When Billie Eilish graced the June cover of British Vogue, dropped jaws. Gone is her dark, unkempt hair with slimy green roots and her usual set of baggy pants, paired with oversized shirts and hoodies. Instead, she presented herself as a gentle femme fatale with angelic platinum blonde hair in old Hollywood curls, strappy, blush-colored lingerie, and corsets.
The footage sent shockwaves across the internet, with fans initially stunned by the unexpected switch. But the surprise quickly turned into praise, sparking a discourse on the male gaze and societal pressures on women and the way they dress.
It was Eilish’s decision to be seen in the magazine as a “classic, old-fashioned pin-up,” claiming that she felt “more like a woman” with her new hair and new look. “It’s about taking that power back, showing it and not enjoying it,” she told the publication. “I don’t let myself be possessed anymore.”
As expected, along with her new image came new music reflecting the 19-year-old’s dramatic transformation. The first two singles of his next album Happier than ever were different from the dark and synth bops such as “Bad Guy” and “bury a friend” that turned her into a superstar, or even the slower, more moody ballads “wish u were gay” and “Ocean Eyes” of her EP Don’t smile at me.
In her new music video for “Lost Cause,” Eilish embraces her femininity, dancing around a mansion in pajamas for a bribe for the girls. The filtered lighting, silliness, and playful manner of it all feels like a complete deviation – though that’s not a bad thing – from what Eilish fans have learned.
Of course, reinventing yourself is nothing new. Half the allure of fleeing a small hometown, changing careers, or even getting a haircut is the chance to try out a new identity. Especially in the music industry, change is encouraged, presented as an opportunity to create something unique that stands the test of time.
But it seems that more frequently, female pop artists are not only pushed to challenge themselves artistically, but to turn everything into themselves with each new release.
They become chameleons, shedding the current version of themselves and emerging as a shiny new thing, with a different look, aesthetic, and sound.
This week, Lorde caused a frenzy among her fans with the release of her new beach single “Solar Power”, announcing that an album of the same name would follow soon. But it wasn’t just the news that the New Zealand singer had released new music after four years that pissed people off, it was the cheeky cover image of the single – a bird’s-eye view of a clad Lorde. of a thong passing in front of the camera lens.
It seemed that Lorde too was shedding her dark, brooding, anguished character for something more carefree and sunny.
“There’s someone I want you to meet,” she wrote in a letter announcing her third album. “Her feet are bare at all times. She is sexy, playful, wild and free. She’s a modern girl in a dead bikini, in touch with her past and her future, vibrating at the highest level when summer arrives. Her skin is radiant, her lovers are numerous. I’m completely obsessed with her, and soon you will be too.
Currently, no one does the New Era better than Taylor Swift. When she arrived on stage in 2006, she was a country singer with a fresh face and curly hair, armed with love songs and her acoustic guitar. She was acclaimed for her debut album, as well as for Intrepid and Speak Now, until she suddenly gave up her country-meets-pop sound with her 2012 album red.
No more cute curls and jeweled dresses – a new Swift had arrived. She was dripping with cool hipster, with a bold red lip, slicked back hair and a fedora. It wasn’t just a wardrobe change and a new hairstyle: her Instagram feed was also revamped to roll out the anthems “22,” “I knew you were a problem,” and “We never get over it. together “. The songs were a statement that the innocent Swift of previous years was gone, and in her place was a sassy twenty-something who wasn’t afraid of grief and dropping names.
Then was a more mature but young-at-heart Swift, who was trying to figure out her New York life in her album. 1989. She was intentionally personal with this new phase, literally inviting fans to her Tribeca apartment for an evening of listening.
But the biggest and most surprising change to Swift’s image came in 2017 with Reputation– announcing the news she by deleting her Instagram account, teasing new music with the image of a snake. When the album came out, Swift was seen with a tougher, bolder look. She wore a choker and slicked her hair back – it was no longer a love game, she was now a bad bitch.
“When the album came out, Swift was seen with a tougher, bolder look. She wore a choker and slicked her hair back – it was no longer a love game, she was now a bad bitch.“
Swift’s vengeful alter-ego took center stage in her music video for “Look What You Made Me Do,” announcing in the song, “Old Taylor can’t come on the phone right now. Why? Because she’s dead.
Swift announced that she had effectively killed her sweet girl image and was no longer playing nicely, possibly sparked by her feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. The singer was furious with West for calling her a “slut” in her song “Famous”, claiming that she never accepted the line. Of course, things got worse when Kardashian posted an audio recording of their phone call and West hired a Swift lookalike to lie naked in bed for the clip.
Once this phase was over, Swift returned with the sweetest and whimsest Lover. This was followed by his independent sister albums, Folklore and Always. Swift adapted to her new sound with braided hair, neutral makeup and lots of cardigans and flannels.
The 31-year-old recognizes the absurdity that to stay relevant, musicians must constantly raise the bar. “It’s a lot to deal with because we exist in this society where women in entertainment are thrown into an elephant graveyard at 35,” she said in her Netflix documentary. Miss American. “Everyone’s a shiny new toy for about two years. Women artists have reinvented themselves 20 times more than male artists. They have to do it, otherwise you are out of a job. Constantly having to reinvent yourself, constantly finding new sides of yourself that people find brilliant. “
There are a handful of women in the music industry to whom Swift’s comments apply. Lady Gaga had her extravagant, avant-garde persona, wearing a dress made of bloody meat at VMAS a year or arriving at the Grammys in a futuristic, galactic egg. She then removed her larger-than-life character for the toned down version. Jeanne.
Rumors are already circulating about new pop sweetheart Olivia Rodrigo, who has just released her debut breakup album Sour, with heart-wrenching hymns “Drivers License”, “Deja Vu” and “Good 4 U”. Instead of eagerly awaiting a tour, they anticipate his next era, theorizing that his next album will be called Soft and only include love songs.
This ever-changing phenomenon dates back to Madonna, who at 62 is still finding ways to make a difference. Since her self-titled debut album in 1983, she has reinvented herself several times: as a classic ’80s pop star with “Material Girl” before her controversial performances for “Like a Prayer” and “Of Father” put the Pope down. angry in 1990. Over the course of her 14 albums, she has been a disco diva, chic cowgirl, classic Hollywood glamor girl, witty woman and most recently a provocative Madame X.
Perhaps the most transparent way Madonna seemed compelled to stay relevant while facing younger pop stars is when she planted a kiss on Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the VMAs in 2013.
“Women artists have reinvented themselves 20 times more than male artists. They have to do it, otherwise you are out of a job. Constantly having to reinvent yourself, constantly finding new sides of yourself that people find brilliant.“
But under the pressure of constantly reinventing themselves, artists can sometimes end up with a character they are not necessarily proud of.
Who could forget Miley Cyrus’ surprising 180 degree turn from a Disney kid with sympathetic teenagers “7 Things” and “Party in the USA” to a wild kid with her 2013 hip-hop album Banger. Cyrus twerked, swung naked on his infamous wrecking ball, and recruited a host of rappers to appear on the album, including Ludacris, Future, French Montana, Big Sean and Nelly.
But that was just a fad for Cyrus, who, while promoting his new dream pop ballad “Malibu”, made fun of his old association with the hip-hop industry because it was “too” Lamborghini, I have my Rolex, I have a girl on my cock. ‘”
“I can’t listen to this anymore,” she said Billboard in 2017. “That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a bit… I’m so not that.
For men, there really is no comparison. They are allowed to experiment with their sound without having to reshuffle their image. For example, Drake is teased for suddenly gaining a new accent with each album, but at the end of the day the music still sounds like Drake and Drake still sounds like Drake. Justin Bieber may have bleached his hair releasing his dance-pop album Goal in 2015, but a dye job and a quick haircut will never live up to the expectations of female artists. (The only glaring exception is David Bowie, with his iconic Ziggy Stardust alter ego and transformative sounds, though he’s always been seen as the exception to the rule.)
When it comes to Lorde and Eilish’s new albums and looks, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with changing. But female performers should be wary of the growing expectation that they would have to open up and erase parts of their identities just to stay relevant and entertaining for fans.
As Swift added in her documentary, it’s perfectly okay to welcome change and new eras, “but only in a way that we find equally heartwarming but also challenging for you.”
“Live a story that we find interesting enough to entertain us, but not so crazy that it makes us uncomfortable. “