Lewis Hamilton is currently poised to become Formula One’s most successful driver of all time, after winning his 92nd title in the Portuguese Grand Prix. Could this victory mean an end to Hamilton’s sporting career - is this new career in music the finish line? Should celebrities pursue music if they weren’t musicians to start with?
Recently on an Instagram live stream, Lewis Hamilton spoke to his fans candidly about his love and passion for music, as he previewed eight tracks that he has been working on from the comfort of his home studio. Speaking earlier this year about his music project, the racing driver told fans on social media: “Guys, I’ve spent the last ten years or more writing and recording, working with some of the most talented and beautiful people, which I’m so grateful for. It’s been the most incredible outlet.”
However, as many fans of the sportsman will know, this isn’t Hamilton’s first musical endeavour. He previously featured on Christina Aguilera’s 2018 track Pipe under the pseudonym XNDA and he has often spoken out about his love and passion for music.
Interestingly, Hamilton isn’t the first celebrity from a non-musical background to try and start a musical career. For example, when we hear the name Kim Kardashian we don’t instantly think of her song, Jam (Turn it Up), which started and ended the reality-star’s short-lived music career. Instead, we would think of her countless celebrity scandals and her famous-for-being-infamous family.
This adds to the argument that perhaps some celebrities try to be a “jack of all trades” and indulge in whimsical fancies; while taking opportunities from those who don’t have the privilege of a platform but do have the talent. One can imagine a new, previously-unknown artist feeling anxious about competing against a Kardashian with their millions of followers and celebrity status for a place in the charts, and the disappointment they would feel at missing out on opportunities, just because a famous reality TV star decided to chase their passion project.
Although Kardashian did make an attempt to kickstart a career in music, it is fair to say that it wasn’t a very successful venture. Her only single has a mere (well, in chart-topping terms) 1.83m streams on Spotify. When we compare this to Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, released the same year, it is fair to say that Adele’s track had a special ingredient that Kardashian’s lacked. Adele is sitting with 740m streams on the same platform. After all, Kim’s Jam (Turn it Up) is renowned for its overall horrendous sound and overbearing auto-tune, with perhaps the odd ironic listener or die-hard fan willing to defend it as a genuinely good song.
Could it then be argued that even if a celebrity is coming from a privileged position, if they do not have the talent they will not have a successful career?
There are celebrities who have risen to fame elsewhere, but later ventured into music successfully. For instance, Miley Cyrus found success by starring in the hit Disney Channel show Hannah Montana. She emerged from a privileged background as her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, was a multi-platinum selling country artist. Miley Cyrus has since gone on to achieve six UK number 1 singles, has sold out countless tours and won many awards – outselling and surpassing the musical achievements of her famous father. It could be argued that the reason for her long-lived career isn’t related to the platform she started on, but is due to her ability to continue to evolve and create new music that remains popular and relevant. Should she be punished for coming from a more privileged platform, or commended for her talent? Is nepotism the real reason she has maintained her highly successful career?
Perhaps to say that celebrities should stay in their own lane and focus on the one thing that they are good at would be unfair, as no one is expected to stay in the same role forever. In fact, on average in a person’s lifetime they are expected to work 10 different jobs. As human beings we are constantly changing course and evolving; isn’t that what these celebrities are doing? Just because Bowie was a butcher’s delivery boy before becoming an international music icon doesn’t mean he had any less of a right to change career, and chase his dream. Or just because Madonna worked in Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t mean she should have stayed in that job for the rest of her life (although, imagine being served a cup of mediocre coffee by Queen Madge herself).
It is evident that Hamilton is coming from an extremely powerful, wealthy and privileged position; as he already has millions of fans and followers. However, these are fans of his sporting career and aren’t necessarily going to be fans of his music. With this in mind, he will have to work just as hard to win them over, and will also have to have real talent to stand a chance of competing with the other current artists dominating the music industry.
They say that the key to happiness is to do what you love. Maybe, in order to remain happy, we should always continue to chase our dreams and remember that none of us are one-trick ponies. Not even celebrities.