State Of The Muunion
No one would guess that “Losing My Religion” is my favorite song, because that makes absolutely no sense.
Me? 99% of my music library is filled with wigs and stilettos. What business do I have listening to R.E.M.?
It’s hard to say it’s my “favorite song,” even. Plenty of songs have come since that I would say are just as, if not more, important. Lord knows, I gush over all things Utada. Britney‘s discography didn’t even exist before I discovered that song. “Discovered.” I was barely more than a fetus when I heard it.
When I was growing up, my parents told me that whenever “Losing My Religion” came on the radio while we were in the car, they’d hear my tiny voice singing along from the backseat. It came out in early ’91, so I was…what? Maybe 2 or 3 years old? It must have been hilarious to hear. (I could have been very YouTube famous if they’d busted out a camcorder at the time, so THANKS A LOT, MOM AND DAD.)
In any case, the song’s still stuck in my head. It’s still my “favorite” song, if only for the nostalgia. I’m a sucker for those melancholy melodies. The mandolin. It really is timeless and dreamy, in a Fleetwood Mac sort of way. (I actually had no idea the bassist was inspired by John McVie, but that’s pretty unmissable now.)
It’s also probably not a coincidence that a spiritual, worldweary song about unrequited love got me singing along— that is actually me in the spotlight.
So, onto MuuMuse.
The state of blogging has evolved.
Well, no. “Evolved” makes it sound like it’s become smarter than what it is. It’s not smart.
I should know better than to say that. In life, we’re taught that the world keeps spinning, and if you don’t spin along and adjust with the times, you die. Yet here I am, like an irate old geezer with a Walkman in hand, shaking his fist at an Apple store full of Vine-famous teens.
But it’s true: The Internet — pop culture, really — is different now, and in such a boring way.
By and large, the children these days worship the ordinary. They don’t want larger-than-life pop superstars — they want relatable BFFs. They want #squadgoals — artists and Internet stars that are seemingly tangible via social media, yet still just slightly out of reach. The diva prototype isn’t in demand. And even the few semi-successful girl groups still in operation today have exchanged ferociousness for friendliness. There’s no other reason Taylor Swift is worshipped as the current Queen of Pop than this current culture of beige. (1989 is great, but come on. She’s a pumpkin spice latte.)
I’ll never understand it. Doesn’t real life feel mundane and depressing enough as it is? Don’t you want to escape? Be wowed? Isn’t that the point of pop music? Who wants to be sitting at home DMing with their idol?
Don’t you want to imagine they’re 10 feet tall, being hand-fed grapes and fanned on a throne somewhere backstage (Legendtina certainly is) before delivering a show-stopping spectacle?
Also, where did all the choreography go? Barring a few exceptions like Tinashe, why has dance slipped away from the pop scene? The leading pop princesses today don’t deliver on that front. Miley? The most Madonna-esque of them all in her desire to rebel — and a killer voice to boot. Still not a dancer, though. Demi? Powerhouse vocals. Selena? Great, um…face, and fun enough as a studio-constructed pop act. Just don’t put her on a stage.
— Bradley Stern (@MuuMuse) October 2, 2015
As I pointed out with a snippet of Britney’s performance at the 2001 American Music Awards, newly 19 and on top of the world, the children just don’t know actual greatness. My Godney.
I’m biased, but I’m not just talking Britney. Madonna is still running laps around everyone one-third her age on her Rebel Heart Tour, and thank God Janet came back to remind us what it’s like to make an actual album.
Anyway, back to the state of things in my own world.
I know I technically can do whatever I want with my writing (sort of), but it doesn’t really feel like I can just do a typical post like I used to. There’s an underlying pressure: To gain traction — to afford a living doing this whole Internet writing thing — you’ve got to be digestible, listable, sharable, clickable. Turn quotes into graphics. Turn tweets into stories. Break the interview into two-minute segments. No one’s got the time. That headline’s too boring. Make it: “This Selena Gomez Album Track Will Change Everything You Think About Anything,” complete with an obnoxious amount of emojis and GIFs. Shade, shade, shade. Call it shade even when you damn well know it’s not. Steal memes from Tumblr. Credit? Creativity? Who’s got the time?
Let’s not pretend like I’m exempt from some of this: I’ve used plenty of GIFs for years, but it wasn’t such a universal practice then. And all of the stan terms — “slayed,” “snatching wigs,” “drag ha” — those were all born and beaten to death by 2011. Still, I’ve used them for way too long. (There are rare times when they’re still necessary, but only in emergency.) “Basic bitch” is now itself (ironically) basic, used by editors too unoriginal to come up with anything more cutting or clever. (They’re doing just fine taking credit for your Twitter jokes and Tumblr memes on the sites they write for, by the way.)
My site was known for being over-the-top years ago (“SIT DOWN AND STOP YOUR ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE”), but it was always done with either a heaping scoop of sarcasm or a very genuine sense of excitement. After all, I really was shaking and crying when those “Hold It Against Me” video teasers came out.
I’ve since grown up (sort of) and cooled down (sort of), right as the rest of the Internet has seemingly ramped up the eye-bulging, over-eagerness of all its headlines. And it’s all so fucking insincere. Really, MTV? This ‘epic’ photo of Hailee Steinfeld has you ‘feeling all the feels’? Oh, shut up.
There are so many loud people on the Internet, all yelling over each other to be heard, but very few of them have anything of value to say.
It’s an exhausting competition, and one that I genuinely don’t care about winning. I don’t have the energy, or desire, to shout.
God, I sound like such a bitter, jaded queen, don’t I? That’s probably because I am.
Almost all of the friends I’ve made online in the past ten years through music blogs have moved on. Some are working in entirely different fields, some have hopped onto the label side, some were bought out, some simply faded away. I’ve watched countless blogs launch and fizzle, usually within six months or so. With that in mind, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far — for keeping it going, and for still ‘doing me.’
The glaring reality is, though, that I’ve taken on a full-time commitment that requires me to limit my writing to MuuMuse to one post once a week. And in all honesty, it doesn’t really make sense to try and keep up with news stories on MuuMuse when I’m already writing them for another site. I made an effort to keep up for a while there, but it’s proving impossible to do so.
Instead, I think I’ll stick to what I care about the most on MuuMuse the most: My love for all things Britney, creepily in-depth fan-fiction about Christina Aguilera, and personal anecdotes about music and life — all done in an amu(u)sing manner, of course. (I realize this post isn’t very LOL-y like my usual.)
MuuMuse was never meant to be a one-stop entertainment destination, anyway. I’m very grateful that my writing gets the attention that it does. The thrill of seeing my name in a press release is still very much that — a thrill. It’s exciting to think that I’ve built this platform for myself. In that respect, I’m incredibly proud.
I suppose I could try to grow MuuMuse into more of an empire if I hired a staff (with the money I don’t have) and went full-force, loading the site up with galleries and polls and ads, but…I won’t.
I wish I cared about money. I wish I was good at business. But I’m not. At all.
Nah. This is always going to stay strictly music and musings — that’s what MuuMuse stands for. (Did you know? Most people don’t. I made it up. It’s dumb, but whatever.) It’s a form of therapy, since I can’t afford the real thing after paying New York City rent and then setting fire to my bank account each month. If you read between the lines of certain posts, you can tell when I’m going through shit — boy problems, (hey, Carly Rae), career woes, morning-after hungover regrets.
I feel pretty lucky (#blessed) that anyone (Brazil) reads MuuMuse. It makes me feel like I’m not just shouting into the void. In fact, judging by some of the way-too-real comments I get, some of you really do connect with me on a personal level — and some of you certainly seem to know me well enough to call me on my bullshit, too. I hate you for it sometimes, but it’s usually spot-on, and I secretly love that you know me that well.
I’d love to hear suggestions as to where to go from here to keep the site fresh weekly, in a way that isn’t just trying to keep up with the herd. I’m still doing my monthly MuuTunes playlists, too, so I’m around to supply the songs you need to know.
This is a strange and somewhat turbulent chapter of my life, but passion keeps me moving forward.
Oh no, I’ve said too much. I haven’t said enough.