Q&A with Jocelyn Vena, Pop Writer at MTV NewsPosted: April 15, 2011
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.
4. Have you noticed any trends lately within pop music specifically?
I think a big trend now is self-empowerment anthems…Katy Perry’s “Firework,” [Lady] Gaga’s “Born This Way,” Selena Gomez just released a song like that [“Who Says”], and Ke$ha had “We R Who We R.” Dance music is huge right now. The new Britney album is definitely all dance music. There’s not one slow song on the whole album, so dance music is big right now.
5. You listed a lot of girls when discussing pop music’s trends. Do you think there is room for more male pop artists?
Right now, the only male pop artist is Justin Bieber. Aside from that, pop music is definitely ruled by girls. It’s definitely a girl power moment. There aren’t that many male pop stars. It’s just harder for men to be engaging in that form. Girls can have costumes and it’s easier for a girl to identify with the terms of pop music. It’s not like 10-12 years ago when there were a lot of boy bands.
6. Why do you think pop lends itself more to a female’s perspective?
The style of pop right now is very feminine. It’s a lot of dance songs and the themes have become very feminine as of late, and girls have become a big market.
7. Do you think the standards have changed for an up and coming pop artist coming into the industry?
They really have to step up their game. When Lady Gaga first came on the scene three years ago, she made the point that you just can’t sit there and sing. You have to take your visuals, tour, videos, and songs to a whole new level. It became more than being cute, you have to have great style, videos, and great songs in order to compete.
8. What do audiences look for in a pop star?
They’re looking for someone with a strong personality and a very defined look that is singular to them. They’re looking for songs that are strong, fun, and relatable. Everybody just wants to have a great time and they also want their pop stars to look like they’re having a good time.