Remember Mike Posner’s hit 'I Took A Pill In Ibiza'? The dance classic is upbeat and fun with a catchy riff that is bound to pull people onto the dancefloor. The thing I love about that song though is that there is a tipping point; the moment when you first notice the lyrics. What you’ve always considered a great dance tune suddenly has an entirely new inflection; a tale of a singer worried that they are moving closer to the label of ‘one hit wonder’, that their star is dying and that they still haven’t found the happiness they always craved. Just Jack’s 'Starz in their Eyes' in this way is the predecessor for Mike Posner; the upbeat and catchy tune is topped by a cockney vocal that makes it such an entertaining listen – but there is so much more to it than that. Harking back to my review of Justin Bieber’s 'Lonely', 'Starz in their Eyes' gives us a look into the life we all think we dream of but that really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
‘Since you became a VIPerson, it’s like your problems have all worsened’
Mo Money, Mo Problems eh? It’s highly publicised that the rich and famous do have their struggles; we often put them up on a pedestal and stare at them with wide and envious eyes wishing for their fortune and fame, but really it’s not the dream we make it out to be. It’s often been publicised by artists in songs or autobiographies that the glitz and the glamour is not as exciting as we have been led to believe, and you just need to glance at the tragic list of celebrities who have turned to drugs and alcohol and the infamous 27 club that is often a result of such abuse and turmoil to see this. I recently read Phil Collins' autobiography 'Not Dead Yet' and this further demonstrated it to me; a talented musician who loved to write and perform, he spent the best part of 30 years working and touring much to the detriment of his personal relationships, his family, his marriages and his own health. However, upon stopping, the sudden change from three decades of constant work and pressure to an abundance of free time turned the star to alcohol and very nearly caused an untimely demise. It seems that he was in this sense damned if he did and damned if he didn’t, stuck in some sort of strange performance Stockholm syndrome where he began to love and rely on the very thing that was harming him, and ultimately missed it when he was set free. To add salt to the wounds was the constant hounding from paparazzi and the press that thrust what can be a fatal spotlight streaming constant pressure and scrutiny on the shoulders of one person. It does seem that everything is magnified for those cursed with fame; every mistake is chewed over by the masses and their life and work comes under constant criticism, I certainly wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. This line is also backed up by Bieber in 'Lonely'; the Canadian star’s lyrics about having all of his problems and mistakes critiqued by people who know nothing of his personality and life whilst having no one to call really do underpin this idea that being in the spotlight is laden with struggles.
‘While the rest of these users are just laughing in their sleeves’
This line is in the context of the protagonist’s apparent success; while they feel they are at the top of the tree the feint chuckles of producers and industry characters present a damning soundtrack. I think we have all seen in the past when a star emerges set to be the next best thing, only to disappear after a short while into thin air. For a while the talent probably feels on cloud nine, staring into a world of opportunities, but realistically, they are no more than another cog in the works of a music industry who feeds on cash cows and cruelly spits out anyone who isn’t bringing home the bacon. Although probably not the original intention of the lyrics, I am also reminded of television talent shows at this part of the song. When we get bored and flick on the TV on a Saturday night we are often greeted by a poor soul stood on stage in front of thousands, willed on by family and friends; only for us to soon learn that actually they aren’t that talented after all and are swiftly met with laughs from the crowd and snide jokes and remarks from the judges. The way these shows are set up gives the impression that these people have turned up on the day hoping to try their luck at a new life of stardom and of course therefore some will be better than others. What they don’t show on TV however is that these shows usually require video auditions and face-to-face off-camera auditions before people are even allowed onto the stage. This means that producers of the show knowingly tell these people that they are good enough at least twice before they make it onto the stage, filling them with hope and self-belief which can then be torn down in front of the nation for our entertainment. To me, the producers of these kinds of shows are the users who laugh in their sleeves whilst setting up innocent people for a live and televised downfall. If you have the time go on YouTube and search for Simon Brodkin's attempt at Britain's Got Talent; the famous comedian shows the ins and outs of the process of the show, how hopeful talents are pushed for sob stories to pull on the heartstrings of the public, and how saying and doing the right thing is more important than talent.
Whilst I could pick out more of the lyrics to dissect they all tend to suggest the same two things; that fame isn’t what it's cracked up to be and that the industry uses and abuses talent. The whole song is a masterpiece filled with sentiments of the rise and fall of fame; the quick highs followed by the crushing lows. Just Jack beautifully calls out and exposes the music industry with one swift hit (get it?). The sad thing is that nothing has changed and probably nothing ever will change. The main issue is that often the people who do take a stand are the rich and famous and it’s very hard for the general public to empathise. Whilst they probably wish for some anonymity, we all dream of some recognition; whilst they dream of a simple life, we dream of the fast cars and the big houses. Sure, we can all recognise that the famed life is far from perfect but how are we to ever fully understand the pressures that these people face? Whilst Justin Bieber’s 'Lonely' did a great job recently of giving us the other side of the story, I think 'Starz in their eyes' is just as important. It strips away the glamour and instead of talking about a global superstar it focuses on the overnight stars; the normal people who get used and abused by the industry. With lines such as ‘It’s a long way to come from the Dog and Duck karaoke machine’ and ’It’s a long way to come from your private bedroom dance routines’ being sung in a cheeky cockney accent, the song relates back to us; I think this does much more to help us understand. 'Lonely' makes up sympathise whereas 'Starz in their Eyes' makes us empathise.
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