(This piece was written in Spring 2010.)
The girl next door has left the building. In her place, we have the pop star from outer space, who references the future with edgy stage wear and robots.
Musically and stylistically, today’s most popular singers are looking to the future for inspiration in a high-tech strut into the 22nd century. Musicians have adopted a futuristic style of stage wear that evokes the look of robots, with getups that are metallic, angular and hard-edged, while the robot itself has made a number of appearances in music videos and on stage.
The point was driven home again this month, when Christina Aguilera announced that her anticipated fourth album, which will be released this summer, is called “Bionic.” On the album’s cover, Aguilera comes across as the lovechild of Princess Leah, Marilyn Monroe, and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator. Half of her face shows the Xtina we have come to know and love: fair skin, blue eyes, and lips bathed in rouge. The other half is an android comprised of bolts and wires: the inner workings of a pop star gone robotic. Aguilera gushed about her makeover to InTouch, saying, “I’m so excited — I’ve had an idea for a futuristic feel for many years now. It’s always been in the back of my mind to do a more futuristic sound.”
Her new space age image places her in a league with music’s current fembots such as Lady Gaga, who is resurrected as Fritz Lang’s robot in Metropolis in “Paparazzi” after being thrown off of a balcony by her boyfriend. Beyoncé, with a golden Thierry Mugler metallic bodysuit, also becomes a robot in her surreal video for “Sweet Dreams.” Rihanna got into the robo-craze when she suggestively danced with two big robots during her performance of “Rude Boy” at this year’s Kid’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry »
To start this post, let me throw out some numbers: over one million downloads of his debut album, almost one million plays on Last.fm, more than 400,000 YouTube views, and about 21,000 followers on Twitter. Up-and-coming pop artist Simon Curtis boasts these numbers without a recording contract. After starring in Nickelodeon’s made-for-TV musical “Spectacular!” and nabbing a guest spot on “Hannah Montana,” he set his sights on pop superstardom. Last March, he independently released the album, “8Bit Heart,” for free through his website, and he’s since been one to watch on the pop music scene. Filled with top-notch production by his sole collaborator, Jeff “Jadion” Wells and infectious choruses, the album rivals those topping the Billboard charts today. This spring, Curtis will release his follow-up, “RΔ” (pronounced Rah), named after his fan base, the Robot Army, on iTunes. Snippets of some of the album’s tracks can be found here.
For a press person’s perspective, I chatted with Tanner Stransky, correspondent staff writer for Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, who reviews the latest servings from pop divas in addition to writing about TV shows, books, and movies. He also wrote the book, “Find Your Inner Ugly Betty: 25 Career Lessons for Young Professionals Inspired by TV Shows,” about taking career advice from the show as well as other programs on the air then. Here are some of the highlights from the interview, where we dished about the latest trends in pop music and what it takes to get noticed by the media.
1. Have you noticed any trends within pop music?
Music is more dancey and poppier than it has been in a long time. Music now is really clubby, like Britney’s new album is club music. Rihanna launches with her “Only Girl (In The World) single, and it’s a total club jam. It’s a Gaga effect: her first single was “Just Dance” and it cascaded from there when everybody jumped on that. It’s cyclical – we’ll be in this a little while longer and then we’ll do something else. America is the only place where pop music gets dancey, then it doesn’t, and then it gets dancey again. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently spoke to Jocelyn Vena, the pop writer at MTV News. Whether it’s the newest music video by Britney Spears or Lady Gaga’s latest antic, Vena has it covered. She notes how these ladies, leaving no room for male pop acts, are running the show with their slinky dance songs. Here are some of the highlights from our chat.
1. As the pop writer at MTV News, is your beat only pop music?
It’s pop music, fashion, TV, and movies. It’s gossip, like I’ve been reporting on the Chris Brown drama in light of his Good Morning America appearance. I’m also working on the Britney Spears album that’s coming out next week. It’s pop culture, more than just pop music.
2. Who are the most talked about artists on MTV.com today?
Britney, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, and Justin Bieber. Those are the people that I write about most regularly.
3. How have you seen the music industry change in the last 2-3 years?
People are consuming music in different kinds of ways than they used to. They’re not going to the record store like they were 5 to 7 years ago. Instead, they’re going online, on iTunes, downloading it for free illegally, and streaming it on different websites. Read the rest of this entry »