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Today In Oasis Nonsense

2014Oasis_Getty85216701130314Oasis is the gift that keeps on giving. Years after their final performance, the ’90s Britpop giants continue to entertain, mostly for the Gallagher brothers’ often hilarious continued offstage sniping. Really, CBS should have made one or both of them an offer to take over the Letterman show. We would tune in regularly. But singer Liam Gallagher threw fans into a frenzy last night when he tweeted “OASIS” one letter at a time (and then helpfully summarizing, in a single tweet, “OASIS LG” (yes, he signs his tweets “LG”)).

Does this mean a reunion is in the works, as many have speculated? No. It means Liam was either screwing with fans or drunk or both. Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs, former guitarist of the band, told NME he thought maybe Liam was just thinking out loud, so to speak, because the two had been out drinking together.

In reaction to the tweets, bookmakers suspended bets on Oasis headlining Glastonbury Festival. Yes, Liam Gallagher’s tweets caused such instability in the market as to suspend trading.

In any case, this is as good an opportunity as any to revisit, as NME did, the comedy gold that is Liam’s twitter account, as well as a recent viral hit – brother Noel‘s commentary on old Oasis videos.

“Oh, I was fucking drunk…in this video. Look how pissed I am there. That’s me really pissed.”

More like this:
Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Beady Eye Finds Life After Oasis
Sound And Vision: Why I Miss the ’90s
Sound And Vision: Celebrity Feuds ” Pop Is a Battlefield, World War II

SoundTrax: Shower Stall Rock Star

This week, we’ve compiled a list of our eight favorite sing-a-long tunes to let the rock star living inside all of you shine. In typical SoundTrax fashion, I’ve done my best to avoid falling into a specific time frame or genre. These are all songs pulled from my personal library that I can’t help but belt out whenever they come on shuffle. While I would probably avoid some of these songs like the plague in my everyday listening, I’ll be honest: There is only so many times you can listen to Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way without feeling the urge to join in on the chorus.

Pivotal scenes from Almost Famous and Risky Business highlight the healing power of a sing-a-long (and how much fun it can be to rock out in your skivvies). The “Tiny Dancer” sing-a-long from Almost Famous is a personal favorite that I feel perfectly illustrates the spontaneity and sheer joy that can come from singing a well-known tune with your buddies.

For those of you who don’t feel comfortable belting out your favorite songs at your local karaoke night, the shower is often the only venue where you can truly express the vocal prowess you have. If you can’t sing, we ask that you don’t let the acoustics of your bathroom fool you: please keep the singing contained to the shower. There’s no need to terrorize the innocent patrons who didn’t realize it was karaoke night at the bar, or your kids sitting in the back seat of the minivan,

So grab your hairbrush, but please refrain from stripping down to a button-up and tighty-whities, and rock out to this playlist of rad sing-a-longs.

SoundTrax: Shower Stall Rock Star from OurStage on 8tracks.

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Riffs, Rants & Rumors: 2011 in the Rearview Mirror

You didn’t think RR&R would torture you with anything as tedious as another year-end Best-of list, did you? Granted, we do have a piece in the works that will inform you of some excellent albums you might have missed along the way, but that’s as close as we’re willing to get. Instead, this time around we’ll simply take stock of both the magic moments and the missteps that the last twelve months have brought us”works that delivered delight and dismay in equal measure.

Old Punks Never Die


Wire “ Red Barked Tree

As the original post-punk outfit, Wire has always lived or died by how well they balanced their arty side with their edgy side. Their discography isn’t without its share of miscalculations in that area, but thirty-four years down the line from their debut album, this one is right on the money.

Gang of Four – Content

The Gang were right on the heels of Wire in first-gen U.K. post-punk, and were just as groundbreaking, but their twenty-first century revitalization has been marred by some dodgy moves. First they re-recorded a batch of their classics on 2005’s Return the Gift, and then they made matters worse with this irksome outing, which is considerably more annoying than the output of the worst third-hand Go4 copyists.

Social Distortion  - Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

True survivors, old-school SoCal punks Social Distortion have been through every rock & roll tribulation”death, drugs, you name it (How did VH1’s Behind the Music miss these guys?)”but not only are they still going strong, they added some extra bluesy swing and Stonesy swagger to their latest.
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Sound And Vision: Celebrity Feuds — Pop Is a Battlefield, World War II

“Take back Vanessa Redgrave
Take back Joe Piscopo
Take back Eddie Murphy
Give ‘em all some place to go”

” 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.

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The EditoriaList: Thirteen Greatest First Tracks On Debut Albums

There’s something about the first song on ANY album. It sets a tone, gives you an idea of what you’re in for. But the first song on an artist’s first album is often something special. It doesn’t have to be, of course, but it’s an opportunity for a musical manifesto that some artists have really taken advantage of. Sometimes it’s instantly obvious that the track is destined to be a classic, most times the song isn’t even the best song in the artist’s catalog yet has that special feeling and then sometimes it’s only in retrospect that we can see what a statement it was and how the artist’s subsequent career bore that out. I’m sure I will think of others that should be on this list, but here are some of my favorites and, by implication, yours (if you have taste, which you do, because you’re reading this).

13. Foo Fighters “ This Is A Call from Foo Fighters

The first post-Nirvana sounds from Dave Grohl were not mind-blowingly incongruous with his old band, but it was still exciting to hear something so solid and confident from that camp in those sad days when criminals like Silverchair and Bush attempted to fill the Cobain void.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Sound And Vision: Why I Miss the '90s

Every decade lives twice. Each one seems to get a second shot about twenty years after the fact. The ’50s were hot again in the ’70s (which might be why Happy Days was one of TV’s biggest hits). The ’60s resurfaced in the ’80s (as did tie-dye t-shirts and the British invasion), and Saturday night fever flared up one more time in the ’90s (though that didn’t stop the film 54 from flopping).

We’ve been stuck in the ’80s for a while now, but the ’90s are coming around again. I recently attended a ’90s party at a nightclub in Sydney, Australia, and the dance floor was packed with the retro-obsessed. The beats were technotronic indeed, but thanks to the varied playlist, I remembered that there was so much more to the decade in music than grunge and Europop. (Bell Biv DeVoe‘s “Do Me” and Elastica‘s “Connection” provided particularly pleasing trips down memory lane.) Here are five reasons why the ’90s rocked even harder than you might recall.

1. Sisters with voices ruled. And I’m not just talking about Sisters with Voices (otherwise known as SWV). TLC was arguably the most unique multi-platinum girl group ever, while En Vogue was the most glamorous one since the Supremes. Solo stars like Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion and Sarah McLachlan joined the hit parade, and Whitney Houston could still raise the roof”and she did with the soundtrack for The Bodyguard. Aside from Adele and Beyoncé (when she’s not huffing, puffing and trying way too hard to bring the house down), none of today’s female hitmakers can match the fierce ruling divas of the ’90s for sheer vocal power.

2. Rock & roll was king. Grunge may have been a relatively short-lived turning point, but for a moment there, the music was actually more important than the marketing. Thanks to bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Radiohead (all of whose platinum success seemed more accidental than calculated), Britpop (Blur vs. Oasis was so much better than Kings of Leon vs. Glee or the lead singers of Coldplay and Muse being married to Hollywood), and the grrrl power of female and female-driven acts like Bjí¶rk, P.J. Harvey, Alanis Morrisette, Hole, Belly, the Breeders and L7, rock and alternative music was both popular and interesting.

3. Stars were born, not manufactured on television and YouTube. This year, Rebecca Black went viral on YouTube and became a “star” without ever actually having a hit. (“Friday” topped out on Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 58, 24 notches lower than the Glee remake.) And nothing against American Idol it’s given us some bona fide, hit-making talents (Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood and Adam Lambert, among them)”but it’s also gave us William Hung! When music stars are created instantly (in Hung’s case, due to an extreme lack of talent) or groomed in front of our very eyes, pop stardom starts to lose its mystique. Clarkson’s fame will never seem as hard-won as Celine Dion‘s; Carrie Underwood will never be as good a story as Shania Twain; and I’d trade soulful, one-hit wonders like Dionne Farris and Des’ree for Fantasia every day of the week. At least we never had to watch them almost self-destruct in public. Which brings us to…

4. Less was more. Before Twitter, YouTube and tabloid media overload, pop stars always left us wanting more. Now they reveal every thought and all of the minutiae of their lives via endless Twitter updates. (Sean Kingston recently tweeted a photo of himself surrounded by medical equipment while recovering from a jet-ski accident in Miami that nearly cost him his life. Too much?) The tabloids give us 24/7 access, showing them doing just about everything except going to the bathroom (including having sex!). And we can catch them whenever we want to on YouTube (and make them seem more popular than they actually are by continuously pressing play in order to increase their “views”) and watch them falling and bombing onstage, tangling with the paparazzi, and getting prickly with TV interviewers before doffing their shirts and hitting the streets of New York City.

Lauryn Hill was one of the biggest stars of the late ’90s yet she always managed to sidestep overexposure. Where is she now? God only knows (though it recently was revealed that she’s pregnant with her sixth child). If only Amy Winehouse, her critically acclaimed late-’00s equivalent, had been able to fall apart in the privacy of her own home.

5. Courtney Love was far more daring than Lady Gaga. I’ll admit it: I miss Courtney Love. Whatever you thought about her music, the lead singer of Hole was never boring. Take away Lady Gaga’s freaky-creepy visuals, though, and all you’re left with is a talented but over-earnest, politically correct pop star. She’s says all the right things, but listen closely”none of it is even slightly provocative. Her carefully considered soundbites are intended to be up with underdogs and offensive to no one. Even her pro-gay agenda is as respectful as possible to the political right. Just once, I’d like to see Gaga get naked and sexy (for someone who wears so little clothing, she’s remarkably, and safely, asexual), or totally lose it, throwing good intentions out the window and engaging in a public bitchfest. Isn’t the moral majority asking for it?

20 Essential ’90s Albums

Annie LennoxDiva

BabyfaceFor the Cool in You

BellyStar

Bjí¶rkPost

The Cardigans - Gran Turismo

Dolly PartonThe Grass Is Blue

Elvis Costello and Burt BacharachPainted from Memory

Faith No More - Angel Dust

John AndersonSeminole Wind

Kate BushThe Red Shoes

k.d. lange - Ingenue

Mary J. BligeMy Life

Morrissey - Vauxhaull and I (or Your Arsenal)

Neil YoungHarvest Moon

Neneh CherryHomebrew

Portishead - Dummy

Radiohead - The Bends

R.E.M.Automatic for the People (or Out of Time or New Adventures in Hi-Fi)

Sarah McLachlanFumbling Towards Ecstasy

SuedeComing Up

Sound And Vision: Can R.E.M. Rock The Charts Again With "Collapse Into Now"?

If you read the title, and you’re still with me, maybe there’s hope. R.E.M.’s publicity machine might be working. Twenty years ago, for a brief window in the early ’90s before grunge took over, the band owned the title of the biggest American rock band on the planet.
And then there were three. Drummer Bill Berry departed after the 1995 Monster tour, leaving R.E.M. a trio, and diminishing returns kicked in with the next several albums. When Around the Sun came out in 2004, not only were reviews somewhere south of tepid (even the band has gone on the record as hating it), but it became the first R.E.M. studio album not to go gold, failing to enter the Top 10 or produce any chart singles. The Monster-wannabe Accelerate did better in 2008 (it debuted at No. 2), but like it’s predecessor, it failed to cross the 500,000 sales mark.
If at first and second you don’t succeed… On March 7, R.E.M. will try to avoid a strike-out with their 15th studio album, Collapse into Now.

These are hard times for the monsters of ’80s and ’90s rock. U2’s last album didn’t do anywhere near the band’s usual business. Bon Jovi continues to sell respectfully, but theywere just snubbed by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Kurt Cobain is still dead, Oasis is history and Radiohead doesn’t care if you get its music or not. The ’80s and ’90s rock bands with the most commercial potential either disbanded and reunited (like Pixies and The Cars, whose first album in twenty-four years, Move Like This, comes out on May 10), took extended hiatuses (AC/DC, Metallica) or have a lead singer who took Simon Cowell’s spot on American Idol (lucky Aerosmith).
R.E.M.’s going to have to get back on track the hard way, by releasing great music that thrills old fans while winning over new ones. Bassist Mike Mills has said that Collapse into Now is the band’s best work since Out of Time, the 1991 album that remains the band’s best seller and also spawned R.E.M.’s biggest hit, the Top 5 “Losing My Religion.” Although there’ll be no tour to support the new album, the band has been promoting it as if they actually believe what Mills says.
The publicity blitz began last fall”where else?”on the Internet, as R.E.M. made the album cut “Dicoverer,” which is as great as anything from the band’s golden years, available for download on its Web site. Over the next few weeks, lyric videos for various tracks began popping up on the band’s YouTube channel as did a Collapse into Now trailer, featuring snippets of R.E.M. performing key cuts. You can even “R.E.M.ix” the track “It Happened Today” online. And just in case everyone had forgotten that these guys were once multi-platinum superstars, the Coldplay of their day, “Losing My Religion” popped up in an episode of Glee.
But can three fifty-somethings competing with popular rockers half their age recapture past glory? Even their big-name collaborators on Collapse into Now”Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith”are talented relics from a bygone era. The tracks they’ve previewed so far have been a mixed bunch (fast, slow, brilliant, so-so), and thus far the first single, “Mine Smell Like Honey,” hasn’t been seen anywhere near Billboard’s Hot 100.
It’s going to take more than a grassroots multi-media campaign and a few bonus cuts to make Collapse into Now fly off iTunes’ virtual shelves. The band will need unanimously spectacular reviews to compete with spring arrivals from Britney Spears, Foo Fighters and Snoop Dogg. And even then, that might not be enough. If all else fails, R.E.M.’s best bet will be to get up out of those rocking chairs and hit the road. Maybe there’s still an open headlining slot on Lollapalooza 2011 with Enimen, Muse and Foo Fighters.
With fewer artists selling platinum, record sales are becoming increasingly irrelevant anyway”especially for icons of pop and rock like Madonna, U2 and, yes, R.E.M, whose fans won’t click on their YouTube links with the fervor of Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga disciples, and who don’t rule the singles scene the way whippersnappers like Katy Perry and Rihanna do. For them, releasing new music should be more a labor of love, a way to avoid becoming a strictly nostalgia act, than a means to multi-platinum. If R.E.M. wants its glory back, if the band is to avoid collapsing into now, then the show”featuring something old, something new, and of course, “Losing My Religion””must go on.
[Editor’s Note: You can now stream R.E.M.’s Collapse Into Now on NPR.org prior to the Marth 8th release. NME also reported on Wednesday that the band has tapped a group of filmmakers including James Franco, of all people, to create music videos for each and every song on the album in an attempt to redefine “the idea of an album in 2011, beyond a music fan’s idea of an album 20 years ago.”]

Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Beady Eye Finds Life After Oasis

Fame is seldom more of a double-edged sword than when you’re trying to sneak your way around it. Such is the dilemma faced by Beady Eye, the band that was created when the chronically fractious relationship between Oasis‘s battling siblings Liam and Noel Gallagher finally imploded for good in 2009. Beady Eye is basically Oasis minus frontman Liam, and try as they might, it seems highly unlikely that they’ll be viewed otherwise. On some level, that’s fair. Noel was, after all, the main songwriter in Oasis, and beyond coming up with a different name”which was probably a legal necessity”he hasn’t exactly gone out of his way to distance himself from that legacy, continuing on with the same musicians and remaining in the same general Britpop bag. He’s even abandoned the guitar so he can stand out front, bent over at the waist, with his hands behind his back a la Liam.

On the other hand” the one that’s held out in a futile attempt to stop the British press’s ludicrous comparisons between Beady Eye’s debut, Different Gear, Still Speeding, and early Oasis”this is not Oasis, anymore than, say, New Order was Joy Division after Ian Curtis departed this mortal vale. The one thing both Gallagher brothers might conceivably agree on is the fact that Oasis can’t exist without both of them. And while few new indie bands”Different Gear is out on the band’s own label in the UK and the small Dangerbird imprint stateside”without Beady Eye’s pedigree would get as much attention, even fewer would face as many lofty expectations and harsh comparisons.

Whichever side of the question you come down on, in the end there’s really only one salient question to be asked: What does the album sound like? Well, it should surprise no one on either side to learn that it’s no Definitely Maybe or (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, but it’s also considerably more fun than Oasis’s swan song, Dig Out Your Soul, and on its own merits it’s not half bad. Without the Oasis name hanging over his head”in theory, at least”it’s possible for Noel to leave some of the baggage behind. He no longer sounds like he’s trying to maintain the title of England’s Greatest Band; when he sings I just wanna rock & roll on Beatles & Stones (ironically one of the album’s least Beatlesque tracks), it’s easy to believe him. While there are plenty of undeniable Oasis touches here and there, Different Gear feels lighter, capable of achieving higher velocity with less fuel intake; in other words, the rockers have some roll to them for a change, and it seems like Noel and company are actually having fun.

The pop hooks that have always been a mainstay of Gallagher’s trickbag get more breathing room as well. Steve Lilywhite‘s work here serves as a reminder that the super-producer was at the helm of The La’s legendary debut album, widely regarded as one of the greatest power-pop records of the ˜90s, not to mention later releases by similarly sparkling popsters such as Crowded House and Guster. For Anyone is a perfect, breezy, two-minute pop gem that would have been right at home on The La’s lone album, while Kill For a Dream could have found it’s own room in a Crowded House. That said, Different Gear is no slamdunk; the Beatles reference points that pop up throughout the album seem almost obligatory at this point, while the glam-rock side of Noel’s influences bears less fruit than his poppier inspirations. And while a fair amount of Oasis-esque fat has been trimmed away, the tendency to repeat the chorus ad infinitum at the end of a song remains an annoying habit.

All in all, though, there’s more to be said for the album than many are likely to admit. In terms of Different Gear‘s eventual reception, the US never really got the Gallaghers to begin with, so it’s unlikely that they’ll start now, and the three singles released in advance of the album in the UK didn’t exactly set the charts aflame. If England’s uncertain response thus far is an honest reaction to the music itself, that’s one thing; if it’s born of an insistence upon Beady Eye living up to past glories that even Oasis itself could no longer manage, then Noel”for perhaps the first time in his high-flying career” is being shortchanged.

Pop Is a Battlefield

Musicians are an unruly bunch. They’re in constant competition on and off the charts, going for each others’ jugulars”talking first and thinking later. Rappers have been throwing stones back and forth since the ’80s days of LL Cool J vs. Kool Moe Dee and Roxanne Shanté vs. The Real Roxanne. From the Supremes and the Rolling Stones to the Verve, Oasis and Sugababes, infighting among groups is nothing new. Solo pop stars, in comparison, were relatively cordial for years, and then the steel claws came out.

In a 1998 Movieline interview, Jennifer Lopez asked that Madonna not “spit” on her acting craft, while also aiming her slingshot at then-non-singer Gwyneth Paltrow as well as Winona Ryder.  Elton John, perhaps the most outspoken guy in pop, not only criticized the quality of his former BFF George Michael’s 2004 Patience album, but he also went on the record to caution Michael on the evils of his substance-abusing lifestyle. John, who famously pitched a hissy fit directed at Tina Turner while the two were rehearsing for VHI Divas Live in 1999, also once called “Die Another Day” by Madonna “the worst [James] Bond tune of all time.”

The bigger you are, the harder they go after you, and these days, Taylor Swift aside (and more on her later), nobody’s bigger than Lady Gaga.

Former Spice Girl turned designer Victoria Beckham went to town on Gaga in an interview this month with Women’s Wear Daily. If I’m being completely honest, is it fair to say she may have become a little bit of a parody of herself?” she asked. Maybe, maybe not, but it’s quite the turnaround from Beckham’s Gaga POV in a Daily Mirror interview this past July: Bit by bit she is finding her image, and it’s nice to see it, as she is undoubtedly a talented girl. I suppose it’s a pop star’s prerogative to change her mind”and it definitely makes for more interesting reading.

So does M.I.A.’s take on Gaga. She griped in NME last spring that Gaga was ripping off Madonna and Grace Jones and dismissed her as a “good mimic.” Then in June, Katy Perry took a thinly veiled swipe at Gaga’s controversial “Alejandro” video, tweeting that “Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke.”

Gaga isn’t the only one bringing out the beast in her fellow performers. Elaine Paige referred to her No. 1 fan Susan Boyle as a “virus” during an interview after the South Banks Show Awards in January. And depending on whom you believe, Lou Reed may have blocked Susan Boyle’s attempt to sing his “Perfect Day” on America’s Got Talent in September (his people say US licensing issues, not Reed, were to blame), but he made it up to her by directing the video for Boyle’s “Perfect Day” video.

All is forgiven. If only things had gone so smoothly for Kanye West.  After he dissed Taylor Swift last year at the MTV Video Music Awards, legions of stars, including Kelly Clarkson, Pink and Adam Lambert jumped to Swift’s defense. Of course, Katy Perry joined the anti-West brigade tweeting the following message to the rapper: “FUCK U KANYE. IT’S LIKE U STEPPED ON A KITTEN.” Meow!

When words fail them, some stars let their videos do the dissing. Pink lampooned Jessica Simpson, among other starlets, in her 2006 “Stupid Girls” video. Eminem has skewered Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync, Moby and Michael Jackson in his videos, and he’s gone several rounds with his alleged (by him) ex-lover Mariah Carey, who retaliated by dressing in drag as Eminem and playing him as a stalker in her “Obsessed” video.

Over in the U.K., Lily Allen has stood in for Gaga as a favorite pop-star punching bag since she broke on to the global pop scene in 2006. Katy Perry, naturally, started a war of words with her a few years back when she described herself as being a “slimmer version of Lily Allen.” In retaliation, Allen called Perry “crass” and in a truly post-millenial move, threatened to post her telephone number on the internet. What happened to simply challenging her to a fist fight, as an irate Mary J. Blige did in the ’90s during an Interview magazine chat with model Veronica Webb?

Joss Stone also took aim at Allen last year, calling her “more of a personality than she is a singer,” and responded to her anti-filesharing stance by saying, “[Lily] needs to sell records because she’s not a singer, and that’s not an offence to her because I think that she knows that too.”

And on October 31, UK X Factor judges Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue gave Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay a rather frosty reception after his band performed on the show because of some expletive-laden comments Kay made about the show and the credibility of its judges shortly before his appearance. (The printable portion: “You’re useless. The pair of you.”) Cole won the war a week later when her second solo effort, Messy Little Raindrops, entered the UK album chart at No. 1, six notches above Jamiroquai’s new Rock Dust Light Star. Check. Mate.

By Jeremy Helligar

Jeremy Helligar is a former staff writer for People, Teen People, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly, who now writes about celebrities and pop culture from his couch in Buenos Aires.