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I saw the following sentence in today's New York Times. I understand 'Rock-God' means an artist almost deified by fans because of his or her performance and reputation. Can 'Rock-God' be applied to musicians other than rock singer?

Billie Joe Armstrong, the Green Day frontman, brings a jolt of rock-god electricity to the Broadway musical "American Idiot."

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Since the word "rock" appears in the title, presumably "rock-god" can only apply to practitioners of rock music. "Rock star" is the term you normally hear, however.

One could be a "god" of other types of music — country, classical, klezmer, what have you — but it just wouldn't be the same.

Still, the "almost deified by their fans" part is neither a rock nor even a recent phenomenon. It has applied to musicians throughout the ages. Frank Sinatra crooned to legions of screaming bobby soxers, Rudy Vallee before him became the first mass-media pop star, and way before that piano virtuoso Franz Liszt fornicated his way across Europe on the strength of his fame. From the Wikipedia article on Liszt:

After 1842 "Lisztomania" swept across Europe. The reception Liszt enjoyed as a result can only be described as hysterical. Women fought over his silk handkerchiefs and velvet gloves, which they ripped to shreds as souvenirs. Helping fuel this atmosphere was the artist's mesmeric personality and stage presence. Many witnesses later testified that Liszt's playing raised the mood of audiences to a level of mystical ecstasy.

Interestingly, a contemporary of Liszt, violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini was so good that he was not deified, but said to have been possessed by the devil. I guess that's as good as music gets. Eat your heart out, Billie Joe Armstrong.

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Robusto. So you mean 'Rock-God' is only applied to Rock stars and not other genre of musicians? - Yoichi – Yoichi Oishi Jan 11 '11 at 0:59
That's correct. You can use the term "rock stars" in other disciplines — hey, I've heard Joel Spolsky called that — but "rock god" has not been similarly genericized to my knowledge. – Robusto Jan 11 '11 at 1:07
<genre> god is genre-specific, while "rock star" is a generic term for people who are either behaving like one (think "trashes hotel rooms" and "drives rollses into swimming pools") or have fans as if they were a rock star. Compare "diva", which does not mean the person in question is an opera singer. It doesn't even imply the person being a woman. – Jürgen A. Erhard Jan 11 '11 at 2:01
I'm confused. 'Rock-GOd' is an music idle with craze and reputaion as Rock Star. So it can apply to any genre of artists? – Yoichi Oishi Jan 11 '11 at 2:32
@Yoichi Oishi: You could apply the "god" elevation to any genre of artist or practitioner, but be careful. It could wind up backfiring. Saying someone is a "kazoo god" might get a laugh where you didn't intend one, especially if your audience is not made up of devotees of that particular art or practice. – Robusto Jan 11 '11 at 12:55

On "rock-god" vs "rock star" (or even "rockstar")

The suffix "-god" (with or without the hyphen) could probably be added to any genre or profession to convey deity-like status, though the near-blasphemy is most appropriate for certain sub cultures that embrace irreverence and hyperbole: rock & roll, gamers, sports, etc.

He's a gaming god
She's a programming god
He's a football god

In music, this is probably limited to rock and its subgenres e.g. "metal-god". It's unlikely someone would be called an "emo-god" or a "pop-god".

"Rock star" can be used for any profession, sometimes ironically. Intel made some commercials about "engineering rock stars". The phrase means "a person who is outstanding at their job and worthy of admiration / adulation". You could even say someone is a "rockstar" of country music or opera without irony e.g.

Enrico Caruso was the opera rockstar of his day

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Nitpicking, but "god" is not a suffix in these cases — it is just part of a compound word. – Kosmonaut Jan 11 '11 at 15:55

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