Image by asterix611 via Flickr
Whitney Houston has been making the headlines for her triumphs as well as for nearly drop kicking her comeback efforts with a less than stellar performance on Good Morning America. Oh yeah and then there’s I Look to You, her first new album of original material since 2002’s Just Whitney.
I Look to You has so far garnered generally positive reviews but many reviewers have singled out one notable aspect: rarely does Whitney actually address the ups and downs that caused her image and career to nosedive. In the end, we’re left with a satisfying and certainly welcoming comeback that does little to shed any new light on Whitney Houston aside from hearing her now slightly huskier voice again.
These reviews got me thinking of Britney Spears. Britney has built a successful career out of using her sex appeal, dance moves and the right team of producers to craft appealing pop music. And still, we have yet to know anything about Britney except for her public meltdowns and that one heartbreaking moment when she broke down in tears and admitted she was “sad” in her “Britney: For the Record” documentary.
Madonna once told Britney “I’d rather see you bare your soul” (see: “Me Against the Music”) but even now after the release of Circus, we don’t know very much about Britney Spears except for the all the names people use to refer to her as she stated on “Piece of Me’”.
Being a confessional singer/musician doesn’t necessarily have to translate into a sacrifice of album sales. Madonna proved this when she released the deeply personal Ray of Light album back in 1998. Tori Amos may not appear on the radio nor achieve major sales figures anymore but most people will agree that her songs like “Me and a Gun” are amazing pieces of music. Below is the video for Madonna’s “Drowned World / Substitute for Love” video which was not released here in the states.
Perhaps the current pop music landscape simply doesn’t allow music artists to say how they really feel. After all, Kelly Clarkson tried it and nobody cared. Mariah Carey may not necessarily fall under the category of pop music but I question why a woman who’s now pushing forty can’t release something a bit more mature than a song where she feels the need to attack Eminem (see: “Obsessed”). Did she forget about the tremendous success she enjoyed with “We Belong Together”?
I can thoroughly enjoy a frothy pop song as much as the next person but is getting personal in pop music a surefire way of obliterating any remote chance of getting radio airplay? I always thought that music was at least partially about discovering songs that you can identify with and often reflect your own life experiences.