Pia Toscano Needs a Lesson in Revenge From Taylor Swift
Formerly known as the girl who “shouldn’t have been booted from American Idol so early,” Queens-native singer Pia Toscano has released her first music video, “This Time.” HuffPo calls it the “archetype of pop ballads.”
Toscano signed to Interscope Records one week after she was eliminated from American Idol. Despite her rejection, she’s touring with their Live tour, and will release her debut album in the fall.
Toscano’s on the up and up, but if she wants to find long-standing success, she needs to do her research. This video indeed represents bland pop tradition. Boo and hoo, she’s leaving her man (or spiting American Idol, as the case may be). She is “mad as hell” and “ain’t gon’ take it no more.”
The revenge-and-consequent-independence theme is one that has been done countless times—and better—in country music. If Toscano wants to rise to the top of pop, she needs to take a step back and listen more closely to other powerful female vocalists, perhaps in unexpected places. Country music’s familiarity with heartbreak and come-backs could teach her a few valuable lessons.
Look at Taylor Swift’s “Picture to Burn,” Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats,” Miranda Lambert’s “Kerosene.” The title track on Lambert’s first album, Kerosene is a classic revenge tune done right. Lambert is a no-bullshit country girl: wearing ripped jeans, talking with a signature Texas twang, and gun slinging. She’s got more grit than Swift or Underwood, though that is likely what has prevented her from rising as high.
These women are unafraid of describing (and acting out) exactly what they will do to remedy their broken hearts. Taylor is going to go out with all her ex-boyfriend’s best friends, and her Daddy will make him sorry if he tries to approach her again. We all know Carrie is gleefully digging her keys into the side of his “pretty little souped up four wheel drive,” and carving her name into his leather seats. Miranda’s soaking it all in kerosene, love be damned. And yes, her former lover’s house burns to the ground.
In comparison, I don’t believe that Pia Toscano is mad as hell. “This Time’s” lyrics are vague, and the video does nothing to expose the pain or empowerment she stands to experience as she stands up and does things her way. Toscano is beautiful and her voice is pleasant, if totally forgettable. But she does nothing to inspire a swell of independence in my breast. She says she’s packed her bags, but they’re still at the back of his (or her) door. Toscano’s claim to “her time” is totally passive.
Next video, I want the same theme, so Toscano can prove her potential. No more posturing. She must be brimming with anger, after finishing ninth on American Idol. Whether the song is about that rejection or escaping a constricting lover, the video could use a plot and true grit. Give her some matches, some knives. No more beach frolicking, Pia. Show your mettle and bring out country-worthy character.
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