Tag Archive: Pop


Telephone

Sometime I feel like I live in Grand Central Station.

I left my head and my heart,

[Where] there’s no one home.

I can’t hear a thing.

-Lady Gaga & Beyonce

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In Defense of Kanye

Ever since Mr. West’s infamous rudeness to America’s sweetheart at the 2009 VMAs, America has had beef with Kanye.

More than beef–hatred, really. We discovered that Kanye was a conceited asshole who places his opinion above all else, disregarding what impact he may have on young, innocent country singers. It didn’t help that Taylor Swift is presently America’s little sister.

Nothing I have ever seen or heard from or about Kanye contradicts this line of thinking. I truly believe he is a conceited asshole who couldn’t care less about anyone else, but so what? By making him Pop Public Enemy #1, we’re implying that our society is moral enough to condemn someone for simply being an asshole.

Have we forgotten Chris Brown? Apparently so. A short six months after he was charged with felony assault, “I can Transform Ya” was on constant blast through the airwaves. Mind you, this was the same month in which his insincere, PR firm induced Larry King apology occurred.

And don’t forget the plethora of R. Kelly accusations. Granted, he was never officially charged with anything, which I can only attribute to a damn good lawyer. Seriously, how much photographic and video proof does a court (or a society) need before they can safely assume that maybe this man is sleeping with underage girls?

I could of course also go into the public endangerment that stars such as Lindsay Lohan have often dabbled in. Nobody even bats an eye at these offenses anymore, and these people are immediately forgiven as soon as they finish whatever court sentence was deemed necessary. In my opinion, however, these people are too busy destroying themselves from the inside out to even notice any public scorn that could come their way.

I also won’t get into the infinite forgiveness provided to sports stars. My thoughts on Michael Vick alone constitute an entire other blog post.

I will mention, however, that in the year leading up to the epic Taylor Swift incident, Kanye lost both his mother and his fiance. I’ve lost friends and I’ve been through some bad break-ups, but never something as extreme as either of those incidents. I don’t see how a person can go through such tragic events and not be changed. This isn’t an excuse for his actions, but it’s something to consider.

It’s something to consider when the next Chris Brown  or R. Kelly song comes on the radio or when you’re in line at the grocery store, scanning the tabloids to see who is screwing up and how. Because while not everyone knows someone who has gotten multiple DUIs or slept with a 14 year-old or beat up their girlfriend, everyone knows a jerk, and that’s why Kanye is so easy to hate.

You only have to turn on the radio to know that America can’t get enough of Lady Gaga and Ke$ha. Gaga has the most hits off a freshman album in recorded history, and Ke$ha’s Tik Tok, which hit the charts out of nowhere, is the longest running number-one debut single by a female artist since 1977. These two performers offer something that has not yet been seen by this generation–a little bit of intentional crazy.

It’s easy to find out who’s the hot female singer in the pop world by watching who Christina Aguilera is copying. This may seem like a harsh criticism, but I feel that Christina has all the makings of an amazing pop star–a level head, beauty, and an incredible voice. She doesn’t need to recreate her image every album, yet she still does.

Let’s review: In 1999, when Christina first hit the stage as an adult pop star, Brittany Spears had the top spot in everyone’s hearts. Brittany’s signature ensemble was the sexy schoolgirl look from Baby, one more time, with the tied-off, belly showing top, and an innocent, little blonde girl album cover. Christina then released her debut album, with a slightly sexier version of seemingly the same little blonde girl. To someone unfamiliar with the pop world, they may have been indistinguishable.

As we all know, Brittany Spears had some issues not too long ago. Something along the lines of two ill-advised marriages (one overnight in Vegas), two neglected children, some serious weight gain and loss, and the infamous head-shaving. America watched their pop icon fall apart, piece by piece.

Next, we saw the rise of “the bad girl” in pop music. Christina took on this image in her 2002 release, Stripped, jumping off of artists like Pink, Gwen Stefani, and Avril Lavigne. This mini-generation of pop star has done surprisingly well for themselves on the mental health checklist. Though these artists are between limelights at the moment, the majority of them are happily married, and have done a good job of keeping their names out of the gossip columns.  It was actually the late blooming “bad girls” that had problems, most specifically, Rihanna.

Rihanna, the self-proclaimed “good girl gone bad” found herself in a publicly broadcasted abusive relationship with Chris Brown. Unlike the Brittany fiasco, Rihanna was fortunate enough to have some caring and responsible souls step in to save her from herself. It was, however, widely rumored that Rihanna wished to stay in her relationship, despite the abuse that occurred. Her musical talent has since been reduced to yodeling.

The next fad that Christina copied on her 2006 album, Back to Basics, was the pin-up girl look. This look was piloted by Amy Winehouse, who had the distinct look and sound of that period, even if she was short on the class. You just have to look at that girl to know she’s a train wreck. The question is not, “Did America see Amy Winehouse fall further down the slippery slope?” but “Was the entire thing a giant publicity stunt by her record label?”

When a nation is presented with a singer who constantly looks strung out and has more addition problems than one can count, wouldn’t releases such as “Rehab” and “You know I’m no Good” just make commercial sense? Did we get played, America? The world may never know.

Now we come to present time. The world has embraced Lady Gaga and is quickly falling in love with Ke$ha. Miss Gaga does not sound strikingly different from many pop artists we’ve heard in the past. She makes good music, but if you close your eyes, you might imagine her to be just another young pop star, awaiting her downfall. The difference comes when you see her, or at least familiarize yourself with all that is Lady Gaga.

Unlike the previously mentioned singers, Lady Gaga is a character, rather than a person. From the beginning, she has made a point to distinguish between her personal life and her public life. For a while, most people didn’t even know what she looked like. America can emotionally invest itself in Lady Gaga because her “downfall” will only come in the form of a Kaufman-esque  publicity stunt.

Ke$ha does the same thing in a different form. Rather than embed her character in a dense persona, Ke$ha simply presents herself as a bubble–fun, yet empty inside. She’s even bouncing like a bubble in one of her music videos! Ke$ha is meant to be danced to and then dismissed. Who cares if Ke$ha gets into a bad relationship or shaves her head? The girl brushes her teeth with Jack Daniels for Christ’s sake.

So are either of these artists good role models to the millions of young listeners who are most likely to obsess over and emulate them? No, but that’s really not what America seems to be looking for. At the end of the day, a character is far more interesting to watch than a real-life crazy person; only one of them will have actual repercussions from their actions.