The Singer and Songwriter Madison Beer Has More Potential

Madison Beer is a talented artist, but she is missing key elements necessary for mainstream success.


Justin Higuchi, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Madison Beer performed at The Wiltern theatre in Los Angeles, California, on November 28th, 2021

Madison Beer has all the makings of a pop star. She is talented, beautiful, and has what appears to be a strong connection with her fans. So why has she not reached true mainstream success? A number of issues could be at play, but there are potential solutions for each that Beer could pursue to overcome stagnation. 

A recurring problem with Beer is her musical material. Her song lyrics are very pretty, but they lack depth and relatability. ‘Reckless,’ one of her most popular songs, exemplifies this well. It conceptually tackles cheating within a romantic relationship, a topic that has potential for engaging listeners. But shallow and generic lyrics such as “Said you’d never hurt me, but here we are / Oh, you swore on every star / How could you be so reckless with my heart?” result in the themes within the song falling flat and feeling dull. 

This becomes especially apparent when comparing ‘Reckless’ to mainstream songs that grapple with similar topics. ‘Good 4 U’ by Olivia Rodrigo is a song about relationship troubles, just like ‘Reckless.’ But unlike ‘Reckless,’ lines like “Well, good for you, I guess you moved on really easily / You found a new girl, and it only took a couple weeks / Remember when you said that you wanted to give me the world?” in ‘Good 4 U’ are splashy and imbued with sarcasm. Rodrigo leans into her ability to write as, sing as, and perform as the “crazy ex-girlfriend,” which makes her content interesting, fun, and relatable. Beer is not willing to unmask in that type of way, to the detriment of her music. 

Jennifer Lee ’22 commented on the matter, stating, “I think Madison Beer hasn’t really risen to fame in comparison to other artists despite her songs having all the aspects of a normal ‘hit’ song because of the fact that she doesn’t really have something that stands out. Her music isn’t very distinct, and it makes her just another artist with generic songs.”

The music videos that Beer pairs with her songs encapsulate this challenge visually. Although the imagery in them is stunning, it is not intense or exciting in any way. In the “Reckless” music video, for example, Beer is mostly sashaying around in frilly dresses against elegant backdrops of clouds and gardens. Nothing about the video makes her experience seem like it extends beyond a surface-level understanding of heartbreak. This also contributes to a larger problem with her public persona — she looks perfect, consistently. The lack of vulnerability in her public image prevents her from forming connections with her listeners. 

Ultimately it is the obsession that Beer has with manufactured perfection that inhibits her ability to create raw content. Scaling back her perfectionism and reorienting her music towards topics where she can more comfortably show weakness would greatly help Beer overcome this hurdle. She recently accomplished this fairly well in ‘Dear Society,‘ a song about social pressures and standards rather than relationships, the subject matter she sings about most with mixed outcomes. 

The way that Beer presents themes within her songs are not their only issue, however. Her music, and specifically her lyrics, are consistently boring and unmemorable. Given that Beer writes most of her own songs, it may be advantageous to shift the responsibility of songwriting to others or really focus on honing this craft in the short-term. She is only twenty-two years old, so she has much room for growth as a distinct writer and artist in the long-term. 

Beer also suffers from obstacles related to her branding, or really the lack thereof. She does not have a strong niche, which only exacerbates the already lackluster quality of her music. This is made worse by her strong aesthetic resemblance to Ariana Grande, which detractors have called “copycat” behavior and evidence of her faltering public image. 

The affinity that Beer has for posting on social media and befriending Internet celebrities further muddies her ability to build a strong brand, because she is viewed more as an influencer than an artist. The time that she spends cultivating an online presence reduces the time she can devote to developing as a singer. This hurts the quality of her songs, the way that the public perceives her artistically, and the proportion of her fanbase actually interested in listening to and supporting her music.  

Bonnie Huang ’22 felt this was a significant impediment for Beer. “I consider Madison Beer to be more of a social influencer than an actual musician,” she said. “While she does release music, there is very little talk about it. I can barely remember one song that she has released. On the other hand, her influence in the beauty and fashion industry may be much bigger. Oftentimes, the products she uses or endorses will sell out or gain a lot of noise after she shares them with her followers. For example, after the release of her Vogue video, the Charlotte Tilbury products she was using in it went viral on social media and sold out several times… She’s probably helped sell more beauty products than her actual music.” 

Beer is a young artist, so expecting her to have already fully individuated herself and her career  is unrealistic and uncharitable. However, the strategies that she employs in an attempt to reach that actualization are ineffective. Decreasing the role of social media in her career and concentrating on developing a unique and authentic identity for herself would drastically improve her artistry and the respect the public has for Beer and her work. 

Another issue for Beer are the attacks on her character and morals that she has faced. Tasnia Hakim ’22 said, “Madison Beer is somewhat controversial, whether it’s her opinions on matters, her actions, or what she consumes.” Hakim specifically referenced an incident in which Beer admitted to “romanticizing” Lolita [a controversial novel] on Instagram Live, and another where she allegedly staged an Instagram post showing her participation at a Black Lives Matter protest. Her rumored rude personality and narcissistic attitude have also been criticized. 

Beer has often denied accusations against her or called them unfair, which is true in some cases. One was the claim that her appearance promoted eating disorders in fans, an unjust assertion in that Beer cannot be held responsible for how others feel about her physical appearance. But in other cases, she is directly to blame for her actions and the consequences of that behavior.  

Social media is again a central difficulty for Beer, since a large portion of her scandals took place on or were otherwise shaped by social media. Moving forward, it would be helpful for Beer to reflect on her words and actions before publicizing them online, and take accountability for legitimate wrongdoings. 

Madison Beer is a talented singer. Although she is currently struggling in some respects, modifying a few aspects of her career could dramatically improve it, helping her reach the success for which she is definitely capable.

Madison Beer has all the makings of a pop star. She is talented, beautiful, and has what appears to be a strong connection with her fans. So why has she not reached true mainstream success?