Welcome back to Pop Stars and Flop Stars, which, as I explained earlier, is a revitalized (and shortened) restructuring of the feature formerly called Pop Power Ranking. Here’s the drill: each week, I’ll name a Pop Star — someone who secured the lion’s share of No. 1s, trophies, and/or other cultural gold stars (both tangible and intangible) — and one Flop Star who… well, you get the idea. And that’s about all there is to say. Let’s get into it.
This Week’s Pop Star: Lady Gaga
Who needs a Top 10 hit when you can book the world’s biggest stage even as your current single continues its slide down the Hot 100? After weeks of rumors, last week Lady Gaga herself confirmed she will headline the 2017 Super Bowl Halftime Show. Yes, Mother Monster will be performing for north of 100 million people during the most-watched television event of the year. If you listen closely, you can hear her haters seething. “She’s over! She hasn’t had a hit in years!” A certain swath of sad people want her to be “over” so badly they’ll overlook all glaring evidence to the contrary. (Typically, the Super Bowl doesn’t book flops.) And while it’s true Gaga hasn’t had a Top 10 hit in almost three years, it’s worth noting that she also hasn’t released a pop album in almost three years? You know who else hadn’t had a Top 10 hit for three years when she took the Super Bowl stage in 2013? F***ing Beyoncé. And afterward she went on to reach the greatest creative heights of her already-illustrious career. So buckle up, Monsters, ‘cuz This. Is. Big.
- Solange, who released her beautiful third full-length album, A Seat at the Table, last week to great critical acclaim
- The Weeknd, whose “Starboy” jumps up the Hot 100 to land this week at No. 3
- Shawn Mendes, who earns his second No. 1 album with Illuminate
- Bruno Mars, who is gearing up to return with a new single (out this Friday) and a new album (out later this year)
This Week’s Flop Star: Demi Lovato
I don't understand why people care so much about what I say in interviews? Do y'all watch the news? Don't y'all got shit to worry about?
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) October 4, 2016
Demi Lovato, The Little Pop Star That Couldn’t, is in the news again this week for all the wrong reasons. (Surprise!) Whereas most would-be pop stars try to build their legacies upon, you know, their music, Demi tends only to thrive when she’s reacting to something on social media. (Think Azealia Banks without the edge.) Last week, a story about Demi criticizing a fan’s drawing — which featured Demi as a svelte mermaid — began circulating. Her problem was apparently that the drawing didn’t accurately depict her real-life body. Some people supported Demi’s decision to call out the drawing’s creator, agreeing that there was no reason she needed to be drawn “skinnier” than she is in reality. But other people (myself included) were perplexed by the almost bullying manner in which Demi embarrassed her own fan in order to make a point which, given the fact that it is a drawing of a mythological creature, perhaps didn’t need to be made at that time, in that place, in that way, or at all. The truly ironic beauty of the situation, however, crystallized today after the release of an interview in which Demi is quoted remarking on Taylor Swift‘s #squad. (Demi loves nothing more than remarking on the failings of other women in pop. #Feminism!) Here is the quote:
“To be honest, and this will probably get me in trouble, I don’t see anybody in any sort of squad that has a normal body. It’s kind of this false image of what people should look like. And what they should be like, and it’s not real. It’s not realistic.”
You can probably guess the general reaction. But Demi doubled down in a brief tweet storm (because it wouldn’t be a Demi Lovato story if it didn’t include a tweet storm), saying things like “I get asked questions. I answer them. Sue me,” and “Still not apologizing for saying what everyone want (sic) to say,” and “I don’t understand why people care so much about what I say in interviews? Do y’all watch the news? Don’t ya’ll got shit to worry about?” Fair question, Demi, but perhaps we should pose the same to you. And some unsolicited advice: perhaps consider not giving interviews if you find your own answers so trivial and unimportant.
In summation: days after calling out a fan for the way he drew her body (again: as a mermaid!), Demi felt it acceptable to remark on the bodies of real, human women in a critical way. Then she excused herself because she was just “saying what everyone wants to say.” Body say what? Body say delete it.
UPDATE: Demi is quitting music and the spotlight. But will it last longer than 24 hours?
So excited for 2017. Taking a break from music and the spotlight.. I am not meant for this business and the media ??
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) October 4, 2016
- Lady Gaga, whose “Perfect Illusion” falls to No. 59 on this week’s Hot 100 in just its third week
- Britney Spears, whose Glory falls out of the top 100 of the Album 200 chart after only a month of release
- Miley Cyrus, whose somewhat hypocritical criticisms of Mariah Carey were not met warmly