Friday, April 11, 2008

Leona Lewis Is Not All That and a Bag of Chips

I do not like Leona Lewis.

A large part of it stems from the fact that the media is shoving her down our throat. "She's going to be the next Mariah Carey! The next Whitney Houston! Listen to those powerful pipes!" Last I checked, Whitney Houston is now more known for being a disgusting nutjob married to Bobby Brown. Just watch some MadTV. She hasn't had a hit single since 1999, and that was another kiss-off basically telling the world that "It's Not Right, But It's Ok" that her husband (yes, the rumors were around then) cheated on her. Mariah Carey is the template for overly tanned, skin-baring women, and she's gotten this reputation as being as fake as she looks. (I've never heard radio stations trash an artist so much after she was interviewed on Z100 the other week. I was shocked, and very surprised that I didn't hear anything else about it). I guess Leona Lewis could replace them, but so far I haven't seen an iota of her personality, just endless yammering among the music influentials about how fantastic she is. "Bleeding Love" is bland, a mediocre combination of vocals and a bass line. Who are the "they" that keep trying to pull her apart?

Leona Lewis is British, and just because she won a talent contest there--I believe it was The X Factor, not the British version of American Idol, the original Pop Idol--marketers are saying that that means Americans should like her. Newsflash: there are a lot of British groups that never did well in the U.S. Most of them sucked and rightly deserved to stay in Europe with the rest of their genre. Many of them were also boy bands, or derivatives of the form. The only exception I make is Robbie Williams, whose The Ego Has Landed I love. Granted, he was a former boy band member (Take That, who scored one American hit in 1995 with "Back to Good"), but he was cocky, charming, and very funny. I've read many articles over the years trying to explain why he's never done well here, and I've never understood it. The arguments were always incredibly dense and nonsensical. He also wrote his own songs, which reflected his easygoing, carefree life, but The Ego Has Landed was also very pensive, with songs about the paranoia of celebrity ("No Regrets", which really doesn't even come across that way at all) and disintegrating relationships. Standard stuff, but considering the pop songs on these subjects that have come since then ("Pieces of Me", ugh), his album sounds even more lyrical, playful, and forthright than we expect an ex-boybander to be. The songs aren't about exploiting his current troubles, trying to make a statement, but are merely take-it-or-leave-it musings, integrated with the rest of the things in his life. Robbie Williams, like Kylie Minogue, is mainly known as a tremendously successful and talented artist who just cannot replicate their success in America. But they're probably better off for it--not only are they not hounded by TMZ, but we aren't forced to listen to their songs about being hounded by TMZ.


John said...

I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Robbie Williams used to be in a boy band. But then again, the only song of his that I paid any attention to is "Man Machine" as featured in Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels (but unfortunately didn't make it onto the soundtrack album.)

Forget Leona Lewis, I want to see Billie Piper hit it big in the States!

MediaMaven said...

"Man Machine" is on The Ego Has Landed. :)