Can we turn the actress into the popstar?: Sia Furler attempts

Mitchell Famulare, Arts Editor

With the new sensation of music film, whether it be the wildly successful “A Star is Born” or the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” literal and figurative definitions of the modern pop star become questioned.

While the two films have been blockbuster hits, nominated for an immense number of critical accolades, Brady Corbet’s experimental film “Vox Lux,” starring Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, and its soundtrack have fell under the radar. With a soundtrack written and produced by popstar Sia, listeners hear the fusion of vocals of Portman and Sia, raising these questions of who can be a popstar and why.

“Vox Lux” tells the story of Celeste, a thirteen-year-old musical prodigy that becomes an overnight popstar. By singing a tribute at a memorial for a mass shooting that occurred at her school in Staten Island, this didactic narrative exposes the public need for celebrity, the idea that the victim becomes a celebrity in the eyes of the media. Natalie Portman plays an older Celeste overcome with anxiety due to the alienation of fame. While the film can certainly be dissected for underlying motifs, it is the crafting of the soundtrack that raises these questions of the popstar.

Natalie Portman, from child star to her Academy Award winning performance in Black Swan, has never hinted at a career in music. Despite her parody rap performances on Saturday Night Live, Portman was simply the sultry actress that we know her as today. However, when the “Vox Lux” soundtrack dropped this past December, fans and movie-goers alike really had no idea what to think when Portman’s vocals appeared on several tracks. Highly produced with electronic synths and house beats, Portman’s vocals are weak. But for how weak they are, the album is bearable to listen to through the sound engineering that morphs Sia’s backing vocals with Portman’s monotone range.

Sia, known for her powerhouse vocals and her countless writing credits, crafts genius pop songs on the soundtrack including the infectious “EKG” with its heart-beat like house bass and “Private Girl.” While the tracks emulate the new sound of Sia, the placement of Portman’s voice is interesting. She is not nearly as talented vocally as Sia, however her Spotify listens keep escalating with new exposure to the art film. However, why is it that the public would rather listen to heavy electronic music with mediocre vocals than music produced by specified professionals.

Does the general public just adore the thought of the actress made popstar or vice versa? Is the thought of a triple-threat, an artist who can act, sing and dance, a myth? “Vox Lux” attempts to challenge that narrative.

Though the soundtrack attempts that challenge, it seemingly just grants the listener a few tracks to be played as you head out on a weekend night.