Everyone knows what happened with Ian Watkins. In 2012, he was arrested under suspicion of paedophilia. I’m not going to go into the details of his crimes, but it’s fair to say objectively that they were disgusting and the man should never see the light of day again. He was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment for his crimes, with the rest of his band announcing their split and hatred for the man. They have since formed a new band, No Devotion, and have categorically stated they will never play Lostprophets songs again.
A much-contested topic amongst both former fans and the general public is whether or not it is morally acceptable to listen to Lostprophets’ discography in light of the frontman’s actions. Within this article, I want to present both sides of this argument to give a better understanding of both schools of thought. I’m going to start with the more difficult side of this argument; that you can freely enjoy Lostprophets albums without having to worry about actively supporting the frontman.
The most obvious point to make is that Lostprophets were a six-piece band. Five of those six members have not committed any crimes; should they suffer for one member’s actions? The band had a huge fan base; they had two top ten albums and countless singles. They toured worldwide and sold over 3.5 million records. With Watkins’ crimes, this reputation was ruined for all six members of the band. Is this fair? Some argue that in listening to the band’s music, they are showing support for the five former members, not Watkins.
A second point is that the music is still the same quality. Start Something was a brilliant album, full of nu metal-tinged songs with massive, sing-along choruses. Rooftops had one of the most infectious choruses I’ve ever heard. The songs haven’t changed since Watkins’ incarceration. They are still technically the same insanely catchy tracks that captured the hearts of millions. Do the actions of the frontman affect the music? I have found some using analogies to display this point. If a revered and famous artist (I am not going to name a specific example to avoid offending) was found to have carried out similar actions to Watkins, would his or her body of work be seen as of a lower quality? Would it be enjoyed by fewer people?
The final point I have found is a comparison to Gary Glitter. Whilst HMV amongst others have removed Lostprophets from their shelves, their music, much like Gary Glitter’s, is still available for purchase through outlets such as iTunes, which seems to imply that at least some are happy to sell and have it listened to.
This brings us to the other, and admittedly much easier side of the argument; that we shouldn’t listen to any of their music and simply lock it away forever. The first point in this argument is simply that people don’t think it is right to listen to the voice and lyrics of a convicted paedophile. Whilst obviously none of the songs are about paedophilia they are ideas that have come from the mind of a disgusting person, and should therefore not be listened to.
The second point relates to the ‘should one member ruin the entire band’ argument. Whilst it’s true Watkins was one sixth of the band, it can be argued that he was more important than other members. He wasn’t just a part of the band, he was the voice. The frontman of the band is the face of the band, he was easily the most prominent member, and when people thought of Lostprophets, they would think of him before the other members of the band. His distinctive voice was one of the reasons the band were distinguishable from their peers.
The final point is that the rest of the band have denounced their previous music. When asked if No Devotion would play Lostprophets songs, guitarist Lee Gaze said “we’d definitely never play the songs again…I don’t think we’d ever revisit anything”. Some members have even gone so far as to say they’d have killed Watkins if they’d known what was going on. If the rest of the band don’t want anything to do with the music, should the fan base?
Overall, this is obviously a sensitive subject. Ian Watkins’ crimes were far more extreme than other celebrity paedophilia cases. The most recent news on him is that he still doesn’t seem to understand what he has done wrong. The man is clearly deranged and needs help. The question is whether or not the music he played a part in creating can still be enjoyed or not. Personally, I simply don’t feel comfortable listening to his voice, despite how much I used to love the songs (and still do). Ultimately though, it is up to the individual whether or not they listen to his music.