Nicki Minaj has gotten a lot of “sell-out” name-calling for her sophomore effort Roman Reloaded and its second half consisting almost entirely of bubbly, distinctly un-hip-hop electro-pop songs, the leader of which is of course lead single “Starships,” one of the bigger hits of early 2012. We try not to get caught up in all that “sell-out” talk—it’s always a fine line between selling out and merely expanding your sound and audience, and it’s not really on us to call out what Nicki or anybody else’s intentions are in going in a more pop direction. If the music’s good—as some, though not all, of the pop tracks on Reloaded are, who really cares anyway?
It is a little disappointing, though, to see a dynamic performer like Nicki go the lip-synching route live, though. She showed up on the Today Show to “perform” Roman‘s “Starships,” but barely sang audibly on the song at all, having her most identifiable contributions being some crowd-hyping late in the song (which was pretty drowned out by the blasting backing track anyway). The production wasn’t exactly overwhelming enough to make up for it either—a simple, medium-energy production with her and some backup dancers that failed to divert attention from her poor mouthing efforts.
Yeah, it’s just a Today Show performance, and yeah, most people in her position probably would’ve done the same. As always, we just don’t want to see Minaj go so pop that she loses what makes her awesome and unique in the first place. We worry, Onika.