The Kidz Bop Kids’ new video for “Born This Way” raises so many questions that we don’t even know where to start. Are the kids in the video even the same kids on the vocal track? (Does it matter?) How much money did this video cost (and how much did they save by shooting the commercial for Kidz Bop 20 at the same time)? Will this guaranteed-viral video approach the number of views (and for that matter, number of thumbs-down votes) that Rebecca Black’s “Friday” reached before it was pulled from YouTube? Is that an Orange amp onstage?? (Did a metalhead Kidz Bop employee get a pretty convenient write-off from this shoot?)
What’s really bugging us, on first blush, is the ways in which the song has been edited, presumably under the rationale of “suitability for child consumption.” We have defended the Kidz Bop series from easy aesthetic mockery simply because pop music is infectious and social and sometimes contains material that parents of the target 5-12 year old audience might find objectionable. (Kidz Bop 20 also contains versions of the radio edits of Cee Lo’s “F?k You” and Pink’s “F?king Perfect.”) But just because a parent might not want to answer a five-year-old’s questions about the mentions of racial background or sexual orientation doesn’t necessarily mean that Kidz Bop ought to have completely defanged the song.
The removal of mentions of sexuality is particularly problematic. We don’t necessarily agree with the removal of “You’re black, white, beige, chola descent/ You’re Lebanese, you’re Orient” (though in fairness, the word “Orient” in particular probably shouldn’t have made the cut for the original song), but we can understand that, say, the word “chola” has layers of meaning that might be beyond the understanding of children. Possibly the reason for eliminating mentions of race is in fact that race is a social construct, and thus, people are not “born” that way! (Okay, probably not.)
But the mentions of sexuality are merely labels, without specifics, and can be explained without any discussion of sex, by eliding the specifics of the words’ definitions into a simple explanation of what types of people “like” what types of people. And even if they felt the need to remove those lines, couldn’t they have left the practically innocuous “don’t be a drag, just be a queen” refrain alone? That omission is particularly glaring considering it can easily be read without connotation.
We’re curious whether Lady Gaga will take this up as a cause c?l?bre. She has no legal right to stop the Kidz Bop Kids from covering and releasing her song, but she can certainly condemn the edits, or maybe even donate the songwriting royalties she’ll receive from sales of the cover version to an appropriate organization. When she allegedly denied “Weird Al” permission to parody her song, the story blew up. And in a similar case of editing for children, Lee Hall’s opera Beachedbecame national news in the United Kingdom when a school district protested to lines about queerness (spoken by an adult to an adult, even).
We’ve listed all the lyrics that the Kidz Bop version of “Born This Way” excises below:
Behind The Music is moving to Sundays starting with this week’s premiere of the can’t-miss Mary J. Blige episode. In this sneak peek, Blige reveals how her budding romance with now-husband Kendu Isaacs inspired her to combat her worsening alcohol abuse. “The best thing you can do to me? Challenge me to challenge myself,” she says, and that’s exactly what Isaacs apparently did for her. She attributes her success to “willpower” and “prayer,” and admits, “It was hard.”
Make sure to catch the full episode on Behind The Music‘s new night, Sunday, July 24th at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Despite selling more than a million copies during its first week of release, Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way is being whispered about in many industry circles as both a creative and commercial disappointment. Some have even bandied around the theory that the record is suffering because the videos for the Born This Way singles thus far (“Born This Way,” “Judas” and “The Edge Of Glory”) haven’t scaled the same heights as her previous videos, like 2010′s Video Music Award winner for Video Of The year “Bad Romance.” And if the nominations for the 2011 VMAs are any indication, this theory may not be far off.
Four other artists (Katy Perry, Adele, Kanye West, and Bruno Mars) racked up more VMA nominations this year than the Mother Monster. Katy led the way with nine total nominations (including Video Of The Year and Best Female Video), followed by Adele with seven, Kanye with six and Bruno with four.
Gaga, too, must be feeling the pressure; how else to explain the recent media blitz of the last few days? As the summer progresses, no doubt more theories will emerge as to why Gaga didn’t (an idea that our own Nick Minichino touched on recently in his essay, “Ten Years Of The Strokes And The White Stripes, And The Question Of What’s Next”). But for now, we’ll leave the Gaga analysis alone, and instead share with you the complete list of nominations for the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, which will air live on Sunday, August 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”
Katy Perry – “Firework”
Beastie Boys – “Make Some Noise”
Tyler the Creator – “Yonkers”
Bruno Mars – “Grenade”
NEW KE$HA SONG ABOUT THE IMPENDING APOCALYPSE LEAKS ON YOUTUBE
You’ve got to hand it to the Sleazy one. Between this and “Till The World Ends,” she sure knows how to write a pop song about the end of days. [Popdust]
WHAT DOES THE CLOSING OF BORDERS MEAN FOR CLASSICAL MUSIC FANS?
When the nation’s number two bookstore chain decided to liquidate earlier this week, most of the initial attention rightly focused on the fact that 10,000 hardworking Americans are now out of a job. However, as we all know, the news cycle moves fast, and today NPR took a look at what the closure of Borders means for classical music fans. Borders sold more music in the classical genre than any other store in the nation, and apparently, classical music fans are still more apt to discover new music to purchase by traditional retail “browsing” than anything the internet has been able to replicate so far. [NPR]
Gather around, y’all … we’ve got scoop. After undergoing emergency surgery to drain an abcess from his tonsils, it’s been announced that R. Kelly is currently recovering in Northwestern Memorial Hospital in his native Chicago. Reps for the 44-year-old singer, famous for his incredible vocal ability on naughty songs like “Bump N Grind,” “Feelin’ On Yo Booty,” “Thoia Thoing” and “I’m a Flirt,” report that he’ll be “laid up indefinitely.” On this end, we certainly wish the R&B crooner a speedy recovery and hope that he can return home soon. Going under the knife is never fun, especially when the area being treated affects your livelihood!
Foster The People are on a roll. At this time last year, their catchy and distinctly unique sounding hit single “Pumped Up Kicks” had just started gaining some steam on the bleeding edge music discovery site, The Hype Machine. Flash-forward to present day, and that song is steadily climbing both the Billboard (#1 on Alternative) and iTunes (#21 in Singles) charts, propelling the Los Angeles-based indie pop act forward as they sell their club dates coast to coast.
We here at VH1 recognized the potential of the band early on, which is why we named them as our You Oughta Know artist earlier this month. Just prior to that announcement, Foster The People –which, if you’re keeping score at home, is made up of Mark Foster (lead vocals, keyboards, piano, synthesizers, guitar, programming, percussion), Mark Pontius (drums) and Cubbie Fink (bass) stopped by our offices here in the heart of Times Square and dazzled a particularly-enthused audience with a four song You Oughta Know Live set, just hours before performing a sold-out show at New York’s famed Bowery Ballroom. Our cameras followed them along all day long, and we’ve got the tantalizing results for you below in the latest installment of our recurring series, Music Seen. Enjoy!
Beyonc?‘s collaborators may be interested in taking shots at Kelly Rowland on her behalf, but Beyonc? herself has no interest in female-star infighting. In the cover story for the August/September 2011 issue of Complex, she refused to provide any grist about Rowland or any other female pop stars for the ever-churning rumor mill.
Interviewer Gabriel Alvarez tries to hedge a bit about rumors. “The fact that both released singles on the same day back in ?08 was somehow interpreted to mean that Bey was trying to sabotage Kelly,” he notes, implying a conflict on the level of Blur and Oasis in 1995, even while denying its veracity. In fact, Rowland’s “single” was actually the digital-only deluxe reissue of Miss Kelly, and Beyonc?’s “release” was “Sweet Dreams,” leaked the day after it was recorded, and months before the release of I Am…Sasha Fierce, so even a Beyonc? collaborator who might identify with Bhasker‘s Twitter outburst yesterday wouldn’t have purposefully made the song public.
To be fair, when Alvarez asks about drama, he does observes that “you can tell the question irks her, simply in the asking.” Beyonc?’s response, though, shuts the line of questioning down, despite Alvarez’s suggestion of “not-at-all subtle lines of distinction”:
There is room on this earth for many queens. I have an authentic, God-given talent, drive, and longevity that will always separate me from everyone else. I?ve been fortunate to accomplish things that the younger generation of queens dream of accomplishing. I have no desire for anyone else?s throne. I am very comfortable in the throne I?ve been building for the past 15 years.
What’s up, what’s up, back in the USA. Europe was fun, exciting, exhausting and productive, and the fans were really amazing. I am excited to be back in LA shooting the video for my second single today. As “Don’t Wanna Go Home” continues to grow, I am thankful for all the support and love, as we prepare for single #2.
This is actually my 7th video shoot, and where did the time go? I can remember being so excited and nervous on the “Whatcha Say” video. It was my first single, my first big video shoot and I had no idea what to expect. I stayed up all night anticipating and looking forward to the shoot day, and it ended up being an incredible learning experience. Seven videos later and I really feel that both I and the quality of my videos have grown tremendously. But there is still so much more growth ahead of me, and that is exciting and challenging at the same time. Have to shoot a scene now, but it is always great to write about my past, present and future, as I embark on the road to “Future History”.
Jeff Bhasker has worked with a slew of talented artists, penning and producing songs for Drake’sThank Me Later, Alicia Keys’The Element of Freedom, Jay-z’sBlueprint III, and Kanye’s808s and Heartbreaks and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With legit hits under his belt, it should be no surprise that his discerning ear also has some strong opinions. But sometimes, opinions are like a-holes, are they not??
Yesterday, when the producer who most recently worked on Beyonc?’s4 album (“I Care,” “Party,” and “Rather Die Young”) took to Twitter to?criticize former Destiny’s Child vocalist Kelly Rowland’s current hit “Motivation,” you could almost hear the record player come to a screeching stop. Confused as to why a song “with the weakest beat and melody of all time” could catapult Kelly to #1 on the Urban chart, Bhasker wound up justifying the feat by crediting at the song’s featured verse from rapper Lil Wayne.
Sorry, Emmylou Harris! You’re a very talented performer and your rendition of “New Orleans” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon yesterday was great. But when Justin Timberlake is also a guest, and he and Jimmy Fallon provide a sequel to their raucously entertaining “History of Rap” from September, you’re going to get upstaged.
Transitioning effortlessly from old-school classics like Kurtis Blow‘s “The Breaks” to early-nineties hip-hop head favorites like Black Sheep‘s “The Choice Is Yours,” to more recent hits like Lil Wayne‘s “A Milli,” the duo entertained the heck out of the audience in the crowd and at home. Wisely, the two touched on a number of dance-associated tracks, so Timberlake, in particular, could show off his best Dougie, robot, and even Ed Lover dance. They even rattled off a few bars of “Up In Here,” possibly in honor of DMX‘s recent release from incarceration. This is the rare sequel that matches the original, and it’s a must-watch.