Many musicians have talents and creative energy that require outlets music just can’t provide. Some are writers, penning books of turgid prose to match their affected prosody. Some act, and can be seen on both big or small screens with a bit part here or a cameo role there. Then there are those that feel the need to express themselves through the static visual medium of paint. And what greater canvas is there than that of the living canvas, the human body?
Yes, it seems like every musician is getting inked up these days. Hell, 45 million Americans of all walks of life now have some form of permanent body art on their person. But, as any fateful walk on along the beach these days will tell you, not every tattoo is a winner. It’s hard to say that any work of art is bad, per se since taste is subjective. One man’s Rothko on his pec can be another woman’s velvet Elvis on her wrist.
In this spirit, join us as we chronicle some of the most, um, “eyebrow raising” pieces of body art on some of our favorite musical acts.
For at least another year or two, all of the U.K.’s up-and-coming sisters (and brothers) with voices will have their work cut out for them. As if it’s not already tough enough to rise above the pop pack, they’ll also have to contend with all of those inevitable Adele comparisons.
Is she (or he) the next Adele, the future of U.K.-bred pop talent hoping to achieve global domination?
Admit it: You wonder, too”every time a great new voice emerges from the British music scene. With the ruling pop diva of the last two years now between albums (perhaps she’ll be back in the autumn singing the theme for the next James Bond film, Skyfall) and expecting her first child with boyfriend Simon Konecki, the battle is on for the keys to the kingdom that the princess hasn’t even yet vacated.
If you’ve got a great voice and/or a slightly unconventional pop sound and/or look, if you’re more substance than style, to the front of the line you go. It’s the latest greatest aspiration in pop since the days when it was all about being the next Amy Winehouse, whether you sounded anything like her or not. Challenging Adele might be as scary a proposition as walking in the late Winehouse’s scuffed shoes might have been (terrifying for reasons that had everything and nothing to do with Winehouse’s talent), but at least fans are in for some great music. Recently, I heard a Rumer (the off-the-beaten-pop-path singer behind 2010’s Seasons of My Soul and this year’s Boys Don’t Cry), and my first thought was “Is this it?”
Rumer isn’t the only talented singer who’s making me listen and wonder. Here are three others:
Emeli Sandé (Current hits: My Kind of Love and Next to Me) In June, a friend sent me the video for Sandé’s recent single, Next to Me, on Facebook, with a short and sweet message: love… After watching the clip, my first impression was Sara Bareilles with a really dated look. White on black is so mid-˜90s! My second impression: How is it that everybody all over the world doesn’t already know her name (which, incidentally, is actually Adele Emeli Sandé)? (more…)
” Tom Petty, “Jammin’ Me” (1987)
“Fuck Tom Petty!””Eddie Murphy
Oh, those crazy stars! What will they say next? And will they ever learn? What a tangled web they weave when they start to take pot shots at each other.
Celebrity feuds have existed since before the dawn of the pop charts. Eminem owes much of his early notoriety to cutting down to size the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and Moby in videos and on record. Meanwhile, off the record (though always totally for attribution), Katy Perry has never met a fellow chart-topper she wouldn’t slag off.
But lately, stars keep colliding and disturbing the peace in the music galaxy. Liam Gallagher just filed suit against his brother Noel over the latter’s claim that Liam pulled out of a high-profile Oasis gig in 2009 due to a hangover and over comments Noel made blaming Liam for the demise of the band. But then brothers in arms have engaged in verbal”and occasionally, physical” combat since the heyday of the Kinks, which featured the dueling Davies, Ray and Dave. Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, William and Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Kings of Leon‘s Followill brothers have the battle scars to prove it.
If there was any lesson to be learned last season on American Idol, it’s this: There’s life after Simon Cowell. And Scotty McCreery, America’s 10th Idol, wasn’t the only beneficiary of the show’s still-beating heart. So was replacement judge Jennifer Lopez‘s stalled singing career.
Yes, folks, life went on. Despite the departure of Simon Cowell last year after season nine, American Idol continued, popularity more than in tact. The Wednesday performance night edition was still the No. 1 show on prime-time TV during the 2010-2011 season, with an increase in overall average weekly viewership since last year to 25.86 million, up from 22.97 million, which had been a considerable drop from season eight’s 25.53 million. (Should we blame Ellen DeGeneres, who joined as a judge for the ninth season only and left along with Cowell and Kara DioGuardi, or a continuation of the season-to-season erosion in viewers that had plagued the show for several years before the tenth-season upswing?) Meanwhile, the May 25 season finale attracted 29.29 million viewers, five million more than season nine’s denouement.
So what does this mean for Simon Cowell? When his US version of The X Factor, the show he created in the UK in 2004 and judged until last year, debuts September 21 on Fox (the network that airs Idol), he’ll have the playing field all to himself. The Voice, featuring the judging panel of Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, just finished its well-received run on NBC (at No. 20 for the season, with a weekly average of 11.97 million viewers), and it will return for a second round next year. But will the US X Factor be too much too soon. Has America discovered enough new pop (and country) idols for one year?
Cowell will no doubt be a draw, but perhaps less of one than we might have expected before Idol carried on so nicely without him. And the bad press over the hiring and firing of Cheryl Cole, the Girls Aloud member who was plucked from the judges table of the UK X Factor for the US one, has raised the show’s profile without really helping it.
Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, who had previously been tapped to cohost but will now take Cole’s place as a judge, is a much smarter choice, but why the eleventh-hour switch? (Cole had already participated in auditions and still will appear in some episodes when The X Factor premieres.) Some reports have indicated that Cole was let go because of the fear that her thick British accent would be unintelligible to viewers in the US, but I’m not buying that weak excuse. She had the same accent when she was hired that she had when she was fired, and surely her speaking voice was considered before anyone signed on the dotted line.
I’d bet Steven Tyler‘s hair extensions Cole’s dismissal had everything to do with the other reported reason: that Cole didn’t quite click with Paula Abdul, Cowell’s former Idol co-worker whom he hired to reunite with him on the US X Factor as a judge. (Music mogul L.A. Reid will be the fourth wheel.) And there you have it! As a draw in the States, Abdul is so much more valuable than Cole, a big star in the UK but one who is pretty much unheard of in the US.
If people are going to tune into The X Factor in droves, it won’t necessarily be for the great music or even to hear what Simon Cowell is going to say next. (He did, after all, become a broken record of sorts about five seasons in on Idol.) It will be to once again tune into The Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul Love/Hate Show. I know that’s why I won’t miss it. I want to see the ex-sparring colleagues hiss and make up all over again and again and again.
And that will be the most important ex factor of all.