I should probably state before I launch into any sort of tirade, that I do not hate manufactured pop. In fact I freely admit to being an unashamed fan of most mainstream chart hits. Some people might even tell you that I have spent many a night on the dance floors of sweaty gay clubs teaching people the intricate choreography of Girls Aloud’s seminal classic Love Machine. But those people would be liars. Awful LIARS.
The manufactured music industry seems to be going through a new golden age of late, with a glut of successful female popstars being unleashed upon the public from the assembly lines of hit-making factories around the globe. The majority of the current wave of singing and dancing machines seem to have their own little design quirk that sets them apart from their contemporaries. Katy Perry appears to have been installed with a humour chip, Lady Gaga has downloaded the ego app, Beyoncé has been upgraded to Microsoft Sass Vista and Britney Spears has contracted a particularly virulent strain of batshit crazy Malware, which makes her endlessly entertaining. Then there is Rihanna, an empty automaton. A dancing, singing iPod with a pretty face.
My problem with Rihanna isn’t so much her musical output (although her new single is fucking terrible), it’s her performances. To watch her in a music video is akin to watching the humanoid dancing robot in the Citroën ad belt out a tune, except that the transforming CGI vehicle would likely give a more touching rendition. Look at her attempt to ‘rock out’ in one of her earlier promos Shut Up and Drive:
Note the blank, almost steely, gaze and the lack of connection to the lyrics. It’s as if her internal data servers Googled ‘dance moves’ and quickly uploaded ‘punch the air’ and ‘swivel hips’ without bothering to fire up the emotion engines.
The Ri2000, as she will now be referred to, has recently undergone a systems upgrade, which has enabled her to remove parental restrictions and increase adult content (she is also now WiFi and 3G compatible). All musical and visual output is optimised for sexual imagery. She prowls the stage like a horny Cylon, flashing her circuit boards and hard drive in order to distract from her lacklustre monotone singing voice (or ‘digital stereo speakers’ if I’m to continue with this tired metaphor). Songs such as S&M and Rude Boy are essentially just extended musical versions of the late night call line adverts you see on Channel 5 sung rigidly by a cock-hungry Decepticon.
If you still don’t believe me that Ri2000 is a malevolent cyborg created by Def Jam Record’s top secret Advanced Science & Technology division, then look closely at a photograph of her. Look into those cold, expressionless eyes. That chill you felt creeping down your spine and the goosebumps on your forearms are caused by the fact you recognise the absence of a soul in this she-bot. Now look again and tell me that your first instinct is not to run away from her screaming and to go and warn John Connor that his life, and the future of humanity, is in danger.
You can’t, can you?
Run. Run while you can.