Trial and Error

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Alternative, Pop, Top 40
Tags: , , ,
Image is everything. It’s a combination of how people see you and how you want people to see you. Everyone has an image and even if you think you don’t, that in itself is your image. When it comes to musicians, their image will essentially dictate their careers. From the day they are discovered they are categorized into a particular genre, each one bringing a certain style, sound and attitude. What irritates me more than anything, is when musicians very obviously try so hard to create an image for themselves because they want to be perceived a certain way. In these cases, all it does is make listeners take them less seriously.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          First off is Ke$ha (what’s up with the dollar sign??). Here’s a singer who walks around scantily clad, accessories galore, hair that always seems like it needs to be washed, costume style make-up, and most importantly, lots and lots of glitter. A very pedestrian version of Lady Gaga, at best. She boasts this image of a party girl without a care in the world, someone who isn’t afraid to be different and weird and herself, ie majority of pop starlets out there. Her genre is more or less pop (though she does make some lame attempts at rapping every now and again) and all her songs are your standard club tracks. I’m pretty convinced that Ke$ha focuses so much on her image because her music can’t speak for itself. She needs listeners to keep paying attention so she’ll exaggerate her image in every way she can, so she doesn’t become as forgettable as her music. Her first single entitled “Tik Tok” off her 2010 freshman album Animal, was instant proof of her shortcomings. Sure, it’s a decent club song mostly about getting ready, with the girls, hitting on boys, listening to the DJ, etc. But her opening line describes waking up next to P. Diddy (which is absolutely nothing to brag about!), brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack (which is quite unhygienic) and she goes on screaming about pedicures, having swagger, and the po-po. All in all, not the most impressive song out there. What really took me overboard though was her track “We R Who We R”. There are so many things wrong with this song, including the video. She repeats the last word of every line in what sounds like an auto-tuned voice, with a stutter. Her outfits, make-up, hair, accessories (including bejeweled fake nails) are blaring signs of a try-hard. Ke$ha, word to the wise: concentrate more on your music and less on your glitter. Please.

Next up is Jared Leto, of the band 30 Seconds to Mars. Jared first started off in acting as I’m sure most of you know, first appearing as bad boy heartthrob Jordan Catalano on TV’s My So-Called Life. He always demonstrated an interest in music, even fronting a band called “Frozen Embryos” on the show.  By 2002 he had focused his career on music and his band released their self-titled first album. They are your standard alt-rock band, who aren’t doing terribly, but Jared’s image is painful. He has fully adopted the gothic/emo look, including very heavy black eyeliner (thankfully no glitter), black nail polish, black clothing and long-ish hair swept to the side. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s very hard to take him seriously when he looks like that. He pretty instantly becomes a joke, and ends up delegitimizing his work. Maybe he’s trying to create a new “music” persona separate from his “actor” persona, but he seems to be trying really hard to appear deep, dark, and a tortured soul. And I just don’t believe it. In their video for “The Kill (Bury Me)” off their 2nd album entitled A Beautiful Lie, everything about it screams “dark”. It’s supposed to be the band re-enacting scenes from The Shining. Now to be fair, I’ve never seen the movie (I know, I know), but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t this much black in it. Judge for yourselves.

Last but not least, Mr. Bruno Mars. This guy just needs to stop making music. His real name is Peter Hernandez, and I’m sorry but anyone who has to create a stage name is already trying too hard (ie Sasha Fierce aka Beyonce). That aside, he’s always rocking a fedora and I guarantee you he shows up at clubs in said fedora, shades and a scarf, refusing to remove any of them while indoors. The slimy/creepy guy who tries to pick up girls with his charm, sappiness and one-liners. Yeah, he’s definitely that guy. His first single “Just the Way You Are” off of 2010’s Doo-Wops and Hooligans, is just nauseating. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy rom-coms as much as the next girl, I’m a closeted hopeless romantic but this song has no appeal: I physically cringe when I hear it (reminiscent of Owl City’s “Fireflies”). It’s almost like he compiled what he thought were his best pick-up lines and made them into a song. Which brings me to his atrocious second single, “Grenade”. It’s about a guy who’s so in love with a girl that he would literally do anything for her. He knows she doesn’t feel the same way, in fact he describes her abusing and trying to kill him, yet he would still do anything for her. Giving Bruno the benefit of the doubt, I can understand the whole unrequited love and all, but why does it have to be so violent? Why must you show the intensity of your affection by offering to die?? And not only that, but why sing about killing yourself? He mentions in the first verse that he knew right away she was bad news because “From the first kiss/Had your eyes wide open/Why were they open?”. Well maybe, she was checking out some other guy, but more importantly, how do you know her eyes were open – doesn’t that just imply yours were open too?? And what boggles my mind the most is the whole song goes on about all the violent ways he’d die for her, and all the violent things she does to him, yet somehow at the end of it all, he’s still alive enough to sing this song. Well done Bruno. Maybe if you took your hat off, you’d be able to see how this makes no sense at all.

Image plays a large role in any musician’s career, no doubt. What I will never understand is those musicians who invest more in how they appear to other people as opposed to how they sound, in such an obvious manner. It becomes clear to anyone that they’re in the industry just to be famous, and that it has nothing to do with their music. They then lose credibility as musicians and the music itself never gets a chance. As a result they’re not taken very seriously and, just like their images, are treated as fads and are soon forgotten. If only they would try harder at their music. If only.

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