(and a bad-ass gold tooth, though I think it’s classier/less flashy to get a molar in gold)
When I heard “Video Games” for the first time on the radio a while back, I was really impressed. The music had a great new-old sound and she painted a picture. Then I saw the video which was plenty iconic and fun. Loved poor drunk Paz stumbling in her couture.
Then came the backlash. While the DJ’s loved it at first, later they couldn’t play it on my local radio station without making snide comments or expressing ambivalence where once there had been nothing but love. People trashed her music, her vocals, her looks, her street cred. Now, I agree, her live performances on Later with Jool Holland and SNL were lackluster. Nevertheless, as a performer myself, I know that even when one has talent, one also can get plenty of nerves no matter how long you’ve been at it. On LwJH, you could hear the nervous quavering while she tried really hard to do lots of vocal tricks and doohickies to make up for the fact the song was so stripped down live. Lots of artists “tart” up their songs for live performances. I concede, it was a miss that night. Her presence was of someone who hit the big time a bit before their stage persona and showtime “gameface” fully developed. And yes, she made the mistake of enhancing with some injectables. It was too much and probably looks better now that it has settled. I almost made the same mistake but my aesthetics specialist sagely talked me out of it and assured me my super-thin upper lip looks more in balance with my face and that no matter what, I’d look trouted if I did otherwise. We’re not all so lucky. Remember Jess Simpson’s unfortunate lip augmentation? That eventually settled too.
In addition to that, some have criticized her authenticity. Come on, now. There is virtually no successful recording artist out there who has not worked hard to craft an image and persona to make damned sure it’s as marketable as possible and will push music sales over the top. Others have taken issue with her lyrics. Yes, I agree, they’re not all amazing, but have you ever listened to some of the goofy shit that Bjork has done lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally? And what about Anthony Kiedis? Lots of people love RHCP but sometimes it just sounds like he’s singing “yabba dabba dibba dabba dibba dabba doo” over and over in some of his songs. Even well-loved, seasoned artists have missteps.
If you listen to her album as a whole musically–including her vocals, there is something there. There is a subversive, super-crafted, totally intentional charm that’s also present in her videos and I’m not the only one who felt it. Love or hate it, Born to Die was strong enough to garner over 100K in album sales. Face.