Sometimes, being a movie or television star is not enough. That is why several famous actresses leapfrog from their fame on-screen to pursue other interests and goals.
Though some actresses are content to branch out to producing or directing, a good number come to the conclusion that a music career is beckoning. And what follows tends to be formulaic and unsurprising.
It is not unusual for an attractive, young actress to also have a pretty decent singing voice. After all, as actors they are skilled in the art of performance. From there, all it takes is creating simple, catchy songs that will appeal to the masses.
The songs are usually anthemic, danceable, sugary-pop confections that are fun to listen to and sing along with but do not leave a lasting impact on the music scene. Typically, it will just come and go as one enjoyable fad.
Look no further than the career of Selena Gomez. Her songs are catchy and mainstream while appealing to a wide variety of demographics.
She probably won’t be considered one of music’s all-time greats, but her desire to start a music career is certainly not being met with opposition, and many listeners greet her songs with open arms.
The evidence speaks for itself: All three studio albums by Selena Gomez & the Scene have been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, and singles like “Love You Like a Love Song” and “Naturally” have been certified platinum.
But throughout the whole process, it just seems like the band’s ultimate goal is to have fun. And while there is nothing wrong with that, it does mean that the music lacks a certain amount of passion and creativity.
For Gomez, making music can take a backseat to acting, which is why she announced on her Facebook page in February that the band would be going on an indefinite hiatus.
“This year is all about films and acting,” Gomez wrote. “And I want my band to play music wherever with whoever. We will be back, but it will be a good while.”
The hiatus should not discredit the band’s discography, but it does show that she is ready to take a step back from it, putting the fad of Selena Gomez & The Scene on hold.
Other artists, however, would never dream of taking a break from music because they take it more seriously and see it as a way of life more than as just a hobby.
Taylor Momsen — formerly known for playing Jenny Humphrey on the TV show Gossip Girl and Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas — is now the lead singer of a hard rock band called The Pretty Reckless. She has given up her acting career to become a full-time recording and touring musician.
Momsen plays an integral part in the writing process for the band’s songs and has fully adopted the “bad girl” persona of a leading lady in rock ‘n’ roll.
If she is singing about love, then she references “late night sex [and] smoking cigarettes.” Her songs are not innocent, and they do not have mainstream appeal.
They sound closer to classic rock than anything released since the 1970s, and they feature fiercely aggressive melodic arrangements and guitar solos on top of Momsen’s raspy, often screaming vocals that sound like they are coming from the mouth of a 40-year-old seasoned rock veteran.
Whereas Gomez embraces her innocence, as many would expect her to, Momsen allows her inner troublemaker to drive her creativity, stirring up controversy and enjoying it. For instance, Momsen posed topless with porn star Jenna Haze in FHM magazine and performs songs wearing practically nothing but lingerie.
Some might call it an act, but the music certainly makes Momsen seem like the real deal. The Pretty Reckless’ Hit Me Like a Man EP, released March 6, is already shaping up to be one of the year’s best releases and the band just delivered an electrifying performance at the House of Blues Sunset Strip on March 14.
The songs might not be radio-friendly because of their mature subject matter and aggressive character, but they do something for Momsen that Gomez’s songs will never do: They cast Momsen as a rock star and a rabble-rousing lead singer.
Essentially, Momsen’s songs make you forget she was an actress. Gomez’s songs, meanwhile, remind listeners that she is an actress who just happens to write catchy songs on the side.
Actresses who follow in Gomez’s shoes are likely to create enjoyable songs that will ultimately have short-lived glory because other passions take them elsewhere soon enough.
The best acts to keep an eye on, then, are ones like Momsen who will fully immerse themselves in the music sphere, enabling them to keep growing and breaking down creative barriers instead of just doing what everyone else is already expecting them to do.
Nick Mindicino is a sophomore majoring in print and digital journalism. His column “Industry Ballads” runs Fridays.