Although it could be (rightly) argued that the collective GloNo gang has way too much time on its hands—how else to explain this?—we are but pikers compared with the countless others who spend their time dealing with music-related things specifically and pop culture more generally. At least that’s a conclusion from looking at the Lycos 50 for 2004, the listing of the top 10 search terms for the period ranging from January 1 to November 30 (which means that all of your searches for, oh, Quasar Wut Wut on the Korean-owned search engine right now will count toward the ’05 listing).
Lindsay Lohan fills cups like double D’s. She’s the new Ann-Margaret, a flashing-eyed temptress, with the kind of self-awareness to make the housepets sweat. She’s got timing as an actress, as Freaky Friday and Mean Girls attest. But damn it if her transformation from one-to-ten tweener starlet into certified twenty freak machine is askew from discernable talent and parallel to purity. None of this bodes well for Hilary Duff. For a time quite infamously neck and neck with Lohan – cue kooky “E! News Live” fodder of stage mothers egging opposing cars and hating on their girls’ chinchillas – Duff lately has become the white toast foot patrol to her peer’s fiery salsa Rolls. If Lindsay’s the new Ann-Margaret, Hilary’s this year’s Melissa Joan Hart. It’s the sad ducket truth, even amidst the fog of FCC violations and goody-two-shoesness: We want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed.
There was a rather funny-but-trivial item on the Ananova.com site. Apparently, while shopping in Chicago, Britney Spears was told by a presumed admirer who didn’t know who she was (presumably he was admiring her, not admiring the brand “Britney Spears”) that she resembled a famous star. No, not the famous star “Britney Spears.” Rather, the famous star “Jessica Simpson.” The bona fide Britney was reportedly not happy with the observation. Which is all the more puzzling, in that Ms. Simpson graces the cover of the April issue of Allure magazine, on which she is described as “Temptress in a D-Cup.” Given the costumes that Britney is wearing on her current tour, she probably wishes that she could be described that way. (This leads to a slight diversion in the post-Janet wardrobe malfunction: Have you noticed the photo of Madonna that is used in the ad for her “Invention” tour? There she is, down on all fours, fitted with a wig that seems to have been borrowed from Amadeus, with her bodice down and her décolletage in full view: Perhaps gravity has trumped perkiness and she wants to show that she’s still got it. . .lest people turn away and buy tickets to whatever Jessica is showing.)
Quick: What do Madonna, Ozzy, Alice Cooper, Pantera, The Who (original lineup), Rob Zombie, AC/DC, Kiss, and Britney Spears have in common?
Chances are, the answer that you’ll reach, undoubtedly fanciful, will not be right. If it is right, then it may seem odd that you’re reading this website.
A friend of mine, knowing my interest in both music and academia, forwarded an announcement of a Midwestern conference titled “Chicks Rock: Women in the Face of Rock and Roll.” My first thought was: oh boy, how obsolete can you get? Is there anything left to say about women’s strong and exciting contributions to rock? I’d say they’ve made their place, they’re in the rock world and there’s nothing remarkable about that anymore. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or an academic) to see that Patti Smith is as powerful and compelling a rock figure as any male you could name. Or that Madonna and Bjork cut their swathes in the pop world with as much talent and charisma as Elvis P. or Michael Jackson. Now, the Donnas are a fun (if retro) punk/pop band and Sleater-Kinney is one of the best contemporary rock bands in the world. Is there a difference in what these rock musicians/bands do and what male rock bands/musicians do?
While shopping at a local Meijer’s, I encountered a Pepsi display that was centered on not the beverage in its multitudinous variants, but a potentially life-sized cardboard cutout of Britney Spears. (“Potentially” because I’m not certain whether the image was enhanced in any way, although Ms. Spears has suggested that she’s not been so exaggerated in a different context.)
The last time I saw such a womanly display it was also for shilling a beverage: Elvira, the woman who’d make Morticia Addams twirl in her grave. Elvira, who has visibly encouraged her physiology, was pushing beer in her cutout. Which makes more sense. To risk offending some readers by using an accurate but indelicate observation, let me simply state that boobs and beer tend to go together (at least in the minds of many men, especially those who have had far more of the latter and less opportunity to encounter the former). While there have been heavy-handed (or torsoed) attempts to underscore this—like the so-called Swedish Bikini Team or even the bosomy St. Pauli Girl—even the more seemingly “down-with-it” TV spots, such as those currently running for Coors Light (“Because We Can”), tend to be populated with women who are exceedingly more attractive than their male counterparts in the scenarios. The overdetermined statement is: “Drink beer, get babes.” As a line in a country song has it, “the more I drink, the better they look.” That is a male line, of course. I think that women are too perceptive to fall for such patently absurd approaches.
But what is the point of the Britney cutout? What does a—yes—pop singer have to do with pushing cola? Is it that she is representative of the “Pepsi Generation” and consequently, if you want to Be Like Brit you’ll pop the top of a Pepsi Twist? Or are young guys supposed to see her as one step closer to the beauties in the beer commercials?
Why do we think that people who have a skill or talent or shape that makes them popular or ept or appealing in one area have viability in others?
I’d answer that, but damn, I’m thirsty. Hmm, what was it that Kerouac used to drink. . . ?
“‘If Clive’s selling, you don’t want to be buying,’ said longtime music mogul David Geffen. “I can’t think of a more opportune moment for him to do it. His big acts are all in decline.”
“‘It’s a great time to get out,” said music veteran Irving Azoff, who co-manages the Backstreet Boys.”
That’s from an above-the-fold, front-page story in the June 12, 2002, The Wall Street Journal, a story about how Clive Calder, “the reclusive majority of Zomba Music Group,” is planning to have Bertelsmann AG buy Zomba, a company that has on its roster the aforementioned Backstreet Boys, as well as the troubled R. Kelly, the fortunately absent Michael Bolton, the band now known more for a member wanting to go in space than its music, ‘N Sync, and the woman who is photographed tugging down the top of her trou, Britney Spears. The Journal has only been running photos for a number of weeks now; ol’ Brit looks positively Tiger Beat in the shot.
Back in the ’60s there was a category of music that was known as “Bubble Gum.” Part of it was associated with asinine lyrics like “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy,” which not even a fast-food franchise has deigned to pull out of the stacks. The other part was that it was well known that like a piece of chewing gum, the flavor doesn’t last. To borrow a notion from James Gleick’s Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything, the pop chews of today are firmly affixed to the bottoms of seats not long after their wrappers have been removed. A bottle of screw-top merlot has better legs than some of these performers.
As we consider the list of the acts that Bertelsmann is going to be, apparently, forced to pick up (there is some sort of contractual deal that exists between Zomba and Bertelsmann), all we can say is, “Güten nacht.”
I recently had the, um, opportunity to spend some time at a roller rink. One of my single-digit-aged nieces had a birthday party at one, and so there I was on a Saturday morning, listening to loud Top 40 hits and skater-invigorating favorites like the Village People’s “YMCA.” (No, I did not participate, fearing for life and limb.) As it was before noon on the day after Friday night, the people there were undoubtedly not wholly characteristic of the crowd that I’m sure zooms around under the mirror ball after dark, but there were certain clues—from the pack of smokes rolled up in a T-shirt sleeve to the skin-tight off-brand jeans on too-young mothers—that hinted at what I’m sure is a vital subculture, but not one that is normally associated with things like the covers of fashion magazines and celebrity fêtes.
Which brings me to what is described as “the artist’s signature roller skate line from SKECHERS.” There are words in that quote that aren’t usually found together, primarily “artist” and “roller skate.” The artist in question is none other than Britney Spears, who will be appearing in ads, provocatively posed—on eight wheels. The president of SKECHERS USA, Michael Greenberg, stated, “We believe that she has the charisma, popularity and global appeal to place Britney 4 Wheelers at the forefront of consumers’ minds—and on their feet.”
Maybe this really is a clever maneuver by Spears. Let’s face it: There is no better place for her talents, music and charms than at the rinks, all other celebrity pretences notwithstanding.
Next up: Dinner theater.