Monday, December 12, 2011

The Endless Evolution of Inna

I find it nearly impossible to believe that I have not written about my favorite Romanian POP act yet. For those of you who have not met her, let me introduce you to a woman who stole my heart: Inna.

Inna in the video for Amazing
Inna is a big deal. She's a chart-topper, Club Rocker, & euro-rave princess beloved from Brazil to Belarus. Her music has never been ground-breaking, but has always been danceable, flirtatious and full of mirth. Since the release of Hot in 2009, I have been totally enamored with her music. Along with super-producers Play & Win, Inna creates light, fluffy discoPOP with Balkan flare - a recipe for my instant affection as a music lover & Eastern Europe enthusiast.  

That being said, Inna's image has always confused me. When I first saw the music video for Amazing, I was deeply distressed as a fan and as a female to see talented & charismatic Inna marketed as a lewd and salacious Romanian Baywatch babe. Why would such a sweet, graceful young woman be complicit in such a tacky exploitation of her body? 

It is worth mentioning, of course, that I set high standards for my favorite POP stars, as with Marina, Lily, GaGa & others.  Modern European rave culture is not in any way progressive... But in Inna, call me crazy, I always heard & saw someone who slightly deviated from the norm.  I would have preferred, at the very least, a more playful image than that of a cheap & erotic vixen.  By the time Inna and her team implored fans to call themselves "club rockers" I felt distressed and excluded. (Must I now rock clubs, Inna? Is that a demand?)  Disillusioned with the world of Eurodisco that I so adored, I very nearly wrote off Inna as a POP artist. I did what seemed natural: I drastically lowered my expectations.

I turned my head slightly at the release of her second album, I Am the Club Rocker, in which Inna is portrayed as a female club commandant in a more empowering than degrading manner.  But it was not until the release of her music video for Endless that I did a 180.  In Endless, Inna dares to address the universal issue of domestic violence.  The music video portrays Inna locked in a tumultuous relationship with an abusive man.  The mood in Endless is chilling and sober, a far cry from the "girls gone wild" video characteristic of the Hot era.

Inna for Bring the Sun in My Life campaign

In addition to the video, Inna launched the Bring the Sun in My Life campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence.  Working with a group of NGOs, Bring the Sun in My Life provides support services, including shelter and counseling, to abused women in Romania and elsewhere. Inna herself, along with many other women, posed as victims of domestic abuse in a haunting series of photographs for the campaign.  It cannot be overstated how brave Inna's actions are, especially considering that in 2011 DJs & music journalists refer to feminism as "lesbian propaganda."

I always suspected that Inna was capable of sophisticated and multi-dimensional dance POP.  Finally, I can say that I have loads of pride in Inna as an artist.  After a nearly overnight rise to international success, Inna seems to be finding her feet in a rave culture dominated by misogynistic attitudes towards women.  Endless is clearly her best work yet.

Inna is evolving, both as an artist and as a woman. By growing into her role as a cultural ambassador and musical icon, she exceeded my expectations of a euroPOP artist.  Just as the Bring the Sun in My Life campaign reminds us, "your voice matters - no violence - no endless pain."  As Inna implores others to use their voices, she just may be discovering hers.

I love you Inna!



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