Who IS Taylor Momsen?
A lot more of the general public is becoming familiar with Taylor Momsen these days. But still, not everyone knows who she is. So... who is she? She was an actress (who was in the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas & the CW show Gossip Girl), model, and is the lead singer for the band The Pretty Reckless. Scroll down to find out what you don't know about Taylor Momsen...
Taylor's career began when she started appearing in commercials at the age of 3. At age 5 (or maybe 6) she was cast as Cindy Lou Who in the live action movie version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which also starred Jim Carrey. She's also appeared in movies such as We Were Soldiers, Hansel & Gretel, Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, Underdog and Spy School. Taylor was also signed to the IMG modeling agency at age 14, and has modeled for various companies.
Taylor also audtioned for the Disney's Channel's Hannah Montana, but lost the part to Miley Cyrus. Taylor has been quoted a few times saying that looking back, she's glad she didn't get the part, as she felt she would have been under far more restriction and looked at even more critically than she is now.
Taylor On Gossip Girl
In 2007, Taylor was cast as Jenny Humphrey on the CW television series Gossip Girl, which is based on the Gossip Girl book series by Cecily von Ziegesar. I didn't watch the show, so I don't much about her character besides what people have said- that she was a good girl gone bad. Jenny is often noted as the character who changed the most throughout the entire Gossip Girl series.
Momsen left Gossip Girl after four seasons, and was barely present for a good part of the fourth season after her character was shipped out of NYC in the season 3 finale. Although she wasn't a season regular anymore, she was invited back for guest appearances and did appear in the Gossip Girl series finale in December 2012. Momsen commented on her Gossip Girl departure, saying that acting wasn't entirely her choice and is/was more of a job, while making music was her own choice. She also said that though she's appreciated her acting opportunities, it's music that she truly enjoys. So far, she's taken more time to focus on promoting & making music, as well as continue to tour extensively with her relatively new band, The Pretty Reckless.
The Pretty Reckless
Taylor is now the lead singer for the band The Pretty Reckless, which also consists of drummer Jamie Perkins, bassist Mark Damon, and guitarist Ben Phillips (who also does backing vocals on their CDs, as well as in live performances). In several interviews, Taylor and her bandmates have said they found each other through producer Kato Khandwala, after Taylor met with him to discuss ideas and a plan of action for her music. She's said that she was happy to have found Khandwala, as she found there were a lot of pop producers, but not very many of the rock producers that she really wanted to work with. Khandwala introduced Taylor to guitarist Phillips, who was in a band with Perkins and Damon at the time. It took them a year and a half to write and complete the album because of Taylor's busy schedule (particularly with Gossip Girl).
The band's self-titled EP was released in June 2010. Their debut album, Light Me Up, was released August 31st, 2010. Songs inlcude the singles "Make Me Wanna Die", "Miss Nothing", "Just Tonight", "You" and "My Medicine". Taylor said this about the new album (pulled from this MTV.com article [http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1638389/20100504/momsen_taylor.jhtml]):
"It's a record about life. It focuses on all the negatives - and the positives - of life, but it's not 'Go to a club and dance.' It's not an escape record," she said. "It's absolutely a record to confront your problems and get over them. ... It's death, love, rock and roll, sex, drugs and religion; it covers all bases of life. It's not a concept record, unless you consider life a concept."
Taylor is aware of the skeptics and cynics when it comes to her image, her singing and her band's music, because when she was interviewed for Sentimentalist Magazine, she said this:
"I'm sure there's people out there who don't like my stripper shoes, and some don't like that I'm an actress, and now I'm in a music band, so, we're gonna let the music speak for itself. But if you hear the music and don't like what you hear, then it's all cool. But don't judge the music before you listen to it - that's a pre-conceived notion. I mean, feel free to hate it, and hate me, or whatever. Just don't hate it before you've heard it."
Contrary to what it says on Wikipedia, the band's first tour was actually when they opened up for The Veronicas on the "Revenge Is Sweeter" tour in 2009, but with a different lineup. The band-- in it's current line up-- then went on tour again, playing on the 2010 Vans Warped Tour. They went on the Light Me Up Tour from 2010-2012, touring North America, Europe and Australia. They then went on The Strange Medicine Tour, which began in March 2012. That same month, the band also released the 5-song Hit Me Like A Man EP, which features three completely new songs (including the title track "Hit Me Like A Man") and live versions of two songs off of their Light Me Up album ("Make Me Wanna Die" and "Since You're Gone"). In October 2012, Taylor appeared solo --and without any clothing-- in the shorten spoken word video for another song from their album, "Under the Water".
They released songs in later 2013 and early 2014 that would be on their second album. A lyric video was released online for "Follow Me Down", and then released the song "Burn". However, "Going to Hell", released in September 2013, was the first single and the title track from their album Going to Hell. Heaven Knows" was their second single. released in November 2013. The full album was dropped in March 2014, followed by the singles "Messed Up World (F'd Up World)" (released in April 2014), "House on a Hill" (released in September 2014), and "Follow Me Down" (officially released in November 2014). The band are set to tour with Nickelback in 2015.
Musical Inspirations & Comparisons
When it comes to musical comparisons, Taylor is often compared to Courtney Love. Her looks, her sound & even comments she's made in interviews are very strikingly similar to Love's. When asked if she was tired of the comparison, Taylor has said (in this interview [http://www.interviewmagazine.com/blogs/music/2010-...]):
"No, because she's awesome. She just isn't one of my idols or direct influences, despite what people think. The public decided that for themselves, but I'm not going to complain, because she is great."
When asked who her other inspirations are, Taylor said (in the same interview):
"One of my first favorite records was the debut Garbage album, which I heard when I was very young. Shirley Manson is a great female vocalist and performer and I admire her for that.
"But yeah, I do emulate men more - I grew up on Oasis, Soundgarden, AC/DC, The Beatles. I am trying to do my own thing, but there will always be comparisons, even if I don't agree with them."
In another interview (with MTV.com [http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1611811/20090520/...]), Taylor did mention some legendary female rock stars, whom she also admires:
"There's a couple [of women I look up to]. I have so many female idols... Debbie Harry I think is brilliant and Joan Jett and Cherie Currie did their thing. And I think Courtney Love worked it out in her time. But Debbie Harry by far is just brilliant."
Expect to hear Taylor & The Pretty Reckless continue to be compared to these acts, and lots more in their potentially long career to come.
Taylor Momsen Video Playlist
Watch all of the following videos (as well as the ones with The Pretty Reckless) to see the evolution of Taylor Momsen, from her audition for Gossip Girl, to her tour with her band.
The Pretty Reckless - Performance & Interview Videos Playlist (In the Works)
I'm not featuring the music videos here because some of the songs have suggestive imagery & lyrics that the HubPages staff might frown upon. So you'll have to go the Pretty Reckless VEVO YouTube Page for their music videos and find all their songs from Light Me Up on YouTube on your own. (If you copy & paste the following into your browser, it will bring you directly to the videos page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaq8VdD-YCXzTIrznMgwK6A/videos?feature=hovercard)
I'm currently trying to find some suitable interviews. They're a rock band, so they're language isn't always going to be PG. But also, most of the interviews concerning the band often seem to be with Taylor only, and I would prefer to include interviews with the entire band (because although there's a lot of focus on Taylor, there would be no band without the guitarist, bassist & drummer). There's also been commentary that they often seem disinterested in the interviewer or questions being asked, which makes for awkward interviews. So this makes finding good interviews a lot more difficult. But when I find some (along with some suitable live performances), I will add them to a playlist and post a link to that playlist here.
Links for Taylor Momsen & The Pretty Reckless
NOTE: In some cases, I will not link directly to certain webpages due to the content they contain. HubPages does review the content of all webpages that are linked to, and they can flag a webpage because of it. In the instances when I can't give a direct link, I will give the html version of the URL so that you can copy & paste it into your browser and still view the webpage.
Official Taylor Momsen Links / Webpages
- Taylor Momsen's Twitter- @Taylormomsen
Taylor Momsen Links / Webpages Made By Fans
- Taylor Momsen Network
- Taylor Momsen Source (http://taylormomsenblog.blogspot.com, blog; you can listen to clips of live versions of ALL the songs from the Light Me Up album here; songs are listed on righthand side of the blog, just scroll down until you see them)
- Pictures of Taylor Momsen with The Pretty Reckless at The Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee, WI - Oct. 21, 2011 (the photos are only of Taylor though, which is why this link isn't included with the other The Pretty Reckless links below)
Other Taylor Momsen Links / Webpages
- Taylor Momsen on TV.com (there's an unusual amount of details about her here, though some might be outdated by now)
- Taylor Momsen on TVGuide.com
- Taylor Momsen on People.com
- Taylor Momsen on Flixster
Links / Webpages for The Pretty Reckless
- The Pretty Reckless' Official Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/theprettyreckless)
- The Pretty Reckless' Artist Page on MTV.com (http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/pretty_reckless/artist.jhtml)
- The Pretty Reckless on Buzznet (http://theprettyreckless.buzznet.com/)
- The-Pretty-Reckless.net (http://the-pretty-reckless.net/) -- a fansite
- FYPrettyReckless.Tumblr.com (fan blog on Tumblr; can't even put the full web address because of what the "F" stands for, but you can copy & paste that into your browser [or the Google search box] & view the blog; Note that it hasn't been updated since 2011 though)
- @fypreckless (http://twitter.com/fypreckless -- fan Twitter page for last blog listed above; also hasn't been updated since 2011)
Buy Music from The Pretty Reckless on Amazon
You can also visit Amazon's official Pretty Reckless page here.
Quick, what do you think of Taylor Momsen?
And what do you think of The Pretty Reckless?
My Thoughts On Taylor... - NOTE: My thoughts/opinion on Taylor are subject to change, meaning so is this section...
So, I actually met Taylor once. It was when her band, The Pretty Reckless, opened up for the pop-rock-Australian-twin duo The Veronicas on their "Revenge Is Sweeter" Tour in 2009. They played in my city, and I was supposed to write a review about the show for my college newspaper. (A review that never got published because they thought it was too long. It wasn't, but anyway...)
I did no research whatsoever before the show, so the only band I knew about were the headliners- The Veronicas. The Pretty Reckless was the second band & opening act on stage. I never would have guessed that Taylor was nearly 10 years younger than me, because she worked that stage like someone in their mid-twenties would. And her singing voice is quite mature. When you see that and realize she didn't turn 18 years old until 2011 (and she's been with The Pretty Reckless for nearly 5 years now), it throws you. Very impressive, and she has a great band backing her vocals, too.
Anyway, after the concert, as always, there is a rush of people using the restroom before they leave. I went, and when I came out of the stall Taylor was standing there waiting to use the restroom. I think she may have said something first- something about what I was wearing. I said thanks, and in turn, said to her, "Your band was great, by the way. I was really impressed with you guys tonight." She said thanks and that she appreciated it. And then we both said something about how the bathroom needs some dang towels and soap because they had run out (and you know how bathrooms are a mess after concerts).
I left the bathroom, but she came out a bit later, and because I didn't watch Gossip Girl (and never will now that it's over) and I didn't know anything about the opening bands, I actually had to ask her what her name was. Yeah, kinda funny. Obviously, I did figure out who she was when I went to research the band later on for my article review, and it surprised me a bit. More her age rather than that she was famous, but that too. The main point is that she was actually very nice (to me anyway) despite people thinking she's often the opposite, and I thought she and the band were very talented.
Having said all that, even in the short time since I briefly met her, she seems to have changed quite a bit. It could have just been her going through her rebellious stage that most teens go through, or it could be something more. Her outfits have gotten more risque, she cusses a lot in her interviews (especially for those rock magazines), reportedly dissed some fans (that info came from a Momsen/Pretty Reckless fan themselves), and she's even flashed her chest several times while onstage (while always wearing pasties or strategically-placed tape, but still). There's definitely something going on there. You can call it expression, rebellion, or say that something, some event(s) in her past are making her act out this way. I actually think all of the above are the case, and definitely the latter, thanks to something she said in an interview. When asked (in a Spin Magazine interview [which I can't link to because Squidoo won't allow it, sorry]) about some of the suggestive lyrics she wrote/co-wrote on The Pretty Reckless' debut album, Taylor's comment was this:
"I'm not really sure how to answer properly yet... I've had a lot of bad experiences, and whether that's from sex or drugs or something else, they are adult experiences that would f*** anyone up."
Considering that she doesn't talk a lot about her personal experiences outside of her career, and says next to nothing about her family (aside from blaming them for her being "upset" and "miserable" about some things, which she then reneged and apologized for), I'm surprised she even said this much. I don't know her personally, so I don't know fully what she's been through. Therefore, I'm not going to cast any judgement. But I do hope that she's able to deal whatever it is with it in a healthy manner, because she definitely has the talent to be around for awhile.