Pop Diva Roundup: Lana Del Rey, Kelly Clarkson and Rihanna

Whether you consider yourself graced with or burdened by the pressure of all the new music coming this month, there’s no denying the impact of fresh sounds in the pop diva world within the past two weeks.

We received new content from Lana Del Rey, Kelly Clarkson and Rihanna this month, but don’t fret — much of the new tunes out this week aren’t really new at all. The Paradise release from Lana Del Rey attaches itself as an 8-song Born To Die spinoff in the form of a re-release, Kelly Clarkson brings a compilation (three new songs on Greatest Hits: Chapter 1), and we imagine Rihanna’s Unapologetic will play the same hoodrat garbage like her last broken record.

What brings these three divas together this week isn’t just the coincidence of close release dates: they’re three divas who have soaked up the recent limelight a little too much and are starting to burn out of excuses for attention. Take a look at what we have to say about Paradise (EP), Greatest Hits: Chapter 1 and Unapologetic:

Lana Del Rey’s entertainment factor shines like pure gold. The singer can’t actually sing that well, made a joke of herself following a shamefully awkward performance on “Saturday Night Live,” and produced a debut album that attempted nostalgia yet appeared drowsy and whiny. But by God, some of her music indulges the best sensory experiences. That’s why Paradise (EP) got a chance with us.

Coming as part of a re-release with her debut record, Paradise features the red-lipped singer in a bikini top at the album’s cover, employing a beachy, carefree feel that doesn’t weigh as heavy as the original album did. “My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola,” she sings (completely seriously) in the song “Cola.” There’s not a whole lot of emotional wreckage here, but the lovely, romantic strings are brought back to life in Lana’s cover of the 1950s chart-topper “Blue Velvet” and the LP’s strongest point, the heartbreaking “American.” The lightened vibes elements sound cool and alive, reaching a happy medium between sleepy vocals and colorful arrangements that soak up more sun than the original release could.

Somehow 10 years since “American Idol” crept up on us and suddenly Kelly Clarkson has enough hits to fill a Greatest Hits record. Do you feel old now? New Greatest Hits: Chapter 1 comes at us with 14 of the singer’s most artistically and popularly successful singles, including Thankful’s “Miss Independent,” Breakaway’s “Since U Been Gone” and last year’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” from the CD of the same name. Blonde and brunette, thin and curvy, broken and pieced together by love, the compilation shares every moment. “Catch My Breath” remains all-encompassing of her career as a whole, relative to how fitting the single represents itself on Greatest Hits: Chapter 1. Watch out for the new country single “Don’t Rush” with Vince Gill, too, which hints at a possible shift in the next few years to come.

The range of hits from Clarkson’s library remains vast and expansive, ranging high to low with a decade of emotions, though buying each new single as you wish might save you the money.

There’s good reason Unapologetic hasn’t actually gotten a listen from this Pop music fanatic. Rihanna’s turn for the worse has turned into a plunge for the worst since announcing not one but two recent collaborations with singer and former boyfriend Chris Brown. The Barbados-born musician, originally the camera shy “Pon de Replay” singer, has turned to the “no fucks given” attitude for her seventh studio album and takes the unabashed route in standing by her artistic decisions. Domestic violence is no laughing matter, and after that incident on the night of the Grammys in 2009, Brown should never be trusted. Need we bring up that infamous picture? The message Rihanna sends to her followers is absolutely horrendous. At the pit of Unapologetic lies an empty heart of self-esteem on Rihanna’s end, but call it a stubborn boycott on my end.

Jason Radford

About Jason Radford

A lunatic for pop music. Gay Chicago resident imported from the Twin Cities. Visual designer, recent graduate and writer. Left handed.