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Does Elvis Still Matter?

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Matthew Keever: The importance of Elvis is, if nowhere else, is in his title: The King. Although I'm sure many young music fans have brushed off the originator of rockabilly music, their thankfulness for sexuality in music can be attributed to the honorary Tennesseean, whose memory will live on through his music.

And on the week of his birth, I suggest you give him another listen, if you haven't already. You might just hear something you like.

Don't have any of his albums? Talk to your parents. I can pretty much guarantee that they do.

Adam P. Newton: I'm not sure that Elvis has mattered for a couple of decades now. We long ago figured out that he (via Sam Phillips, Sun Records, and eventually The Colonel) was just copping his entire sound and look from the African-American soul, blues, and early rock singers that populated Memphis and the greater South during his adolescence and early adulthood.

Sure, we can thank Elvis for breaking down some of those barriers so that white kids could appreciate black music when the South was still segregated, but I'd much rather give Chuck Berry and Little Richard credit for rock and roll and the associated hip-shaking antics.

Can we still learn lessons from his legacy, as he was probably the first musician to use mass media (music, movies, and TV specials) to great effect? Sure - I'm surprised there aren't more books out there exploring that theory. Does it mean that his music still matters? Not in the slightest.

Rizoh: Music historians will forever debate his status in the rock pantheon. Prudes will dismiss him as vulgar. Critics will always label him a "swaggerjacker." But Elvis will remain a global icon on the sheer force of his colossal impact. Truth be told, any man who has the audacity to rock bejeweled jumpsuits in public and swivel his hips violently without a hint of humor deserves to be immortalized.

Brittanie Shey: Elvis matters mostly because of the inroads he made for black musicians to be more accepted by white audiences. He introduced the world to rock and roll, and without him Motown and everything that it brought along probably never would have happened.

A lot of people want to write him off as gimmicky, a thing spinster old ladies make pilgrimages to Vegas or Memphis for, but if you watch That's the Way It Is and see him in his unguarded musical moments while he's rehearsing, the charisma is so evident. Hell, even Cary Grant, one of the most charismatic men in Hollywood, went to see him. Performers like only come around once in a few generations.

William Michael Smith: Does Elvis still matter? No Elvis, probably no Beatles, no Rolling Stones, no Bowie, no U2, no T Rex. I doubt even guys like Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, and Chuck Berry would have ever had the high-profile careers they had without Elvis crashing the party.

Would most of us even care who Bill Monroe is without Elvis' cover of "Blue Moon of Kentucky"? He may not have invented rock and roll, but he was the first guy to break the sound barrier, and he is still sending a sonic boom through our society that will never be reversed. And they didn't film him originally from the waist up only for nothing!

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