Fame Purgatory and an Ode to Bargain Basement Rihanna: Rita Ora

Throughout the history of popular culture, and life, there are always two versions of almost everything: name and store brand. Rita Ora lives in the same realm of Up & Up, Amazon Basics, Target’s Room Essentials, Kroger-brand cheese and “adhesive bandages”. All do the job just fine but they are no where as good as the real thing. But there is a beauty to Rita Ora because in a way, she is the best at second best. Her entire career can be summed up in that you might know her name, you kind of know her face, but do you know her music? She’s always on American TV hosting something, but what does she do every day? US X Factor and MTV tell me she can sing, but I’ve never seen her do it on American Televsion.

Rita Ora’s music career begins in 2012 when she burst on to the UK and US Pop Scene with the single “R.I.P” and ever since then fuck if I know.

But she was featured on a song from Avicii’s new EP that is actually great, and she’s got a banger from 2014 called “I Will Never Let You Down” which, according to Wikipedia Hit Number 1 on the UK Singles Chart and has been a feature on my pregame list for a while now. It’s got a great bridge and a beat that’s perfect for doing Jell-O shots. Take a listen here and decide if it’s blackout worthy.

But ever since “R.I.P” Ora has failed to make an impact in the US with her music, and having only 1 full-length album to your name doesn’t help. But the exposure she has gotten since 2012 has led her exist in this weird realm of the middle. Fame Purgatory if you will. Not quite forgotten, but not really remembered. And like Rihanna, she has gained a lot of fame from other ventures like acting and hosting. But unlike Rihanna, who’s first and continued label has been that of musician, Ora has been subjugated to reality competition host and worming her way in to bad films. In the Fifty Shades of Grey films she plays Jamie Dornan’s sister and over two films has a total of probably 10 lines. In the first film she’s wearing a wig that was taken off the head of an American Girl doll and in the second she’s wearing a mask so you can’t even see her face. Bitch got her own title card in the credits and whoever finagled that deserves all the money those movies didn’t spend on competent screenwriters.

I honestly kind of feel bad for her.

And while her illustrious film career is Oscar worthy, her reality hosting gigs are where the real money is. She has served as a X Factor guest judge, America’s Next Top Model host, and a coach on the UK version of The Voice. But the culmination of her hosting gigs was this past summer’s bullshit reality competition Boy Band where America voted to create a boy band.

Spoiler Alert: They all ended up being white. Shocker.

Rita Ora is not the only one of her kind though. There is a plethora of other B-List celebrities who consistently work in the industry but never reach that higher level because there is a better version of them out there. In fact, there is a whole podcast dedicated to celebrities that have moderate success but your aunt in Bumfuck Kansas doesn’t know their name. Titled “Who? Weekly”, they discuss celebrities in the same camp as Ora. People like JoJo Siwa, Noah Cyrus, Naya Rivera, Armie Hammer, Tyler Oakley, Hailey Baldwin, and poor man’s Bieber Cody Simpson.

These are the people on the mainstream pop culture fringe. The periphery of being household names. They live in the AA and AAA brackets of success in the entertainment industry, working their way to be the next Denzel Washington, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, or Tom Cruise. But it’s not to say they are unimportant. They are in their own way. Who else will be there to take on action movies that the Hemsworth brothers turned down? Jai Courtney will be. Who will perform at the Mall of America in the dead of winter when we need them most? Jackie Evancho will stop by after her 3rd alt-right (Reich?) rally gig of the day.

And when someone needs and ethnically ambiguous woman who can sing, who’s booking fee isn’t too much and her rider won’t have ridiculous requests on it, who will be there?

Rita Ora will.