by Dom Jones
In 2003, Mya came out with arguably her biggest single, “My Love is Like… Wo.” Watch the video below:
This song WAS. MY. JAM. To me, it was peak Mya. Her first single, “It’s All About Me,” is like the prequel to this song. It would take years for it to materialize, but when it did, I was locked in as a fan. From the late 90s to the early 2000s, even though my older sister couldn’t stand her, what I enjoyed about Mya was that her persona felt super authentic. It was a time when assembly line artists hadn’t become the dominant method of proliferating new music yet, especially in R&B and Hip-Hop. In a sea of artists, we could have pop stars like Janet Jackson, a very young Beyoncè as a part of Destiny’s Child, Aaliyah, Mya, Amerie, as well as India Arie, Lauryn Hill, Angie Stone, Jill Scott, and Amel Larrieux. We even still had freakin’ GIRL GROUPS! You could hear En Vogue, TLC, 702, SWV, Zhanè, Jade, or Brownstone all on the same radio station. The diversity in JUST ONE GENRE was heaven.
Last month, Mya released a new single called “Ready For Whatever.” Watch it below:
Y’all, this could be ANYBODY’S song. This could be Ciara or SZA, Kelly Rowland or Kehlani. There’s nothing about this song or video that makes Mya stand out as a singer or an artist in general (though on a positive note, she hasn’t aged a bit). She’s lost in a sea of cookie-cutter aesthetics, sonically and visually. While it has over a million views on Youtube, “My Love is Like… Wo” has 14 million (to be fair, it was uploaded in 2010, and at least 50 of those views are mine, haha). This doesn’t diminish my opinion that “Ready for Whatever” will likely never reach the popularity of “Wo,” even though it’s on trend. The trappy sound, the leggings and crop top, the empty lyrics… it’s formulaically perfect. And that’s exactly why it won’t stand the test of time. A business instructor once told me that whatever’s hot is already on it’s way out – it’s really always about what’s next, what’s new. The critical mistake that I find artists who have been around all the time make is trying to fit into a current mold instead of capitalizing on the mold that made them who they are in the first place. You can update your style without relinquishing it to what’s hot. You can be current without becoming cookie-cutter. I mean… Missy Elliott didn’t ever have to reinvent herself. Her Superbowl performance with Katy Perry simply reintroduced her to a new generation of listeners.
My least favorite Beyoncè song is “Drunk in Love,” simply because this is a moment which I feel Bey fell victim to the desire to be “on trend” instead of the trendsetter. Yes, even queens can lose their way. My point to every Berklee student reading this is that being trendy will only beat being authentic for the blink of an eye. As Robert Glasper said when he was visiting, “Nobody can beat you at being you.” I see vocalists and musicians alike trying to fit into the mold of who seem like the most known or hailed artists on campus, but that won’t make you original – you’ll simply end up derivative. Ultimately, I still play “My Love is Like… Wo” at least once a month. I’ll probably never listen to “Ready for Whatever” again. The lesson here is… be yourself. It lasts longer.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MYA’S NEW SINGLE? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!