Posts By Jonathan Durbin

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Idol Chit-Chat With Jordin Sparks

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Last season on American Idol, Jordin Sparks became the youngest winner in the show’s history. The 17-year-old had originally been turned away when she auditioned in Los Angeles, but followed that up by winning Arizona Idol, a Fox affiliate-sponsored competition, which guaranteed her a place at the try-outs in Seattle. The lesson? Never let a little thing like defeat get you down. Sparks went on to win the competition without ever being in the bottom two or three, and released her self-titled debut last November. The record featured a variety of popular songs, including “This Is My Now” and “No Air,” on which she sings alongside nascent R&B heartthrob Chris Brown. We caught up with Sparks over e-mail to ask her about Chris Brown, this season’s Idol contestants and whether or not she had any tips for performing in front of the judges. Interview after the jump.

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Come As He Was: Cobain’s Shoes for Converse

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The good news? The new line of Kurt Cobain-inspired Converse sneakers is the first time the late singer’s estate has ever collaborated with a brand. Considering Cobain’s choice of footwear, it’s an appropriate one. The bad news? It’s not in the best of taste. The Nirvana front man was — very famously, in case you’ve forgotten — discovered dead while wearing a pair of Converse sneakers. At the time, the image of Cobain’s splayed feet came to represent the end not only of the singer, but also an era in American music and culture. Now that we fetishize these momentos and totems of rock ‘n’ roll become increasingly untethered from their original contexts (have you been to a Hard Rock Cafe lately?), not to mention musicians who use their celebrity as an opportunity to diversify into different fields to both hedge against their inevitable irrelevance and maximize their media exposure (where are the Kanye West sneakers, we’d like to know), such partnerships are absolutely run-of-the-mill. Thing is, you’d have to be a pretty depressing kid to own a pair of these suckers, we think. And if you’re an adult, clearly there’s a problem. For reference, see Jason Bateman’s character in Juno.

[Via Nirvana Club]

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Janet’s Sick, So SNL Enlists Mariah

mariah.jpgSad news, Janet Jackson lovers: The Discipline pop star has dropped out of performing on Saturday Night Live this weekend because she’s sick with the flu. In her place, Lorne Michaels and team have drafted Mariah Carey, who, considering her recent video with Jack McBrayer, probably has the better sense of humor. Not that humor is necessarily a factor in SNL‘s choice of musical guests (although Paul Simon dressed up like a turkey was particularly memorable, as was Queens of the Stone Age‘s performance with Will Ferrell), but Mariah’s sense of kitsch ought to compliment the inevitable jokes about Eliot Spitzer, rising oil prices, potential war with Iran, and penises. We predict a penis joke or two because Superbad and Knocked Up star Jonah Hill is the host. For those of you who haven’t seen Superbad, just know the following: Mr. Hill is a rather notable proponent of penis-funnies. Too bad for Janet. She would have enjoyed this one, we think. After the jump, please find a trailer for Superbad 2: Super Worse.

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Despite Obvious Limitations, Kurt Cobain Buys Mansion

courtneylove.jpgIn unbelievable news for anyone who’s ever asked for early-warning fraud protection on their credit cards, identity thieves managed to steal Kurt Cobain‘s social security number and have purchased a $3.2 million New Jersey mansion in his name. The trouble is that Cobain has been dead since 1994, and even when he was alive, he wasn’t the biggest fan of buying stuff. According to Courtney Love, the criminals have also registered 188 credit cards in her name, and have made off with around $69 million from the couple and their daughter’s trust fund. Love writes on her MySpace page: “I find this whole thing so offensive because until Kurts social security number was checked noone took it seriously, but hey here is the Experian with 188 visas on it, thats not Bi Polar, that is reality .” We’re on Love’s side here, and are a little shocked that the use of Cobain’s name didn’t raise any red flags over at the credit reporting agencies. Maybe they were sleeping on the job? Maybe they were just asleep? That would help explain how Janis Joplin recently purchased a chain of fried chicken restaurants, and that Jimi Hendrix-owned cruise-line we keep hearing about.

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Janet’s New Vid: Kylie Locked in a Club?

BET premiered Janet Jackson‘s clip for “Rock With U.” The song has overtones of Australian club-queen Kylie Minogue, and the video’s set in a club (or sound stage, let’s be honest) that recalls a futuristic mental hospital/the well-designed drum ‘n’ bass nightspots of decades past. Janet herself is looking fairly fly, dressed in an outfit that looks a little like what might happen if Project Runway winner Christian Siriano did fetish wear. Would Christian collaborate with Janet? We suspect so, yes. Jackson is currently topping the charts with her provocative Discipline. To see other Janet videos — and watch her comment on them — check out our fresh Box Set.

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American Idol‘s Danny Noriega Hates You

In an unfortunate turn of events, poor Danny Noriega (whose spin on “Tainted Love” last night was horrid) is appearing all over the Internets in a video (see above). In the 30-second clip, recorded some unspecified time ago, Noriega sings “We wish you a merry Christmas” before lapsing into vulgarity and insults. Specifically, he says he hopes that Santa rapes your mom. And so ends Mr. Noriega’s 14th minute. Tune into American Idol on Thursday night to see whether or not Simon and company will finish Noriega’s chance at stardom permanently.

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Neon Rulez & Justice’s New Video Proves It

There’s been a whole lot of neon in pop culture lately. First, Kanye West collaborated with Daft Punk on “Stronger,” made a video that combined the look of Akira with the narrative of Guns N’ Roses’ “Estranged,” and then showed up to the Grammys wearing a jacket that was literally so flashy it was designed to light up. Then Rihanna – who will appear on Kanye’s Glow in the Dark Tour — played the Brit Awards fronting new-rave darlings the Klaxons. Now comes French DJ duo Justice‘s new video (for “DVNO,” above). It’s the best video we’ve seen since the last time Justice released a video (for “D.A.N.C.E.”). Enjoy the outer-spaciness, kids. After the jump, watch Rihanna playing “Umbrella” at a rave that looks like it was thrown by wayward cast members from Tron.

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Madonna, Timberlake Song Leaks; World Preps Dance Moves

madonna.jpgA French radio station played the first single from Madonna‘s new album Hard Candy on Friday and all the Interweb is reaping the benefit. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland co-produced “Four Minutes to Save the World.” Her Madgesty trades off verses with Timberlake, who is either doing a very passable Michael Jackson impression or demonstrating just how much love he has for Cee-Lo. The song is a straight-up dance-floor classic, with the sort of bounce and jiggle made for South Beach clubs. Guitars grind; drums pummel; and the synths . . . er, synth. The song means for you to get up and dance, and in that, it’s successful. Madonna sings “The road to heaven is paved with good intentions,” which isn’t exactly how we remember the saying going, but whatever. It’s loud, busy, grinding and full of energy. No word on whether the French DJ who leaked this is currently running for his life, but we suspect that might be the case. Until the song gets an official release, check it out here.

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Fashion Week Frenzy: Even Rihanna’s a Critic

rihanna.jpgEveryone’s getting into the style game at Fashion Week. No longer content with just sitting front-row and having their pictures taken, select celebrities have started weighing in on their experiences at the show. Witness Rihanna, our favorite umbrella-slinging pop-tart, whose song-of-the-summer and severe new haircut have endeared her to millions across the globe. Rihanna’s currently guest-blogging for Elle.com. So far, it seems, she really enjoyed the Proenza Schouler show:

“Last night, Joe Zee and Robbie Myers [Elle's creative director and editor-in-chief respectively] brought me to the Proenza Schouler show and it was love at first sight. Joe made a quick introduction between Brooke Shields and me (they are old friends — he knows everyone!) and then we took our seats for the show. It was gorgeous — the sequins, the jewel tones — and definitely perfect for wearing on the red carpet.”

She goes on to note that she’s going to play the Gucci party tonight, which means there are going to be some very entertained suits and similarly happy fashion-types in Midtown. She’s a bundle of sunshine, that Rihanna.

In other celeb news, actress Joy Bryant is reportedly writing about the shows for C magazine. Man, the writers’ strike better end soon, or fashion journalists are going to be hard up for work. Seriously.

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Fashion Week Frenzy: Elise Overland’s Warrior Princesses

overland.jpgWelcome back to our coverage of New York’s Fall Fashion Week where we’re recapping all the craziness in Manhattan surrounding the season’s style shows. Mary Alice Stephenson, America?s Most Smartest Model host and Harper?s Bazaar contributing fashion editor, gives us the lowdown on the hottest designers. In today’s installment, we meet Elise Overland, one of the winners of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation award, an honor given out to emerging designers. Overland’s known for her rocker-ish taste — she’s made clothes for stars like the Smashing Pumpkins — but her show this time was a tad more sophisticated than it was stage-ready. It had plenty of attitude, though, as did its designer, whose personal style we’ve always thought of as being very Red Sonja meets Clan of the Cave Bear. Overland is striking, and so are her clothes. She attracted some well-known types to celebrate with her, including model/musician Irina Lazareanu, artist Hope Atherton and first daughter Barbara Bush. More after the jump.

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