Now is a time when a number of our favorite artists from the last few years are about to release their sophomore efforts. With all this comes a great deal of nerves, aspiration, hope, fear, and the like. However, I find it a bit shameful when certain artists, whose debuts made such an impact on their niche audiences, renounce their first albums. In doing so, these singers cause fans to doubt the connection felt with music they believed to be relatable.
Who am I talking about? Paloma Faith and Marina Diamandis. As much as I admire these two women, and anticipate their follow-ups, I feel as though they've hung me out to dry. Both spent two years or so promoting debuts they claimed were personal statements, and we, as fans, believed them, because how can songs about the inner-most depths of depression (I Am Not A Robot, Numb) or our desperate need for companionship (Stone Cold Sober) be anything but? However, their recent claims that their works were not true representations have caused their audiences to question their faith in any songwriter's honesty. Is it even worth emotionally investing in anybody's music anymore?
However, Paloma and Marina were never packaged as such. When they came out, they both had distinct images that were artistically driven, and their sounds and lyrics were utterly unique. They were signed and advertised as artists who wrote their own material. Due to such marketing tactics, audiences looking for something a bit more personal than Rihanna's Take A Bow had something, and someone, to latch onto. It seems as though these two women are now rebelling without reason. Yes, maybe Paloma didn't have final approval over the production/mixes of her debut's tracks, but who would expect her to? The fact that her album, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful, sounded at all cinematic, as per her request, should have been satisfying enough. A record company will not give new artists 100% autonomy - this is a business, after all, and people's livelihoods are on the line. Be grateful that, as a new signee, you had any degree of authority. Furthermore, don't renounce your music, particularly when your severely personal lyrics drew in a unique crowd of fans searching for something more than the readily available Cheryl Cole experience.
Marina seems even more desperate to erase her old self, claiming that her new (generic) love-lorn material is far more personal than her old songs on The Family Jewels. I don't believe this for a second. Tracks like The Outsider and Girls don't write themselves. They're clearly motivated by a sense of isolation and spite, respectively, and as such, are quite personal. This makes it all the more confusing as to why Marina is so aggressively battling her early material. It's as if she's trying to prove to herself that she's worthy of more than just an indie crown. However, in doing so, she's losing a fiercely loyal fan base that was drawn to the personal nature of her music. Very few artists (i.e. Fiona Apple, Bright Eyes) achieve this sort of intense devotion resulting from the creation of purely confessional music.
As Minna puts it, "to thine own self be true." It is possible to progress artistically without disowning one's prior work. Such renouncement is not only juvenile in the sense of "If I close my eyes and pretend not to see it, it doesn't exist," but it is also incredibly disrespectful to the fans who have been there from the start. I wholeheartedly believe that the minute an artist caters his/her work to his/her fans' preferences, s/he compromises his/her artistic integrity. However, recognizing and appreciating one's fan base does not require any compromise. It doesn't require any semblance of artistic stagnation; all it necessitates is the validation of material that holds immense sentimental value in fans' eyes, minds, and hearts. Music is so over-run with fakery. Therefore, why taint the truth simply as a means of getting ahead and/or breaking into the mainstream? Such is the act of a sell-out.