Popdust Investigates: Why Do Reality Stars Suck So Hard at Music?

Simon van Kempen
Posted on 04/22/2011 at 3:32 PM

Related To: News

The Popdust Files: jersey shore, Kelly Osborne, kim kardashian, real housewives, Reality TV

Several of the titular ladies of Bravo’s enormously successful Real Housewives franchise have tried their hand at a hit single in the past few years, but to our knowledge, Simon van Kempen—husband to New York housewife Alex McCord—is the first spouse from any of the series to take a crack at a record. In “I Am Real,” the General Manager at NY’s Hotel Chandler sings about living the glamorous life (“We kiss and hug, preen and mug / ‘Coz we are celebrities”) while insisting on being true to his roots (“I am real, I ain’t gonna change / I am real, I am who I am / and that’s the deal”), all over a bed of RedOne-esque EuroDance synths.

It’s unmistakably cheesy-sounding, and the lyrics are predictably awful (“When wives attack / Behind my back / They trash me on the Twitter”), the whole thing coming off as the epitome of celeb trashiness. But Simon is hardly the first reality TV star to fail so miserably at pop music—in fact, one of these crossover attempts seems to come down the pipeline every month or two, all basically following the same failure of a formula. How do they do it? Let’s take a look at their process:

BURY THE HATERS: Declaring your realness, as Simon does here, is the first step towards taking that pre-emptive strike against those hordes of nameless, unseen haters out there that abhor nothing more in the world than to see you shine. These divas take all their enemies out in one fell swoop by dismissing them as being merely jealous of they success and fabulousness—like Heidi Montag, who declares “They say I’m superficial / Some call me a bitch / They just mad, cause I’m sexy, famous and I’m rich” on the chorus to her “Superficialmaking themselves seem superior (albeit entirely humane) in the process. 

CALL IN THE FAMOUS FRIENDS: In the music industry as in every other walk of life, nothing succeeds like success. So if the reality celebs have any friends or family in the industry who are already more established than you are, they call in a favor or two and get ‘em to show up on their single, as Brooke Hogan did with rapper Paul Wall on “About Us,” or Kelly Osborne did with dad Ozzy on the duet “Changes.” Get the real-life musicians intimately involved with the project, and it’s pop stardom by association—soon enough, people might even forget which of them is which!

AUTO-TUNE, AUTO-TUNE, AUTO-TUNE: Okay, so maybe these guys can’t sing all that great. You know who else couldn’t sing? Kraftwerk! Daft Punk! T-Pain (probably)! Did those artists let that stop them from achieving massive popularity? Of course not—they used the modern technology at their disposal to eliminate their God-given vocal flaws. And so the reality celebs do likewise, pitch-correcting the ever-loving snot out of their singing, as Real Housewife Countess LuAnn did on “Money Can’t Buy You Class,” or Jersey Shore resident Angeline Pivarnick did on “I’m Hot.” If success always came to the most talented, then we’d still be stuck listening to Jill Scott and Angie Martinez, wouldn’t we? Nobody wants that. 

REPEATEDLY SHOUT THEIR NAME, CATCHPHRASE OR ANYTHING ELSE THAT PEOPLE MIGHT REMEMBER ABOUT THEM: Hey, this song is for posterity, a timeless classic that people are still going to listen to ten down the road. So reality stars are sure to remind listeners at every possible opportunity—as Simon does with his “when Wives attack” reference—of who they are and what they represent. (And if those two are the same thing, as in the case of The Situation’s “The Siutation,” even better.) After all, once we hit the 2020s, no one may remember how the chorus to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” goes—but, as DJ Pauly D correctly guessed on “Beat Dat Beat (It’s Time To),” you can be damn sure that they’ll remember what GTL stands for.

EXPEND THE BARE MINIMUM OF EFFORT: After all, this is still just pop music, right? It’s not like these guys are crashing the White House Congressional Dinner or anything—if goofballs like 3OH!3 can land a pair of top ten hits, how hard can pop stardom possibly be? So they make sure to let the listener know at every possible opportunity that they’re not breaking that much of a sweat, whether that means sing-talking through most of the song like Daisy De La Hoya does on her “Pretty Messed Up,” or repeating rote lyrics like “They playing my jam / Turn it up DJ” with absolutely no vocal inflection like Kim Kardashian on “Jam.” It’s not like they worked particularly hard to achieve any previous part of their stardom, so why should their pop careers be any different?

So there you have it: A five-step formula to topping AOL Worst Song Ever lists and appearing on the scornful end of Conan bits. But don’t thank us—the wisdom contained in these classic songs speaks for itself.

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