“Look man I’m in a whole ‘nother tax bracket
Don’t matter what you blow boy, you can’t match it”
Last night, I watched Kevin Federline perform the above lyrics from his song “Lose Control” at the Teen Choice Awards. To throngs of Spencer Gift-shopping tweens, K-Fed postured with the brand of hard-core masculinity created by the hip-hop world, as though a difficult life had given him an opportunity to perform onstage instead of knocking up Britney Spears. He growled. He pumped his arms. He gave props to a seemingly lukewarm audience. In my morbid curiosity, he provoked comparisons to Beverly Hills 90210's Brian Austin Green.
I don’t have a bone to pick with white guys in a hip-hop field. Hearing the first few beats of Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” single makes me break out booty moves right on the sidewalk, and Eminem is downright brilliant. What I absolutely cannot stand is seeing oversaturated, mediocre celebrities like K-Fed, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton churn out album after album—and horrible ones at that. Crappy celebrity music keeps appearing on the shelves, and it's driving me nuts.
One of my biggest problems with fluffy celebrities recording albums is that the music draws from tabloid, sensationalized aspects of celebrity—and proceeds to regurgitate it. Lindsay Lohan moaned about paparazzi in “Rumors”, while Paris Hilton trashes former best friend Nicole Richie in a track called “Jealousy” on her new self-titled album. I already know La Lohan hates photographers, and am aware it’s a given that Paris can’t stand Nicole. While fame is a given circumstance of a celebrity’s constantly publicized life, songs about it are redundant and self-indulgent instead of entertaining or artistic. Still, audio equivalents of Us Weekly items appear in song. Next thing we know, Lindsay Lohan-bashing Hollywood heir Brandon Davis will come out with a song called “Firecrotch.”
Though it’s tacky to famewhore further through music, celebrity can be utilized to create superb, transcendent, and totally entertaining songs. Pink thoroughly satirizes “Stupid Girls” like Lohan, Jessica Simpson, and the Olsen twins, and does it with aplomb in her video. In “What’s Left of Me”, Nick Lachey not only sings of the loss of his marriage to Jessica Simpson, but does it so well that one can tell the song is truly heartfelt. I’ll most likely never be a dedicated Nick Lachey fan, especially because of Newlyweds-associated glop like “This I Swear”. But I’ve gladly downloaded “What’s Left of Me” to my iPod.
Another issue I have with crappy celebrity music is that it’s contrived to further promote a celebrity persona instead of showcasing actual talent. Way back in the day, a post-“Who’s the Boss” Alyssa Milano hit the market and made eyeballs roll with CDs full of love songs and her “Teen Steam” workout video. Her modern equivalent is none other than Hilary Duff, who called for rain to wash away her Lizzie McGuire pain and suffering in her album “Metamorphosis”. I can certainly tell that Hilary Duff can carry a tune, and I’m sure there’s more to her than some sanitized Disney persona. Yet all her music reflects is a studio-created virginal character. Duff’s good-girl recordings have proven so successful that not only is she coming out with a third record, but she’s even carved out a singing career for sister Haylie. Coming soon is a cutesy-poo remake of Madonna’s “Material Girl” by Hilary and Haylie Duff, who have already mauled the Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed.” I can already picture Trapper Keeper folders with the next Duff on it.
Even though I can’t stand celebrities who crack records out for promotional value, I am truly impressed when someone turns out to be multi-talented. Not only did I enjoy Jennifer Lopez’s performance in “Out of Sight”, I loved her first album of “On the 6”. Though Lopez would later release the abysmal bling fantasy “Jenny From the Block” and appear in “Gigli”, her first CD and work from “Selena” stands as proof that she’s talented as an actress and a singer. Another surprisingly proficient dual-hyphenate is reality show star and singer Kelly Osbourne. Though she shot to fame as Ozzy Osbourne’s daughter and is guilty of creating a terrible remake of “Papa Don’t Preach”, her song “One Word” topped Billboard’s Dance Charts. There are a few multi-talented people excelling out there, and they’re not making records to go with a lifestyle line of products in Wal-Mart.
My final major issue with lousy celebrity records is that they are the musical equivalent of fast food, and provide nothing of enduring value. No celebrity recordings provide any entertainment that'll be relevant outside of sensationalized fame, which in itself is only valid for about a minute. Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff can sing pop songs about photographers and prom dresses, but I won’t be dancing to it five years later the way I do to Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”. I still listen to Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and Madonna’s “Drowned World/Substitute For Love”, and both were released almost ten years ago. I doubt I will do the same with any release from a tween superstar or Mr. Britney himself, for I have yet to hear a song by any current celebrity that can even survive more than a month. If a celebrity actually gets around to recording something enduring, I will gladly eat my words.
Celebrities keep releasing shitty records, and I don’t anticipate the trend stopping anytime soon. If anything, I predict they’re going to glut the shelves at Tower Records and Virgin even more, or, as illustrated by the case of Kevin Federline, start their very own record companies. For the most part, I know I can steer clear of terrible rap and overly sugary pop music. But if the Olsen twins ever announce they’re going to record an album together, I’m going to run for the hills.
An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
8.22.06 @ 10:17p
Bill Shatner. Has Been. Terrific.
8.22.06 @ 11:43p
I've heard of most of those people, but have managed to avoid their music. Out of curiosity I clicked through to Pink's video (The link is broken. I think this is the right one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar6bhinHVh4 ) Enjoyable song, and the vid's got boobies!
8.23.06 @ 5:01a
I had no idea William Shatner recorded an album! I previewed it on iTunes and think it's great- I never would have thought he could perform musically, and do it with humor. THAT'S hot.
Ken, thanks for pointing out the broken links (which I've since fixed). Not only does the video have awesome inflatable boobies, but I love that she reenacted "One Night in Paris"!
8.23.06 @ 8:42a
I love the fact that K-Fed sings about how much money HE has. Um...
8.23.06 @ 5:09p
I couldn't believe that either. But this bit is priceless:
"Don’t hate because I’m a superstar!
And I’m married to a superstar!
Nuthin’ come between us no matter who you are!
8.23.06 @ 8:32p
I think Brit's belly has come between 'em. A couple of times, now.
8.24.06 @ 6:00a
Oh Lord, her belly. Since I don't predict screaming commercial success for K-Fed, he could form his own Pee-Wee Soccer League with his kids. He'll probably have enough of them in a few years!
8.27.06 @ 5:39a
Alex, no one is fooled by the rocks that he's got, K-Fed ain't no Jenny from the block. In fact, his rocks belong to Britney and were in her purse backstage at the teen show.
Sadly, these are the musical stars of some future generation. Thanks for clearing up exactly what it is Lindsey Lohan, Hilary and Haylie Duff and Paris Hilton do. I didn't know they were singers. I thought they were living Bratz dolls.
And Shatner is brilliant.
PS. When did Britney Spears dye her hair dark? Don't tell me she isn't a natural blonde? Are these teen idols of today completely fake? Have they no depth? I feel so cheated. If only I could remember who these people were from paragraph to paragraph I might rage against them, but I've already forgotten all but Paris and K-Fed. And Nick of course, but that's only because he did a nice turn on Charmed in its last season.
8.27.06 @ 8:46p
Hi Robert! I felt like commenting on these folks because I love good pop and hip-hop tunes, and these folks are barnacles in each genre. If some nerd in "Teen Beat" has some remotely successful role in a puerile TV show where he or she gets to be gratuitously cute while pre-adolescent, it seems like I can expect a heavily promoted album full of sanitized, bubblegum crap documenting 20-year-old pain. Not fair on my ears.
In the case of K-Fed though, it really seems like all anyone really needs to do is knock up your new girlfriend while maintaining a razor-sharp antenna over her money. Never mind that your old girlfriend is pregnant. (I never did get over him leaving his old pregnant girlfriend, I thought that was really gross.)
8.27.06 @ 9:46p
He left a pregnant girl to marry a pregnant girl? I'm not up on my K-Fed history. So what happened to the ex-girlfriend and her/their baby?
Doesn't Britney see how he's using her? How dumb can she be? She's not even a real blonde.
8.28.06 @ 5:12a
K-Fed was taken when he and Britney started up. He left Shar Jackson (and his then two-year-old daughter Kori) while she was about 6 months pregnant with his second child. Two months before K-Fed married Spears, Jackson gave birth to son Kaleb. Though Jackson initially had a field day in the media with comments like, "You both smoke, drink and cheat- you guys are perfect for each other," she's since quieted down.
Britney Spears doesn't strike me as street smart or people-educated. Since she's the mega-celebrity she is, I think she relies quite heavily on being taken care of (parents, boyfriends, entourage) so it doesn't look like she'll ever seek to hone her own instincts. Maybe she'll realize she married a tool, but K-Fed seems shrewd enough to keep her happy.
8.31.06 @ 2:16a
Hi Laura! I didn't opt to diss your baby's daddy Mr. Lachey because he isn't some ditzy celebutante cutting a record for kicks- he can sing. Nor did I diss La Lopez because "On The 6" is a good, fun pop record with "Waiting For Tonight."
We all have music in our iTunes folders that is unabashed cheese- mine happens to be the Spice Girls. Yet I'll gladly take a cheesy pop band over quasi-celebrity music. Cheesy pop bands may induce a few groans, but they were never just handed record deals to extend their fame. I agree that there are too many talented kids out there not getting signed- and it's too bad that it's more likely that I'll see a CD from a kid whose shot comes from being on a Disney sitcom and "deemed marketable" instead of actual talent.
9.7.06 @ 11:07a
9.7.06 @ 11:07a
Ugh. Jesse Metcalfe, the kid who played the cute gardener on Desperate Housewives, is apparently getting a record deal.