If you like it then you should have put a credit on it
Hey there Cats and Kittens,
I feel somewhat compelled to stand up, if only a little bit, for Stealyoncé…
…because a multi-million-dollar-selling 30 year old global superstar needs an impoverished 36 year old Australian Fringe artist to fight her battles for her, yes indeed.
Some of you will have noticed the accusations of plagiarism directed at Beyoncé’s output increasing in the last 12 months or so - nothing new (which, I guess, is precisely the point of this blog) as was pointed out three years ago in this article (resplendent with low-res primary school project pics):
Bowie nut that I am, I’m aware that he has spent his whole life looking out for and appropriating from other artists from all genres. The lipstick smear in ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ and, later, in ‘China Girl’? That was borrowed. Klaus Nomi’s PVC tuxedo suit was appropriated for a TV appearance by Bowie. They’re just two examples off the top of my head. His changing accent alone could be a minor thesis on identity and projection. Don’t make me go to my Bowie reading shelf and find more examples, because I can and will!*
But Bowie knew who to work with. Yes, the Lady Gaga thing was nice, but Bowie gathered his people around him, kept them around him (well - for the duration of the tour, at least). Costumiers, make up people, hair stylists, musicians - they became part of the entourage. I believe Nomi himself was on the set with Bowie when he wore the aforementioned tuxedo. Dunno if Beebs does that so much. Can she not afford to budget in the choreographers, etc. she finds so inspiring? Or a little line explaining who they are somewhere?
Look, it’s laudable that Queen Bee is seeking out artists who inspire her and contributing something a bit different to an otherwise deeply bland pop world - as long as she’s upfront about who they are and what they’ve done. And maybe add something other than your wig collection to it…?
See, Bowie’s a lot smarter than Bee. And not just that he’s smarter at stealing. At the base of it all, She’s (holy upper case intentional) really struggled to give us a good album. A couple of rip-snorter singles, yes, indeed! Album? Hmm…
And yeah, sure, unlike Little Davey Jones, she has risen in the age of singles. But…how many are there? Single Ladies, Crazy In Love, maaaaaybe Run the World, maaaaaaaybe Countdown, maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe Why Don’t You Love Me…. The first two by miles, though. Any ballad she does is as delicate as Greco-Roman wresting on a gin hangover. Delicacy seems to be a foreign concept - slamming us over the head with melisma and unbelievably precise rhythmic phrases against a mad, stabby backbeat (possibly lifted from an obscure Euro dance track) is her forte. Bowie on the other hand, don’t get me started on the singles AND albums AND long legacy of credited appropriation. But then…David Bowie is a great artist as well as a great star. Lady Bee-bee…I dunno if she’s the former so much. I love her arse (particularly), don’t misunderstand me, and her songs are a bitch to sing, I’ve tried it. But she’s never gonna break people’s worlds apart consistently, decade after decade, like we’ve seen happen with songs such as ‘Five Years’ or ‘Ashes to Ashes’ or ‘Life on Mars’ or ‘Heart’s Filthy Lesson’ or ‘Suffragette City’ or ‘“Heroes”’ or ‘New Killer Star’ or ‘Young Americans’ or ‘Absolute Beginners’ or ‘Modern Love’ or ‘Rebel Rebel’ or…anyway, you get the point.
Maybe that’s the difference between a great practitioner and a great artist. And I think Bowie’s both. Fight! Fight! Fight!
Anyway, I dunno if it matters much, but good on her for drawing attention to artists who the mainstream may otherwise have ignored.
Pity she doesn’t seem to draw attention to them in her work before they do it themselves.