Photo courtesy of pitchfork.com
San Marino High School

Opinion: Clairo is just another privileged singer

“Life is unfair”: the phrase is no stranger to anyone; after all, the world is always either working for or against you. Skin color and wealth are merely two of the absurd characteristics that dictate how successful an individual is, and it seems like Clairo, your stereotypical YouTube-acclaimed artist, has been taking advantage of both with the aid of her father, Geoff Cottrill.

Coverage can’t be that hard to get when your father already has connections with music marketing platforms (i. e. The Fader”) and monopoly companies like Coca-Cola and Starbucks of course.

Headline after headline begin to roll in as a result. But do any of them have any real substance, a praise that can’t be bought by the influence of a parent?

Pigeons & Planes covers the singer with a tinge of generic fodder by applauding an authenticity that is prevalent with both popular artists and their lesser-known counterparts: “Meet Clairo, the Lo-Fi Bedroom Singer/Songwriter Who Went Viral By Being Herself.” From the “first major heartbreak” of Lorde’s “Green Light,” to the devastating one-night stand recounted in Blaise Moore’s EP “LAURENCE,” countless performers have been able to win the hearts of audiences with vulnerability and artistic integrity. So why does the fact that Clairo is “being herself” qualify her for a headline?

It doesn’t. Clairo is not some forerunner for individuality in the music industry, and her feature on Pigeons & Planes appears to be nothing more than gratuitous for a blasé storyline. Guitar covers on a YouTube channel before becoming a sensation with one single? Sounds like Halsey with Soundcloud single “Ghost,” but she never gained the traction Clairo currently has until she released her debut EP (probably because Halsey’s dad wasn’t a well-versed figure in music advertising).

Then there’s Pitchfork’s facade of an article, labeled  “Meet Clairo, the YouTube Star Turning Teenage Awkwardness Into Viral Gold” and teeming with overstatements. Just look at its subtitle, which says that Clairo is “shaking up the pop landscape” when the “bedroom-pop” singer’s sound is anything but avant-garde.

Her synth-propelled track “Pretty Girl” almost has carbon-copy production of Frankie Cosmos’ “Young” (I guess when Clairo cited Cosmos as an inspiration, it wasn’t only limited to lyricism) and makes me wonder why this college freshman was chosen to open for Tyler, the Creator when all she has to offer (as of right now) is truisms and been-there, done-that ambiences. Clairo’s on-screen “awkwardness” is not the first of its kind either, giving it no further reason to become “viral gold” than the quirky makeup tutorial/bathroom groove sesh in  “Last Breath,” a track made by Korean-American artist/DJ Yaeji.

Perhaps Clairo will prove worthy of all the visibility she’s been receiving now later on when the path she treads might be her own. But today, she’s just Daddy’s Little Girl.

18 Comments

  • Reply Sarah Wang April 6, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    WOAH, totally did not know these things about Clairo. I remember when Pretty Girl first came out and it was my anthem for such a long time. Interesting article Austin!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reply Austin Nguyen April 8, 2018 at 9:55 pm

      AH! Thanks Sarah :) I didn’t know either until I did some digging and was pretty SHOOK

      Like

  • Reply Mina May 6, 2018 at 2:19 am

    Especially given that in “Flaming hot cheetos” shes alongside other nichey up there artists for no good reason, thanks to dad!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Reply EP REVIEW: Clairo – diary 001 – Famo Blogs May 29, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    […] “Pretty Girl” is the quintessential Clairo song. The simple, barebones beat paired with Clairo’s endearingly unremarkable voice makes for a flawless snapshot of laid-back, Soundcloud-era bedroom pop. Accompanied by the equally popular 2017 single “Flaming Hot Cheetos,” “Pretty Girl” appears on Clairo’s first release since hitting the spotlight last year, landing spots on countless playlists with titles composed entirely of emojis, a potential collaboration with Vampire Weekend producer Rostam Batmanglij, and feature stories from Pitchfork and The Fader, drawing in some scrutiny on exactly how she became an overnight sensation. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  • Reply Maridian Comer June 14, 2018 at 1:43 am

    I personally think Clairo is so relaxing to listen too, and her lyrics (Bubblegum for example) are so relatable, odd, and refreshing, along with the calm background music. She also has a very talented voice, despite how laid back and nonchalant it is (which is part of her charm). As for her father, everyone starts somewhere, and her somewhere happened to be where it was. She had a huge advantage yes but if you wanted to make music and your father had connections like hers did, would you not take advantage of that? There’s nothing wrong with not starting from the dirt like other celebrities. Taking inspiration from a song is not illegal. No it’s not original and a very good brand but she admitted taking inspiration when she didnt have too. When someone makes a remix or covers a song, does it make them any less talented? No, it just means they took someone else’s work and built off of it. If you read this, thank you for taking the time to look at my opinion .♡.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Reply Austin Nguyen June 14, 2018 at 11:40 am

      Thanks for taking time to comment! I enjoyed reading your thoughts (it’s not something most people take the time out to do) and agreed with your points. There’s nothing wrong with an advantage or having inspiration for song (that’s why sampling exists); to me, it’s just frustrating for something to gain so much recognition when it might not be, in fact, all it’s talked up to be, which is also chalked up to opinion. I do appreciate that she admitted her inspiration from other artists (even if it wasn’t for said track), but while Clairo is a new artist, not many people realize her music is “old news” in the sense that we’ve “been there, done that.”

      Liked by 1 person

  • Reply omgwhitepeople July 4, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Wow, very interesting Justin! Keep it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Reply Austin Nguyen July 5, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      It’s Austin, but thank you

      Like

  • Reply Austin Nguyen July 8, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing your input, Zoë; everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and you just happen to be my first of critical reception. I’d just like to point out that I don’t mention the tax bracket or any socioeconomic status of Clairo’s family and that the purpose of the article was merely to discuss how artists garner unwarranted attention due to the exploitation of industry connections. It’s almost similar to the increased chances legacy students receive when applying to Harvard but in terms of artist publicity.

    Like

  • Reply wisnerblog September 11, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    I actually took a different approach to this topic and would love if you were to give it a read. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Reply Andrew Esquivel October 20, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    Lol she does not get to choose which family she is born into. It would be foolish of her to NOT use her dad’s connections. She is a great artist. It’s not like she’s a Rebecca Black. She deserves the traction she has received. Why are you hating on her for something that is not her fault. And besides, PRIVILEGE IS GOOD. Quit hating.

    Like

    • Reply Austin Nguyen October 20, 2018 at 3:54 pm

      I never said that “it was Clairo’s fault” that she got born into a family with connections, but it’s not like she was completely obligated to exploit her familial connections. If any person is truly talented, they shouldn’t need to utilize shortcuts to achieve what they want. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions about Clairo; seeing eye-to-eye with other people wasn’t the purpose of this article though.

      Like

  • Reply duck December 28, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    this really annoys me who really cares if she has connections in the music industry that dont make her music any less good. just because your lucky enough to be born with musical talent and a family member thats a record label executive dont make you any less talented you cant choose who your family is. and to call her avan-garde? many great artist made good music by experimenting with sounds well to put it bluntly all music is a·vant-garde you sound like a jealous little kid…

    Like

    • Reply Austin Nguyen January 3, 2019 at 10:38 am

      The post isn’t about how familial relations define talent; the two aren’t mutually inclusive. It’s about how people can be exploitative of said connections and garner traction that isn’t warranted, but whether or not someone is deserving of said publicity is purely subjective. I’m sorry we have differing perspectives on the latter notion.

      Like

  • Reply José S. García January 7, 2019 at 11:35 am

    Austin, you come off as a hater in this article, friend, as evidenced by some of the other feedback in the comments section. Your critique is based on her simply being undeserving of her praise and go on to cite her father’s connections as the reason for her success. Unfortunately, holding an artist accountable for the praise they receive, is a completely pathetic opinion and says nothing of their musical affinity. Should Clairo or any artist, feel bad for having people enjoy their awkwardness, or the realness they convey in their music? Should she receive less praise, for her advantages? No dude, you still have to be talented to capture the hearts of an audience. Talk about her prose, her lyricism, her vocal texture, and the follow up music she’s produced after her self produced “Pretty Girl” track.
    ( Which she made when she was a literal child , so sue her for leaning heavily on her influences). Going after an artist because people and media outlets offer their praise and claiming they’re undeserving because of a well connected family is a ridiculous argument. And honestly it hurts minorities who effectively utilize the critique of priveledge as a hurtful force in the world.

    Like

    • Reply Austin Nguyen January 8, 2019 at 11:28 pm

      Honestly, you’re entitled to any opinion you have on any writing, but a piece cannot be constituted as “pathetic” solely based on your disagreement. I did make an effort to discuss Clairo’s musical capabilities when this article was written; her repertoire was sparse at the time, so in hindsight, my judgment was limited and preemptive. But the least readers can do is look at the date of publication for articles and give authors the benefit of the doubt for pieces that haven’t aged well. It’s been eight months since this piece was first available on HS Insider, and I hope that in the future, you’ll take into account — out of commonplace respect and decency — the fact that writing can sometimes be solely encompassing of one moment in time, not an everlasting definition of one’s perceptions.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Reply Todd Ler August 8, 2019 at 7:33 pm

        so your response is “readers should forgive writers for being unprofessionally hostile towards artists because that was a long time ago.”

        also “the fact that writing can sometimes be solely encompassing of one moment in time, not an everlasting definition of one’s perceptions” = “I shouldn’t have to consider the future consequences of what I say on a public platform because I don’t think past the present moment” lmao

        Like

        • Reply Austin Nguyen August 9, 2019 at 11:50 am

          Readers, just like the writers who pen the words they absorb, can make any judgment regardless of whatever people say. I did, in fact, “consider future consequences,” which is — just maybe — why I foreshadowed that “perhaps Clairo will prove worthy of all the visibility she’s been receiving.” And she did. If you believe that statements must be carved in stone rather than written in sand, that opinions cannot change as the artists themselves do, then maybe read other publications that have shown such phenomena, such as how Joshua Lu on The Singles Jukebox realized the beauty Angel Olsen brought on “All Mirrors.”

          Like

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