I have a confession to make. I've never been anyone's muse. Shocking, I know. But what does it mean to actually be one? Usually, I thought it went something like this: Step 1: capture the gaze of a beautiful and tortured artist; Step 2: pose artfully as artist swoons over your incredible, unearthly beauty; Step 3: art ensues (torrid love affair and subsequent break-ups optional).

The idea of the muse has historically been seen through a rosy, feminine lens, girlish and naïve and starry-eyed while she watches the artist at work, usually chaste and sitting towards the lower end of the social hierarchy; the place reserved for plebs, peasants and those who wear Crocs with socks. But once she becomes muse-worthy, she is forever elevated. She would blush at the artist's intrigue for her, her mind a mystery to be unlocked despite being seen as plain and unremarkable by everyone else. You know, like she would be totally gorgeous once she took off her glasses and undid her ponytail in beautifully-cinematic slow motion.

The blushing muse, of course, had her fair share of *feelings* for her artist. Sexy feelings. That sweet, sweet sexy tension simmering underneath would then explode in a sexy, fervent cataclysm of lust, confusion, despair and the inevitable fallout that tears them both apart, which nowadays would take the form of a Daily Mail tell-all, Twitter war, reality show appearance or rambling Tumblr post complete with sassy gifs. It's not like music itself has ever been short of any form of tension, which can range from the sexy to the downright obsessed to the fearsome. Many a woman has been able to creep under the skin of an artist (deep breath): Michelle, Diana, Billie Jean, Lucille, Minnie, Maggie May, Ruby, Sherry, Roxanne, Barbara Ann, Gina, Jezebel, Angie, Peggy Sue, Nikki, Cecilia, Nancy, Valerie, Emma, Maria, Rosanna, Maggie May, Laura, Delilah, Alison, Jenny, Grace, Sadie, Barbra Streisand, a little bit of Monica, Erica, Rita, Tina, Sandra, Mary, Jessica...

The life of a muse in music, naturally, is often a whirlwind providing a snapshot in time, ever so fleeting yet intense. Those that do last are rare. Bob Dylan sang "her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls" for Warhol's fallen star Edie Sedgwick on 'Just Like a Woman' and wrote 'Like A Rolling Stone' in her honour. Sharona was a schoolgirl who became the object of statutory affection of The Knack's lead singer (he was 25), who invited her to go on the road with the band, which must now be the plotline to ten thousand One Direction fanfics. 'Lola' may or may not be about transvestite and another of the Warhol entourage Candy Darling, rumoured to have dated Kinks lead singer Ray Davies, while yet another Warhol protégée, transgender actress Holly Woodlawn was name-checked in Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground's 'Take a Walk on the Wild Side.'

Even Amirah Mercer for arts.Mic makes the ambitious argument that Kim Kardashian is Kanye's muse, because something has to explain the video for'Bound 2.' Mercer writes: "Those who criticize Kanye West's glorification of a woman whose chief claim to fame is a sex tape have overlooked the artist-muse dynamic of Kimye's relationship -- a dynamic that gives West full creative license to praise and create art inspired by, for, and with whichever muse he chooses." Good for them, I guess.

But who probably was the most desired muse in all of rock, Pattie Boyd had dedicated to her two of the music world's most intensely personal odes. She first met George Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night when she played the role of a schoolgirl fan, later marrying in 1966 and inspiring the romantic 'Something'. However, in true rock and roll fashion, things became triangular around the late '60s when Eric Clapton, at the time collaborating on projects with Harrison, fell for Pattie which resulted in the now-famed 'Layla' 0 his obsession for Boyd escalating the more he tried to convinced her to leave Harrison, writing love letters, Clapton threatening to take heroin and eventually doing so, even beginning an affair with Boyd's teenage sister. They married some years later after Boyd divorced Harrison in 1974, but collapsed under the weight of Clapton's alcoholism.

Some muses are talented in their own right. Godmother of Punk, Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe both fed off one another's art and inspiration, as well as affections (despite Mapplethorpe's homosexuality), while one of the most controversial muses of all time Yoko Ono not only inspired such tracks as 'Woman', 'Jealous Guy', 'The Ballad of John and Yoko' and 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)', but also made her name as a conceptual artist and in the realm of music both solo and under the Plastic Ono Band (though not to everyone's acclaim...)

But when does she ever become the muser? Mused? Amused? When does the lady ever get to choose the muse for herself? The identity of the lover in Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain' is still hotly debated. Tracks from both 19 and 21 by Adele were inspired by two different relationships. Alanis Morissette's 'You Oughta Know' was about that guy on Full House that wasn't Uncle Jesse. One of those seemingly open about her muses is everyone's favourite wholesome twenty-something Taylor Swift. Quite prolific in her merry-go-round of muses over the past few years ('Forever and Always' about being dumped by Joe Jonas, 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' about Jake Gyllenhaal, 'Dear John' dedicated to John Mayer, 'I Knew You Were Trouble' allegedly about 1D dreamboat Harry Styles, maybe Ed Sheeran, who knows, there's still time yet...) It's refreshing to have the tables turned for once with the female artist examining her male muse in such honest detail.

However, there has always been something rather petty in the way Swift delivers it, kind of like when you cringe at your old diary entries from age 15 when you were never, ever, ever getting back together with that dick Christopher who's totally been ignoring all your texts. Swift's rather flighty approach to finding her muse suggests an immature and simplistic view of love and relationships overall, where everything is seen as either a white horse fairytale or triumphantly smug scorn. Remember the MTV VMAs last year when she accepted the award for Best Female Video for 'I Knew You Were Trouble'? Swift made this not-so subtle jibe as the camera slowly panned over to Styles: "I also wanna thank the person who inspired this song, and he knows exactly who he is. Because now I've got one of these."

There's definitely no shame in playing the field when you're young, red-lipped and free like Taylor, but I wouldn't exactly be proud to admit you wrote a song about Joe Jonas, let alone dated Joe Jonas. Then again, it could've been worse. It could've been Kevin...

Rarer those are muses of the same sex. 'Forrest Gump' and other tracks from Frank Ocean's acclaimed Channel Orange make reference to a male crush - "You're running on my mind, boy" - which later culminated in Ocean's now-famed open letter on Tumblr where he recounted the story of his first love: "I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together... And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I'd see him, and his smile. I'd hear his conversation and his silence."

Meanwhile, recent ripples were made when the video for Sam Smith's 'Leave Your Lover' depicted the star-crossed relationship between Smith and another man. He later revealed his debut album In The Lonely Hour was inspired by his unrequited love for a man he met last year, explaining to The Fader: "It's about a guy and that's what I wanted people to know - I want to be clear that that's what it's about [...] I want to make it a normality because this is a non-issue. People wouldn't ask a straight person these questions. I've tried to be clever with this album, because it's also important to me that my music reaches everybody. I've made my music so that it could be about anything and everybody - whether it's a guy, a female or a goat - and everybody can relate to that."

But the concept of the muse doesn't seem as common over the past decade or so, for either men or women. Why that is isn't quite clear, as my search for other recent examples came up rather fruitless except for the odd Top 5 post and, curiously enough, the Wikipedia entry for 'groupie'. Have our connections to one another become looser? Did our attention spans shorten when sepia-soaked snapshots and '140 characters or less' became the norm? Is there no real intimacy cherished between us because everything about us is already out there for all to see in a virtual theatre of our making, all me, me, me to share with anyone and everyone? Or are we simply just not bothered? The fashion and art world seems to be in abundance of muses - but music today seems to hold fewer, rather vague examples in comparison.

But as frustrating as it all may seem, there's something rather admirable about shrouding your true inspirations in a mystery. Why do we have to know the name and face behinds the song? Does it need to be explicitly stated to sate curiosity? Half the fun is in the interpretation, to be kept guessing and to eventually piece it all together. The less you know, the more you want to know (see above: 'You're So Vain').

Although flattering and exciting at first, the lifespan of a muse can be incredibly brief. As that harsh mistress history has proven time and time again, many an artist grows restless and bored, more often than not ending in heartache. It really bruises the ego when you're no longer unearthly and elevated. The relationship between artist and muse can be quite a volatile one built on the heady foundation of ideal and infatuation.

But as dramatic as being a muse has been for some, maybe there's something satisfying nowadays to see others not so fussed with having a muse or being one, realising there's a big world out there to creatively sample from, rather than commit to a singular view. The idea of the muse, after all, can be found in anything or anyone, something so much bigger and bolder and more encompassing than any of us can ever really comprehend.