Three pop princesses have recently used outer space to mark their territory in music videos and each speak volumes of their style and standards. With a manifesto that resembled the Book of Genesis or Revelations, rivalling any Paradise Lost, Lady Gaga gave birth to a new generation of freeborn monsters with what’s surely tomorrows international anthem for gender bending free-lovers in sounds that weren’t too dissimilar to a certain Madonna track, all done, at least visually, in a thrillingly original way from the outer mother ship. Born This Way gets us dancing every time. We adored the Freudian nightmare of a birthing scene (yes, “birthing” is the only word that really captures how graphic it really was) and the prosthetics which make it seem like a new species really is coming to life. As for Nicola Formichetti’s Zombie Boy, picked up from the streets in Montreal no less, and who apeared in his show for Thierry Mugler this season with Our Lady, it was aural and visual music pornography gone demented. Mad, bad and dangerous to know, it’s how we like our girl Gaga.
Next, Katy Perry shows off what she does best – pin-up sexuality with some sugar sweet extra sexy and maybe a hint of cute-sexiness thrown in. Okay, so E.T. had her in weird contact lenses and some make-up Star Trek fans with a convention on the calender would give an arm and a leg for, but it was typical Perryesque sexy nonetheless. She looked quite the airbrushed bombshell; with those floating gowns and sexy boob-enhancing breastplates, she could easily be mistaken for a sci-fi comic geek’s wet dream from the 1970s. This was normative sexiest-woman-in-space stuff, with Perry floating miles, nay, lightyears, above normal women. No wonder Russell Brand got his knickers in a twist. The narrative, as lovelorn-space-princes seeking a
frog-prince trapped-space-boy to wander into the sunset with, and the product placement say it all. We want to love Perry, we really do, but there’s something annoyingly mainstream in her shortcomings. It’s no birth of a new species – underneath it all, she’s just a pretty face – though, it’s an atomic step-up from squirting cream or fireworks from her bosoms. At least breastplates have a bit of edge.
Then there’s Britney Spears. Oh Britney, Britney – where would we be without you? Several tracks short on the dance-floor, that’s where. We want to hate you, but you’re gold. Compared to her successors who scaled galactic heights in video music magic, she stayed very much still on earth on the clip for her new hit, Til the World Ends. Britney’s offering just felt so painfuly like we’d seen it all before – and we have: the underground party, dancefloors full of gyrating strangers and well-timed dance routines are tropes of every video made for a pop diva since the 1990s. J-Lo, Beyoncé, Madonna, Pussycat Dolls – remember Rihanna’s Pon the Replay!? We’ve all been there. Brand Britney is a tried and tested formula compared to pop’s new blood – even her cropped, shoulder-padded jackets and midriff combo are as seen in almost every vid she’s ever done, from Do Somethin’s pink fur to Hold It Against Me‘s bleached, tie-dye denim. Plus, Gaga’s already booked out underground plus studded leather – Lovegame, anyone?
The Hold It Against Me vid also had lashing of the space theme ingredient. The storyline- some kind of electronic, diva-enclosing meteor crashes into earth, turns all the street lights on in colour and hey look! It’s the girl from Texas ready to dance routine and get splashed in paint all the way to the end. It was like Oops I Did It Again 2.0: I Came Back To Earth. But like all of Britney’s stuff right now, compared even to Miss Perry, it’s so contrived – the dance routines too well-rehearsed, the outfits too cheesy, (sexy bondage? Think something other than knee-high black boots and patent leather guys, it’s not 2002 anymore) and the setting too, well, earthy. Get with the programme, space is where the party’s at in this millennium.
Worst of all is Britney’s expression. You can see she’s dead behind the yes – the way she rebounded from actual insania back to what even her management call the “treadmill” of pop stardom, her seclusion in a gated Hollywood community, it’s all a bit freaky and worrying. Worse even than Perry can manage with some face-paint and contact lenses. In my space-age utopia, I’d see Britney born again, possibly through Lady Gaga’s womb, into a world free from commercial control and embrace super-stardom once more. Gaga, channelling disturbed female sexuality with all its goo and deranged eyeballs is far more sexily choreographed and aesthetically pleasing than any mental disorder victim booty-shaking in the right places.