Willa Ford

Willa Was Here

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Perhaps it was inevitable, once Britney shot to stardom strutting in short skirts and, once she got there, she stripped to "Satisfaction" and teased Bob Dole's dog in Pepsi ads. Perhaps it was inevitable, once Christina got what a girl wants, and then danced as a French courtesan for a tie-in to Moulin Rouge. Perhaps it was inevitable once Jessica Simpson trashed her virginal image with a spread in FHM, or when Mandy Moore had videos directed by Gregory Dark, the auteur behind such extreme-porn as Sex Freaks. Perhaps it was inevitable, but nevertheless, Willa Ford is shocking, even to jaded observers of pop culture. She's presented as a panting, wanton teen tart, a girl that is desperate to be bad. On the front cover, she looks strikingly like Nomi Malone, Elizabeth Berkley's legendary loose-cannon white-trash stripper from Paul Verhoeven's classic Showgirls. On the back, she's dressed in vulgarly short short-shorts; inside, she's posed provocatively on a motorcycle, legs invitingly askew. (Plus, the month the album hit the stores, she was on the cover of the Maxim spin-off Stuff, with enough makeup to look like a raccoon.) And that's it -- that's how you know Willa was here, that's what the album is about. Maybe the lead single, "I Wanna Be Bad," has some post-Britney, Max Martin flair, and is pretty catchy, but that's the one time the entire cynical enterprise works. After that, things become startlingly crass in its commerciality, as each sub-Jessica Simpson dance-pop cut and syrupy ballad only enhance the sneaking suspicion that this is all about presenting middle-age record collector sex fantasies as modern pop (even the CD's label plays into this, looking like a 45 -- something that would make no sense to a teen audience, if that's indeed who this is for).

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