Music is powerful, there’s no doubt about it, it has many powers and some people even pretend it can heal, but I have always be interested about its romantic effect. It is well known that one of the motivations of becoming a rock star is music’s ability to transform an average-looking guy into a sex god. Scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function, and we don’t know exactly why, but one thing is sure, it has a tremendous effect on women and girls,… we know that since Elvis Presley and Beatlemania, but was that always the case?
The answer is yes, music has always played that incredible role, and girls’ obsessions and phantasms have always been fed by rock stars or their equivalents… For example, Franz Liszt was by all means a rock star. He is a good example because the word Lisztomania was actually invented because of his effect on women, according to this article published by the Atlantic. In the 1840s, women in the audience were fighting over the kerchiefs and velvet gloves he used to toss out at the end of a show, and according to Alan Walker’s book, ‘Franz Liszt: The Virtuoso Years’, some lady admirers even attempted to cut his hair when he exited the concert hall, others were making bracelets out of his broken piano strings! Liszt had some crazy fans, in the modern sense of the term, some women carried glass phials into which they poured his coffee dregs, others collected his cigar butts, hidden in their cleavages! Walker writes: ‘Liszt once threw away an old cigar stump in the street under the watchful eyes of an infatuated lady-in-waiting, who reverently picked the offensive weed out of the gutter, had it encased in a locket and surrounded with the monogram ‘F.L.’ in diamonds, and went about her courtly duties unaware of the sickly odor it gave forth.’ If this doesn’t remind you anything that could have happened for Elvis, the Beatles, Mick Jagger or more recently one of the guys of One Direction, I don’t know what does!
Elvis may have been the first modern rock star who sexualized rock ‘n’ roll and when he died women went nuts – they even threw themselves on his casket. How can you explain such crazy behavior from women? I have seen it first hand sometimes — although my experience with groupies is quite limited — but I remember about this girl who was repeating 100 times she was about to die when Thom Yorke came to say hello.
Where does this sexual attraction come from, why are women suddenly crazy about a guy that the large majority of them will never get, why music, singing, playing guitar has this effect? And I am mostly speaking about women because, if this is also happening for men, it is certainly less obvious.
Many theories are there, and Darwin was the first to hypothesize that ‘Musical notes and rhythm were first acquired by the male and female progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex.’ The hypothesis that music is a product of sexual selection is now reconsidered by authors, such as Benjamin D. Charlton, who has even proposed that women even have sexual preferences for men able to create complex music during peak conception times! ‘These results suggest that women may acquire genetic benefits for offspring by selecting musicians able to create more complex music as sexual partners, and provide compelling support for Darwin’s assertion’!
There are a lot of studies out there which tend to link women’s menstrual cycles and its complex hormonal fluctuations with preference for music… does it mean I should only go to concerts when I ovulate? Damn, this limits a lot the possibilities. Plus what will happen when I am past menopause? Should I stay home because I won’t be able to appreciate complex music anyway…
But complex music? This would perfectly explain the Liszt effect but what about One Direction’s music? Or even Elvis Presley’s and the Beatles’? If you call that complex, jazz and other genres should trigger a riot of enraged groupies, and this is not the case at all… so what do we know after all…
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