with the upcoming change.
              • Communicate with a person you trust about your negative feelings toward change.
              • Practice positive thinking, which you can read about in the next section.

              2. Successful people exude joy. Unsuccessful people think, say and do negative things.

              A joyful, positive disposition can seem like a distant reality in today’s cynical world, but it may be easier to achieve than you think. All you have to do is notice the good things around you and practice being thankful.

              Advertising

              Mindfulness and gratitude are not just buzz words – choosing a positive attitude can honestly change your life. Many studies have found that thankfulness leads to greater happiness. Furthermore, research indicates that gratitude may even have a lasting positive impact on the brain and overall mental health.[1]

              3. Successful people forgive others. Unsuccessful people hold grudges.

              As a human being, you have likely been offended or hurt by others plenty of times. Don’t give in to the temptation to hold a grudge. Let it go.

              Note that forgiving someone does not equate to giving up your boundaries (which are very important) or even admitting that the offending party is right. You should choose to let go for your own peace of mind.

              4. Successful people track progress. Unsuccessful people just criticize.

              Some kinds of criticism, such as constructive criticism, are good for personal and professional development. The kind of criticism I’m talking about is the pessimistic, nagging, unhelpful variety. This is the kind of criticism in play when you are unfairly harsh to yourself or others.

              Toss unfounded criticisms aside and consider tracking your “wins” or your progresses, no matter how small. Take mental notes or keep a progress journal.

              If you have a solid sense of what you have achieved, you will be less tempted to be hard on yourself.

              5. Successful people share information, data and ideas. Unsuccessful people hoard.

              If you have useful information or generate brilliant ideas on the regular, your first instinct may be to keep it all to yourself for personal gain and solo recognition.

              Instead of hoarding bright ideas, share them with your team. Your talents will be on display for the team, and the team will be able to support you and make your ideas a reality.

              6. Successful people are humble. Unsuccessful people talk more than they listen.

              Humility is key. The ability to listen to other people, really listen and understand, is essential to success in both work and relationships — and to listen you have to be humble.

              Everyone has experienced the frustration of being in a one-sided conversation. When someone approaches you with a question or concern, put your own world aside for just a moment and give them the kindness of your full attention.

              Advertising

              7. Successful people take risks. Unsuccessful people take the easy way out.

              The next time your heart is racing and you want to walk away, consider embracing the risk. You never know what might happen if you take a chance.

              Embracing risks looks like accepting the speaking engagement even though it seems a little scary. Success takes the courageous route, not the easy route.

              8. Successful people learn, improve and read every day. Unsuccessful people stop learning.

              Instead of binge-watching a show tonight, save an hour before bed to read a book and expand your mind.

              Unsuccessful people are afraid to be flexible – they don’t challenge themselves to learn new things. Avoid this pitfall by exposing yourself to new thoughts and ideas every day.

              9. Successful people handle problems well. Unsuccessful people act before they think.

              The next time you run into a problem or even an emergency, try to work through your initial panic reaction with a few deep breaths.

              Instead of acting rashly, think through your next actions as quickly but as logically as you can.

              Learning to handle problems thoughtfully is an absolutely essential tool in the successful person’s toolbox (that’s you!).

              10. Successful people accept responsibility for their failures. Unsuccessful people blame others.

              Along with a previous tip about humility, this is one of the hardest things you’ll ever learn to do – but also the most rewarding. When you’ve failed, you must fight the urge to pass the blame. Successful people are able to fail honestly and gracefully.

              And, hey, don’t feel bad about failing. Some of the most successful people in the world have failed too many times to count. It’s all a part of the process.

              You can check out this article for more tips on how to fail well:

              Advertising

              How Failure Helps You To Succeed and Grow

              11. Successful people work with passion and commitment. Unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement.

              A short and sweet lesson for you:

              You should never expect to achieve the things you want without working hard.

              Follow your passion and stay committed to pursuing it. Work hard and stick to your habits every day. You’ll earn your reward.

              12. Successful people spend time with the right people. Unsuccessful people think they already know it all.

              A lot of people miss out on useful relationships and information sharing because they think they can do it all alone.

              Spend time with people who inspire you, spur you to be a better person, and remind you that you can’t go it alone.

              13. Successful people make to-do lists and maintain proper life balance. Unsuccessful people waste their time.

              Ah, time management. Unsuccessful people never master the art of organization and planning.

              Here are a few tips for you when it comes to time management:

              • Make to-do lists. Seriously, this will help you. Make time to do it every morning, evening, or whenever you are able.
              • Keep track of your time. Are you happy with the way you are currently balancing things? What changes can you make?
              • Keep a calendar full of your long-term goals (see next tip).

              14. Successful people write down goals and think long term about their burning desires. Unsuccessful people get distracted every day.

              Why is it so important to keep a long-term goal calendar? Here’s the deal:

              The things you are passionate about today need a backbone.

              Advertising

              Give your passionate ideas sustainability by writing down goals and staying on task instead of succumbing to distraction.

              15. Successful people compliment others. Unsuccessful people try to bring others down to their level.

              There is no greater confidence than saying “no” to sudden jealous or envious feelings and choosing to sincerely admire someone’s talents instead.

              Unsuccessful people live in a world driven by competition, but successful people know that building people up is far more rewarding than bringing them down.

              16. Successful people want others to succeed. Unsuccessful people secretly hope they fail.

              In the same vein as the point above, this tip is all about good intentions.

              Care for the people around you. Encourage them toward their successes. Hoping that others fail will not help you at all.

              17. Successful people know their purpose and mission. Unsuccessful people don’t know what they want to be.

              The last thing that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful people is one of the most important:

              Keep your mission in mind.

              Don’t be swayed to and fro by passing emotions and events. Know who you are and pursue your dreams wholeheartedly.

              Final thoughts

              Above all, stay confident. Truly believe that you can be and are successful. Strive to prove it in your day-to-day habits and activities!

              What are you waiting for? Choose one of the habits above and get started today.

              Advertising

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Berkeley University of California: How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

              Read Next