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.
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.
The always controversial Lady Gaga paid a visit to the always controversial Howard Stern this morning but, somewhat surprisingly, the results were anything but controversial (if you missed it, you can listen to the full Gaga/Stern interview here). Howard being Howard, he tried to get Gaga to spill the beans on her acknowledged history with cocaine and bisexuality, but with tons of Little Monsters listening in, Gaga refused to get too tawdry with the tales she told the King of All Media.
“I regret every line [of cocaine] I ever did,” Gaga confessed. “So to all of the little sweethearts who are listening – don’t ever touch it. It’s the devil.” Proving that she’s taking the maternal responsibilities of being the Mother Monster very seriously, she also advised her littlest Monsters that abstinence is the best policy. “I really think that kids have sex way too young,” she said, and “I’ve got a lot of young fans and I love you and I respect your show and I know you want to talk about sex and cocaine – but honestly you should wait as long as you possibly can to have sex.”
Now, this isn’t to say that Gaga was boring because she refused to get down and dirty with the shockiest jock. Rather, her 90 minute(ish) interview was full of candid and emotionally powerful moments. Her conversation near the end of the interview with High Pitch Mike (one of Stern’s regulars) resulted in one of the more touching moments of the Howard Stern Show’s last few years, and Gaga’s soaring, piano-only performances of “The Edge of Glory” (listen here) and “Hair” (listen here) made the hair on the back of this writer’s neck stand at attention. It made us wish that Gaga would release a stripped-down, acoustic version of her Born This Way, one that would allow her lyrics and melodies to dazzle in the way that they were intended to without listeners getting barraged by overly trance-y production.
Meanwhile, in the Twitterverse, last week’s MermaidGate continued to rage on, spurred on by none other than the original wheelchair bound mermaid herself, Miss Bette Midler.
Only Katy Perry could make planking controversial. At about 1:45AM ET she posted the twitpic above of herself dressed as a mermaid, ostensibly on some sort of set, in this tweet:
In less than an hour, the TwitPic’s comments were swarmed by angry Gaga fans. Remember Lady Gaga’s “Yuyi the Mermaid” character from “Edge of Glory” her next single? How could Katy copy Gaga, these fans wonder, generally by tweeting the hashtag #KatyCopyGaga (and, not infrequently, referring to Perry as a b?ch). Pastiche is an essential part of pop iconography, and Gaga herself has been accused of much more specific and serious appropriation, but try telling that to her superfans.
Gaga is an expert at directing her fanbase, whether for self-promotion or the “Get Well” video for Clarence Clemons. This independent call to arms (call to paws?) among Little Monsters, ostensibly acting on Gaga’s behalf, is hardly different from, say, hacking Amy Winehouse’s website. Apparently, this is what happens when you (appear to) copy a singer on the Internet.
The first two stops of Britney Spears‘s Femme Fatale Tour are in the can, and the reviews are in. Is the tour a success? It depends whom you ask (or maybe which night you attended).
Carla Meyerraved at the Sacramento Bee about Spears’s tour kickoff on Thursday night, a “relaxed” yet “excited” performance that was no less professional for the “fun” Spears had while “hitting all her marks.” Barry Walters, who attended the same show for Rolling Stone, reported the same: “She’s wisely focusing on the present…while offering possibly her flashiest, fastest moving, and most entertaining production yet.” He complimented her agility and showpersonship.
The two reports disagree on opener Nicki Minaj; Meyer praised her “magnetism” and “attention to detail” while Walters thought the set “lacked in commitment.” Both did find it (understandably) strange that Spears’s “Till the World Ends” performance featured an onscreen Minaj instead of an in-person one.
Naturally, this apparent Gaga diss by Kahn infuriated the Little Monsters, who barraged Kahn so relentlessly on Twitter that his name became a trending topic “for all the wrong reasons.” After Gaga refused to come to his aid on Twitter, anonymous insiders close to production talked to the New York Post’s PopWrap blog and detailed the “disagreements” that occured on set between Gaga and Kahn, disagreements that led to Kahn disavowing the project entirely (the finished video for “The Edge Of Glory” is now listed as being directed by Haus of Gaga).
Bob Lefsetz may not have good music industry sense, but he sure has a good memory for personal feuds. The self-styled “First in Music Analysis” (who last week wrote that Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin didn’t have any online word of mouth) took a shot at Lily Allen in September 2009 after she decried filesharing on her myspace blog. Believing Allen’s complaints to actually be about Allen’s own relative lack of success in the United States, Lefsetz proceeded to criticize both her artistry and what he believed was an expectation of success due to birthright.
Last night Lefsetz rekindled the feud when Allen tweeted, “Everyone watch Case Histories on BBC1, my mummy produced it.” He fired back:
Moby‘s comments last week about what types of pop are and aren’t music isn’t the first time he’s taken shots at other artists. At the 2001 Grammy Awards he calledEminem ”a racist, a homophobe, and a misogynist.” But he’s not the only artist who’s feuded over art (and, implicitly, integrity). Here are the five most notable feuds of the last 20 years.
FEUD:Nirvana vs. Guns N’ Roses HOW IT STARTED: Nirvana never liked the lyrical misogyny and homophobia of Guns N’ Roses, but the feud officially got underway when Nirvana turned down an offer to open for the band on tour. KEY NIRVANA PULLQUOTE:Kurt Cobain, interviewed by Kevin Allman in the February 1992 issue of The Advocate:
I can’t even waste my time on that band, because they’re so obviously pathetic and untalented. I used to think that everything in the mainstream pop world was crap, but now that some underground bands have been signed with majors, I take Guns N’ Roses as more of an offense. I have to look into it more: They’re really talentless people, and they write crap music, and they’re the most popular rock band on the earth right now. I can’t believe it.
KEY GUNS ‘N’ ROSES PULLQUOTE:Axl Rose, on stage in Seattle: “Nirvana would rather stay home and shoot drugs with their bitch wives than tour with us.” WINNER: At the time, Nirvana by a mile, but as time has gone on and Cobain-as-icon has lost some of its political edge, it’s now closer to a draw. Read more…
The often misogynistic, homophobic combativeness of rap collective Odd Future continues to vex critics and artists alike. On Friday afternoon, Sara Quin of Tegan and Saraharshly castigated those who would praise Tyler, the Creator and/or misogynistic/homophobic music in general. Her short manifesto hints at a breadth and depth of thought on the subject of problematic art, as well as her own history in the music industry, though she unpacks little of what she suggests. She is particularly (and not necessarily unfairly) critical of what she sees as hypocrisy in the indie rock community (which, as Dr. Wendy Fonarowhas argued, esteems itself as particularly forward-thinking): “The more I think about it, the more I think people don?t actually want to go up against this particular bully because he?s popular. Who sticks up for women and gay people now? It seems entirely uncool to do so in the indie rock world, and I?ll argue that point with ANYONE.” She also touches on issues that often get elided in these communities?those of race and of class (although her essay’s oblique implications about Odd Future’s class standing are belied by their fairly suburban upbringing).