Sometimes this hurts. It really hurts.
Gosh, maybe this was an ill-conceived idea to begin with. You think? Reviewing teen pop albums, and only teen pop albums? Oh, I thought it was a fun concept at first. I did. I enjoyed it enough to turn it into something I started doing almost every week! Can you imagine that!!
Here’s the problem: a lot of teen pop is garbage. Most of it, actually. Stinky scumhole garbage crafted by Earth’s Scummiest Cretins. Evil stuff. Scary stuff. Spooky Halloween scares. Cynical, unloved anti-music pushed at teenagers by droopy old men. Everything that is rotten and morally questionable about the music industry, rolled into one neat little genre.
This shouldn’t be news to anybody. It is not news to me. I’m not America’s hugest moron. But most of the time this doesn’t bug me because I know that – most of the time, at least – the worst of teen pop never comes from the artists themselves. It really doesn’t! Even if they’ve achieved their fame through more-than-dubious means, I truly believe that teen pop artists are by and large pretty fucking talented, and that’s part of the reason why this kind of music is so exciting to me. Some of these people are so talented that they actually manage to fight back – and win – against the insidious teen pop machine that created them, like robots gaining sentience and ripping off their creator’s heads. Your Robyns and your Timberlakes and whathaveyou, biting hard on the hand that feeds them and becoming fully formed autonomous Music Beings, Kings of their World. It’s a beautiful, titanic struggle, one that makes writing about teen pop records entirely worthwhile for me.
But it doesn’t always come easy. Of course not. If you’re a teen pop kiddo starting out young in the industry, it takes a long long time for you to realize the kind of shit deal you’re getting, and the kind of garbage songs you’re being thrown like picked chicken bones, the kind of uncomfortable way your airbrushed face is being marketed to millions of people. To put it bluntly, some teen pop artists start their careers making poor, poor music.