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Ashlee Simpson Overshadowed By Own Sister, Now Britney’s

ashlee_simpsonPoor little Ashlee Simpson. First she’s second fiddle to big sis Jess, and Papa Joe’s least favorite child. In the pop landscape, Ash hasn’t had it easy, what with the frequent surgical updates and the whole lip-syncing thing. Folks don’t exactly think of her as an “artist,” but that was all supposed to change on Wednesday. Ash was going to make her big announcement, unveiling both the first video for her song “Outta My Head (Ay ya ya)” [Ed: Yikes] and the title for her latest album, Bittersweet World. The single, produced by Timbaland, reflects Ashlee’s latest desire: ?I wanted to do music with beats.”

But all that went out the window when a certain someone’s 16-year-old sister went and continued the cycle of dysfunction by getting herself knocked up. “?Ashlee can?t believe this happened. She?s so disappointed,? a source told MSNBC of Jamie-Lynn Spears‘ announcement. Ashlee stopped by TRL on Thursday to talk about her record, saying “I kind of laugh at things a lot, so you?ll hear that on the record.? Let’s hope Ash is able to laugh at her marketing campaign being overshadowed by teen pregnancy. Hilarious!

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Britney’s Worst Year Ever: September

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You were there through the bad driving, the head-shaving and the Criss Angel thing. It?s been a tough year for our girl. No one could have imagined a mere 12 months ago that she?d create such glorious new nonsense every week. Some of the craziness escapes you? Come back every day: We?re counting down the events that made up the Year in Britney.

September 9Gimme Less ? After days of speculation, MTV announces that the recently rehabbed pop star would make her triumphant comeback on the channel that made her. Unfortunately, Spears spent the night before the performance out with Diddy, staying up until 6 a.m. and skipped the dress rehearsal. Sarah Silverman?s pre-performance monologue, and what looked like a handful of sedatives derailed Spears: She bombed, moving through her routine like a zombie. The only person who deemed the performance a success was 50 Cent, who called it ?a highlight?she worked it.? We believe that 50 was in the bathroom at this point in the show. [Us Weekly]

September 12 ? Timbaland Says Apologize ? In an interview with MTV News, Timbaland says that he and Justin will never work with Britney unless she apologizes. Timbaland remains vague about what caused the bad blood, saying only, ?She knows what she’s sorry about. She needs to say, ‘I was wrong,’ and it’ll definitely move forward…. That’s all she has to say.” The producer then called her ?big-headed.? At press time, it appears Timbaland is still waiting on apology. [MTV News]

September 17 ? It?s Not Us, It?s You ? Just hours after her lawyers quit, the pop star found herself without representation when The Firm pulled a Timberlake and dumped her because of her behavior: The company claimed that ?current circumstances? prevented them from working with the enormously talented pop star. Current circumstances?could they mean the head-shaving? Or the erratic behavior that might be the result of a serious drug addiction? Or the barefoot-in-public-restroom thing? This is the second time Brit?s management has quit in as many months. [People]

September 23 ? The Bodyguard ? In a sworn deposition in the custody battle between Kevin Federline and Britney Spears, former bodyguard Tony Barretto revealed the torments of his job as her protector: He had to allow her to rub her breasts on him and grind with her on a dancefloor. In addition to sexual harassment, Barretto was charged with keeping her full of Special K (her favorite cereal), and orchestrating the shutting down of Rite-Aids so the star could shop in privacy. [News of the World]

[Image: Seth Browarnik/Wire Image]

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by (@katespencer)

Friday: Nice Day for a Spears Wedding

jamielynn-1221.jpgAngelina Thinks We’re Obsessed with her Bod
Angie’s mad we got all freaked out by her skin and bones look this year. Just stop looking too thin and we’ll stop caring. [Us]

Is Jamie-Lynn Having a Shotgun Wedding?
Family members weigh in (oh, how the spotlight feels good!) on whether or not Jamie-Lynn Spears will wed her 18-year old sweetheart/baby-daddy. [People]

Jessica Alba Won’t Wear White While Pregnant
Just another knocked up Hollywood starlet who won’t walk down the aisle with a baby belly. [Us]

R. Kelly: Late for Court
The singer avoided arrest on child porn charges by showing up to court, but claimed the police made him late. Er, or he was too busy chatting up some kids outside the court house. [Bossip]

Ashley Tisdale Nose Backlash
The High School Musical star is getting a lot of hate thrown her way about her new, face-changing nose. Remember Jennifer Grey? Exactly. [TMZ]

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Hottie of the Week: Mary J. Blige

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Photo_20x9_1 All Mary J. Blige Pics

The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and R & B releases her latest record today, Growing Pains. By all accounts, it’s a fine addition to her already impressive catalogue, featuring singles like “Work That,” which you might have seen on the ol’ iPod commercial. (Damn you, Mac! You and your cleverness will rue the day!) We couldn’t think of a more fitting pre-holiday hottie than Mary J. You all know her story: Discovered at a mall in 1988 covering Anita Baker’s “Rapture,” the songstress soon met Andre Harrell and was on her way superstardom. Diddy helmed the production end of her debut, and from there, the sky was the limit. She’s been nominated for a Grammy and will no doubt appear at the awards show, so until February, these photographs are just going to have to suffice.

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Top 20 Albums of the Year (16-20)

Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year?s releases, and for the past three Thursdays, we?ve delivered five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.

Britney Spears, Blackout (JIVE)

16_britney.jpg The weirdest chapter in Britney Spears‘ incredibly weird year was that amid the rehab(s), the head-shaving, the VMAs bombing, the pole-dancing video that made Lindsay Lohan‘s I Know Who Killed Me look like actual art, the paparazzi run-ins, the child endangerment and the actual blackouts, Britney was able to turn out the album of her career. The 12-song Blackout isn’t art, per se, but it reflects what pop music in 2007 is so well that you wouldn’t be faulted for mistaking it as such. How much does its achievement have to do with Brit? Who knows. It could be that she sleepwalked through the making of it, showing up at the studio inebriated and letting producers like Danja, Bloodshy & Avant and the Neptunes do their progressive thing while she essentially rubber-stamped the stomping dance tracks with her notoriously unremarkable larynx. But it matters not: if on Blackout, she’s just the puppet she’s always been accused of being, she’s puppeting remarkably well. In the end, it’s reasonable to assume that she had a hand in selecting what made Blackout‘s final cut, and if that’s the case, she made up for a year of bad decisions with 12 fabulous ones.

Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (MERGE)

17_spoon.jpg With a title so dadaist, it?s ironic that Spoon?s sixth album is their most clear. But maybe it isn?t so ironic: the album?s title is taken from the onomatopoetic piano line that courses through the album?s second track ?The Ghost of You Lingers.? Rather than sail over the heads of their fans with the prickly, oblique lyrics frontman Britt Daniel has become famous for, the band seems to have gotten down to the bedrock elements of music ? sounds and feelings. Examples of the band?s movement toward sincerity riddle the record: Daniel tells his own genesis story on ?Finer Feelings,? empathizes with the long shot on ?The Underdog,? and even allows listeners behind the curtain on ?Don?t You Evah,? which begins with a studio joke between band members. The band get deeper into their influences, following in the foot steps of their punk-pop forefathers the Clash and experimenting on the down-beat reggae ode to a femme fatale ?Eddie?s Ragga.? ?You Got Yr Cherry Bomb? recalls Phil Spector?s production, filled with heavy reverb and horns. Breezing by in just 36 minutes, the band prove there?s no genre they can?t deftly maneuver.

Kanye West, Graduation (DEF JAM)

18_kanye.jpg Haughty is as haughty does. Hip-hop?s most reliable MC hasn?t given up on positioning himself as hip-hop?s most successful MC ? you know, hitting the club with all that fresh sh*t on and something crazy on his arm. But his bluster (?I always had a passion for flashing?) has oodles of creativity behind it, and it?s been a long time since any mic fiend dropped three home runs in a row. The rhymes may not be as perfect as those on College Dropout or Late Registration, and subject matter may be a tad monolithic, but with the striver-speak of ?Good Life? and ?Stronger,? the Luis Vuitton don can definitely lay claim to his hat trick.

Feist, The Reminder (INTERSCOPE)

19_feist.jpg As has been pointed out several times over, Feist once sang ?It may be years until the day my dreams will match up with my pay.? It only took about three years. The former punk-screecher turned filth-rap posse member turned Canadian musical collective member has worn many hats during her career, but it turned out Feist?s solo songs would spawn the most success. From the now ubiquitous revival-type feel goodery of ?1 2 3 4? (you know?the iPod song), to her vamping ?My Moon My Man,? to her update of the Nina Simone?s ?Sea Lion Woman,? Feist appears to have assembled the type of self-revelations (?I?ll be the one to break my heart,? ?There?s so much present inside my present,? ?You?re changing your heart, you know who you are?) that take people thousands of dollars and years in analysis to come to.

Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad (DEF JAM)

20_rihanna.jpg If Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer were to spend their time writing music as opposed to blowing up tractor trailers in movies, this is the kind of record they?d make — a big-budget splashy blockbuster, all done up in vibrant Technicolor with the audio to match. Rihanna, a Barbados-born teen, had shown earlier promise with infectious hits like ?SOS? and ?Pon de Replay,? but nothing on the size and scale of Good Girl, which continues to spawn hits long after its release (and that was only last May, if you can believe it). First, of course, there was ?Umbrella,? where she stretches the syllables of the word in the chorus to fit the melody — ?Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-oh-oh.? Genius. With its non-threatening, vaguely maternal offer of shelter from the rain, Rihanna welcomed fans by the dozen. She quickly followed that up with the Michael Jackson-inflected ?Don?t Stop the Music,? the sweet soul of ?Hate That I Love You,? the sad strains of ?Cry? and the tough stuff of ?Shut Up and Drive,? a song so powerfully poppy that they should probably seal it in a jar and bury it in the Nevada weapons-testing zone lest it get out and inspire generations to skip school and head straight for the studio. Who knew it was possible to craft pop so expertly in 2007?

by (@katespencer)

Kanye West Wants to be Black & White

kanyewest-1220.jpgHere’s a wonderful quote from that talented guy who’s really self-obsessed, Kanye West. He shared some insight in a recent interview with Spin Magazine on how he’s a “tastemaker” (check out those glasses he’s wearing and judge his taste for yourself) because he finds the best of what he thinks white people and black people have to offer. To Kanye, this means that black folk cook up some damn good food and white folk rock some solid credit. Hurray for stereotypes!

?I?m a pop enigma. I live and breathe every element in life. I rock a bespoke suit and I go to Harold?s for fried chicken. It?s all these things at once, because, as a tastemaker, I find the best of everything. There?s certain things that black people are the best at and certain things that white people are the best at. Whatever we as black people are the best at, I?m a go get that. Like, on Christmas I don?t want any food that tastes white. And when I go to purchase a house, I don?t want my credit to look black.?

[Bossip]

by (@katespencer)

Tony’s Teammate Bashes Jessica Simpson

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We hopped on the anti-Jess boat a long time ago and paddled far far away into the sea so we could resist the temptation to buy her shoes, envy her hair or laugh at her pathetic movie career. But now Dallas Cowboy player Terrell Owens has joined party, trash-talking Jessica after her boy-toy Tony Romo played his worst game ever with her in the stands. He said:

“Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite ? in this locker room or in Texas Stadium. With everything that has happened, obviously with the way Tony played and the comparison between her and Carrie Underwood, I think a lot of people feel she has taken his focus away. Other than that, she was high on my list until last week.”

But just as we were falling in love with Terrell, he goes and takes back his original diss! Because Jess presumably has the same sense of humor as a rock, Owens is now all like “I tried to get (Romo) to call her so I can explain to her that she doesn’t really know me and that I can be funny. And that everything I say, the media will take it and run with it. It’s not a big deal. I will try to rectify the situation between her and I.” Why is it that the second these dumb waste-of-hair-extensions pout about something, people feel the need to backtrack? Terrell was just about to be granted genius status in our book.

by (@katespencer)

Jamie-Lynn Still Pregnant, 6 Months To Go!

jamielynn_britney.jpgYou better not claim to be sick of the Jamie-Lynn baby drama yet! We’re only 2 days in and there’s so much to get caught up on. Let’s make it quick and painless (unlike that ol’ thing called birth that J-L’s gonna tackle in the Spring).

  1. Jamie-Lynn and her baby-daddy aren’t dating anymore. Girl’s going at it alone in the delivery room with her mom by her side! Brit will have to stay in the waiting room.
  2. Hey ex Casey Aldridge may be guilty of statutory rape, depending on where the baby was conceived. Someone steal J-L’s diary!
  3. K-Fed knew about the pregnancy before Britney. Telling the stable one first is always a wise plan.
  4. Papa Spears is allegedly “devastated” and thinks that Jamie-Lynn “ruined her life.” Give her a chance to at least ruin the kid before you say that, Dad!
  5. Finally, Brit has already sent her lil’ sister a gift basket of goodies – like this super-cheesy sequined tank top – though a more appropriate gift would have been a handwritten list of mothering advice. Then J-L would know what not to do.

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by (@katespencer)

Britney’s Worst Year Ever: August

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You were there through the bad driving, the head-shaving, and the Criss Angel thing. It?s been a tough year for our girl. No one could have imagined a mere 12 months ago that she?d create such glorious new nonsense every week. Some of the craziness escapes you? Come back every day: We?re counting down the events that made up the Year in Britney.

August 1Mom of the Year - The Britney backlash chugged on full steam ahead when numerous tabloids published disturbing details about B’s mothering skills. Teeth whitening for her tots! Feeding her babies juice! Just typical stuff in Britney’s Bizarre House of Horrors! [Us]

August 7 - I’m a Brainiac – Britney fortified her “crappy driver” status in August, when she hit a parked car while trying to pull into a parking spot. After declaring “I’m a brainiac” and asking the paps “what should I do?” Britney gets back to focusing on the important matter at hand, wailing, “Did I hurt my car?” Nope – just your reputation! [IDLYITW]

August 15Photoshopped much? – Britney appeared on the cover of Allure magazine, but damn, it sure didn’t look like Britney! Clean, sexy, not driving or chugging Starbucks – it was nice to see her looking so put together, even if it was a result of fabulous photo editing. [ONTD]

August 17 - Angel Eyes – BritBrit continued her quest to date every fugly dude in Hollywood when she took a liking to lame illusionist Criss Angel. The two were spotted carousing around Las Vegas, heightening the rumors that Britney would indeed perform at the VMAs. While Angel claimed they were pals with a mutal manager, working on a project together, the hours they spent holed up in hotel rooms seemed to signal otherwise. In the end, Criss was nowhere to be seen come the VMAs and as we know, Brit bombed. Maybe his magic tricks would have helped? [People, TMZ]

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Top 20 Albums of the Year (11-15)

Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year?s releases, and for the past two Thursdays, we?ve delivered five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.

LCD Soundsystem, Sounds of Silver (DFA)

11_lcdsoundsystem.jpgJames Murphy is the patron saint of downtown cool, and anything he or his record label touches instantly becomes an indie treasure. What?s most extraordinary about his sophomore release is its accessibility — at its heart, this is a bubblegum pop record, and not the salty organic kind of gum you buy at the health food co-op, either. We?re talking Bubblicious here, people. Long renowned for long-playing dance-floor remixes and shoe-shopping house beats — his other record this year, 45:33, provides an excellent example of that — Murphy?s work on Sounds of Silver is discreet, short and frequently to the point. ?North American Scum? is precisely the kind of song you want with you at the gym, a self-deprecating slice of upbeat funk with lyrics that?ll never make the Republicans happy: ?New York?s the greatest if you get someone to pay the rent . . . and it?s the furthest you can live from the government.? Then there?s the new wavy ?Someone Great? and ?All My Friends,? a song so suffused with nostalgia and desire it sounds like it belongs in a John Hughes movie. It?s excellent, easy to listen to and innately underground, and it?s been a long time since those three elements intersected in a pop album. Yes, there?s a sense of unrequited longing here, but so much the better for Murphy if he keeps producing work like this.

M.I.A., Kala (INTERSCOPE)

12_mia.jpg For her second album, thinking-liberal’s pop star M.I.A. traded political sloganeering and an abundance of hooks for something much simpler: an album of bangers, bamboo and otherwise. Compared to her 2005 debut, Arular, Kala‘s beats are more propulsive, its messages are more opaque and its cultural mining is even stronger. The resulting album is all prowess and ire and recontextualized sound. It is, at heart, a hip-hop record, and because it’s so effective and singular and forward-thinking, it’s the heart of hip-hop in ’07, period. As always, M.I.A.’s speak-singy vocals turn charisma into a fine art. Her personality is so huge, she’d have Rihanna‘s career if the world were fair. But then, her whole point seems to lie in reminding us that it isn’t.

Band of Horses, Cease To Begin (SUB POP)

13_bandofhorses.jpg Let?s forgive them the fact that their songs are all about mood and aura, rather than ?feelings? or the problems that bring those ?feelings? about. And let?s forgive them the fact that the singer veers into Supertramp territory now and again. Let?s just bathe in the eerie pomp of the chiming guitars and the rhythm section?s splashy forward motion. Like U2 sleeping over at the Jayhawks? house, these guys make melancholy anthems that love to reverberate everywhere before they slink home with the echoes dissipating in the distance. Maybe it?s their recent move to North Carolina, but for a grandiose outfit there sure are quite a few moments where twang takes over. Dream pop disc of the year.

Radiohead, In Rainbows (ATO RECORDS)

14_radiohead.jpgIt was a David & Goliath tale, if David were a band of insanely talented mope rockers and Goliath was the desperately floundering record industry. In short, the band revolutionized the music industry in 42 minutes and 34 seconds, with 10 songs: The band would offer its newest effort, In Rainbows, and whatever folks felt fit to pay, well, that?s the price of the album. It would be considered an impressive move by a lesser band. That the band was one of the most popular, and simultaneously respected, outfits in music today only compounds the coup. But to concentrate solely on marketing techniques, the implications of morality and the free market economic discussions this generates would miss the point: the band has made a gorgeous album. From the glitchy snares and waltzing jazz guitar of ?15 Steps? to the stark, maker-meeting ?Videotape? that seems to take its percussion from a funeral march, the album shows a marked change in the four years its been since Hail to the Thief. Gone is the politically tinged rock invective, and the verse-chorus-verse songs. Radiohead has made an opus, difficult to splice into song, and utterly captivating throughout.

The Shins, Wincing the Night Away (SUB POP)

15_theshins.jpg It?s amazing James Mercer can get a word out, let alone an album, without choking altogether. Following the release of Oh, Inverted World, indie director Zach Braff latched on to it, using the majority of the album as the soundtrack to his movie, and even having his protagonist Natalie Portman utter the phrase: ?This band will change your life.? That the band went on to make two records improving on the home-recording-honed formulae James Mercer devised for their debut is a feat. With their melodic base well-established, the band appeared to move outward from that point; experimenting with sound (?Sea Legs,? with its plastic bags popping as percussion) as well as perspective (?Phantom Limb? tells the story of two teenage lesbians alienated at their school).