When you start work in a new place one of the first things you generally receive is a horribly worded job description saying things like “to assist the manager in the running of the department whilst gradually dying a little inside each day.”
You know would benefit from a document such as this? Most pop stars. Theirs wouldn’t even be particularly depressing. In fact it would only contain three points.
1) Make amazing pop records.
2) Keep your mouth shut unless it is to talk about point 1.
3) Occasionally fall out with other pop stars.
This simple agreement would save them, and us, an awful lot of trouble. If the music is accompanied by a Message then it is invariably less interesting. The best case in point here is of course Lady Gaga, who couldn’t wait five minutes before unofficially adopting the gays and the bullied, or indeed anyone who’s looked in the mirror and thought they were having a bad hair day. Gaga will shelter you. Which is all very noble, and probably quite well-meant, but you can’t be the defender of every single misfit on the planet and still do your day job properly: hence “Born This Way” and a career that’s been on a downward trajectory ever since. Maybe “ARTPOP” will rectify things, but I wouldn’t bet on it. For one thing, it’s called “ARTPOP.”
Madonna – who used to quite sensible about these things – also clearly needs an urgent appraisal with her supervisor. This “secretprojectrevolution” thing she’s always banging on about these days smacks terribly of someone who wants to be remembered for something more than just pop songs. – which is a bit insulting to the breathtakingly good pop songs she’s made. As if faffing about with an admittedly quite nice fringe in arty black and white whilst asking us to define oppression (or something) is ever going to be more fun than “Holiday.” Honestly, the sooner Lola takes over the better.
I can’t think of a single pop star who has demonstrably cared about something other than pop who has enjoyed a noticeably more successful career or made better records. Pop is a cut-throat world, and while you’re off opening an accessible gym in a favela someone else is on the phone to Sia getting all her best songs. Some people do appear to know this – Rihanna being one, Katy Perry being the other. All either of them really do is make records at regular (almost too regular, RiRi, we can’t keep up) intervals because that is all we require of them. And in return we buy them, with the implicit understanding that if they suddenly appear in a documentary about the dangers of fracking in Lancashire then it is all over.
All pop stars please take note. Thank you.