My relationship with the majority of popstars may be called one of tolerance: I know they’re there, they live in their world following their rules; I take an interest every now and then, when they come up with something interesting, and just ignore them most of the time. I’m aware that, in most cases, they’re fifty shades of musical uselessness. We’ve got Rihanna, the incompetent who fucked the right guys. We’ve got Britney, another incompetent who was in the right place at the right time. We’ve got Madonna, who had interesting ideas and something to say back in the day, but has now just become an old hag clinging to her position and money and keeps blabbing the same old stuff to keep her audience content. After all, we know, a popstar’s main point is to make big money; if some good music comes out in the process, that’s a byproduct, most popstars just do the minimum to keep their audience at bay. If someone tries to focus on something more artsy regardless of sellings, the system pans them, like Lady Gaga on Artpop. And when someone tries to use their media power to fight for an important cause, like Beyoncé, here comes the press to throw them shade.
Well, all in all I accept this status quo. I don’t always share popstars’ musical ideas; I’m a bit bugged that they’re making big money while people out there like Susanne Sundfør or Eivør, who destroy them talent-wise, don’t even earn a tenth; and seeing some Taylor Swift winning a Best Pop Album Grammy against Florence Welch is hard to swallow. But I know their rules, it’s all about money, sellings and friends in higher places, so I let myself be surprised when some popstar comes up with something artistically good and ignore the rest.
So, if I can appreciate old once’s Madonna despite what she’s become and listen to a few Rihanna or Britney Spears songs, why do I take such umbrage at Lana del Rey?
The reason it’s simple: the other popstars don’t have unrealistic artistic pretences. They don’t hide their being a set up, their unrestrained use of autotune and lipsync, don’t lie about surgical retouching and wigs, don’t try to cover their fluff but, on the contrary, they parade it and make a point of it. Cut it short, unless they do posses an uncommon talent, they don’t pretend to be substantial and genuine goods. On the other hand we have Lana, who passes off as the different one, a better alternative to the empty pop culture; wait no, she’s even better than that, she’s the game changer come at last! She doesn’t focus on selling, but on her artistry. She doesn’t let producers do their tricks, she’s in charge of her music. It’s not that she sings out of tune, she’s just “a studio singer, not a live one”. She’s not full of herself, she’s the girl next door, a people’s singer. She had nothing done on her – how could she, she was poor like everyone, she didn’t have money to get lip surgery. She’s got ideas like no one else does and knows how to realise them!
Now, without all this farce I would have accepted Lana for what she is: just another popstar who can’t sing, with a few nice tunes to listen to every now and then, no more, no less. But no, she keeps on posing as the odd one out, the genuine one, the real thing, when she really is and acts just like all the others – well, even less qualified than many. This is why I enjoy panning her every misstep: I’m punishing her dishonesty. Really, I hold Britney Spears in much higher regard, for she can openly joke about her years and years of lipsync – at least she’s honest.
Well, now take all of this, apply it to politics and you’ll know why, among all Italian parties, I take such umbrage at the Movimento 5 Stelle and I’m so merciless when I criticise them. I know from the start what right-wing parties are like and what to expect of them. I know that a big part of our main left-wing party is made up of former Catholic-democrats who didn’t know where to turn when their party sank, and what to expect of them. But the Movimento 5 Stelle is different, they say, it fights for the people! It’s the real deal, it doesn’t compromise, it just cares about getting things done without empty political maneuvers! It cares for the people, not for votes! When something’s socially relevant, they go all down the road and get the shit done.
Well, except if it’s something as pesky as civil unions for homosexuals, in which case they are fiercely clinging to some stupid political technicality to stall or sink the whole thing before they even have to vote against it. Which they will, because one very interesting thing is they have a strong leader who dictates their every move and if you diverge one tiny bit you’re immediately out, yet on the civil union subject he was like, “Well, let everyone vote following their conscience”. Excuse me, what’s this novelty? I think it’s clear: they would never risk alienating the Catholics or all those former Berlusconi voters who’ll need to find someone else to turn to at the next national elections: let’s face it, giving all tax-paying citizens the same rights is not worth risking losing so many votes.
So much for being different from the other parties.