In a case of the gimmick mutating beyond its creator’s control, a fictional cartoon grandma called Edith Whiskers has been racking up some serious streams on Spotify and Tik Tok, which I understand is some mass indoctrination program. Existing in reality hasn’t been a requirement in music for years thanks to Damon Albarn, so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. Reality itself isn’t a requirement for those who consume the music, so everyone’s winning. Especially Edith, a.k.a. musician Tom Rosenthal.
It began in 2015 when Rosenthal was asked by a friend to record a cover of a song —Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros' "Home"—with a male/female duet. He naturally decided to perform both parts himself in different voices. It then floundered in obscurity until this year, when it was used on a Tik Tok video by an Australian influencer named Hannah West. The rest of this extremely 2020 story writes itself. The unstoppable nature of the internet did its thing and soon our Edith was doing Bieber numbers, because this is the way things work now. The cover is currently sitting at over eight million streams on Spotify and soundtracks hundreds of thousands of Tik Tok videos.
The music itself is pleasantly inoffensive melancholy acoustic, which seems to be one of only two options for songs to use on Tik Tok, the other being obnoxious EDM. Teenagers are either sad or excited after all.
Much has been made recently about the separation between the artist and the art, but what about when the artist is the art? There is a valid concern that upcoming artists will see the success Rosenthal has had with an alter ego and in 5 years using your own identity will get you laughed off of every festival bill.
Apparently many fans believe Edith to be real and write gushing praise to her often. She frequently receives DMs complimenting her voice and requesting that she plays in Brazil. This is worrying. The promotional pictures used, while proficient, are not photo-realistic.
We could be witnessing a turning point in music right now, it’s too early to tell. All I would say is, flesh and blood musicians, watch your backs. Some animated bastard is waiting in the wings right now, ready to do your job for half the pay.
Besides, Quasimoto already cornered this market.