What’s Really Wrong With Pop Music Today?

With the Sugababes lodged at No. 1 for the fourth straight week, The Guardian‘s Kitty Empire wonders where all the male pop stars have gone. It’s not a new observation – and it’s not even really true. There are, of course, our man Justin Timberlake and Britain’s own Shayne Ward and Take That. As Empire herself notes, black male pop stars here in America like “Omarion, Joe, Ne-Yo, Akon, and Mario” are still “potent chart players.” But when Justin Timberlake sings obviously R&B songs, it’s considered “pop,” but when Omarion does, it’s something different. I won’t even touch the condescending racism involved there.

A more interesting conversation would tackle the dearth of pop groups both here and in Britain. Yes, there’s The Pussycat Dolls, but no one really considers them anything more than Nicole Scherzinger and a group of interchangeable back-up dancers. Sugababes and Girls Aloud are obviously still very popular in the UK, but over the years, they’ve had no successful successors to the girl-pop throne. Pop these days is all about the singular star, the frontman who is the sole songwriter and band spokesperson, the one “personality.” It’s sad because bands can be a great example of community and teamwork in which the loss of one means the whole band falls. (Could you have imagined TLC moving forward after Left Eye‘s death?) Hell, I’d just be happy to hear real harmony instead of multi-tracking on the radio again.

Thank God for The Spice Girls reunion. I am stoked to see them back together. As we know, the Spice Girls wouldn’t be The Spice Girls without cuckoo diva behavior, and they did not disappoint this past week. According to The Sun, the girls laid the strop on thick while shooting their new video.

“New mum EMMA BUNTON cried like a Big Baby Spice after the shoot ran on to 3 am.

MEL B spent the whole day moaning about her jetlag after flying in from LA. GERI HALLIWELL insisted on a particular brand of bottled water, then kept holding up filming while she meditated.

And VICTORIA BECKHAM got an assistant to follow her around carrying fruit and champagne.

The marathon session was too much even for sporty MEL C – who was desperate to go home.”

See, each of these ladies is a self-involved twit. But in her own way.

Britney Spears‘ “Gimme More” has jumped to No. 3 on the UK charts, repeating its U.S. chart success. Timbaland‘s re-working of One Republic‘s “Apologize,” Mika‘s latest falsetto fest “Happy Ending,” and the Freemasons remake of Alanis Morissette‘s “Uninvited” also made Top 10 debuts this week. The ‘Babes had better watch their backs: next week, Take That and Leona Lewis will vie for the top spot.

1. Sugababes – About You Now
Watch the video

2. Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse -Valerie
Watch the video

3. Britney Spears – Gimme More
Watch the video

4. The Hoosiers – Goodbye Mr. A
Watch the video

5. Ida Corr vs. Fedde Le Grand – Let Me ThinkAbout It
Watch the video

6. Timbaland ft. New Republic – Apologize
Watch the video

7. Mika – Happy Ending
Watch the video

8. Freemasons ft. Bailey Tsuke – Uninvited
Watch the video

9. 50 Cent ft Justin Timberlake – AYO Technology
Watch the video

10. Shayne Ward – No U Hang Up/IfThat’s Ok With You
Watch the video for “No U Hang Up”
Watch the video for “If That’s OK With You”

In other news:

  • VH1 has jettisoned its reality-TV search for a Spice Girls tribute band because they hadn’t cleared the idea with the Fab Five.(Mirror)
  • Siobhan Donaghy sends the new Sugababes her best wishes, but – you guessed it – she still hates Keisha Buchanan. The Rent star tells The Mirror: “I don’t have any contact with Keisha. I don’t like her. We didn’t get on in the band and we don’t now.”
  • The Verve has released their first post-reunion single as a free download on NME.com.
  • Could a Suede reunion be next on the horizon?(Contact Music)
  • Kinks frontman Ray Davies – who released a solo album for free in yesterday’s London Times – talks to the paper about the state of the recording industry. Speaking about the Kinks’ early contracts, Davies says, “We got totally ripped off. Now, though? I’m not saying Oxfam should start a record company, but it’s getting that way. At what point does it become charitable? The good thing about the music industry, back in the Wild West days, was that there was always another crook to go to. Now, it’s down to two or three major labels that own the world.”
  • Actor Rhys Ifans says his collaboration with Super Furry Animals has left Noel Gallagher “quaking in his boots.”(NME)

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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