Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pop Tarts

An ascendant star in the entertainment industry is eventually going to be met with some sort of backlash. And is there any star in the universe bigger than Lady Gaga at this point? Hardly. Why it took as long as it did is a mystery to me, but earlier this month, M.I.A. took off the gloves in regards to the whole Lady Gaga phenomenon:
"People say we're similar, that we mix all these things in the pot and spit them out differently, but she spits it out exactly the same! None of the music's reflective of how weird she wants to be or thinks she is. She's the industry's last stab at making itself important - saying, 'You need our money behind you, the endorsements, the stadiums.' Respect to her, she's keeping a hundred thousand people in work, but my belief is: Do it yourself."

I would argue that you do need the industry's money behind you. Does anyone honestly believe that Lady Gaga would have moved up the music food chain as fast as she did without it? Would M.I.A. have broke into the mainstream without signing to Interscope Records? Possible, yes, but highly unlikely.

My issue with Lady Gaga is that I'm just not into her music. Her video for "Telephone" is one of the most absurd product placement vehicles I've ever seen. And I realize that sex sells, but trying to court controversy through sexuality is somewhat boring to me. What can you honestly do for shock value that Madonna hasn't already covered? I suppose I should give her points for not being a manufactured pop star in the same vein as Brittany Spears but, again, I'm just not into her music. With that said, I must add that, in defense of Lady Gaga, I don't exactly fit Gaga demographics. This music isn't made for me. I'm older. I want an artist's soul or anger to bleed out of my speakers. I want authenticity. Entertainment and shock value are not enough for me anymore.

But should I really be mining the pop landscape for the next Bob Dylan? No, but I've come pretty damn close to it in Marina and the Diamonds, a 24-year-old solo act whose real name is Marina Lambrini Diamandis(the Diamonds, she says, are her fans). And while it's unfair to compare Marina to Bob Dylan, she does possess the same "beyond her years" wisdom that Dylan did in the 60's - a hyper-awareness of cultural expectations and values against the reality of everyday life. There's a depth to her music that requires much more than the drive-through listening experience that has come to define the internet generation. Will Marina ever be as big as Lady Gaga? Absolutely not. She refuses to play the role that is required of her in this genre of music and, for that, she should be bigger than Lady Gaga. Marina is the reluctant middle finger of pop music.

Marina and the Diamonds' The Family Jewels will be released in America on May 25, 2010

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