‘Pornography and the music video’
How has female sexuality become such dominant topic in pop music? In recent years female pop musicians have become more sexual causing debate over whether Record companies are promoting misogyny and sexualising women and critical males are accused of being women haters. The best selling single of 2013, Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ created scandal over how it promoted ‘rape culture’ and violence to women however arguably the lyrics were taken out of context. Singles by women only accounted for 2 of the bestselling singles in 2013, whereas the top 8 Music-Videos viewed on YouTube were by women or had ‘scantily-clad’ women featured in, whether it was Rihanna naked in a bath or Miley naked on a wrecking ball. The music video is becoming the way to ensure a sexual image, which in the age of the internet and social media, where anyone can make show an opinion or make a comment means the open themselves up to any disapproving individual disgracing and ‘slut-shaming’ you.
Musicians as a brand
Musicians in the mainstream pop have become complete products, selling themselves and everything related to them due to the contracts they are bound under with their Record Labels such as 360 contracts or due to media expectations. Beneath an article from Perez Hilton’s blog on celebrity news on the latest ‘obscene’ photo or bisexual statement by Miley Cyrus is a ‘Make like Miley’ advert for Doc Martin’s boots that she is pictured wearing, which may just be to market a product but also advocates for her behaviour, if accidentally. This type of promotion objectifies women, treating them as if they are almost merely product or fictional objects of our amusement or desire.
Call girls and Gaga’s replacement
Sex may not ‘sell’ these female products but it promotes them: whether it is through the scandal they create, attraction or desire to be like them, society is fascinated by sexually attractive celebrities. With the ‘consume and trash’ climate of pop-music these days, immediate publicity rather than lasting legacy seems more important to record companies meaning female musicians must get into the media in whatever way they can. Miley Cyrus, whose use of ‘Rachet’ culture, scandal and bisexuality as her own objectification created the most critically publicized marketing campaign of 2013. Miley and her marketing team want her ‘brand’ to earn money immediately and shed her child star status and mature from Disney Star to mainstream pop, just like Britney Spears with her video for ‘Baby one more time’, which would now appear tame in the sexual climate of today’s pop music.
Let’s look at the previous holder of the ‘Shock Throne’ -Lady Gaga, who when she first emerged had a similar video to ‘We Can’t Stop’, with ‘Just Dance’ depicting a party, with sexual acts, drugs and alcohol and statements suggesting a ‘bisexual’ background as well as bisexual acts in the music videos for ‘Love Game’ and ‘Paparazzi’. All this particularly helped with this idea of Gaga as sexually experimental, spreading her ‘scandal’ through the media, with the excuse of advocating for women’s rights and the gay community. Other musicians who have come out as bisexual includes Jessie J, Rihanna and now Miley Cyrus. There are criticisms of the Bisexual brand with Rihanna and Shakira’s Video for ‘Can’t Remember to Forget You’ being accused of making bisexuals seem attention seeking.
The muted Lesbians
Compare these ‘suggestively bi-curious’ females for publicity, to those who were more private about their personal lives. Romy Madley Croft of the mysterious band ‘The XX’ kept her sexuality under a veil for the beginning of their career, only admitting to having a girlfriend on a friends blog. She said of the matter that it was “the same as everything about (the xx). We don’t want to make a big deal out of everything” and this meant we know little about her private life, so her and the bands creative output is more important than the media portrayal of the “scandal” of her being gay.
The recently successful 17 year old, Lorde from New Zealand, appears to be extremely well educated, with an interest in modern American Literature and to understand the nuances of feminism. In her videos she dresses more covered up than most of her female pop peers, and does not appear to flirt in songs or videos, calmly confronting the camera, as if addressing a lost youth to see through the crass of pop mainstream. She is being marketed at a young hipster audience, bored of sexuality and the ‘bling’ of American culture and this with her mature aura and the apparently self-run twitter account show an intelligent girl who appears to be is in charge of her own image and career. Yet Miley Cyrus is credited as an executive producer on her Bangerz album and talks as if every aspect of her current career is her own idea, so maybe this idea of control is way of marketing her, like she isn’t being exploited in anyway. However Lorde, won 2 Grammy’s and a Brit-Award this year without black girls ‘booty’s’ or swinging on a chain ball naked in her videos.
No one stays with a prostitute / Pretty woman isn’t real
On the scale of sexual shocks ‘Taylor Swift’ is fairly low, compared with former pal Cyrus. As a comparison between Album sales of female pop musicians in their first week ‘Red’ by Taylor swift sold 1.2 million albums in week in 2012, massive figures compared to Miley Cyrus, Katie Perry and Lady Gaga’s 2013 album releases which sat around the higher 200,000’s. Perhaps this proves maybe sex and popularity does not sell as well as whimsical girlishness and fairy-tale belief in love? Swifts image as the unpopular wallflower persona she appears in her songs coupled with her girl next door long legged blond beauty physical image is clearly working. Her media presence sells her songs too as listeners not only identify with the songs she writes, but also try to work out which of the celebrity males she’s dated is lyrically discussed. Yet Taylor Swift’s image of purity and wholesome is viewed by feminists as “play(ing) right into how much the patriarchy fetishises virginity, loves purity, and celebrates women who know their place as delicate flowers”. While people may be reading about and watching ‘Media shocking’ Miley Cyrus everywhere her Bangerangz tour has not sold out. It seems apart from eventually purchasing or importing one of her songs because you can’t get the infectious tunes out of your head that her ‘sex’ is not something we want to come back to for more and music that is good sells well with good marketing.
1) My beef With Shakira and Rihanna? They’re making life harder for Bisexuals’ (The Guardian Online) Bella Qvist 7th February 2014 Address- http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/07/shakira-rihanna-making-life-harder-for-bisexuals . Last Accessed: 23/4/14
2) Rommy Madley-Croft is ‘The XX’s’ beating Gay Heart’(After Ellen) , 9th October 2012- Trish Bendix Address- http://www.afterellen.com/romy-madley-croft-is-the-xxs-beating-gay-heart/10/2012/. Last Accessed- 23/4/14
3) Why Taylor Swift is the Reigning Queen of Pop’ (Culture Vulture) by Jody Rosen. Address- http://www.vulture.com/2013/11/taylor-swift-reigning-queen-of-pop.html . Last Accessed: 23/4/14