Out with the old, in with the new. For some stars, 2014 can't come fast enough.
Most of us appreciate the symbolic clean slate that presents itself on New Year's Eve. We feel like we get to hit "reset" on the minor missteps of the last 12 months, from ill-advised relationships to workplace drama — or at the very least, drink enough champagne to forget about them. And stars? They're Just Like Us! Well, almost: while we experience our cruddy career downturns and sometimes say stupid, potentially inflammatory things in the privacy of our own workplace and home, their misfortunes and shameful indiscretions are writ large and broadcast widely. And we eat. It. Up. (Like any toxin-laden meal, that'll probably prove cancerous to culture someday. But in the meanwhile: Gawk Right Now at These 25 Most Cellulite-y Celebrities Bending Over Without Makeup!)
So as you prepare for the evening's festivities and delete from your iPhone everyone who wronged you this year, feel in good/horrible company by taking a quick gander at these 13 celebrities who had an unlucky 2013. Two things: yes, I'm aware that some of these folks made their own bad luck, so to speak. And lest you accuse me of dwelling on the year's negative, come back tomorrow for 14 stars who are poised to have a very good 2014.
You can count me among the seemingly modest ranks who think her November release, Artpop, is actually Gaga's best start-to-finish album. Yes, it's overproduced at times. But it succeeds because it actually aims pretty low — shooting for pretense-free, poppy ear worms — and hits. Yet that pleasant reality is at odds with Gaga's exhausting, eye roll-worthy pre-release proclamations that Artpop is some first-of-its-kind moment in the merging of pop music and high art references. ("LOL SMH," David Bowie texted Madonna.) She's since wisely backed away from her hyperbolic instincts, but it was too late. Gaga fatigue had set in; Artpop underwhelmed in sales, moving less units than new albums from Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, singers she once eclipsed. She was overshadowed by a Hannah Montana twerk-fest at the MTV VMAs, and her American Music Awards performance of "Do What U Want," a surprisingly smart send-up of the music industry's misogyny, didn't ignite water cooler chatter the way covering herself in blood did in 2009. Following pundit chatter that she's "over," this was supposed to be a year that Gaga proved them wrong. But at best, her call for "Applause" earned only polite golf claps.
In case you missed it, last night E! aired I Am Britney Jean, a documentary about the making of Piece of Me, the hi-NRG choreography and pyrotechnics laden concert that opens on December 27 to kick off Britney Spears' two-year Las Vegas residency. (You can watch the whole thing here or below, at least for now.) But it also delved a bit into Britney's home life and — fleetingly but with greater honesty than her 2008 MTV special For the Record — her struggles with The Fame Machine. (The rise, fall, and halting comeback of the 90s-bred pop princess, and what it reveals about the America that created her, merits an entire book, not a blog post. No, I'm not kidding.)
The good news is, Spears seems as close to her "old self" as we've seen in years. Sure, her posture in recent interviews still occasionally betrays her paparazzi culture PTSD: when her shoulders hunch to her forehead and a pucker plasters across her face that looks like it is straining to withhold a vomit comet. But I Am Britney Jean proves that the goofy, endearingly awkward (when she's not consciously channeling "pop bombshell" playacting) Southern Belle of the Bayou is back. Or at least on her way. For real this time. No, seriously. She means it.
So to whatever flaming sword-toting warrior climbed the skull-shaped volcano, slaughtered the demon and stole back Britney Spears' soul: we thank you.FULL ENTRY
Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera bring glitter and girl power to 'The Voice' finale. And it's awesome.
Last night's finale of The Voice featured a rare moment of pop diva bipartisanship: Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera unleashed powerhouse vocals (and gold lame dresses up the wazoo) for a rousing duet rendition of the former’s current single, “Do What U Want.” The result was awesome, a Brave and the Bold style pairing of superheroes that also doubled as a Golden Girls-cum-Solid Gold tribute act. (In last evening's performance, the role of Dorothy Zbornak’s shoulder pads and Sophia Petrillo’s geriatric dance moves were played by Lady Gaga; Rose Nyland’s hair and Blanche Devereux’s sassitude were played by Xtina.)
Check it out. Warning: glitter and Ridiculous ahead.
As far as pop titan team-ups go, this was a pretty grand performance. But if you're a keen (or at least, somewhat obsessive) observer of pop culture, you probably appreciated it for another reason. The hand-holding belt-a-thon featured two singers coming off dicey professional years and rumors of a feud; paired with Gaga's song, which compares the patriarchal music industry's build-em-up-tear-em-down sadism to a form of misogyny, it was also a "sisters are doing it for themselves" moment of solidarity.FULL ENTRY
Night falls. A hush blankets the Hub. Cha-cha-cha... Ki-ki-ki...
It's Friday the 13th, and I intend to spend my evening the way any truly patriotic American would on this very special day when camp counselors died for our sins. (That's what it's about, right?) I will order up pizza and a marathon of the classic horror film series' best installments. And so should you — but if you're wondering where to start, here's how one fan of blood- and nostalgia-soaked 1980s slashers ranks the Friday the 13th series from worst to best.
Though I outlined fellow horror franchise Halloween here, let me be clear: that series actually boasts a few legitimately great and scary installments in its spooky tales of Michael Myers (you know, the killer with the white mask) stalking around the suburbs. These Jason Voorhees (the hockey mask guy) flicks are the trashy cousins about dumb kids chugging beers around campgrounds. They aim a lot lower, offering greater consistency albeit for diminished standards. Whereas the Halloween series occasionally makes a gourmet cheesy pie, Friday the 13th is a microwaveable Mama Celeste. Dear lord I'm hungry. Where's my pizza?
#12. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
For some ungodly reason, after 13 (hey!) years and eight previous installments that stuck to a tried and true formula — nubile teen + crunching leaves = OMG A MASK AND AX! — the producers of the series decided the ostensible final outing was the right time to get all creative. No. No it was not. Especially when the innovation was to take iconic serial psycho Jason almost entirely out of the movie, and focus on his shape shifting "evil essence" (eye roll) that hops from body to body and turns unsuspecting folks into killers. Sure. While we're at it, let's make The Final Jaws without a shark.FULL ENTRY
Boston! Where we hold true to our values: family, telling it like it is, and white/green color/font combos that remind me of my olduh bruthuh's Bird-era Celtics paraphernalia.
A teaser trailer has just been released for "Wahlburgers," an A&E reality show (debuting Jan. 22) starring brothers Mark, Donnie and Paul, chef at the eponymous Hingham burger joint, as they give each other good-natured jabs and run da-family-bidness.
It looks pretty entertaining. Plus: New Kids on the Block, burgers, and memories of Marky Mark and his Calvin Klein-covered funky bunch? That's a guilty pleasure hat trick right there.
The show seems likable. I'll take it with extra cheese.
It's worth noting that the Wahlberg brothers also own a highly acclaimed, upscale Italian restaurant (Alma Nove) next door. But who wants to see them run that? That might send the wrong kind of message to America: that Boston is not just a city of simple, scrappy sports fans and that — in between errands at the Christmas Tree Shop and fundraising firehouse chili cook-offs, of course — we even find time to serve as the country's hub for academia, health care, and progressive politics. We can't have that type of image out there. America's not ready for it, guys, and I want every visitor to our humble city to believe that they will be greeted off the plane with a lobsta' roll, a Dropkick Murphys song and a punch to the face.
But only cause we loves ya.
Note: It's also Throwback Thursday. Please enjoy the following video (un)ironically.
Tom Daley, who is famous for being the only Olympic diver I could name if a gun was put to my head (please don't test that theory), released a video this morning to get some news out there: since the spring, he's been dating a guy. Here's the announcement he sent out from his Twitter handle, @TomDaley1994, which contains his birth year as, I'm pretty sure, a gratuitous reminder that you're old and maybe a little pervy if you were like, ooh look at that Union Jack-loving dreamboat and his bedhead. So yeah, cool your jets already.
In and of itself, a celebrity "coming out moment" isn't all that rare anymore, and tends to be met with the prerequisite smattering of supportive golf claps. But diver Daley joins an elite group of extra-cool recent efforts (Jodie Foster: I liked it) and earns scorecards of solid 10s for taking this leap. Three reasons:
- In the Olympic world, Daley is a marquee name and pop culture darling. And the International Olympic Committee, in case you've been living under a rock, has been successfully dodging a serious look at the issue of Russia's anti-gay laws (so-called "propaganda" prohibitions that are so broadly reaching they could probably detain you for publicly wearing a Beyonce t-shirt) and how they will affect the safety of gay and straight ally athletes competing in next year's winter games in Sochi. Though Daley obviously won't be diving in the Kremlin anytime soon (he's readying to train for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio) maybe the coming out of one of the sports world's more popular figures will nonetheless encourage the IOC to actually address how Russia's policies conflict with the committee's Principle 6, which states that discrimination is "incompatible with belonging to the Olympic movement." (In the meanwhile, this new campaign involving American Apparel is trying to remind them.) FULL ENTRY