Reality TV is a guilty pleasure enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
Often overlooked as mind-numbing and staged, the pandemic has proven that this form of light entertainment can be a welcome break from reality, offering a strangely comforting window into the lives of people who are supposedly like us, just way more glamorous and exciting (sorry, but it’s true).
From dating shows like Love Island’ and ‘Too Hot to Handle’ to the explosive on-screen fights of the ‘Real Housewives’ franchise, reality TV is one of the few genres that has something for everyone.
Its comforting sameness, along with extreme levels of drama, places casts on a one-way track to stardom. We the nation (or even the globe), then obsess over every little detail of their lives.
Sure, these stars are often called ‘famous for being famous’, but that doesn’t stop them from using their platforms to launch all sorts of crazy professional ventures, from candy brands to number 1 hits.
The result? An incredibly mixed bag, with some stars reaching the top of the charts while others fall, well, flat. We present to you: four of the most successful reality stars turned pop stars, along with four that flopped so fantastically they deserve a feature.
Cardi is probably the last person you’d expect to see on a list about reality stars.
But yes, after reaching fame through Vine she became a regular cast member on ‘Love & Hip-hop’ in 2015, where her storyline followed her aspirations to make it in the music industry.
At least she can say that paid off!
If you haven’t heard of Cardi B, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Her debut album ‘Invasion of Privacy’ (2018) hit the top of the charts and even won the star a Grammy for ‘Best Rap Album of the Year’.
Releasing hit after hit like ‘Bodak Yellow’, ‘I Like it’ and most recently, ‘WAP,’ it’s safe to say that Cardi B has shed her reality star fame to become one of the most influential female artists in the world.
While practically every single person on the planet has heard of the Kardashian empire, second-oldest daughter Kim’s ill-fated attempt at a music career back in 2010 is (thankfully) nowhere to be seen.
Her single ‘Jam (Turn it up)’ may have donated some of its profits to charity, but even that doesn’t apologise for the vocals that sounded ‘as if they are emanating from a baby that is either very bored or very drugged’, according to Vulture Mag. Ouch.
The fact that Kim asked rapper ex-husband, Kanye West, for advice on the track just goes to show that love really is blind (or in this case, deaf).
Placing fourth in the 2018 series of ‘Love Island UK’ alongside then girlfriend Megan Barton-Hanson, Wes Nelson was right to aim high.
After stints on various other reality shows, it wasn’t until lockdown last year that he really started to work on his music career.
And boy, has it worked out for him.
Whilst Wes has always shown a talent for music – proven by his stint on ‘X Factor: Celebrity’ where he performed in a band made up of fellow Islanders – the ex-’Love Island’ star spent the first few months of the pandemic keeping quiet, writing and recording music in his bedroom.
He went on to sign with EMI Records in August 2020, releasing his first single, ‘See Nobody’, shortly after, which peaked at #3 on the UK charts. With second single, ‘Nice to Meet Ya’, charting high, along with a popular feature on Clean Bandit’s most recent single, ‘Drive,’ it’s safe to say that Wes is taking the music industry by storm.
Ah, Paris Hilton. Perhaps the most famous socialite of the 21st century, the heiress has tried her hand at singing, acting, and now her own cooking show.
In the early 2000’s, she starred in ‘Simple Life’ alongside then best friend Nicole Richie, working a whole host of ‘normal’ jobs, from farmhand to fast food worker.
But normal she is not, as her repeated attempts at a singing career go to show. Only six of her twelve singles have ever entered the top 50, and her album was released under a label she founded herself. That says more than enough about her singing abilities – which you could call abnormally bad.
She may be the highest paid female DJ in the world (yes you read that right) but her talents are clearly more at home in clubs than concert venues.
Another ‘X factor: Celebrity’ success story, Megan started out on ‘Ex on the Beach’ in 2015, but has since shot to fame as a series regular on ‘The Only Way is Essex’, a semi-scripted UK reality show.
Her real aspirations were to be a country singer though. After releasing her chart-topping debut single in 2017, she was asked to support Michael Buble at one of his packed-out London performances.
Winning ‘X factor: Celebrity’ in 2019 with 46% of the vote, Megan has gone on to land herself a record deal with Syco. Just as the pandemic hit, it was announced that she would support Lionel Richie on the UK leg of his 2021 tour. Bet she’s ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’ at the dizzying heights of her success already!
One of the only Househusbands to get any real airtime on a ‘Real Housewives’ show, Simon clearly was of the ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ mindset.
He followed fellow ‘Housewives’ stars into the spotlight with his debut single, ‘I am Real’, released back in 2011.
The song details his fight to stay who he is – although it’s difficult to figure out who was actually telling him to change in the first place. Maybe it’s a fight to keep those red leather trousers he so tastefully adorned for the cover art.
The best line has to be: ‘she’s causing me stress/Thug in a cocktail dress’. Sadly, even this poetic genius didn’t help. The song sold just 1,000 copies in the USA. Yikes.
At the ripe old age of 18 years old, we have Jojo Siwa – millionaire and a new feature on ‘Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people of 2020’ list.
Shooting to stardom after her appearance on ‘Dance Moms’, Jojo (complete with signature side ponytail and bow) has created something of an empire for herself across all social media platforms.
She used her huge success for positive change after publicising her coming out story to send a message of pride to millions of young followers.
And she’s got a lot to be proud of, releasing her first single when she was just 13 and already embarking on her first world tour. Now, she reportedly wants to play Lady Gaga in a biopic. Let’s face it, the 18-year-old is already a bit of an icon, why not add to her already heavily sequined crown?
Last but definitely not least, The Situation, AKA Michael Sorrentino from Jersey Shore.
He tried his hand at rapping back in 2010 with his self-titled single ‘The Situation’.
And well, it’s safe to say that it is a crime against the ears of everyone who listens to it.
Funnily enough, the so-called rap song is not the only crime Michael has committed. Just this weekend he celebrated the end of his probation period, two years after he was released from jail following his sentencing for tax evasion. Looks like he hasn’t been handling his own (life) situation very well at all recently.
While this list reveals some reality tv stars clearly have talent, the overwhelming number of musical flops shows just how influential social media is in the creation of overnight celebrities.
This culture opens the doors for stars to hundreds of possibilities that are inaccessible to the most talented of ‘normal’ people, so why does their fame entitle them to this?
Perhaps the creation of celebrity culture in modern-day society has gone just a little too far, by making the talentless believe they truly can do anything they set their mind to.