The Spice Girls used to be the biggest British girl group in Billboard history–until two weeks ago. That’s when British girl group Little Mix‘s debut album, DNA, took the fourth spot on the Billboard charts and became the highest charting debut for a British girl group in history.
The X Factor
I’ve made the very difficult decision not to return for another season. I had an incredible time doing the show and I love the other judges and I am so proud of my teens but it’s time for me to get back in the studio.
She’s got a point. It doesn’t take much arguing to get listeners to agree that Spears’ take on Madonna’s British accent, as well as the return of “it’s Britney, bitch” are the best parts of “Scream & Shout,” her collaboration with will.i.am. The song is currently No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100, which speaks to the demand for more of Britney’s solo material.
Sure L.A. Reid may not be the huge celebrity draw for The X Factor like his co-judges Britney Spears, Simon Cowell or Demi Lovato, but his ear for talent is as seasoned as they come. L.A. Reid is known for his hand in leading music’s biggest acts–Mariah Carey, TLC, P!nk, Toni Braxton–to platinum success. His gift to spot a star the way a tiger smells its preys will be missed on the third season of The X Factor. Read more…
Earlier this week Bruno Mars‘ slick “Locked Out of Heaven” bumped Rihanna‘s “Diamonds” from the top spot to take #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and last night he took it out for a celebratory spin on The X Factor, a show that seems to have played host to many of our favorite live performances as of late. Artists seem to have embraced competition show’s stage as a place to put on flashy show (see: Taylor Swift‘s Joni Mitchell biopic audition) and a place to sing exceptionally well (see: Rihanna’s rave, Ke$ha’s glitter storm). Mars, an artist who is as good at performing hits as he is at writing them, proved no exception, blowing “Locked” to epic proportions and executing it perfectly on last night’s results show.
Mars brought with him his dancing backing band and a vivid red and green and yellow light show, as well his calling card fedora and his A-game. Mars is the sort of artist who sticks to the script, but last night he indulged some of the song’s more gripping moments. See for example the “you bring me to my knees / you make me testify” bit, which had him really flexing. Probably he earned himself another week at the top of the charts!
Her sea-punk cribbing green-screen act may have had the Internet up in arms, but what we really thought was most jaw-dropping about Rihanna‘s recent Saturday Night Live appearance was that stunning new ballad she performed called “Stay.” Rihanna’s not much of a vocalist, and studio 8H is not generally known as a place to really sing, but sing Rihanna did and she sounded so good. We didn’t know Rihanna could do — or even wanted to, for that matter — but we were blown away by it, and we were happier yet to see her do it again this weekend on The X Factor UK finale.
On a big stage and in a futuristic white cut-out dress, again finding emotional range and strength in her voice that we haven’t come to expect from her. The airplane-hanger sized space she was performing in remained silent through the song and when she moved into “We Found Love” without skipping a beat. She sang the first verse pared-down and from the gut like she did with “Stay,” but then seemed to catch herself. “Ooh!” she squealed, and the stage began spewing sparks and what had been a quiet performance erupted into some sort of spectacular laser-ridden rave we’ve only ever dreamed of. And so it seems, that first and very good SNL performance was no fluke — Rihanna’s for sure got that x-factor.
Last night, Ke$ha debuted her new single “C’Mon” on The X Factor in a pair of leather thigh high boots and with her bottle-blonde mane teased big. For most of the performance she stood alone on a platform, rolling around on the ground and performing stripper moves while singing astoundingly well. There were some lasers and projections of planets and tigers, but it seemed pretty pared down for a natural maximalist like K$. Until the song’s final breakdown that is, at which point her glowing palms summoned a troupe of foxes and a flurry of glitter. Phew! That’s our girl — a little rowdy, a little raunchy and a lot rock star. If Ke$ha wanted to do this every night we would certainly watch.
Where’s that “Umbrella” when you need it? Miraculously still on her feet after her whirlwind 777 Tour, Rihanna turned up on The X-Factor UK for a rather damp performance. Things began simple, the stage dark save for a glowing Rihanna in a curve hugging black gown and it seemed like she was going to play it straight and just sing. But then she made it rain, and not metaphorically, like she does in Unapologetic‘s dark strip club anthem “Pour It Up” — we’re talking literal raindrops falling from somewhere high above the X-Factor stage that left her dripping wet. She’s not the kind of girl that let’s a little mess slow her down though, and she belted her chart topper straight through to the end before breaking to wring her hair out.
Last night on The X Factor, Taylor Swift traded the top hat she donned for the MTV European Music Awards last weekend for a fedora; and rather then her go-to as of late, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” she opted to perform Red stand-out “State of Grace.” She stood alone at center stage — looking, we might add, a whole lot like Joni Mitchell, who she is rumored to be playing in an upcoming biopic — for a quiet first verse, while the audience shrieked impatiently. At the first chorus the song blows out into something much bigger, and the lights flashed on behind and she really, really began to sing. There were a few moments where her voice sounded a little shaky, but by the time she got around to explaining that “this is a worthwhile fight” while the lights flickered behind her, we were in full agreement that this just might be her golden age, good and right and real.
“State of Grace” may not be as obviously radio friendly as “Never Ever” or “I Knew You Were Trouble,” but this first live performance of it proved that it’s a sure crowd pleaser. What did you think of Taylor’s Joni Mitchell style? Do you think “State of Grace” could be a single?
Oh, poor Britney Spears still seems to be working out some of the rust after a few years out of the public eye. She’s done The X Factor pretty solid as a judge so far, but last night while attempting to lay praise on contestant CeCe Frey by comparing her to certain glittery pop star, she slipped: “Last night, I thought you had, like, an identity crisis, I felt like you were trying to be” — and then, at the third “like” it happened — “like Key-sha or something.” Ke$ha you mean? Oops!
Of course, it was an honest mistake. Dollar sign laden or otherwise, Kesha is not exactly a common name, and that Britney is probably not trying to live like she’s going to die young now that she has kids and all. But don’t these two know each other? Ke$ha proudly teamed up with pop savants Dr. Luke and Max Martin to write “Till the World Ends,” a song that really helped shake new life into Brit’s career, before taking her own turn on the remix. Should her fellow judges Simon (Simone?) and Demi (Deh-me) be concerned that — oops! — she might do it again? Or should we all just sit back and chuckle because, really, Ke$ha’s a famously good sport and Brit’s mispronunciation is kind of cute?
Things are heating up as finals teams are finally formed on X Factor and The Voice. I can’t wait to see how the skills of our favorite pop-stars-turned-reality-TV-judges Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera fare during the live shows, since we’ve been keeping close tabs on them in a fantasy rivalry of sorts each week. Join in by leaving your shirt indecently unbuttoned Simon Cowell-style while sounding off on who was the better judge below.
Sassiest Comment: “There’s a lot of talent in this group and you’re very good, but I just don’t know if it’s good enough.” Read more…