We're not very nice. Not you or I specifically, but anyone who has ever participated in the shaming and/or blaming of certain musical artists because they, well, exist. So, y'know, everyone.
Admit it, we've all done it at least once. Whether it was Hanson in the '90s or Kanye West a couple weeks ago, we've at some point found ourselves caught up in the anti-hype that often runs rampant in the music industry. Sometimes it's warranted (see: Chris Brown) and sometimes it's embarrassing (Miley Cyrus), but it's always there.
So to right our wrongs, here are eight artists ranging from Lana Del Ray to Insane Clown Posse who we we need to say sorry to:
When don't we owe Kanye West an apology? We've drilled "I'mma let you finish" into the ground, we've mercilessly scrutinized his tweets and most recently, we mocked him for his disdain for Jimmy Kimmel's take on a BBC One interview. Yet without his ego and eccentricities, Kanye West's music wouldn't be what it is. On top of that, despite his successes, he's never been more than truthful about who he is and what he thinks -- a feat in an industry defined by lies and falsities. West may seem over-the-top, but if an artist isn't challenging the status quo, he's not actually doing his job. Plus, his stream-of-consciousness sit-down with Kimmel was one of the most honest celebrity interviews of all time (OF ALL TIME!)
M.I.A. has come under fire for everything from her political beliefs to the type of fries she once ordered during an interview with the New York Times. As a result, she's been mocked, slammed, and condemned, including for the shock tactics she used in the "Born Free" video that saw redheaded children being blown up. The video was violent, gory and upsetting to watch, but that was the point. It was also M.I.A.'s right to make whatever video she felt necessary, including portraying U.S. troops as committing genocide against gingers as an allegory for the type of ethnic warfare she grew up with in Sri Lanka. It's also her right to use Twitter as a political platform and as a business tool, and her right to order whatever fries she feels like eating, or -- even more shocking -- her right to marry whomever she wants (regardless of whether or not it's into the Seagram fortune). Considering M.I.A. has been praised for her outspokenness since she started, it's hypocritical for us to jump down her throat for videos like "Born Free" or even for calling her label out on allegedly refusing to release her new album because it's "too positive." She's condemned for her behaviour, yet it was that no-bullshit ethos that earned her attention in the first place. You may not agree with her message, but you can't accuse someone this clearly genuine, for better <em>and</em> worse, of being a hypocrite.
Lana Del Rey
Following her infamous twirl-centric 2012 appearance on "SNL," the artist formerly known as Lizzie Grant saw herself in a media firestorm that the show later spoofed with Kristen Wiig portraying the singer. Was Lana's performance unfortunat? Well, yes. But as Wiig-as-Del Rey said herself: "Those critics are absolutely right. The music stage on 'Saturday Night Live' is hallowed ground and I failed to reach the high bar set by past guests like Bubba Sparxxx, the Baha Men, and Shaggy." Now, after what seemed like months of thinkpieces and condemnation, Del Rey has solidified her place on the pop culture landscape, going to model for the likes of H&M, contribute to "The Great Gatsby" soundtrack, and ending the summer with the bona fide dance hit, "Summertime Sadness." Your move, haters.
After Britney Spears began spiraling in the mid-2000s, she went on to party harder, shave her head in 2007, check in and out of mental health facilities throughout the next few months, then stage a "comeback" in 2008 at the VMAs that led to relentless media ridicule. (Never mind that she was mentally ill – she looked 'fat,' so fair game, right?) Now, Britney’s back – but only after help from professionals, her parents, and those legitimately acting in her best interest. If anyone understands the value of “Work, Bitch” it’s Ms. Spears. So before you get all mean girl over her the recent “controversial” isolated vocal track, remember Britney's a 15-year veteran of the business for a reason, and wouldn't have lasted so long if she didn't bring it when it really counts.
Whether it was her hair, her clothes, or her outspokenness, Nicki Minaj went from "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" darling to backlashed rapper. Following the "disappointment" of her debut release in 2011, she baffled critics again with her "Exorcist"-inspired 2012 Grammy performance. Then, despite her obvious talent ("Beez in the Trap" is a rap masterpiece) and refusal to accept gender stereotypes (see: her monologue about double standards in the E! special, "My Time Now"), Minaj came under fire again from critics for the "pop" side of her sophomore record last year. (You know, despite "Starships" permanent place on the charts all summer.) Thankfully, Nicki Minaj is Nicki Minaj, and whether she’s patching up 2011 feuds with Hot 97 DJs or calling out Mariah Carey on "American Idol," she's proven herself the real deal: a more than capable rapper who plays by her own code and her code only.
It wouldn't have been the late '90s without blaming Marilyn Manson for the downfall of everything. His excellent publicity led to claims that he preached hate and devil worship, attacks culminating in tying Manson to the Columbine shooting of 1999, even though he was in no way associated. Manson was never given the apology he deserved following the era where his fans were bullied. But at least he got to impressively defend himself in Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," pointing out that in the media uproar, "we forgot about Monica Lewinsky and we forgot the President was shooting bombs overseas, yet I'm a bad guy because I sing some rock-and-roll songs? Who's a bigger influence, the President or Marilyn Manson? I'd like to think me, but I'm going to go with the President."
And you all laughed at Hanson's staying power. Nearly 20 years after the release of 1997's "Middle of Nowhere" -- the album they recorded before their voices changed and jealous elementary school students everywhere mocked them -- Hanson are still writing, recording, touring, and earning accolades. (Their latest indie album, "Anthem," hit #22 on the Billboard chart.) But regardless of their lack of drama, the success of their own label, and their ability to churn out records consistently to a highly dedicated fanbase, Hanson still hasn't earned the respect they by now deserve. We apologize for ever doubting them. Also, "MMMbop" is still an amazing song.
Insane Clown Posse
From their ridiculous makeup to the ridiculous Gathering of the Juggalos, a lot can and has be said about the Insane Clown Posse -- almost all of it negative. Yes, their lyrics are violent, stupid and sexist, and their fans can be dismissed as mooks. But whatever you think about their music, Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J are intelligent businessmen who have created their own self-sustaining subcultural industry, their fans clearly do not deserve to be labelled a "gang" by the FBI and their Fuse video review show demonstrates they're clearly self-aware and surprisingly open-minded. (Just watch their reaction to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," and keep watching to the ending, we promise.) They may forever remain the the butt of jokes, but there's a lot of community-building going on here as revealed in the acclaimed book "You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me."