Bad fauxmance: when celebrity couples become PR stunts | Music

Far be it for us to stand in the way of young love, but there is something about the romance between new-gen pop stars Shawn Mendes (got big on Vine, does modelling on the side) and Camila Cabello (used to be in a girl group, Havana ooh nah-nah) that has made fans question its legitimacy. Not because they doubt the chance that these two thoroughly attractive people could find happiness in each other’s toned arms, but because the long-term collaborators – they released their first joint single I Know What You Did Last Summer back in 2015 – decided to do couple-y things in public at roughly the same time they released another collab, the UK and US No 1 single Señorita.

It all whiffs a touch of last year’s pop hook-up between Noah “sister of Miley” Cyrus and SoundCloud rapper Lil Xan, which Xan now insists was set up by their record label Columbia to promote their uninspiring joint single Live Or Die (although Cyrus has since denied this). If all of Shawn and Camila’s gyrating while performing at last week’s MTV VMAs is just to make people fall even harder for them, then props to them. Rumoured PR-d relationships have forever been a mainstay of Top 40 supremacy.

These relationships are never usually spun out for longer than a couple of months, tops. For example, Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston’s romance was immediately raised as suspicious, with the leggy blonds’ brief 2016 coupling called out as a “fauxmance”, “helped” by Hiddleston’s I <3 TS shirt and some extremely staged pics of them snogging on a big rock. Rumours also persist that Tay’s hook-up with a young Harry Styles was set up as planned fodder for her hugely successful break-up album 1989. Who can say?

The 17-year age gap wasn’t the most suspicious thing about Drake and Jennifer Lopez’s short-lived pairing; it was the overly snuggly Instagram posts and all the chat about the song they were working on together. The song, granted, never materialised, but I am quite happy to live in a world in which such a thing doesn’t and never will exist.

The biggest of all the reputed PR-stunt relationships in music, though, surely must be Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley’s. The coming together of the Elvis clan and Jackson family back in 1994 was huge news. Handy that, considering Jacko’s sales had started to slide and Presley was attempting to start her own music career. Jackson’s former maid has also recently questioned the authenticity of the pair’s marriage, saying it was arranged as a distraction from unsavoury allegations made by minors. Grim. And another reason to not get too fussed over the comparatively harmless union of Shawn and Camila who may (or may not!?) only be doing it for the streams.

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