Thursday, April 16, 2009
OH TIZZ HONEY...actually, hey.
Some years ago, Becky called me to talk about this blond girl on the Disney Channel named Ashley Tisdale. "She's on this horrible show about twins in a hotel that I can't stop watching," she told me. "Why are they trying to make her the new Hilary Duff? She's too old and she's not funny."
Somewhere around this time my baby sister forced me to watch the first High School Musical. Tizz was one of the more watchable aspects of it, but I hated the movie so deeply* that I came out of it with just as unfavorable an impression of her as Becky's.
Then, somewhere along the line, we fell in love with her.
I can't vouch for Becky, but for me it was her "Kiss the Girl" music video. This might seem strange to those of you who know that The Little Mermaid is my favorite Disney movie, and that I hate all other covers from it (do not even get me started on Miley's "Part of Your World"). But the pop take on it is so bouncy and infectious, and though Tizz's voice has the grasping squeakiness that has characterized so much of her singing career, I absolutely adore the fact that, despite the lyrics, she's the one who asks Inoffensive Music Video Cutie to dance, and she's the one who kisses him (chastely, of course).
It helps that Tizz has become a vastly better actress in the intervening years, particularly comedically-speaking. (Some of her nonverbal background facial expressions in HSM3 are more entertaining that anything Vanessa Hudgens has done in the entire trilogy.) Plus, somewhere along the line Lucas seems to have taken her aside and explained to her how to belt, and how to put across emotion and motivation in a song; her performance in "I Want It All" in HSM3 is leaps and bounds ahead of any of her previous musical endeavors.
The problem with Tizz is that she doesn't seem to know how to play to her strengths. She's a sharp-voiced, sharp-faced, sharp-witted Jewish girl from New Jersey, and she's trying to be America's Sweetheart. But Tizz, honey, you will never be Reese Witherspoon. You will never be Julia Roberts of ten years ago, or Meg Ryan of twenty. You are a young Barbra Streisand without the pipes, and you need to be making goofy farces like What's Up, Doc? where you fall down a lot. (My fondest wish: to see Tizz and Josh Peck make a series of zany comedies together where they bicker, fall into pools or decorative fountains, and make out. I WILL PAY YOU MONEY FOR THIS, HOLLYWOOD.**)
Nowhere is Tizz's lack of self-awareness more evident than in her music career to date. Her debut album, Headstrong, was pretty much awful, all squeaky dance pop and hype. At times it was actually embarrassing to experience. "Suddenly" is a perfect example of this: it's all about how very famous Tizz is now and how it's weird, but a) she's not actually as famous as she thinks she is, at least not among people who've graduated from middle school, and b) she doesn't actually have to voice to pull off the song.
So when I heard she was releasing another album I cringed. OH TIZZ HONEY NO. Learning to belt aside, this is not the thing you are super good at! The thing you are super good at is issuing a sassy putdown and then getting hit in the face with a cake!
...But then I heard the song.
It's kind of...good? And she kind of...kicks ass in it? I...I'm so confused. What is this strange new world we're living in? Somebody hold me!
It's almost a relief to note that the photoshoot for the album is embarrassing. High-waisted skirt, sheer ripped shirt, dead eyes, bizarre bordello-esque background, inability to pick a font and stick with it, and a graphic designer having a little too much fun playing around in Photoshop...yeah, it's pretty much a mess. This cover is definitely in the OH TIZZ HONEY NO category.
...On the other hand, the "guilty pleasure" thing is a reference to herself. Maybe there's some self-awareness after all.
Picture from MissTisdale.Net.
*Contrary to what this blog might imply, I do in fact hate High School Musical! Except when I don't. If HSM and I were in a relationship, my Facebook status would be "It's complicated."
**Becky and I have already plotted out two of these. WE ARE THAT INVESTED IN THIS BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL IDEA.