After taking a week off, the 15th season of Behind The Music returns next Monday, October 29, with a brand new episode focused on the life and times of six-time Grammy winner Toni Braxton.
Despite having released two major label LPs —one solo, and one alongside her sisters as a member of The Braxtons— it wasn’t until Toni Braxton released “You’re Makin’ Me High” in the spring of 1996 that she became a household name. As she explains in the latest episode of Behind The Song, there were some fears at the time that recording a track like this would be perceived as a “buckwild” turn by the fans who got to know her while she was on the gospel circuit. While LaFace executives Babyface and L.A. Reid were completely comfortable with this career pivot, it turns out that those “buckwild” fears weren’t entirely unfounded.
“A week before [writing the song with Babyface and Bryce Wilson], I was introduced to marijuana, and I got high for the first time,” Braxton confesses in this VH1 exclusive clip. “In the bridge, I’m singing ‘I want to feel your heart and soul inside of me / Let’s make a deal you roll, I lick / And we can go flying into ecstasy’, I was talking about [smoking a joint].” The innuendo was innocent enough to confuse Toni’s sister Towanda, avoid major scrutiny at radio (the song eventually went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100), and, ultimately, score a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
Pop star diva Briney Spears can now add judge of The X Factor to her ridiculously long list of achievements. Back in March, rumors sparked about the starlet potentially joining judges Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid, but nothing was confirmed. E! News reports Spears signed a $15 million contract to judge one season of the popular singing competition show. Would you expect anything less for the one and only Britney Spears? Read more…
We have to applaud our MTV News colleague Jim Cantiello for the “Burning Questions” segment of his interview with X Factor judges L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell—mainly because he found a way to talk about unsung jams, and we love jams. First: did you know that X Factor contestant Stacy Francis was once Stacy X of early-nineties new jack swing quartet Ex Girlfriend? Neither Reid nor Cowell did. (Nor had we!) Cantiello did, though, and cited an Isley Brothers remix as a particular favorite. It turns out that Ex Girlfriend were launched by Full Force, whom we remember for their work with Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, but whom you might remember for their scene-stealing moments in House Party, or their colorful videos.
After months worth of hype and countless reports of behind-the-scenes drama, Fox finally debuted the American version of the hit international show The X Factor last night. Despite endless amounts of promotion of the debut, which featured the much anticipated reunion of Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, the show started off modestly in the ratings. 12.1 million viewers tuned in last night, which is a far cry from American Idol‘s 2011 premiere numbers (21.6MM viewers). Simon has stated all along that his primary goal for the show is for it to beat American Idol and, well, it just might end up doing that over time. It certainly worked very hard last night to differentiate itself from the 800 lb. gorilla of the reality singing competition genre. Here are the Five Ways That Make X-Factor Better Than American Idol:
1) Simon Vs. L.A. Reid Is The New Simon Vs. Paula
With its original, three-person panel of judges, American Idol got a lot of mileage from—and won themselves a lot of fans by—focusing on the tense relationship between Simon and Paula. Like many great television couples of the past, the two bickered constantly, but over time, their relationship evolved from an antagonistic one into a more of a brother/sister dynamic. However, now that Simon has got a true titan of the music industry like L.A. Reid sitting opposite him at the judge’s table, there are bound to be some testosterone-laden, mano y mano flareups. Last night’s ep featured one such moment, where the two went toe-to-toe over a young black woman named Simone Battle who had the body of a Pussycat Doll and, well, the voice of a Pussycat Doll (which is to say, not much of a voice at all). Simon thought she had the talent (meaning: body) to become a “star,” while L.A. Reid—who famously told P!nk, “You’ll be a pop star, All you have to change is everything you are”—didn’t think she had the pipes to move along in the competition. Simon came out on top of that battle, but who will win the war?
Early on during last night’s MLB All-Star Game on Fox, the network took advantage of the number of eyeballs watching the game to debut their very first promo spot for The X-Factor, their new singing competition debuting this fall. And if there were any doubts before last night as to how Simon Cowell’s new show would attempt to differentiate itself from the newly nice —some would say toothless— American Idol and NBC’s ultra-positive show The Voice, they were eradicated approximately one-minute and seventeen seconds into this two-and-a-half minute long promo.
The promo begins in a hazy, fog-like state, with The X Factor judges Cowell, Paula Abdul (who, btw, is Botoxed to the gills), L.A. Reid and Nicole Scherzinger presiding over a parade of terrible singers. If things don’t seem quite right, it’s because they aren’t: No, the X-Factor contestants aren’t going to be horrible, and no, Simon Cowell hasn’t traded in his trademark skintight crewneck tees for a cabled pink sweater because this is all a nightmare! By now, the spot intimates that we should know that Cowell would NEVER be seen driving a wussy, electric Chevy Volt (Side note: weirdest product placement in a long time, right?); rather, he’s the kind of guy who rolls around downtown L.A. with X-FACTOR vanity plates on his $1.5 million Bugatti Veyron EB. And while he’s working, he’s not here to make friends; instead, he’s here to roll his eyes condescendingly at Paula Abdul! In short, he’s still the same A-hole S.O.B. he’s always been (which is something that Cheryl Cole would certainly confirm).
And that, Fox is betting, will be enough to get people to tune-in when The X-Factor debuts on Wednesday, September 21. Will they be right? Well, we’ll have to see now, won’t we?