What Quebec needs is its own Miley Cyrus

It’s been a long time since Quebec produced a pop star who elicited any kind of strong emotion at all, hasn’t it? We may not need Miley herself, but our province needs something.

Who could the Québécoise Miley be?

On Sunday, second-generation pop tart Miley Cyrus managed to steal the MTV Video Music Awards spotlight from pretty much every current pop music heavyweight you can think of.

Sure, it was for a crass medley that included her ubiquitous summer smash “We Can’t Stop” and little to do with artistic merit, but pop music is all about making a splash, and for one night, at least, her wagging tongue and shapeless posterior bested whatever the infinitely more talented Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Kanye West could muster. It was a cringe-inducing yet strangely unforgettable performance that somehow garnered controversy in an age when it’s almost impossible to shock anyone, and for some it even renewed bitter hostilities towards the long culturally moribund MTV.

Now, I’m not suggesting Quebec needs a privileged party brat of its own, or that the OQLF figure out a translation for twerk post-haste, but it did get me thinking: when was the last time Quebec produced a pop star who elicited any kind of strong emotion at all, either for or against?

I mean, we used to be quite good at producing them: Mitsou was controversial in her day, as far as coquettes go, Corey Hart made a career out of pursing his lips seductively, and of course Celine made noise in the pop world when she adopted a more mature image. Marie-Mai’s the pick of the provincial singing contest litter, but she taps more into our mutual love of campy rock and is unknown outside of our province.

Today, the Quebec music industry is dining out on its past, MusiquePlus is a money pit and the biggest Montreal acts abroad are all Mile End interlopers (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

So where are the malleable homegrown stars to make those us of legal age squeamish, or to embrace all that beautiful Quebec kitsch we hold so dear, or to even produce a hummable tune that could fit alongside whatever dreck is currently blaring on The Beat? Are the Tequila-Heineken and Mon père est riche dudes as close as we’ll get to modern fame whores chez nous?

Deride the vacuity of pop music all you want, but I still crack a smile every time I hear “Bye-Bye Mon Cowboy” or “Incognito” in a public place. They’re still catchy earworms. Quebec culture warriors should frankly be concerned that kids here are growing up adoring One Direction and don’t even have a third-rate Quebec equivalent to at least tolerate.

A Quebec pop star with worldwide ambition shouldn’t have to be cheap or Americanized either — just some good pop music and a carefully constructed image will do.

Besides, if we don’t produce a pop star or two for this generation, it’ll just encourage Anne-Marie Losique to make a comeback. 

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