Make no mistake about it: Joy Villa, the relatively unknown singer who showed up at the 59th Grammy Awards in a dress screaming her support for President Trump, knew exactly what she was doing when she dramatically revealed her gaudy, pro-Trump number from under an unassuming white cloak. The musician, who was not nominated for any awards this year, has an (albeit brief) history of wearing eye-grabbing fashions, though she often favors nudity over politics to draw attention.
The singer, who had little to lose with this obvious publicity stunt due to a lack of notoriety, indubitably used her loud, right-wing dress as a questionable sales tactic. And the stunt actually worked. According to initial sales reports from Nielsen music, the artist’s 2014 album, I Make the Static, sold about 15,000 copies in the U.S. after her dress (which, it should be noted, was not only terribly constructed, but also obnoxiously emblazoned with “Make America Great Again” on the front and “T.R.U.M.P” on the back as if she snatched it from the rafters of a Trump rally) confidently strolled—and trolled—the red carpet.
Prior to the awards, sales records show that the album, released in 2014, was irrefutably unsuccessful. But according to Billboard, due to the dress’s impact on audiences, the album has a chance to penetrate the top 40 of next week’s Billboard 200 albums chart, which would mark Villa’s first Billboard chart entry ever. The 25-year-old, who according to her website moonlights as an author, model, “amazing performer” and vegan health coach, also netted more than 11,000 Twitter followers within an hour of debuting her red, white and blue frock, and has since amassed more than 60,000.
Reviews of the album on iTunes suggests that the album is generating sales largely from Trump supporters. Billboard cites that the page includes reviews littered with pro-Trump sentiments like, “I’m buying the album just because of the dress. Way to go girl!” and “I don’t know this artist, but it doesn’t matter. I am supporting her bravery on Grammy night for standing for what she believes, whether others agree or not.”
When compared to Lady Gaga’s political performance at the Super Bowl, one that pulled 117.5 million viewers, these results are close in terms of public impact, at least relatively speaking. Nielson Music reports that Gaga sold more than 23,000 albums on Sunday, representing a 2,000 percent increase. Conversely, when singer Kim Burrell preached homophobia in an incoherent rant on camera last month, her invitation to the Ellen show was revoked. Her appearance surely would have netted the disgraced artist some increased sales.
Of course, the majority of the Grammy’s attendees disagree with Villa’s red-carpet support of the president, as indoors, A-list celebrities like host James Corden, Jennifer Lopez, A Tribe Called Quest, Katy Perry and Busta Rhymes (who notably called Trump “President Agent Orange”) expressed their collective outrage whenever they could.
Let’s not ignore that Villa’s statement felt all the more surprising for the fact that she is both black and female. Or that the designer of the dress, Andre Soriano, is a homosexual Filipino immigrant, who is also outspoken in his support for Trump. On what inspired the dress. Soriano said, “I heard that somebody wanted to bomb the White House. And then I saw the Women’s March. I’m like, ‘Joy, We have to make a statement on what is right for our country, of what we believe in, for the Constitution.'” He added, "I’m from the Philippine islands, I am a proud American. I am a minority, Joy is black. America is about immigrants.”
Trying to piece these sentiments together for the sake of cohesion while considering Trump’s controversial policies is, without a doubt, a lost cause. There is no sense to be made here. Villa wore the dress to get noticed, to provoke outrage and to get covered by magazines and websites with a central goal to improve album sales. And she did just that. The only thing we know for sure is that Joy Villa—"author, vegan nutritionist, musician, model" and now opportunist—will surely exploit all of her 15 minutes of temporary fame before joining the ranks of the “Cash Me Outside” girl and other irrelevant memes. Enjoy it while it lasts, girl.