So, did ya’ll know that Taylor Momsen fronts a rock band? I guess that’s why she’s always sneering each time I see her on Go Fug Yourself. All this, and Leighton Meester working toward a pop career too!
Now, I don’t want to seem snide or condescending, especially about a veteran child actress transitioning into adulthood. I don’t want to speculate that her interest in music has developed just as the once-hot teen soap she’s on is starting to cool. Who am I to suggest that the Gossip Girl star’s musical forays aren’t sincere?
Apparently Momsen’s been singing for years and fronts a band called The Pretty Wreckless. While essentially a solo project with some (male) hired-gun musicians, she is the act’s vocalist, costume designer, and primary songwriter. The group has been putting on shows and has recorded a single, “Zombie,” which has a raw sound that suggests Momsen’s listened to a lot of Courtney Love.
Momsen’s done a lot more to suggest she wants to explore music beyond adding another hyphenate, like one-time would-be pop singers Hilary Duff, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Richie, who at one point was in a band with model Josie Maran called Darling and was supposed to be working on an alternative-influenced solo project that may or may not see the light. Momsen even plays a bit of guitar as well. I’d hazard she’d do more of it if she’d bulk up. Have you seen her twiggy arms? Homegirl needs to eat all kinds of sandwiches.
But I am a still little incredulous, as I am about Momsen’s entire hipster image, which became public just as Jenny Humphreys was becoming the UES’s edgy It Girl on Gossip Girl. There’s something just way too pre-fab about all of it that makes me wonder if there’s any real difference between Momsen wears skinny jeans and when, say, the Jonas Brothers do it (or, as Jonah Weiner points out in an article Kristen sent my way, when Miley Cyrus hires producers who swipe from lesser-known songs for indie cred). After the controversial but transformative presence Rachel Zoe had in reinventing Nicole Richie’s public image, I work under the assumption that all celebrities have stylists and that Momsen’s no exception, even if she herself is interested in fashion. I can’t help but wonder if similar industrial mechanisms are at work for her and her musical aspirations.
Maybe I’m just being snobby about medium and public image. While I have my doubts about Momsen’s musical pursuits, I never questioned when fellow former child actress Jena Malone released a seven-inch with Social Registry back in 2007 and continued on as the lead singer of The Shoe. Assuredly this has much to do with an appreciation of Malone’s experimental sound.
But I’d be lying if I said my enjoyment of Malone’s music wasn’t informed by my pre-established fandom of her turns in indie-friendly fare like Cheaters, Saved, and Donnie Darko. It probably didn’t hurt matters that she has lesbian parents, legally emancipated herself as a minor for financial reasons, and appeared in public with a bald head. In short, her outsider persona matched her acting and musical choices. It seemed, to employ that ickiest of value judgements, “authentic.”
That said, I support Momsen’s right to rock out. But I’ll have to hear and see more before I call myself a fan.