Despite their shared mass appeal, these female stars differ in their sounds, creative approaches and marketing tactics. And they don't appreciate being compared with each other, according to some of their representatives.Aha! Well, since we here at The Music Salon live to compare, let's see if we can annoy some pop divas by doing just that. After all, it's all fodder for aesthetic theory, right? Here are the four divas in order of age:
|Lorde, from New Zealand, who just turned 17|
|Miley Cyrus, 20|
|Lady Gaga, 27|
|Katy Perry, 29|
First of all, I think we should give thanks that at least Rihanna and Beyoncé seem, temporarily at least, to have slipped into the background. So let's see what kind of musical offerings these pop stars have for us.
Lorde's clip has, at the moment, just under 69 million views on YouTube.
Just over 300 million views.
Just over 100 million views.
Just over 187 million views.
First reactions: Lorde is about being regular folks and her voice, which is most of the texture. Miley is working with a deeply confused metaphor: is she the wrecker or the wreckee? Both, apparently. Lady Gaga has the most sophisticated imagery and, I'm surprised to hear myself say this, but she is also the sexiest. Katy, ok, I get it, I am grrrl, hear me roar, but couldn't you afford an elephant with two tusks?
Pop stars live in a weird world, which I really know nothing about. But I remember a story a friend told me about a Canadian pop star. He had a big hit, his first, and one day he went to his mailbox and found a check. It was his first big royalty check and it amounted to what you would pay for a house. I guess in today's dollars think $250,000. Now that's nothing to a big American pop star, but imagine this regular guy, he was probably used to getting a couple of hundred dollars a night and suddenly he gets a check for more money than he can imagine! Being a pop star does very weird things to you, to your psychological stability. I think that, of the four divas, Lorde has barely started to sense it, Miley is being swept away and Katy is just going with it. Lady Gaga is the only one who is actually thinking about it.
Lorde's song is about a state of affairs that for her is fast disappearing. Already in her career she is world famous: 69 million views on YouTube counts as pop star royalty. She says:
And we'll never be royals (royals)But her check is already in the mail.
It don't run in our blood
That kind of lux just ain't for us, we crave a different kind of buzz
Miley, as the daughter of a big country music star, Billy Ray Cyrus, is already savvy in the business. I suspect her view is if she has to get naked and lick a lot of sledgehammers to get those 300 million views on YouTube, then no problem. Eat my dust, Lady Gaga! I have read that her twerking episode on the Video Music Awards was worth $80 million in publicity. Think about it. Pop music is pretty big business and whatever they need to do to come out on top is just part of the job. But, you know, the music isn't very interesting and after you get used to a naked girl swinging around on a wrecking ball, neither is the video. The lyrics too are just a string of clichés:
We clawed, we chained our hearts in vain
We jumped never asking why
We kissed, I fell under your spell.
A love no one could deny
Don't you ever say I just walked away
I will always want you
I can't live a lie, running for my life
I will always want you
I came in like a wrecking ball
I never hit so hard in love
All I wanted was to break your walls
All you ever did was wreck me
Yeah, you, you wreck me
Katy Perry is pretty good, actually. She is a solid professional and has put some good songs out there. I liked "Part of Me" because it was a pretty good pop song and had a different kind of message:
But of all four divas, the real artist is, whether you like her style or not, Lady Gaga. She seems to have matured a lot and has stuff to say. But she also has the best pop song of the four. Dense, compelling imagery and a real driving song with power. She can do pop. Who she reminds me of, with all the personas and sense of style, is David Bowie.
So let's listen to an older tune by Lady Gaga:
Oh, you were expecting the original? Just on cello alone there are dozens of covers of that song out there.
UPDATE: A commentator sends me a fugue version of the above that is really quite good:
But wait, there's more. Here it is on organ:
An incomplete version for string quartet:
And inevitably, the full orchestra version: