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

Singing in the street is fun

People think I’m crazy because they see me talking to myself, smiling and singing alone, comfortable in my own world. I tend to hop a little when I walk in the busy streets of Metro Manila. I sometimes catch a stranger’s attention. Do you know how? It’s either I tripped up stairs, slipped on the escalator. But on some occasions, I sing out loud while walking in the streets which I am really unaware of. When someone turns his back to see me, that’s when I begin to feel that my mouth is moving and releasing a big note.  Then, I come back to my senses and pretend that it’s not embarrassing at all. It happened when I was walking through  Ayala underpass. An NGO representative approached me and said, “Ma’am I believe you are singing.”

Sometimes, I’m lost in my own world. I create a moment on the streets as if I am in MTV.  And I get inspiration from my favorite music videos which center on a girl singing in the middle of the streets.

Who Says by Selena Gomez

This video has a lot of cute stuff, very sassy. I love the scene when Selena  with her long gown, runs along the streets barefoot. I hope a lot of young girls will listen to this song because  it has a good message.

Quotable Quote:

I’m no beauty queen, I’m just beautiful me
You got every right to a beautiful life, come on

Put your hearts up by Ariana Grande

This is a feel good video with simple choreography and bright colors. I like how it looks like a musical movie scene or a Disney film.

It’s Oh So Quiet by Bjork

I wish I could find a clearer a copy of this music video.  This is another music video that looks like it’s part of  musical film. But unlike Put your hearts up, this song sounds more like Broadway

Gravity by Sara Barilles

I also like melancholic songs (You see, I’m  crazy and bipolar. I like extremely sad and extremely happy songs.) What makes this music video unique is its cosmic theme which is very creatively done.

Who You Are by Jessie J

This is one of my favorite songs. I want to imitate what Jessie J did,  singing in the corner of the train station.  Of all the videos I mentioned here, this one is close to reality. When you sing  your heart out in a public place, the crowd don’t join you in singing. They  just stare  at you or ignore. I love this song (so redundant, am I?) I listen to this song when I want to reflect on what am I doing to myself (naks!)

Quotable Quote:

Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars!
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
It’s okay not to be okay.

When I think of Whitney

I know it’s been a long time since Whitney died but I haven’t moved on. American Idol featured Whitney’s songs. That event highlighted the best singers in the show and revealed those who lacked versatility. As I watched video clips of American Idol, the more memories  of Whitney flooded in my brain.

I am not claiming I have been a die-hard fan because I never was. In fact, I don’t sing Whitney’s songs. But how can you not appreciate a great singer who set the bar for the music industry? Jed Madela, WCOPA champion said, “It’s hard to imagine the music industry without her.” Indeed, it is. If you want to impress people with your singing talent, pick Whitney’s song. If you want to win in a singing contest, pick Whitney’s song. If you want to be the next pop star, pick Whitney’s song. As for me, how can you not miss a voice who has been part of your consciousness? Even if she has not been active for a long time in the industry, you can still hear her voice. Even if I intentionally delete her in my memory, I can still hear her voice. Her voice is omnipresent.

If you ask me what Whitney’s songs I know,  my first response will not be The Greatest Love of All or I will always love you. Maybe if I had a significant history of joining singing contests, these songs would be probably on top of my list. The first son gs that cross my mind are When you believe,  My love is your love, I believe in you and me. She first released these songs when I started to watch MTV. This is the reason she is significant to me among all the famous people who died. When I think of MTV, I think of her. When I think of the first music videos I’ve watched, I think of her. I’m a 90s baby. I’m glad that I got to see her songs on the chart.

When you believe

When I think of this song, I believe. It is my version of Impossible Dream.  I had a copy ( cassette tape) of this song when I was a kid. At some point, I memorized this song by heart.

Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe
Somehow you will
You will when you believe….

They don’t always happen when you ask
And it’s easy to give in to your fear, ohh
But when you’re blinded by your pain
Can’t see your way safe through the rain
Thought of a still resilient voice
Says love is very near

I believe in you and me

Though only a few people know about this song, it’s one of my favorite Whitney’s songs. It sounds endearing and sweet and I like the music video. If ever I am going to copy a concept for my music video, I’ll choose this. It’s so magical to  sing in the woods with an orchestra accompanying you. Compared to her other songs, she sang it with minimal voice acrobatics. I heard two contestants of American Idol sing this song but none of them was able to give me that kind of feeling.. the kind of feeling that you are whispering on someone’s ear assuring that everything will be alright.

My love is your love

I like jamming with this song because of its reggae feel. Now, I like the song more because of its meaningful lyrics

 If I lose my fame and fortune

And I’m homeless on the street
And I’m sleeping in Grand Central Station
It’s okay if you’re sleeping with me

If I should die this very day
Don’t cry, ’cause on Earth we weren’t meant to stay
And no matter what the people say
I’ll be waiting for you after the judgment day

 

When I think of Whitney, I  think of  immortality.