Scott Kara: Rita Ora's case of the promo blues

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It wasn't really a sneer that British pop star Rita Ora shot me as I wandered into a plush hotel suite in Auckland where she was holed up doing interviews. But it was a look that had a hint of, "I wonder what original questions this guy's going to ask me?"

Don't get me wrong, I liked her, and despite an initial bit of attitude, where she was getting lippy about the gangsta rap significance of two teardrop jewels stuck decoratively on her cheeks ("I've killed two people. The two journalists that were in here before you"), we had a great chat about everything from why the Brits are more musically adventurous than her American counterparts, to how she's changed since becoming famous.

Anyway, you can hardly blame the 22-year-old up-and-coming pop star, who was in New Zealand last week for a show, for being bored silly. She had been plonked on the couch all afternoon as local media were trotted in and out to talk to her. In between interviews she was preened and pampered by makeup artists to make her look constantly pretty. Actually, she's more beautiful than pretty with her strong Eastern European features (she was born in Kosovo and raised in London) making her striking.

Now then, I've always been of the belief that being a pop star is a job - and a bloody great one too if you can control the amount of booze and other stuff you guzzle. But behind all that glitz, glamour and rubbing shoulders with Jay-Z and Beyonce sort of stuff (which Ora does), it's a tough life, with plenty of late nights followed by the drudgery of early morning radio interviews for example.

The thing that struck me about Ora was the fact she wasn't very well. She was lucky to be performing here at all after cancelling a number of performances in Australia the previous week because of a throat infection.

During TimeOut's brief meeting with her she was careful not to talk too loud before and after the interview, but once I told her "Rita, you're on", her faced snapped into a smile and she was chatty for our camera.

She seemed a little daunted by her itinerary which included a festival in Kuala Lumpur, a week of "promo" (meaning lots and lots of talking) in Japan, then to South America. Oh, the life of a pop star. I just told her to keep up the lemon and honey drinks.

I'm not saying Ora's time is up already, just that it's easy for pop stars to burn out. So, and I never thought I'd say this, let's have a little sympathy for the pop star shall we?

That white boy R&B pop prodigy Justin Timberlake looks as though he's found ways to deal with any chance of burn out - like going off for seven years and becoming an almost movie star, and a music and dotcom magnate.

You have to wonder if the fleet-footed one wasn't just a little bit worried about his comeback album The 20/20 Experience. But hey, after pep talks from people like his missus Jessica and Jay-Z (yes, him again), he was always going to deliver the goods and launch himself into another chart-topping pop campaign.

Still, maybe there's nothing wrong with burning out. Because to quote Neil Young, one of music's true survivors who plays with Crazy Horse tonight at Vector Arena, it's better to burn out than to fade away. Though he was thinking more about going out with a bang (and possibly a glass of whiskey in your hand) than being curled up on a couch with a lemon and honey drink.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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