Grace Jones is calling out her contemporaries.
Naming no fewer than a dozen wildly successful pop acts – including Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga – in an excerpt from her upcoming autobiography, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, the controversial model, singer and actress isn’t shy when it comes to talking trends and copycats.
"Trends come along and people say, ‘Follow that trend’. There’s a lot of that around at the moment: ‘Be like Sasha Fierce. Be like Miley Cyrus. Be like Rihanna. Be like Lady Gaga. Be like Rita Ora and Sia. Be like Madonna.’ I cannot be like them – except to the extent that they are already being like me," Jones writes. "I have been so copied by those people who have made fortunes that people assume I am that rich. But I did things for the excitement, the dare, the fact that it was new, not for the money, and too many times I was the first, not the beneficiary."
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Jones seems to feel that almost every modern pop star is ripping her off in some way, and points to some specific examples.
"Rihanna… she does the body-painting thing I did with Keith Haring, but where he painted directly on my body, she wears a painted bodysuit," she explains. "That’s the difference. Mine is on skin; she puts a barrier between the paint and her skin. I don’t even know if she knows that what she’s doing comes from me, but I bet you the people styling her know. They know the history."
While Beyonce is the one pop star not called out directly by name -- Sasha Fierce is Queen Bey’s old persona -- Jones does reference one star anonymously, dubbing her "Doris."
"I look at Doris and I think: Does she look happy? She looks lost, like she is desperately trying to find the person she was when she started," the actress and singer writes. "She looks like really she knows she is in Vegas, now that Vegas is the whole entertainment world filtered through the internet, through impatient social media. I don’t mind her dressing up, but when she started to dance like Madonna, almost immediately, copying someone else, it was like she had forgotten what it was about her that could be unique. Ultimately, it is all about prettiness and comfort, however much they pretend they are being provocative."
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Provocative, Jones warns, has taken on a new meaning in a generation where every pop star is nearly-nude and singing to the same generic backing beats.
"They dress up as though they are challenging the status quo, but by now, wearing those clothes, pulling those faces, revealing those tattoos and breasts, singing to those fractured, spastic, melting beats – that is the status quo," she writes. "You are not off the beaten track, pushing through the thorny undergrowth, finding treasure no one has come across before. You are in the middle of the road. You are really in Vegas wearing the sparkly full-length gown singing to people who are paying to see you but are not really paying attention. If that is what you want, fine, but it’s a road to nowhere."
Jones also warns that today’s celebrity culture leads to quick burnout for pop stars who don’t have long-term goals in place.
"The problem with the Dorises and the Nicki Minajes and Mileys is that they reach their goal very quickly," she cautions. "There is no long-term vision, and they forget that once you get into that whirlpool then you have to fight the system that solidifies around you in order to keep being the outsider you claim you represent. There will always be a replacement coming along very soon – a newer version, a crazier version, a louder version. So if you haven’t got a long-term plan, then you are merely a passing phase, the latest trend, yesterday’s event."
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"Doris, I would say fame is all well and good if you want to take it to another level. If you have some greater purpose," Jones concludes. "Listen to my advice; I have some experience. In a way, it is me being a teacher, which is what I wanted to be..What is teaching but passing on your knowledge to those who are at the beginning? Some people are born with that gift. With me, the teaching side morphed into the performing side. It’s in there. And these are my pupils – Gaga, Madonna, Annie Lennox, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Miley, Kanye West, FKA Twigs and... Doris."
I’ll Never Write My Memoirs hits shelves on Sept. 29.
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