This has been going on for quite a while. Remember Vanessa-Mae?
article. By "pop music sensibility" I suppose I am talking mostly about sexuality. We are always, it seems, looking for the next young thing, but isn't it the case these days that the next young thing, especially if she is female, just always seems to be extremely good-looking? Here is another young pianist:
Now what is the probability that all the young stars of today also happen to be very attractive? Surely there must be some stupendous young musicians out there who are rather plain? And if there are, then they seem to be being eliminated somewhere along the line? Is it in school, university or conservatory? At Julliard or Peabody? Or does it happen at the competition level? Faced with two brilliant players do the judges tend to choose the more attractive one because they know their chances of a career are better? Based on my experience with competitions I strongly suspect that the most interesting musician will always place second or third just out of the sheer obtuseness of the judges. So a very beautiful competitor with facility will often win the competition over an interesting musician. That seems to be what Buniatishvili has: facility. Oh, and Yuja Wang, too:
Oh, I understand the motivation. You have to do whatever you need to, to get noticed in the very competitive musical world of today. It's the same in pop music. But I think that at some point someone ought to point out that a sexy dress and a moving performance are actually different things.
Here is a performance from a famously hip and eccentric pianist from not that long ago: