Saturday, April 25, 2020

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's "Pop Star Goddesses"

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong is the New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia: The Secret World of the Show About Nothing that Changed Everything; a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted; and Sex and the City and Us: How Four Single Women Changed the Way We Think, Live, and Love. She spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly and has since written for many publications, including BBC Culture, The New York Times Book Review, Fast Company, Vulture, and Billboard. She also speaks about pop culture history and creativity.

Armstrong applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Pop Star Goddesses: And How to Tap Into Their Energies to Invoke Your Best Self, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Pop Star Goddesses comes in the middle of my essay about “goddess” Gwen Stefani. In fact, it’s a critical point in the essay that summarizes what’s to come and lays out the case for Gwen’s goddesshood, pointing out her contrasting qualities:
She represents the ultimate girly girl who has spent her career hanging with the boys in her band; she’s sometimes a rock star with a pop accessibility, other times a pop star with a rock edge. She wrote and sang the feminist pop anthem (or as close as we could get to one on mainstream radio in 1995) ‘Just a Girl’ and has rarely been without a steady, high-profile man throughout her adult life in the spotlight. She symbolizes female empowerment, though she has never hidden her adherence to some of the conservative values of Orange County, California, where she grew up—her lyrics long for a settled-down, American Dream life with a husband and kids.
This provides a great snapshot of the book, which explores 35 “pop star goddesses” in terms of what their careers and public narratives represent to fans. It aims to be substantive and smart, but also fun, which comes across here. I chose the goddesses carefully, looking for artists with not only catchy hit songs but also unique narratives that resonate with fans. The concept of the book was born of the fact that we regard our female pop stars very much like traditional goddesses: We want to emulate their strengths, and we look to their stories to find inspiration in our own hardships. I named Gwen the Goddess of Following Your Muse because she has consistently defied expectations of what she should be doing, saying, and believing. Just because she has a rock-tinged style doesn’t mean she has to be a rebel. Just because she wrote a feminist song doesn’t mean she can’t long for a husband and kids.

Like the most powerful goddesses—pop star goddesses and traditional goddesses—Gwen has also found her strength through her worst public trials, which included the breakup of her widely admired marriage to fellow Rockstar Gavin Rossdale. This echoes other such trials endured by fellow goddesses Adele, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Demi Lovato, Jennifer Lopez, Kesha, Mariah Carey, Miranda Lambert, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift. And like the greatest of the goddesses, Gwen has survived the business for 25-plus years, a true testament to goddesshood.
Visit Jennifer Keishin Armstrong's website.

--Marshal Zeringue