Though we wish we could take credit, that’s Esquire’s headline to an interesting think piece on the trajectory of many female pop stars: from wholesome daughters to coquettish vixens. The phenomenon’s called the “Butterfly Effect” after Mariah Carey’s Butterfly album, introducing the singer’s bikini-clad, skin-bearing (alter?) ego. The Esquire piece’s thesis:

Like Nelly Furtado, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Jessica Simpson before her, Stone has become another victim of the “Butterfly Effect.” See, when a promising female artist reaches her third or fourth album, they will invariably announce their latest work showcases the “real them.” And sadly, that “reality” falls somewhere south of the third-string bartender at Hogs & Heifers and just north of a Hunt’s Point pavement pounder.

“The biggest magazine success story of the last 10 years has been Maxim, and in the Maximization of the music industry, the only way in if you?re a female artist is to show ass,? said Jim DeRogatis, rock critic at the Chicago Sun-Times.

We see the same thing in the “rock” world, too. When more established artists attempt a transformation from guitar-toter to sex object — Sheryl Crow (’02), Jewel (’03), Liz Phair’s boobs (’03) — is that the ’butterfly effect’ or just selling out? DeRogatis sees it as a matter of economics:

It’s for the same reason hair bands made ballads back in the ?80s: their audience was a bunch of beer-drinking wannabe biker boys and they needed something that would get their girlfriends to come to the shows. With the ?Butterfly? artists, they?re making girlish pop, but there?s the added element for the guys. The girls scream and the guys drool.

We have no idea what Jim’s talking about.

Comments (31)
  1. dannygutters  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    that’s funny cause I would describe Jim DeRegotis as an “ass” critic.

  2. steve  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    christina aguilera is an over tanned blow up doll. not hot.

  3. I don’t see why people can’t appreciate artists for their talent and ability, not their looks. If they did, a lot more bands would get famous who really deserved to, not sleazy girls who lack talent.

  4. Christopher  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    They left out Liz Phair, who undoubtedly suffered the biggest attack of the “Butterfly Effect”. I remember it being such a painful thing to watch as she felt it necessary to tone down the lyrical content (to a certain degree) and writhe in front of the cameras instead.

  5. when’s the last time there was a female artist that was famous because of her voice and not her rack? I mean just her voice? Mama Cass? Janis Ian? it’s effing hopeless. We worship whores, not singers. There’s your progress. Thank god feminism is dead, we might all be ugly fat lesbians who hate children if it was allowed to keep going.

  6. S. Jerusalem  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    To play the cynic, I find it somewhat hypocritical of “Esquire” to put forth this question when their cover shows Hallie Berry peeling her clothes off. Goes to show this trend isn’t just for female singers.

  7. Roger9000  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    re: when’s the last time there was a female artist that was famous because of her voice and not her rack?

    jennifer hudson?

  8. i’ll take bjork, jill scott, & karen o…….

  9. Jess  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    Jennifer hudson is “famous for her rack”, just not like all the others. She became a star because she is the opposite of all of the others. All of the media attention was focused on her looks, and a little bit of her voice. If she was famous for just her voice, no one would ever mention her looks at all.

  10. KO  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    does this explain how Bon Jovi still has a career?

  11. Who is Jennifer Hudson?

    ……Oh right that fat woman who was on that karaoke game show.

    Proposing that taking the American Idol route to fame, is somehow less whoreish than wearing a bikini and being on the cover Maxim is fucking warped.

  12. There has hardly ever been a saintly pop princess, especially in the last fifteen years. Almost all have tread the ‘horny lolita’ to ‘nymphette 20-something’ line. Those that have not have also attempted credible stabs at musicianship and, therefore, remain in a sort of netherworld. I’m thinking Neko Case, Sam Phillips, and my ever-beloved Jenny Lewis. They’re rock and pop, but because they haven’t gone total-slutsky they haven’t broken that Billboard barrier either.

    Believe it or not, I’m hearing good things about Mandy Moore, even though I really have no great desire to hear her music. But she’s trying. Gotta be points for that.


  13. Bus Driver Stu  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    It’s because they all realized there’s no point in trying since Kate Bush perfected pop before they were even born.

  14. John S  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    Xtina, Britney, Mariah, Nelly and even Liz P. were packaged as sexual from day one. (“Empowered” sexual in Nelly’s case, which hasn’t changed.) So we’re not talking about falls from grace here.

    Furthermore, none of them are famous for their looks. They’re famous for their voices and their charisma in front of a camera. Except Liz, who has none of the latter but can write songs, which is different but not necessarily better. The makeup and airbrush artists do the rest.

    Also, is there really that much difference … really … between Esquire calling women whores and Don Imus doing it?

  15. dan b  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    cos Imus called a bunch of college kids ‘hos’ after playing basketball, and quite well. Esquire’s column only calls out women with the media cache to shout back, either in a column or perhaps in song. that is, if their Swedish songwriting teams will permit it.

    also, taken literally, Joss Stone does sorta look like she could be working a corner somewhere in the East End.

  16. Meanwhile they have a scantily clad Halle Berry on the cover. Way to empower the ladies Esquire!

  17. It’s not just about objectification of females, there’s far too many prettyboys in rock and pop for that to be the case.

  18. Wesley  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    I saw no need to comment until Bus Driver chimed in. Agreed, good sir, or madam.

    Furthermore, when will everyone remember that it is often sexier to conceal than reveal?

    What the (Western) world needs is a tremendously talented English language pop singer, that writes and produces her own material, and just happens to be a fundamentalist Muslim in a burqa.

  19. A perfect example of this concept is actually taking place right now. Witness the overt sexualization of Hilary Duff and wonder if there ain’t a kernel of truth to be had.


  20. claire  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    britney is famous for her voice? huh?

  21. Peter P  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    mmmm, over tanned blow up doll

  22. Blu  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2007 0

    Someone mentioned Neko Case, and while she has done some va-va-voom cheesecake pictorials in the past, she did turn down an offer from Playboy.
    “I didn’t want to be known as ‘Former Playboy model’ Neko Case” she said of the thanks-but-no-thanks.
    And as for Jenny Lewis, well, you won’t be seeing her on/in Maxim anytime soon… I don’t think.

  23. Ben Wintle  |   Posted on Apr 20th, 2007 0

    Beth Ditto to the rescue!!

  24. Stephen  |   Posted on Apr 20th, 2007 0

    Who really listens to Christina, Britney and Nelly Furtado’s music anyway apart from teenyboppers who have know real interest? I say, let the music rot where it belongs (i.e. the charts) and just enjoy the eye candy.

    If they want to flaunt their asses here, there and everywhere, let them. It’s only themselves that they’re degrading. Hell, if they want to perform triple penetrative intercoarse live onstage, who am I to judge?! Just press the mute button and let the good times roll.

  25. Intercoarse…

    It’s like sex with a sandpaper condom, it is.


  26. Good call on Hillary Duff DW. I hadn’t seen her for a while (since her infamous Misshapes ‘DJ’ set) and heard her new single yesterday with accompanying promo images…it’s like a different girl. Dark hair, sexier outfits, breathier vocals. Now, I always thought she was pretty weak in the singles department, especially compared to Britney, Xtina, etc. But she seems determined to ‘break out’ this time.

    Of course, you can lay some percentage of that on her getting older but she could have gone the more respectable Mandy Moore route. Then again, maybe the Good Charlotte boys have a hand in this too.

  27. MissNee  |   Posted on Apr 20th, 2007 0

    To answer the question in the headline:

    Because she fucks for tracks.

  28. “Someone mentioned Neko Case, and while she has done some va-va-voom cheesecake pictorials in the past, she did turn down an offer from Playboy.
    “I didn’t want to be known as ‘Former Playboy model’ Neko Case” she said of the thanks-but-no-thanks.
    And as for Jenny Lewis, well, you won’t be seeing her on/in Maxim anytime soon… I don’t think.”

    “i’ll take bjork, jill scott, & karen o…….”
    -maya lucia

    Just wanted to point out that Karen O did turn down Playboy as well.

    Also, most of the female singers I love the most, such as Neko Case, Joanna Newsom and Feist, I love for actually having talent. I think they are beautiful, but I couldn’t love them as much if they didn’t show talent, and musicianship, and were just about their looks.

  29. inhouse  |   Posted on Apr 28th, 2007 0

    Imogen Heap anyone?

  30. Kandy Rain  |   Posted on Dec 21st, 2009 0

    Joos Stone looks like someone smeared her with a glue stick and rolled her in Claire’s Accessories

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