Monday, April 7, 2014

Lucy Hale: Road Between

I did a spotlight last year on Selena Gomez's album Stars Dance to highlight aspects of how she fits to X-23 alongside the other inspirations and aspects of hers that plays up well to X-23 herself if Ms. Gomez were to portray Laura on the big screen.  Ms. Gomez had started to really shine as an empowerment icon of how women shouldn't shame each other or squabble over trivial matters when there are bigger issues to fight.  Her messages of an open discourse and true bonds of friendship alongside standing up for the women that couldn't for themselves to this day is still a powerful message.  Her songs were over-analyzed and ripped apart for surface level critiques that truly had no bearing on what they meant.  Lorde herself, a fellow female artist, tried to shame one of the songs.  She attacked it for the surface level read it gave off when the song Come & Get It was much deeper than what she was led to believe it was about.  Sure it does make for a catchy side commentary joke when talking about crushes and those you like, but the song itself had a poetry like depth to how it can be interpreted.  This "feud" got spun into more than what it was.  It was a mis-communication of meaning, but the gossip news media fuels itself on this kind of emotional repartee to gain readers and viewers.

I respect Ms. Gomez for what she tried to push and achieve with what she's done and she's absolutely right.  The media tries to pit women against each other and push men towards them instead of letting them stand on their own with their own identity.  One female interviewer even went so far as to push this agenda on her as woman to woman, but Ms. Gomez handled herself respectably and asked for them to celebrate her accomplishments, not who she has been tied to in the past.  Not a single outward word was spoken against the person that suggested as such.  Society swallowed it like it was the norm and to be expected and accepted.  Continuing on this subject, during her tour in Europe, Ms. Gomez had a fan that attempted to grope her when she was celebrating her world tour and giving thanks to her fans.  There's a picture of it that surfaced among fan sites, but not a single person spoke up about it.  It never made a headline or mention(I've been waiting for it to be brought up so I had more information about it to dive into what happened).  It was accepted as if it was okay to treat her as such and demean her like she's some kind of object.  We do live in a patriarchal society where this is the norm and is accepted without a second thought after all.

It shouldn't be though.  It's never okay to treat another like that.

This is why it's important for there to be role models and those that speak up.  This why it's important to spotlight such icons that are trying to make a difference.  Icons that do want this world to change and grow.  Ones that want to make it become better so that maybe there can be one less fight for the children of tomorrow to face.  The fight is never ending, but every battle won is a step in the right direction at least and easier on those that have to face the same odds.  Maybe with every message of "this objectification will not be tolerated any longer," it can make the world better.  If it helps one person stand up to know she's not alone in seeing this, that she's not fighting alone against this, it made a difference.  This is why highlighting such achievements and showcasing such talent that does speak on this is important in every industry.

So I want to take a second to spotlight another extremely talented actress and singer that's doing much the same in her own way.  Lucy Hale has also long been on my list of actresses that could portray Laura Kinney to amazing degrees.  In fact, one entry on here I've been holding off on was set to dive into how maybe a split film approach or double billed feature using both actresses as Laura Kinney could make an interesting impact(or maybe I already wrote it, not sure).  There has been a precedent set for this before with 2007's Grindhouse, and in fact could prove to work wonders in Fox's favor if done this way.  By doing this they could have trailers and character spotlights between features to help showcase further X-Men characters or expand on characters that already appear within the films.  They could also showcase short animated features between from various sources that reflect the empowerment and other aspects to X-23's character that could standout to audiences and have an impact.  We could get a full rounded picture of all that X-23 represents and means to fans and truly make her shine and stand out among audiences at large.

Lucy Hale has her debut album, Road Between, coming out on June 3rd.  I'd been personally holding off on checking out many of the songs as I wanted to wait for the full album before speaking.  Her first single, You Sound Good To Me, is catchy and memorable.  The video itself is a delight of subtle choices that also creates a narrative that conveys friendship alongside good times with friends and those close to us.

From what I've heard from the album so far though, as a country singer she's going to go far.  As an empowerment icon, she's going to go far.  Nervous Girls, another track from her album, speaks to a wide array of concerns about self-doubt that any girl at every level or age can face.  That it's a universal concern and fear all share and that all can have at any time in their life.

Both of these were fantastic songs that stood out and felt fun, but they aren't what really caught my attention of her as an empowerment icon.  Then came Goodbye Gone.  My eyes were open to how inspiring and the depth she was taking her music towards.  She began openly challenging the perceptions of the patriarchal standard.  That women were powerful and capable of mending their hearts the same way that many men do.  The song itself is amazing and openly challenges many notions of gender inequality.  Like many of the country legends that came before her such as Martina McBride, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood, this song stood out as an empowerment anthem over heartbreak.  Ms. Hale has a natural power to her voice that carries it well and makes it stand out as much as Ms. Underwood's Before He Cheats but on a different end of the spectrum.  Where Ms. Underwood sings of not taking bad behavior from a significant other, Ms. Hale sings of living life to the fullest and enjoying every minute of it after a breakup.  She sings of clearing your heart from what could hold you down and doing that your own way.

Her messages of life and growth don't end there.  With the song In The Backseat, she continues on to sing about love.  At first glance it'd be easy to misconstrue what a song about love titled like this would mean, but it seems to be about a child sitting in the backseat watching her parents in the front and how faithful they are to each other.  How what the child sees is what real true love is supposed to be.  It's an endearing and cute song, but one also full of more truth than many I've heard before.  It's an interesting story told within the confines of a song that sticks with you and outright says "no matter what you've done in your life, this is the kind of love you deserve to find."  It's a message and song that truly sticks with you and warms even the coldest of hearts with how it approaches the subject material.

The last song I had checked out, and I truly had to stop myself from looking up more before the album comes out, is Road Between.  It's about trying to navigate the highway of life to make the best choices that are right for you and lead you to be the person you want to be.  It's not about shaming, but about learning and growing.  Each mile marker being another stepping stone to where you want to go and who you want to be.  The road itself seems to represent the two sides of human nature and how people treat each other.  It's about deciding which side of the road you want to drive on, and growing from those times you had to swerve on the road to avoid collisions.  It's about finding a happy middle ground that works for you and helps you drive safely to be who you want to be and where you want to go.  It's a song loaded with many more metaphors and commentary than that, but so much so that I'm not sure where to begin.  It's a song of growing up and all that it entails.  It's all encapsulated within a metaphor that speaks volumes.  To the point I've barely even scratched the surface of what the lyrics can say or mean to anyone.

After those amazing aural bliss tracks, I had to stop myself.  This album was one that should be enjoyed in it's full released and finalized glory.  Every little bit I'd heard from it had been astounding to the point I didn't want to spoil the rest before hearing it in its intended manner.  Most of those tracks I had already heard were from acoustic performances, and they already were standout amazing songs.  There's no doubt in my mind that her debut country album Road Between, set for release on June 3rd, is going to become an instant classic.  It'll probably even be a debut number 1 album on the charts.  You can pre-order it over at iTunes as well as Amazon, and get the songs You Sound Good To Me, Goodbye Gone, and Road Between instantly.

Many of these songs themselves speak to all manners of life and perceptions alongside empowerment.  She has a true country soul and flair to her work with every note.  Many of these songs are ones I could outright see being within Laura Kinney's own music playlist(probably the full album in its entirety if those tracks are any indication).  Ms. Hale carries herself well as a strong independent woman, and in many ways represents and strives for some of the same social commentary that many of the most memorable comic book heroines do.  Her Memphis country soul sticks out and truly shines as a woman that could portray Laura Kinney well.  Of course it also doesn't hurt that much of her filmography also shows a wealth of talent and emotional range that would be needed for such a role as well as still maintains the surprise factor from having a lack of an action piece such as X-23's story would be.  This has been one of the main driving factors in trying to find an actress for X-23.  Finding that balance of talent that's also lacking an action piece of this degree to avoid the typical typecast expectations.  Someone that could break the mold, and yet also do it in such a way that it could take audiences by surprise to truly wow them without any kind of expectations.  Something that Ms. Gomez's recent Stars Dance tour also helped showcase her abilities for with the displays of her upper body strength within many of the routines.  Both these actresses lull audiences into a false sense of security about what to expect and then outwardly shine with capabilities few would think possible.  It brings a form of subterfuge to the role that X-23 herself often displays within her comics routinely and helps further bring the character to life in a well-rounded manner that does Laura Kinney justice.

Continuing on about the empowerment angle, Ms. Hale herself also promotes and does work for Mark.Girl and speaks highly of them as well as endorses their M.Powerment bracelets.  I am personally not familiar with them outside of their parent company Avon(who should be praised for their refusal to test products on animals more often), but from the little bit I've read and seen, they are pushing for empowerment of women and trying to help them understand that the beauty they have inside can be seen on the outside too.  That they shine outwardly as much as they do inwardly.  That's a message I will always support.

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