They're the musical theater kids in your high school who sang in public like it was the set of "Fame." That kind of peacocking can only come from people who are very sure of themselves. Amplify that for a national or global audience -- hell, make it just a bar crowd -- and the musicians are all but guaranteed to have some rock-solid self confidence.
Sometimes it's just a pebble. Egos come in all sizes and I'm not saying every musician is an egotistical dickhead. But Taylor Swift can make that surprised face at awards shows all she wants and Christopher Owens can give a bunch of humble sad-guy interviews, but they both keep making music and serving it up to anyone who will have it.
And that dance around unfair and broad characterizations leads me to my point -- a more fair and less broad characterization (my writer ego allows me to do this) -- success and excellent music are born out of huge egos.
I mean, duh, right? But we still talk about it all the time.
Let's start with the obvious subject: Kanye West. Yeezus. No conversation about Kanye happens without a mention of his ego and, in fact, most of the conversation focuses on it. To paraphrase the man himself, knowing you're the best and asserting that will get you places. From there, his music does the work.
Jay-Z has plenty of ego, too, but he checks it with his endearing chuckle (#mylaugh) and moments of humility. It makes him more likable
How about Damon Albarn's more quiet brand of ego. He did hide behind animation for the Gorillaz, after all, all the way up to Plastic Beach, and even when we came out from behind the on-stage screens for that tour, he was dwarfed by the videos, orchestras and Snoop Dogg. Of course, he can't leave the Blur days behind and it's pretty clear the guy has high self regard.
You can go back through history, rattle off a list like this and the names are obvious enough that it's not worth getting into. It's harder to come up with examples who are women, but that is entirely different line of commentary about norms, expectations and perceptions.
Music wouldn't be what it is or where it is without unbridled, unapologetic ego. It wouldn't be where it is without suppressed, denied or subtle ego, either. It's not always attractive, so we detract points from openly egotistical stars, but we wouldn't get to make fun of them if they didn't have the balls to put themselves out there. Art requires that, and art that's exceptional or even just popular requires it tenfold.
So I'll allow Kanye a God complex. I'll allow some ego to a band playing a dive bar tonight because maybe that will get talented people the attention.
But Noel Gallagher... I just don't like him.