Make That Change: Ten Artists That Need Reinvention

It’s a new year and while everybody is busy making resolutions they will likely break in the coming months, there are then artists who require such a major change. These are the struggling acts who are in dire need of reinvention.

Some artists have been recycling the same formulas for too long and need to change their tunes. On the other hand, there are those who should simply pick a niche and stick to it instead of constantly revamping their styles. You know, like Lil Kim…no, it’s a new year so I shall leave that joke alone.

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5. Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is barely six years into her career and her popularity is already dropping faster than Jennifer Hudson’s dress size. Great, now I can’t get that Weight Watcher’s commercial out my head.

Despite arguably being one of the best Pop albums of 2013, ARTPOP is now ranked as Gaga’s worst-selling album to date with little over 500,000 copies sold. Yes, that number would actually be impressive for regular acts today but for an artist as popular as Gaga, who is still relatively “new” on the music scene, it’s quite embarrassing.

To add insult to injury, Gaga’s previous offering, Born This Way, sold more than double the total of ARTPOP in its first week – a fact Interscope Records representatives must have noted as they reportedly ranked the record as a commercial disaster. Gaga has denied rumours suggesting the promotion of the album set Interscope back at a 25 million dollar loss but I doubt she would publicly admit to any such failure.

ARTPOP failed to make an impact with consumers because it was released a year too late. If the album hit shelves during the peak of the EDM wave in 2012, it would have been a smash. Sadly, it didn’t and nobody gave the soft glow of electric sex called “G.U.Y.” a chance.

Vivid description of Gaga’s music courtesy of Ralphie Parker from A Christmas Story.

What Gaga needs is change her approach, and try being less of a Madonna and more of an Amy Winehouse. She has the voice and musical talent to rival even Adele but she will only achieve that by shedding gimmicks that are now so 2010.

Remember when Gaga worked with Tony Bennett on “The Lady is a Tramp”?

4. Mariah Carey

After almost 25 years in the music industry, Mariah Carey is still making headlines across the globe. Unfortunately, she is now more popular for her diva antics than the voice that made her famous.

It is no secret that Carey’s chart impact has waned and that she has been struggling to stay commercially relevant since her last top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, “Obsessed”, in 2009. Yet, how did one of the music industry’s most successful female artists suddenly lose her grip?

Let’s quickly run through the series of events: Carey got married to Nick Cannon in 2008, thus damaging her image as an unattainable sex symbol. Then, she made her private life visible to the world, and her music quickly took a backseat to discussions about ring pop wedding proposals and cringeworthy magazine covers of Cannon cupping her pregnant breasts.

Add those stunts to an unstable management team – Carey switches representation more than Rihanna changes hairstyles – a string of horrible live performances, blatant lip-syncing, her passing the age of 40 and terrible singles choices, and it is no mystery why Carey has become a parody of her former hit-making self.

Dear Mariah Carey, you have two choices at this point. Either you get serious about your music career and take the necessary steps toward salvaging whatever popularity – and vocal ability – you have left or you make The Art of Letting Go your last mainstream release and quietly transcend to the Barbra Streisand/Prince territory of “I make music for fun, not sales.”

I’m getting emotional. Watch one of Carey few non-dubbed, live performances from 2013 and talk amongst yourselves.

3. Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera has already reinvented herself more than any other performer on this list so what could she possibly do next that will shock consumers enough to care about her music again? She should just be herself.

We’ve seen Aguilera impersonate Mariah Carey, Pink, Britney Spears, Madonna, MIA and Santigold but only once has she ever dared to give us a glimpse of real artist behind the drag queen makeup.

Back to Basics was a rare moment when Aguilera let us hear her many influences rolled into a New Orleans-styled gumbo of Pop and Soul. Although it entailed several tracks of her untamed wailing, the record proved that Aguilera has a special talent to look beyond popular trends and take risks as a serious artist.

Naturally, however, Aguilera let the praise she received during that era inflate her already enormous ego to an even greater size and she quickly abandoned her new Adult Contemporary niche in favour of yet another new sound on Bargainbin Bionic.

Read more about the consequences of Aguilera’s many transformations on her career here.

With her voice and raw talent, Aguilera has been wasting her time by trying to compete with a generation of acts dominated by Rihanna and Katy Perry. Instead, she should make music that truly reflects the old Soul hits we all know she sings off-key in the shower.

Stop trying to make a statement, Aguilera. Just make music.

Here is Aguilera yelling for joy on “Ain’t No Other Man”.

2. Jay-Z

As far as many of Jay-Z’s longtime fans are concerned, his music career ended after The Black Album of 2003. This is the point when casual followers and young gay men who only care about him because he’s married to Beyonce get upset.

Jay-Z’s albums have become beat-driven and instead of actually telling stories in his songs, he repeatedly boasts about his money, wife and many investments.

Propaganda is the propelling force behind the Carter empire and Jay-Z has used it to trick people into thinking that he is still a great artist. People told them ’bout the flames but they couldn’t see through the smoke.

Think about it: Were media headlines boasting about the quality of Magna Carta Holy Grail or were they entirely centred on its release strategy? Clearly, people cared more about Jay-Z’s “new rules” than his uninspired, tired and need to be retired lyrics.

Until Jay-Z gets in touch with his inner storyteller, we will be subjected to his bragging about world domination for another ten years. On the bright side, we don’t have to listen.

I do enjoying reminiscing by listening to Jay-Z’s “Song Cry”, though.

1. Ciara

Ciara is the Princess of Crunk&B. Sadly, that genre died in 2007, along with her working relationship with Jazzy Pha and her last clear shot at scoring a hit.

All three of Ciara’s most recent albums – Fantasy Ride, Basic Instinct and Ciara – failed to top 200,000 in sales. Also, she hasn’t cracked the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 since 2009 when she made the smart decision to venture into Pop music with “Love Sex Magic (Ft. Justin Timberlake)”.

However, Ciara’s genius proved to be fleeting because after landing global success with “Love Sex Magic”, she tried to take things back to the streets. Unfortunately for her, those streets were now under the control of more talented artists with far greater reach – Rihanna and Beyonce.

Both Rihanna and Beyonce have been trying to out-hood each other since 2008, and everything climaxed during the last year. First, Rihanna bust it wide open in “Pour it Open” then, refusing to be out-sexed, Beyonce struck back with “Partition”. Penis-appreciator Janet Jackson must be so proud.

“Driver, roll up the Partition please.”

Meanwhile, Ciara’s self-titled album was widely ignored by her own fans and it’s only lukewarm hit, “Body Party”, was rather underwhelming when compared to its rivals. Hey, at least Future enjoyed watching her dance enough to get engaged to her.

Let’s go back to “Love Sex Magic”. Any music fan with a brain can see the potential Ciara has as a Pop act instead of a wannabe hood rat diva. In fact, there were many calls for “Overdose” from the Ciara album to be properly promoted internationally because it could have been a hit.

Ciara really needs to let her dreams of being the voice of the “ratchet” generation go. The chances of her rebounding from three flop albums are incredibly slim but striking out in an entirely new direction as a Pop artist just might work.

I leave you with “Love Sex Magic”.

Which other artists are in need of reinvention? Who should have been left off this list? Is Trini Trent just a shady hater who doesn’t deserve to blog his thoughts in public? Leave your opinions and don’t be surprised when I respond.

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