How Not To Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide
3. Are you comparing the artist you're writing about to other female artists only? If so, why?
The T profile of Lana Del Rey brings up the following artists, all of whom get, for varying reasons, thrown under the bus: Rihanna; Lady Gaga; Adele; Amy Winehouse; Ke$ha; Miley Cyrus; Nicki Minaj. Are there stylistic qualities that these singers share? Well, Brown tries to compare Del Rey's huffy "National Anthem" to Cyrus's sunny "Party In The USA":
Both you could play alone dancing in your bedroom, sing along to in your convertible with the top down or (it might surprise Cyrus's Disney producers) find yourself gyrating to at an illegal warehouse rave.
(Apparently Dr. Luke works for Disney now? Someone tell Sony!) This comparison, while at least attempting to place the art put forth by its two subjects side by side, elevates Del Rey because she's an anti-pop star. The rest of the comparisons don't even bother to discuss the music put forth by each artist, aside from Del Rey's attempt to throw shade in the general direction of Ke$ha (!!!!); instead they just serve to hold Del Rey up as a woman who's more serious and sensitive than all those other brash (and fat!) women in the pop sphere. This could serve as proof that for all its ineptness to residents of the indie bubble, Interscope's hamfisted attempt to test-market her to the blog crowd sorta worked; the word "authentic" doesn't appear once (whew), but it's implied with every cocked eyebrow thrown in a pop star's direction. Or it could just imply that because he was at a loss to actually describe Del Rey's music, the writer had to reheat some assumptions that he made while stopping in a bodega where Z100 was blaring. Why not bring a male artist into the discussion? Surely David Guetta's hyperpop represents an even starker contrast to Del Rey's agonizing dirges; Emile Haynie had a hand in Kanye West's just-as-damaged-as-LDR "Runaway"; even a single back-to-back spin of Bon Iver's most recent album and Born To Die can reveal similarities as far as the overall vibe being given off. Not to mention Drake! I could go on.
On the bright side, Brown didn't bring up Madonna, which was the old way that lousy writers would try and turn "music made by women" into a genrewe've come a long way, baby! Although his being impressed by Del Rey's "conflat[ing] love with material success" might indicate a troubling unfamiliarity with "Material Girl."
4. Are you writing about a moment where your subject flirts with you and you respond in kind?
I'm sure you're a super-nice person, but surely you're enough of a professional to be acutely aware that her being sweet on you is part of her job. Sorry.