Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why KISS is the Greatest Band in the World

There are few bands out there today that has filled stadiums and arenas around the world for close to 40 years, with album sales exceeding 100 million units and that are recognized by several generations. And for some reason bands that fulfill the above mentioned criteria tends to play real music...

One band that has done exactly that is the american rock band KISS. They are one of the most recognizable, if not the most recognizable, band in the world and has been for almost 40 years. Bassist Gene Simmons once stated that you can go basically anywhere in the world, show a picture of KISS in make-up and people will be able to tell you: that's KISS. Try it!

KISS is my favorite band of all time, and this first post will be dedicated to the reasons why:

1. Endurance
KISS was formed in 1973 in New York and quickly rose to fame around the world. In 1975 they were the hottest band in america and by 1977-78 they were the biggest band in the world. The band had its ups and downs during the 80's, but never stopped touring or releasing music. Today, almost 40 years later they are still one of the biggest music attractions on the live music scene. They have done world tour after world tour and still draws massive crowds around the world. Right now, doing a well attended tour of the US (called THE Tour) with Motley Crue as opening act.

2. Album sales
KISS has not sold the most albums in the world, far from it. But they have the most certified gold records in America (1 gold record = 500,000 copies sold in US). Many bands have one or two records that sell unbelievable numbers and then ten more records that nobody ever heard of. KISS has released 20 studio albums (plus four official solo albums) and four live albums.  All of them (except two) has gone gold in the US, more than half of them has reached platinum status (1,000,000 copies sold in the US) or more. Worldwide album sales exceed 100,000,000 copies. Consistency is the word I believe…

3. Touring and live experience
KISS has toured constantly since they first formed. Almost every album has been followed by a tour, and almost every year has seen KISS on the road. They understood early on that you have to tour to make money and not rely on album sales alone. KISS is world famous for their live shows, that are often seen as the best stage shows in the world. KISS is putting money back in the show to give the crowd more than music, they create an experience, an event. From the make-up to the stage outfits to the pyro to the lighting - everything is planned and executed perfectly. KISS understands that you have to work hard and give all to please your audience. And on top of that all members in the band sing - how many bands do that?!

KISS live, how the big boys do it.
4. Influence
KISS is one of the most influential bands in the world. Influence in the sense that others pick up instruments and plays music. KISS has always been a band liked by teenagers and kids, and after seeing KISS in a young age with all the spectacle and mystery millions of young kids started playing in the 70's. Many of them are rockstars today and mentions KISS as a very big influence. Same thing has happened for generations as it did for me. My father listened to KISS, showed me an album cover when I was around 6 years old and I was stuck. Didn't even have to hear the music. That's the power of KISS influence…

5. Hits
With a career spanning 40 years there has to be some hits. And there is. Detroit Rock City is considered one of the best hard rock songs of all time. Heaven's on Fire is a huge rock song around the world. I Was Made For Lovin You - who haven't heard that one?! And Rock and Roll All Nite, the rock and roll national anthem of the world? Shout It Out Loud, Strutter, Lick It Up, Forever, God of Thunder, Black Diamond, Beth, Love Gun, Sure Know Something, Shock Me, God Gave Rock and Roll To You… There are hits from every period of the band; again, consistency. Check out the playlist KISS Mixtape to the left of this page for more real music!

6. Critical (lack of) acclaim
KISS has never been a band for the music critics. And the fans have never really cared, nor have the band. Even though critics spat on KISS from day one the band kept on rolling, growing and eventually turning into an iconic band that has lasted through generations. I have never seen a review in a Swedish newspaper (from 1976 to 2011) giving a KISS concert more than 3/5 as a grade. And still people around the world say they put on the best show out there. The music has always been too simple, too loud, too meaningless and too bad to pay attention to. But still KISS have more gold records than any other american band. Despite critics trying to bring KISS to their knees, they stand up to kick the critics in the face with their platform boots.

7. Fan base
KISS has always had loyal fans. Other bands have been heard wishing they had fans like KISS. Fans  buy the records, go to the concerts, arrange expos, marches, cruises, meetings, put on the makeup on Halloween, defend the band against critics and other fans, fight for the band, marry in makeup, collect merchandise, create comic books, protest against the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for not inducting KISS, getting tattoos of their faces and signatures and so on. They pay a members fee to be inducted into the official fan club. A fan club that is known as the KISS Army, with numbers in the millions around the world.

8. Respecting their fans
KISS is often quoted saying: we are doing it for the fans, we are here because of the fans, we are giving back to the fans, we have to give the fans their moneys worth. And KISS really does. I have never seen a band with as much dedication to their fans, and the same dedication back from the fans as KISS. They put the money back in the show, work their asses of on stage, taking two hours every day to put on makeup and show up on time to give us an experience. They arrange meet & greets, sign autographs and just not being assholes (like Axl Rose, the biggest douche in rock). Respect the fans and the fans will respect you.

9. Paul Stanley
Paul Stanley is the heart of KISS, along with co-founder Gene Simmons, who has always been in the band. Paul is the one with the most talent, Gene is the one that likes to be seen and heard the most. Paul Stanley has always been a force in the band. During the 80's Gene strayed to be a Hollywood actor, but Paul kept the ship floating. Most of KISS' hits was written and sung by Stanley. He is an amazing performer that always gives 100% on stage. He is one of the best frontmen in music history and perfected stage banter in the 70's. He is a very underrated singer, songwriter and guitarist. Up until recent years (around 2006 Paul sadly started losing his voice and has not recovered) he was one of the best singers in rock music. During his best times he was probably second only to Freddie Mercury… Paul is the leading man behind the makeup, the famous logo, stage outfits, stage show, photo shoots and almost every artistic and business thing about the band. He has produced multiple KISS albums. As a bonus he was cast as the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and sells art for millions of dollars every year.

10. Marketing and business masters
KISS has always had a business point of view to things. That's probably why they are so successful. They understand that work has to be done to get anywhere, and even more work is needed to stay there once you get there. The make-up, to the outfits, album covers, photo shoots, live shows and everything about the band made them larger than life. For ten years nobody knew what KISS looked like without the makeup, imagine what a bomb when they took it off in 1983. MTV ranks that as the second biggest happening in its history, second only to the birth of the channel. The makeup and hard work on the KISS brand has made them all to millionaires. The work with the brand and brand loyalty (from fans) has resulted in a huge market for merchandise, albums and live shows. A lot of modern day theories used in successful companies has been perfected and adjusted to the music business by KISS for close to 40 years. Gene Simmons once said that if you want to buy the KISS brand, you'd have to pay over a billion dollars. Famous swedish songwriter Andreas Carlsson once said: the way music is packaged and sold today, KISS did 30 years ago.

There is so much more to be said about KISS. They understand that the music business is actually a business, that a band can be turned into a brand and that a brand can live forever. Or at least long after the original members are gone. Can any other band continue without its original members?
AC/DC without Angus? No. Iron Maiden without Steve Harris? No. U2 without Bono? No. Rolling Stones without Mick Jagger? No.

KISS without Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons? Sure, why not?

(Listen to KISS' new single Hell or Hallelujah on Itunes or Spotify!!)

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