Thursday, June 18, 2009

Little Boots: when "amateur" is the new "professional"

Meet "the new face of British pop": 24-year-old Victoria Hesketh, who goes by the name Little Boots.

Her debut album, Hands, has just been released in England and North America, and the reviews have been good to underwhelming: Q Magazine calls the album, "something of a mess - the sense being of an artist trying to run before she can walk" and "modern-pop cliche."

Q mentions that Hesketh co-founded the band Dead Disco, signed a record deal, and worked with the producer of Lily Allen's breakthrough, It's Not Me, It's You.

Yet, it was none of these "professional credentials" that made her a star.

What worked, oddly enough, was that though Hesketh was no novice, she appeared to be one by posting these do-it-yourself videos on YouTube and MySpace; charming and raw, they were an instant online hit.

You still need the TV to be famous, so - true to form - she appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly, became the only musician to appear twice on the British music show Later... with Jools Holland without having released a prior album, and had one of her songs used in an ad for Victoria's Secret.

Whether this was all part of the big marketing plan, or she accidentally fell into something that captured the public's imagination may be beside the larger point that, thanks to the Internet, "amateur is the new professional."

This must be confounding to people working in the traditional music or TV industries - they spend all of their time producing a product to perfection, only to find out later that "perfect" isn't really what anybody wanted in the first place. Why, the new argument goes, do you need Michael Jackson when you've got Chocolate Rain?

Congrats on the new album, Little Boots, but I like grandma's house and the fuzzy hat better.

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