Kanye West doesn't care about what you think. He doesn't care about the Grammys, he doesn't care for Jay-Z's latest collaboration with Justin Timberlake, and he certainly doesn't care about the president's opinion. During a rant at a concert in London on Saturday (which included charmers like, "The Grammys can suck my d**k," and "I got love for Hov, but I ain't f**kin' with that 'Suit & Tie'"), West revealed his disinterest in President Obama's not-so-high opinion of him. "I don't give a f**k what the president's got to say," West said.
Weezy is of course referring to the two times President Barack Obama has referred to the rapper as a "jackass." The first was during an interview with CNBC, following West's interruption of Taylor Swift when she accepted her award at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. The second was last April, in a piece in The Atlantic. In the latter incident, writer David Samuels asked Obama who he preferred, "Kanye or Jay-Z?" To which Obama replied, "Jay-Z … Although I like Kanye. He’s a Chicago guy. Smart. He’s very talented.” When Samuels then reminded Obama that he once called West a jackass, Obama replied, “He is a jackass."
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So while there's clearly no love lost between West and the Prez, the American public seems to be losing its patience with West. He has paired up with one of Hollywood's most polarizing figures — Kim Kardashian — and now seems to be purposefully antagonizing public figures America loves to love. Jay-Z? He's the best. Obama? The very best. Justin Timberlake? The bestity best best best. And yet, Kanye doesn't give a f**k.
Kanye's fall in popularity is nothing new. It's safe to say that he's been riding a downward trajectory since the infamous VMAs outburst, and not even his Watch the Throne album and tour with everyone's favorite husband of Beyoncé, Jay-Z, could buoy him back up. But now that Weezy has snuggled with Kim on Keeping Up with the Kardashians, it's safe to say he has hit a new low.
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Scientific, sociological studies (studies! with like, numbers!) have even proven that West's popularity has tanked since he impregnated a Kardashian. Does this make them the most annoying couple ever? E-Poll Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Randy Parker, the conductor of West's popularity poll, told the Huffington Post, "He was starting to bounce back from [the 2009 VMA incident with Taylor Swift] … There does appear to there is some sort of fallback or blowback from him hooking up with Kim. One of the things we measure is an attribute called 'Overexposed.' We find that people use it as a general way of saying, 'I’ve had it with you. You’ve just gone a little too far.' I’m guessing his overexposed score is quite high."
You guess right, kind sir. Unfortunately, the antidote to overexposure is definitely not more reality TV.
Follow Abbey on Twitter @AbbeyStone
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This episode marks the last night of this season’s blind auditions. I, for one, am profoundly disappointed by the utter lack of blindness puns in the songs our hopefuls have chosen — no “Blinded by the Light,” no “I Can See Clearly Now,” nor nearly enough selections from the catalogs of Blind Melon, Third Eye Blind, and Stevie Wonder. Maybe our last crop of contestants won’t disappoint.
Natalie Hernandez skipped both her prom and her brother’s graduation — guess they filmed this at least three months ago — to audition for The Voice, making this the climactic scene in the teen movie that is her life. (Then again, when you’re 15, every day is the climactic scene in the teen movie that is your life.)
Her earthy, distinctive voice shines on “White Horse,” turning around Adam, Blake, and Christina.
Natalie’s Result: Team Christina
The producers offer yet another defrosted pop star in Rod Michael, whose boy band B3 won fame in Germany — on a scale of 1 to Hasselhoff, maybe a 2.5 — but no recognition back home. You know a group didn’t make it too big when it doesn’t appear until the third page of Google search results for its name. (Coincidentally, were you aware that B3 is the vitamin niacin, as well as the name of a city bus route in Brooklyn? The More You Know™.)
Rod’s adequate version of “Please Don’t Go” has the ladies in the house screaming, but overall, he’s simply not a standout.
Rod’s Result: Team Nobody
Caitlin Michelle says that she discovered she could sing at the age of five, which raises the question, “What 5-year-old doesn’t think he or she can sing?” A victim of intense anxiety attacks, she has found solace in music throughout her life. But I don’t know, man. When I hear “panic disorder,” I don’t think “career in show business.”
I like her retro microphone tattoo and winged eyeliner, a look perfectly complemented by her male friend backstage (siblings, or dating?) and his handlebar mustache. Caitlin brings a dramatic, bold flair to Florence + the Machine’s “Cosmic Love,” though it doesn't seem like an ideal song to showcase her voice.
Caitlin’s Result: Team Adam
A modern-day Mozart, Nicole Johnson wrote her first song at age seven (her mom doesn’t go into detail, but I think we can safely assume it was a full symphony).
Her family moved to Nashville from Louisiana so she could better pursue her music career — listening to Nicole’s buttery-smooth “Mr. Know-It-All,” it seems like that might not have been a huge mistake.
Nicole’s Result: Team Blake
Kameron Corvet, a middle-school French teacher, sings — surprisingly — something other than “Frère Jacques.” Self-accompanied on guitar, he offers a cover of “Crazy” (not the Gnarls Barkley “Crazy,” unfortunately) that’s good, but not good enough.
Kameron’s Result: Team Nobody
Chevonne sang back-up on Lady Gaga’s Monster Ball tour, which is impressive, but it’s this video that I just found on YouTube that’s led me to declare myself a Little Chevonnester (the first ever?).
Her “Brass in Pocket” — oh my god, I love this song, y’all — is a lot of fun, and not unlike Gaga in style.
Chevonne’s Result: Team Cee Lo
Seventeen-year-old Kayla Nevarez credits her father for fostering her interest in soul, R&B, and “doo-wops and stuff.” Sadly, he isn’t here to cheer her on because he’s ailing from a serious liver disease — a crisis that has placed financial and emotional stress on their family. She sends a tearful greeting to him back at the hospital, and because I am a horrible person, I find myself considering the possibility that he may have died since this episode was recorded.
The coaches go crazy for Kayla’s “American Boy,” and rightly so. I love this song (although I have to ask — it might just be that I’m a freakish giantess — but whose ideal man is 5’7”, Estelle?), and Kayla masterfully handles its fast, conversational pace.
“I’m your coach,” Christina informs her, seemingly unwilling to take no for an answer — too bad, because a no it is.
Kayla’s Result: Team Adam [and he’s full!]
Still only 16, Celica Westbrook was offered a place on a Bieber tour two years ago, but it didn’t pan out — we’re never told exactly why, so I can only guess that it’s because she got Justin pregnant. Also, “Celica?” It’s like her parents picked a first name out of a hat full of Toyota models, and a last name out of a hat full of prominent NBA players.
Camry Durant’s mature, effortless cover of “A Thousand Years” sets off a feeding frenzy among the three judges with spots remaining in their teams.
Celica’s Result: Team Christina [and she’s full!]
Jessica Cayne, a full-time musician from Georgia, has struggled all her life with insecurity and weight issues. She brings a bad-girl twang to “Good Girl” (honey, why you insecure when you pretty and you sing real nice?), but she goes unchosen. I have to say I’m actually bummed that no one picked her (ahem, BLAKE).
Jessica’s Result: Team Nobody
(Suddenly, Cee Lo’s cockatoo is perched on his head. I wish I could tell you what he’s saying, but I have no idea, because as I said, Cee Lo’s cockatoo is perched on his head.)
Forty-six-year-old Rudy Parris began playing music in the 1970s, but took a step back from his career to raise his daughter. Now a grandfather — though his long, jet-black hair might have you doubting that — he’s ready to give it another try.
A cover of “Every Breath You Take” reveals his full-bodied country vocals, and I’m not surprised to hear that he’s toured with Hank Williams III (whose real first name, Blake hammily points out, is Shelton).
Rudy’s Result: Team Blake [and he’s full!]
Cody Belew, the improbably (and charmingly) flamboyant son of a bull rider, believes that he must have been “an elderly black lady” in a past life. Of all the coaches, Cody prefers Cee Lo, admiring his innate sense of crazy.
His better-than-competent cover of “Hard to Handle” earns a last-second button-press from Cee Lo. Cody at first doesn’t realize that Cee Lo has chosen him, so when he finally does, he lets loose with a joyful barrage of (heavily bleeped) celebratory cursing. Cody might not win The Voice, but he’s certainly No. 1 in terms of s-grenades launched on air.
Cody’s Result: Team Cee Lo [and he’s full!]
Tonight, The Voice is back with The Best of the Blind Auditions. The battle rounds begin next Monday; I’ll be preparing myself by reading books of World War I poetry and quietly weeping. Dulce et decorum est pro patria cantare.
Find me on Twitter @mollyfitz.
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When Fox announced that Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and host Steve Jones were leaving The X Factor last January, my entire system went into shock. See, it may not say this on my resume, but I am Hollywood.com's official X Factor expert. Having survived last season's bootcamp, almost every live show, and several instances of Stacy Francis-induced auditory-rape, I now proudly display my X Factor PhD above my cat pictures as a badge of courage. The show was an absolute mess, but I loved it that way — and eliminating its three craziest elements, I feared, would ruin the fun forever.
With Jones gone, who would be there to awkwardly thank the show's "sexy dancing people?" Without Scherzinger, would I ever hear inane, poetic "judging" comments like “If that song doesn’t save a small country somewhere, I don’t know WHAT will," or "Your spirit transcends across the universe" again? Devastated, I was ready to put a giant "X" on the show for the upcoming fall TV season.
But, lo and behold, Simon Cowell's decision was ultimately for the best — because the show is about to get infinitely more interesting. Earlier this month, my talented colleague Brian Moylan argued that taking the rumored $15-million X Factor deal would be a horrible decision for Britney Spears, who isn't exactly known for her ability to form cohesive thoughts on the fly. But now that Spears and Demi Lovato have officially signed on, I have to respectfully disagree — these four judges together have the potential to make television miracles happen. As the always-humble L.A. Reid says, they're going to be the "Rolls Royce of reality TV."
The main problem with Abdul and Scherzinger last season wasn't that they were boring (which they were) — it was their complete inability to actually JUDGE the contestants. Remember when Scherzinger tearfully refused to send Marcus Canty home over the vastly superior Rachel Crow, sending the vote to a "deadlock" that ultimately sent Crow packing? That's not going to happen this year. Why? Well, first because the show took so much heat for it last year, but also because Demi Lovato is freaking tough. We're talking about a girl who, as a teenager, punched a back-up dancer in the face, successfully completed rehab in the embarrassing light of the public eye, and ultimately ended up better from it. She has since opened up about her struggles with bulimia and self-injury, proving that she isn't afraid to be bold, and now she has the chance to verbally punch performers in the face without consequences. Demi is not going to back down from that challenge. And even though she's very young, and filling a slot that could potentially have been taken by Whitney Houston, it doesn't take a Mozart to judge pop singers on a live talent competition. I mean, I know next to nothing about music, and I did it from my seat twice a week.
Then there is Spears, who, in Moylan's words, is set to fill the Abdul role of the "faded pop star who says nice but completely idiotic things about the singers on the show." This may be true, but Spears' comments will be a treat for the fans either way -- and they shouldn't hurt her career. If she takes the Abdul/Scherzinger route of half-assing it and never saying anything negative ever, she'll at least have three other judges to round things out, and Spears has an uncanny ability to make dumb statements sound cute and funny. Also, her entire team of life mentors, psychics, publicists and handlers will be coaching her on this for the next several months, so when the time comes for live shows, I highly doubt she'll be slurring her words in a prescription drug-addled haze like Abdul always seemed to be doing. Spears already conquered the difficult task of winning us over with last summer's new and improved comeback tour, so the masterminds running the Britney machine will do everything in their power to prevent her from taking another tumble. Plus, I'd put money on the fact that they'll keep her away from those who could hurt her reputation the most: The Press. All four judges spoke to the press after the shows last year, but something tells me that Spears' contract will eliminate this responsibility.
But there's another very important factor that could make Spears go the other way — her old Mickey Mouse Club rival, Christina Aguilera. Aguilera kills it with her "tell it like it is" judging style on The X Factor's infinitely superior rival, The Voice, and she's even taken a stab or two at Britney. Cowell and Reid have not been shy about the fact that they think they can rival The Voice with a better judging panel, and Spears will undoubtedly feel the pressure to live up to Aguilera's standards — something she's been doing quite well since approximately 1999. Xtina is a talented, opinionated judge who is very tough to beat, but things could get very interesting if Spears even cares enough to try. Make someone cry, Britney!
Finally, both Spears and Lovato will receive larger-than-life paychecks for their judging gigs, which should tie up a hefty portion of The X Factor's budget — and they still haven't hired a new host. I know that this is wishful thinking, but hear me out: Simon, could you pretty please bring Steve Jones back for another season? He'll do it for minimum wage. Thanksgiving.
Read Shaunna's inane X Factor tweets at @HWShaunna
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Yet another in a LONG line of teenage sex comedies this one manages somehow to be fresh and appealing -- despite the formu-lay-ic premise. That’s right another horny 18 year-old boy (Josh Zuckerman) is determined to lose his virginity any way he can. Ian can’t seem to become a “man ” upstaged by a Lothario of an older brother Rex (James Marsden) and his even more successful 14 year-old younger brother. He is constantly humiliated by the giant donut costume he wears for his job at the mall and can’t even get to first base with Felicia (Amanda Crew) a girl who thinks of him only as her best friend and nothing more. With the pressure of going to college as a sexual outcast what’s a hot-to-trot young dude to do? In this case -- using encouragement from pal Lance (Clark Duke) and with Felicia along for the ride -- the threesome take off in the unsuspecting Rex’s prized Pontiac GTO for a cross-country drive Ian thinks will end with the payoff of sex with a hot blonde named Ms. Tasty (Katrina Bowden) he met on the Internet. Unfortunately the one-day outing turns into a three-day nightmare for the trio with brother Rex on their trail and friend Lance getting a little too cocksure for his own good. Oh and did we forget to mention the Amish farm they manage to work into the tour? In the obligatory Jason Biggs role Josh Zuckerman is totally winning as a sex-starved high school graduate looking desperately to tame his out-of-control libido. With sharp comic timing and no end to the ways he is willing to humiliate himself for the sake of his art Zuckerman should have a bright future. Although the casting of his friend Lance played by the pudgy Duke would seem to be an attempt to emulate the Michael Cera/Jonah Hill teaming of Superbad Duke’s go-for-the-big laughs approach feels like we are seeing this kind of goosed-up sex maniac act for the first time. As the female “best friend” Felicia Amanda Crew is very appealing and thankfully grounded in reality. Marsden is hilarious as dopey Rex who prizes his vintage GTO and his own sexual prowess even more than the love of little bro. Seth Green has some funny bits as the sarcastic Amish man who somehow seems to know how to fix hot rods. Bowden is gorgeous and devious as the Internet hottie who may not be all Ian hoped for. Special mention also to Charlie McDermott and Mark Young who as a recurring kind of geek chorus playing two inept high school girl magnets. NOT. Director and co-screenwriter (with John Morris) Sean Anders manages to infuse what could have been a stale leftover piece of American Pie with new life and that’s largely thanks to some very funny VERY raunchy situations he dreams up for these likeable and recognizable characters. The premise of a so-called Sex Drive also offers ripe opportunities in this genre and Anders gets a lot of play out of it particularly from Duke whose uninhibited acting grabs most of the big laughs. Although they crank the gross factor way up the film doesn’t lose sight that it’s mostly a coming-of-age comic look at a rite of passage most young guys -- and girls -- will identify with. Although much is predictable Sex Drive has a strong sense of what it wants to be and in the end even turns sweetly romantic something most films of this stripe rarely do.