My Mental Exercise: If I should be a pop star

Photo: RCA Records

When I heard the news of  Miley Cyrus’ performance in VMA Awards, I was not shocked.  I haven’t followed her as Hanna Montana. I only know her as the girl who sang Party in the USA and The Climb. Lady Gaga had her first single when she was 22  years old but she was already Lady Gaga, the way we know her now. What Miley Cyrus is doing now  is not too different from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Nicki Minaj. People just could not get over the thought that Disney star is now twerking. I did listen to her two latest songs, We can’t stop and Wrecking Ball. In terms of sound and content, the songs are fine and have last song syndrome effect. They are ‘safe’ for kids to listen. It has no sex and swear words in the lyrics. But her music videos are very disturbing. Why does she have to lick a sledgehammer?

It’s interesting to study pop culture. For my own mental exercise, I ponder on the idea what can I do to be a pop star? You compete with a large population of people who can sing and dance.  American Idol shows a lot of young people who are willing to do whatever it takes just to have the limelight.  And it’s heartbreaking to see your favorite contestants leave the competition. You come to a conclusion, you really have to have “something more than talent”. And the idea of “something more than talent” requires creativity and marketing skills.

In 60 minutes of CBS News,  Anderson Cooper opened the show with the question, “Is Lady Gaga an artist or a marketing expert?  Lady Gaga said in that interview: “One of my greatest artworks is the art of fame. I’m a master of the art of fame. “ She inspires a lot of fans  with her message of self-empowerment. The controversies, outfits, music videos, are all part of  her scheme of getting attention and sustaining fame.  You see her dead in her music videos and live performance.

“That’s what everyone wants to know, right? ‘What’s she gonna look like when she dies? What’s she gonna look like when she’s overdosed?’ on whatever they think I’m overdosing on? Everybody wants to see the decay of the superstar,” Lady Gaga said.

“Do you think people wanna see your decay?” Cooper asked.

“What? Of course they do! They wanna see me fail, they wanna see me fall on stage, they wanna see me vomiting out of a nightclub. I mean, isn’t that the age that we live in? That we wanna see people who have it all lose it all? I mean, it’s dramatic,” she replied.

Take another example: Katy Perry. She was a gospel singer when she started her singing career. Because she did not get much success like Amy Grant, she  ventured to mainstream music. It’s somehow fun to sing a Katy Perry song, right? But music like movies should have some parental guidance. For instance, the song Teenage Dream can lead to teenage pregnancy.

Speaking of parental guidance, Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass was once a big hit. Kids sing it and dance with it. But will you be horrified if your daughter tells you: ” He just gotta give me that look, when he give me that look / Then the panties comin’ off, off, uh”?

I do love all types of music, most especially pop music. In fact, I enjoy listening and singing some of the songs of these artists. I believe Lady Gaga is an excellent performing artist. I believe Katy Perry can write meaningful songs. I like the raindrop sound effects and the beat of Super Bass. As I have observed, the more eccentric you are, you increase your chances of surviving in this industry. But I am hoping that artists are recognized for their talent and not their packaging. I wish they didn’t have to be provocative to be appealing. I wish they could cross a message of self-empowerment without nudity. I wish they did not need to make a controversy to earn fame.  And I am hoping that we get to have more songs that have well-thought lyrics with less number of bad words.  I am hoping that when we like pop stars, we like them as artists and musicians not as celebrities. There is a fine line between an artist and a celebrity.

Lady Gaga does not need to strip to impress..

Wish Katy Perry wrote more songs like this

Spoken Word

I found my new love, Spoken Word Poetry. It is one of the literary forms I am very addictive of. I enjoy listening to Spoken Word Poetry as much as I enjoy listening to latest pop songs. I know the word “poetry” sounds intimidating as if it belongs to a subculture. Our notion is that poetry is for people who study literature, who read works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Oscar Wilde. If not, it is for people who pretend they can write or pretend they are well-read. But Spoken Word Poetry is different. It can  appeal to a large audience. It can be very entertaining.

Spoken Word Poetry is written to be performed on stage. It is written for both the ears and the eyes. I like this medium of self-expression because it combines storytelling, theater, and poetry. Unlike poems published, it is more palatable and conversational. Trust me, it is not a difficult art to appreciate. I am not a good listener and I have short attention span but I manage to listen an 18-minute performance while I am doing other tasks.

Here are some of  my favorite performances.  I am not going to explain and describe further  because I want you to watch and discover the beauty of Spoken Word Poetry.

OCD by Neil Hilborn

This video has been viral.  Watch this  and you will understand why the world fell in love with this poem. It is about a man who has obsessive compulsive disorder. And I am very much obsessed with this guy. My heart broke after I heard the last line.

Love Poem Medley by Rudy Francisco

I love this guy! He is very witty and funny. He has a lot of cheesy lines.

I heard that love is blind so, I write all my poems in braille

And my poems are never actually finished because true love is endless

Touchscreen by Marshal Soulful Jones

If you spend more than eight hours on the internet, always take photos of the food you eat, make friends in Yahoo chatroom and Skype, this is for you.

One Color by Neil Hilborn and Renee Schminkey 

If ever Reproductive Health Bill should be discussed again, this poetry should be heard.

But was never  taught that there are worse things that could happen than a baby or a disease.

Shrinking Women by Lily Myers

As you know, I have soft spot on issues about women. This girl described struggles of women in conforming to gender norms.

Feel Good Music

When it’s an ordinary day and there’s no motivational force to make life meaningful, I just cover my ears with headphones and turn on the music in full blast.  When I  listen to feel good music, I end up smiling alone in my workstation.  It’s how I begin my day.  Music is my multivitamins. It brings positive energy out of nowhere.

Here are some songs  in my  feel good music playlist:

Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Rae

If you want to be sentimental for the day, listen to Corinne Bailey Rae’s song Like a Star.  Whenever I listen to this song, pleasant memories run in my head. It’s like a background music of a segment in my life.

Just like a star across my sky/ Just like an angel off the page/ You have appeared to my life/ Feel like I’ll never be the same

Hopeful by Twista ft. Faith Evans

Inspiring songs don’t have to be ballads. Sometimes, they are light songs that are radio friendly. Here’s an example.

’cause I’m hopeful, yes I am, hopeful for today,
Take this music and use it
Let it take you away,
And be hopeful (hopeful) and he’ll make a way
I know it ain’t easy but that’s okay.

Brighter than the Star by Colbie Colbat

Colbie Colbat’s album was released in 2011 but I only discovered this song today. Thanks Solaire for spreading this music.

Oh, we could be the stars, falling from the sky

Shining how we want, brighter than the sun

Tonight by Jessica Sanchez ft. Ne-Yo

This song has an addictive beat that make me want to dance and of course I love Jessica Sanchez. It’s a good warm-up song to take your inhibitions and worries away.

Cause we ain’t even on earth tonight
We on a planet where the dudes got money and they not afraid to spend it
(Ayo, ayo)