Have you heard “You Oughta Know” on the radio lately and wondered, “I wonder what happened to Alanis Morissette?” Did you have Chris Johnson on your fantasy team in 2011? There are plenty of ways for celebrities to fail: meltdown, scandal, suddenly calling yourself “Chris Gaines” for no apparent reason – but one of the most common ways is that some celebrities simply lose motivation.
Of course it’s natural to ask how someone could not be motivated by contracts promising millions of dollars. In truth, it’s not that celebrities aren’t properly incentivized – after all, No Doubt still
sucks major dick makes music, despite the fact that the product they make now is far removed from their “Tragic Kingdom” heyday.
Let’s look at the aforementioned Ms. Morissette – “You Oughta Know” rocketed her to stardom on the back of its angry, scathing lyrics. In truth, most of the album contains what amounts to excerpts from a diary of a very pissed off woman.
After the album’s success and her subsequent tour, she began practicing Yoga and went to India for six weeks to
smoke a shitload of weed recover and reflect on the surprising turn in her career.
So, what was next for the talented singer? She released the follow-up album “Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie” (which I had to Google the name of), which was met with disappointing sales. Since then? I honestly couldn’t tell you a thing she’s done – and unless you’re a diehard fan of hers, I doubt you could, either. But apparently she did release an album this year, which might surprise you as much as it did me.
So, what happened? Did Morissette suddenly lose her ability to sing? No, but what she did lose was the edge to her songwriting that the success of her first album was built upon. That’s not to say that she got noticeably worse as a writer. Rather, by the time she returned from India, she was wealthy and was apparently doing well in her love life, too. That’s great for her, but terrible for music.
No Doubt had the same problem after singer Gwen Stefani started dating Bush’s frontman Gavin Rossdale (a move that effectively ruined not one, but two bands). Instead of “Don’t Speak” or “Just a Girl”, we got … everything else.
The underlying truth behind these stories is this – while talent is something that people are born with and hone through the years, creativity is often the product of stress, anguish, and crisis. When talent is tempered with fires from the crucible of creativity, success is often the finished product. Sustaining that success is difficult, however, when the negative aspects that fuel creativity are removed from an artist’s life.
After all, it’s hard to be angry when you’re rich and famous.
Unless, of course, you’re Michael Jordan …