April 9, 2010

Epic Fail: The "Spectacular" Bust Out of Kiely Williams

Former Cheetah Girl Kiely Williams is a beautiful young lady who not so long ago was a regular face in the Disney lineup of young starlets.  She was part of a relatively recent history of young black women (Raven Simone, Kiki Palmer) who found success with wholesome shows aimed at young people from media giants like Disney and Nickelodeon.

She also appears to be a recent albeit willing casualty of the music industry's drive to literally and artistically whore out young girls. Kiely recently put out (pun intended) a video for her single "Spectacular", a sordid tale glorifying a drunken one night stand.  I'm not sure I've heard or seen something quite so worthless from someone who could have done so much better. Neither the song nor the trashy video are worthy of the adjective.

I was both saddened and disgusted to see this latest attempt by a young starlet with a prior body of work I was totally comfortable with letting my daughter watch try to run away from it.  This video and song are such a huge mistake in terms of artistic merit and business sense that its almost incomprehensible why anyone who gave a damn about her career didn't stop it.  The song itself is juvenile in its lyrics and its arrangement. It sounds like an x-rated Disney tune designed for teens overheating on their raging hormones.  The video is a train wreck.  It has the look of someone trying to be trashy but doesn't really know how, which I actually hope is the truth about the young lady herself.  She can't dance and they used a guy in the video who isn't particularly attractive.  As an exercise in provocation marketing, the entire video fails "spectacularly"  in its intended purpose, namely reintroducing Kiely Williams as a sexy hot adult starlet.  How the people responsible for directing her career believed this to be the right business move is simply beyond me.  How do you take a built in market of young people that have watched her for years and simply throw them away? What data convinced her management or her that she had some audience out there that was just waiting for this trash from her?

Perhaps its not that huge a mystery.  Artists like Lady Gaga don't appeal to me and the string of forerunners before her didn't either, but they are rump shaking money makers. Predictably, this bid by Kiely Williams to remake herself in a similar mode has been a "spectacular" fail, with pushback and outrage so severe, she felt compelled to defend it on her YouTube video blog:

She is a beautiful girl and its a shame that her business and career sense are clearly not as striking as her looks. She simply doesn't get the problem here.  Its not about shooting the messenger because we don't like the message. Its about shooting down trashy material that has no redeeming value from an artist whom we've seen better from and had every right to expect better from.  There was nothing necessary or laudable in doing this song and video.  They were a craven attempt to shock and to break into the big money world of selling sex and being racy for profit. The problem for Kiely is, you can buy that product elsewhere and done better.

Kiely made a choice to go this route. She didn't have to.  You'd think she would have taken the lesson from Lisa Bonet's career disaster with the movie Angel Heart . Other stars have taken a pass on this dead end approach to showbiz fame, most notably Raven Simone and Kiki Palmer.  Both of these women have built on the platform of their prior work without whoring themselves out. In Kiki's case, she actively rebelled when  Atlantic Records was pushing to bust her out with suggestive lyrics and trashy material. So even though her label was probably gung ho for this trash, she didn't have to consent to be part of it.

The pushback and outrage Kiely has received is well deserved and we can only hope she and her label figure out this this is a dead end.   Whats your reaction to this mess? Did your kids watch Kiely as a Cheetah Girl? Why can't the music industry and artists coming out of the family fare sector manage this transition without it becoming a race to the bottom?