Though image control is certainly essential for stars, it's not pandering to fans—or constantly seeking new revenue streams, with or without these kinds of technology—that give stars their staying power these days.
Longevity in the spotlight actually depends on new "phases" and "transformations," leaving pop queens to constantly vie for power and relevancy via the rebirth of their art and image as they age. While each of these artists clung to certain evergreen elements of their brand—Grande with her Mariah-esque vocal stylings and high ponytail, Gaga and Madonna with their theatricality—they were able to meet demand as our hunger evolved.
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And worse yet, a successful rebrand in music isn't the only way to maintain publicity and relevance, in a world where any form of drama makes headlines. Fame is fed by bad decisions as much as good ones. At moments when pop stars flounder under the spotlight, their poor mental health still grabs eyeballs: Spears' fame was sustained by her post-divorce shaved head; Grande's successful album Sweetener is informed by the atrocities of the Manchester bombinga broken engagement with Pete Davidson, and Mac Miller taking his life.
It looks at what pure dee nude, rather than what will be. The episode just about works because of Cyrus.
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As Ashley O, and the voice of Ashley Too, she makes us both pity and root for the lonely, manipulated star whose life is very much playing her own. On Tuesday, a grim video circulated of Cyrus being grabbed and kissed while out in a heaving, jostling crowd in Barcelona. To promote Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too, Cyrus has changed her Twitter handle to Ashley O, blurring the lines of her character and herself once more, just like the Disney days. The difference between what happened last week is that one is a horrible, depressing vision of the world; the other is an episode of Black Mirror.
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Ed Sheeran: that’s my boy, says proud dad
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