Monday, April 20, 2015

The Rise and Demise of A Great Popstar: The Natalia Kills Edition

Just like life, music isn't just rainbows and puppies. There come those days when you see the fall of a popstar, sometimes one you really admire. When Chris Brown crashed and burned, it was bittersweet for many, despite his inherent lack of humanity. Azealia Banks had her one hit before being bogged down by Twitter wars and controversies, disappearing for a period of time when no one knew if she would come back (she did, thank god). In both these cases, no matter what the fan base, it was kind of deserved. Now it's 2015 and we have to deal with Natalia Kills.

By now, everyone has heard about Natalia's rampage on The X Factor New Zealand. In short, a guy dressed in a suit and sang a nice song, Natalia got pissed and thought he was copying her husband Willy Moon (who, as one of the world's most influential musical entities, also clearly invented the suit), and decided to bully the contestant to the point of cruelty. Not constructive criticism, not helpful advice, just insult after insult with no foundation to any of her claims.
The Internet went wild and Natalia became a pretty hilarious meme. With all joking aside, the Kills controversy (yes, she has a song called Controversy…) represents a lot of issues going on in music at the moment. The biggest problem (yes, she has a song called Problem…) Natalia has presented is this idea that music has to be completely "original." That the idea of copying another artist's musical style or image illustrates your lack of talent and deserves disrespect.

This is complete BULLSHIT.

Since that stupid jury decided that "Blurred Lines" sounded too much like the Marvin Gaye song, it looked like music would have to change for the worse. What people don't understand, is yes, Robin Thicke and Pharrell were probably inspired by Marvin Gaye's hit and yes, you could mash the two songs up pretty well. However, "Blurred Lines" was an original song and the fact that artists like Natalia feel pressured to constantly invent a new genre will only be detriment to music. "Uptown Funk" and "Me and My Broken Heart" were amazing pop songs that borrowed the best bits of older songs while reimagining the positive feeling that made the original songs so wonderful in the first place. Moving forward, it looks like people will be afraid to even attempt to do this type of songwriting for fear of being sued. The Natalia situation makes everything worse because people might start to believe that idea.

Natalia Kills herself really has no right to criticize another person's originality. Back in the day Natalia started her music career as the rap-pop phenomenon Verbalicious, whose one-hit "Don't Play Nice" exceeds most of Natalia's earlier hits in terms of quality. Clearly not satisfied as an artiste, Natalia came back with a new surname and new image as an artsy gothic noir pop siren. With all the up and coming pop singers in 2010, Natalia was pushed to the forefront mainly because she was copying another major superstar's success. Essentially, Natalia Kills was trying to be goth Lady GaGa and never really sold that concept fully. Unfortunately, her first album sounds like she was trying to do all that and failed to accomplish much despite some good bits shining through.

The second time around in 2013, Natalia managed to be a little more "original" with her second album Trouble. The album was a little more DIY than anything else out there but sonically presented Natalia as one of the more interesting pop chameleons. However, even then, some of her tracks sounded like Gwen Stefani throwbacks, something Natalia has admitted to. It's sad because after making one of the year's best albums, I actually believed that Natalia had the potential to release a pop game changer and finally gain some credibility for her talent.

It looks like we will never get that chance. With the ridicule the world has given her as well as being dropped by Cherrytree Records, Natalia is facing extremely tough odds in releasing any new music, let alone finding a fan base that will support her. Furthermore, she has become a musical pariah in the industry, with Ellie Goulding, Calvin Harris, and even former collaborator and label mate Frankmusik calling her out. I doubt that Natalia will be able to pull off Azealia's comeback and frankly, I'm not sure if I even want to hear it. It's sad because as a fan, you invest the belief that an artist's success is deserved. Natalia failed to live up to her potential and her behavior is very disappointing to say the least. So let's just listen to her best song to date, "Trouble", and move on from a talented yet misguided popstar whose poor judgment may have cost her an amazing career.

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