We don't know if Venus is in retrograde or God hates us or whatever, but we can scarcely remember a time in recent history where we've been subjected to a series of more non-stop, ear-punishing horrors than the past month. Between recent performances by Jason Castro, Teri Hatcher, and Fantasia (as accompanied by the inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade), we really didn't know how much more we could take. But those were all American Idol-advanced atrocities, which is why we thought we'd be safe with a seasoned pro like Usher on SNL. As the clip above will make quickly obvious, our assumption was dead wrong. Is this the worst performance in history? Probably not. But it's close, and contains the most hilariously spastic freestyle dance moves we've seen since Richard Simmons's Cranergy endorsement (to say nothing of more flat notes than a Post-It pad). Chris Brown: You're safe for now, Boo. [SNL]
Los Angeles-based social network Buzznet finally confirmed a long-rumored investment from Universal Music Group, which PaidContent earlier reported to be around $25 million, brining the total invested in the company to over $32 million. The social network, which has been focused on music fans from the start, has also become quite acquisitive, picking up popular music blog Stereogum and, most recently, Gawker Media title Idolator. And they may be looking to add more, according to an email published by The Daily Swarm. (Via Tech Confidential)
Ticketmaster, the event-ticket retailer whose monopolies on venues and exorbitant fees are legendarily evil, has somehow garnered nearly 157,000 fans on Facebook. And by "somehow" I mean "created thousands upon thousands of fake accounts." At least that's according to the East Village Idiot, who did some digging and turned up some obvious fakesters, like the hilariously misspelled "Stebe Jobs." Look for Stebe to accumulate thousands of fans of his own as desperate Apple fanboys friend the account to show their undying faith in the real Jobs's techno-cult.
Is Nick Denton going soft? Even his cutbacks are sentimental these days. In the old days, Denton, the publisher of Valleywag and 14 other Gawker Media blogs, would simply shutter blogs. These days, he worries first about finding them nice homes. Such is the velvet-glove treatment he's giving Gridskipper, Wonkette, and Idolator, his blogs about, respectively, travel, politics, and music. The three blogs amount to less than 3 percent of Gawker Media's traffic, he says. Fine, so why keep them around in any form? Silicon Alley Insider has the details on their new owners. More evidence of Denton's increasing namby-pambosity: Instead of threatening to fire leakers, he's encouraging us to post the internal memo announcing the move. Darling bossman, that's no fun. But also no reason to keep the memo from you, dear readers:
Prodigy, Mobb Deep's lead rapper and avid blogger, is currently locked up in Fishkill, NY. With all the time on his hands, he's been reading, writing, and philosophizing. And doing a lot of thinking about how racist the entertainment industry is. And making long, long lists of examples of racist cartoons, movies, TV shows, and advertising, and sending those lists out to be posted on blogs [VIBE]. He has a point! Can you add anything to this rundown?
Another week, another sex tape rumor. But unlike the somewhat harmless photos of good girl Kristin Davis that caught our attention a few weeks back, the news that Shakira and boyfriend Antonio de la Rua may have recorded each other Pam-and-Tommy style aboard a yacht sounds a bit racier. As one Spanish radio host put it, "if some of this tape's content would be made public, it could seriously threaten the singer and couple's private life." And aside from the prospect of seeing Shakira's famous curves dancing in dirtier ways we've ever seen, the story itself involves a third (and fourth!) party.
The crooner who's never gonna give you up is having his greatest hits collection rereleased by Sony BMG. Rick Astley: The Ultimate Collection will be out at the end of Aprill, which should make for some fun rickrolling gifts. Grand Theft Auto IV comes out around the same time. I can't be the only one with this idea to put the Rick Astley CD in the GTA IV case and give it to an unsuspecting friend. If you can't wait until the end of the month, you can pick up the digital version at Amazon.com or iTunes. Burn it on a CD for your own real-world rickroll.
Scott Moore, the former Microsoftie now running Yahoo's media businesses, has reorganized his group, which runs Yahoo's original-content websites. Out the door: Ian Rogers, the outspoken head of Yahoo Music, who had loudly criticized the music industry for insisting on copy protection. Rogers says on his blog that he's joining Topspin Media, a music startup, as CEO. Rogers also oversaw some of Yahoo's video efforts, which Moore now says he'll run personally. The reorg comes in advance of two days of all-hands meetings in Sunnyvale and Santa Monica in two weeks. Moore's memo:
Why is Apple suddenly in talks with record labels about bundling an unlimited music plan with new iPods, after resisting such a move for years? Steve Jobs has scoffed at music subscriptions in the past, saying customers want to "own their music." Never take Steve at his word: For years, he shot down the idea of iPods with video or an Apple-branded cell phone — until he made them happen. The same is about to happen for music subscriptions, I suspect — but not because Jobs has suddenly changed his mind about consumers' tastes.
Having many years ago traded our shitkicking, bar-brawling days for a pastier, stir-crazy life of bloggy servitude, our bittersweet tears of joy welcome this violent throwback to the good times. To wit: Apparently upset with a scene-stealing drunkard crashing her performance at Austin's Saxon Pub, country-fu pioneer (and Willie Nelson offspring) Paula Nelson landed a kick that commenced a fantastic Lone Star ass-whuppin'.
Ashley Alexandra Dupré, the call girl whom Eliot Spitzer knew as "Kristen," sold her song 300,000 times on online music store Amie Street. The site, a Jeff Bezos investment, sold the songs for $0.68 on average, putting Dupré's total around $204,000, the New York Post reports. Update: Amie Street's charts indicate Dupré's songs have been merely listened to 419,718 times, suggesting the Post's numbers might be off a bit. Either way, throw in a $1 million offer from Hustler, an ad campaign for something to be called Vodka #9 and a movie deal, and Dupré stands to make between $2.5 million to $5 million from the Spitzer scandal.
If we saw our mother spreading her legs on billboards and in the window displays of old-fashioned CD stores, we'd probably either disown her, change our names or move to Mars. Unless, of course, she was Madonna. Then we might just have to put the poster up in our rooms. Madge is turning 50 this year, and she's not letting that stop her from putting out her single most explicit album cover to date. Even Erotica's open lips and Confessions On A Dance Floor's spread eagle from behind don't compare with the artwork for Hard Candy, which features the B12 shot lover posing as an S&M-inspired boxer (of sorts) waiting to "kick your ass" (just as Madonna promised the album would do). But just because Madonna's putting it all out there now doesn't mean her more suggestive covers weren't ten times sexier.
A brilliant way to get reporters' attention: Invite them to a strip club. On assignment, of course! Unlikely crunk crossover rap group Three Six Mafia is promoting its new single with a "Strip Club Tour," and the media is encouraged to attend. "Please reply to this email by 3PM today (3/12/08) if your site has correspondents in the following markets and you would like to cover them at the strip club," says the pitch. Reporters across the South and Midwest are stumbling over each other to find the relevant angle on this one. On a professional level. After the jump, a full tour schedule, and a video of 3-6-M's new single "I'd Rather" Set to a montage of Eliot Spitzer photos. This may prove to be the most successful music marketing strategy of all time.
To say that David Archuleta arrived at the Idol Thunderdome last night carrying with him the judges' raised expectations is akin to saying the Magi had high hopes for that Nazareth kid over at the Ye Bethlehem Inn. He was, as Simon Cowell pronounced in the second week of competition, "the one to beat"—as good a coronation of Saviordom as any. His myth quickly grew: Animated woodland critters would suddenly appear every time he opened his mouth to sing...His voice could heal the lame, bringing to his feet scores of girls afflicted with a rare condition that rendered them incapable of lowering their arms...His farts smelled like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. But anyone watching could immediately tell that something was not right:
It's now official: We are in the midst of another Golden Era of Idol. You can toss it all at us—the gay stripper-boogers, the teen Mormon prodigies, the butch nurse-rockers (with male fiancés—DVR replay does not lie!), the off-duty drag queens with moms that look like Divine—but without a completely incoherent, equilibrium-challenged Paula Abdul, it really amounts to a whole lot of nothing.
One of the biggest weed-selling crews in New York was also behind a record label that distributed Wyclef Jean and a slew of reggae stars. The John Shop Crew was a violent, murderous gang moving a literal ton of marijuana per week from California; John Shop Records was the label they started with the profits. I see the subtle connection! Eight members of the crew were found guilty on gun and drug charges yesterday and could face up to life in prison [NYDN]. According to a 2002 article, John Shop was one of the three top weed crews in the city, and was locked in an ongoing drug war responsible for at least a dozen murders. Perhaps a reason to give your record label a different name. The label's motto was "Being real to the music, never hustle the music." No time to hustle the music when you're hustling all that REEFER, ha. John Shop's personal history [MySpace] of how they "made the music and they made the party" is below—inserting "and we passed around unlimited weed and cash" helps it all make sense.
On last night's American Idol results show, two of this year's nine virtually identical blondes—cloned at Fremantle Laboratories off a Season One contestant who's been kept in a veal stall and fed on a diet of protein-boosted Jamba Juice and easy-listening favorites—were at risk of elimination. Only one was cut however, and that was (checking the website again just to be certain) Alaina Whitaker.