Ever since George Michael cast the likes of Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington in the video for "Freedom '90," supermodels have become synonymous with the pop world. But some Vogue cover stars have wanted to be more than just the glamorous eye candy in a music promo. Here's a look at five who have temporarily swapped the catwalk for the recording studio.
The latest supermodel to try her hand at the whole singing malarkey, former Victoria's Secret Angel Gisele Bundchen made headlines last week after recording a cover of The Kinks' '60s Britpop classic "All Day & All Of The Night" for a new H&M ad campaign. While Shakira's status as Latin America's premier pop diva is unlikely to come under threat, the 33-year-old’s enchanting Brazilian accent and seductive husky tones at least ensure that you won't have to turn down the volume every time the advert appears on TV.
Featuring production work from the likes of Youth (Paul McCartney, The Verve), Bomb The Bass' Tim Simenon and Irish singer-songwriter Gavin Friday, Naomi Campbell's 1994 venture into the music world, Babywoman, certainly arrived with some impressive credentials. But the serial cell phone thrower still failed to tempt anyone to buy it and after spending just a solitary week inside the UK Top 75, it's rarely been heard of since. However, ignore Campbell's wafer-thin vocals and the brooding tribal pop of "Love & Tears" is actually not that bad at all.
Something of an indie-rock fangirl, the face of 1990s heroin chic has performed on tracks by Primal Scream ("Some Velvet Morning") and The Lemonheads ("You’re A Dirty Robot"), played tambourine on Oasis' Be Here Now and co-wrote four tracks with crack-addled one-time boyfriend Pete Doherty for Babyshambles' sophomore disc, Shotter’s Nation. But she's yet to produce anything which suggests she should give up the day job.
Disillusioned with the fashion industry, one of the newly-crowned supermodels decided to follow in the footsteps of Moss by hooking up with a British guitar band in the shape of Five O'Clock Heroes for "Who," the first single from their 2008 second album, Speak Your Language. Deyn's girlish tones aren't without their charms, but unfortunately the track itself was the kind of plodding indie-rock you'd expect to hear on a wet Wednesday night down the local pub.
Another supermodel who tested her vocal skills for the purposes of a TV advert, Heidi Klum was given the job of tackling Bee Gees' disco classic "Stayin' Alive" whilst parading around in a pair of Jordache jeans earlier this year. Her karaoke-style rendition suggests that little of former husband Seal's musical talent rubbed off on her.
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So we’re here. The part of Season 12 of American Idol where we’re no longer paying attention to runs and vocal flourishes, big notes and clarity of tone. We know that Angie Miller, Amber Holcomb, Candice Glover, and Kree Harrison are all powerhouse singers with incredible talent. That’s no longer up for debate. So what the hell do we do now?
Well, we start focusing with incredible intensity on the song choices, the arrangements, the way each singers’ eyes behave while they sing, and of course, their resemblance to such confectionery delights as New York’s famous Black and White cookie. You know, the really important stuff.
The problem is, these ladies are on their own. They’re not being carefully managed by a team whose job it is to make these girls relevant and valuable in mainstream music. These are young girls, picking songs from a list that’s been given to them and they’re making it work. They’ve got assistants in their process, but these assistants, from the band to their stylists, aren’t there to make each person the best performer. They’re like rented softball gear at the rec center: if you use it right, you’ll hit the ball out of the park. If not, you’re swinging around a dingy old bat and putting your hand in a leather flap full of God knows how many forms of bacteria. They are professional tools, but they’re not there to make the right decisions for these ladies.
And now that we’ve got past the point of being able to tell who’s crashing and burning and who’s flying high, the show is getting very detailed, very subtle, and so boring they had to bring Jimmy Iovine onstage so he could get in a fight with Nicki Minaj over some incredible correct comments he made backstage. Who needs a real singing competition when you can have Nicki faux-strangling Jimmy while Randy plays lame dad, joining in with no idea of what’s actually going on? Really. Why would you want to be entertained by the point of the show at this point? Perhaps because there seems to be so little game left in the series that dragging on until May 16 feels about as appealing as being made to watch the same Storage Wars episode 15 times in a row. Yet, here we are. Let’s make the best of it.
For the first round, there may have been a theme, but I couldn’t care less at this point. It was likely something like “Songs That Make Your Ears Listen Hardest” or “Tunes That You Like Hearing on the Radio When You’re Driving and It’s Nighttime” and we’d probably end up with the same lineup.
Amber opened it up with, you guessed it, yet another dated ballad, that she can sing each note to absolute perfection, but we. already. know. that. So when she sings “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion at the top of the stairs with an outfit and hair straight out of Whitney Houston’s I’m Your Baby Tonight playbook while psychedelic henna tattoos swirl on the screens in the background, we’re inclined to think what we’ve been saying all season: incredible voice (now with added personality and confidence), but what exactly about this screams contemporary? Well, nothing unless you’re one of the judges, who apparently have no issue with this becoming an old episode of Star Search. She has grown significantly in the past few weeks, but doesn’t anyone else seem to think it’s a problem that putting a finger on who she is is still proving to be almost impossible?
Candice took a bit of a chance with “Find Your Love” by Drake, and while her crush on the singer/rapper is completely charming, this may not have been a totally sound choice for her. She deconstructs Drizzy’s song and makes it a jazz club version of the original. It works better for her voice and range than the original, but it does come across as a little unremarkable. It’s a fun rendition for a Drake fan, but it’s not something that showcases her talent or her ability to crush her audience’s souls. It’s simply nice. Keith points out that she’s still very much herself, which isn’t really a problem for anyone on this show right now, so thanks, cap’n.
And the mediocrity continues with Kree, who’s also a victim of her own song choice. This week is not the time to pick songs because they were something you listened to as a kid. This is the time to bring out the claws, big guns, best songs to potentially make you more popular and most likely to win. It’s not the time for a last ditch effort or a wild hair. Save that for the Idols tour, or did you all forget you’re contractually obligated to do that? Anyway, Kree sings “It Hurts So Bad” and it showed off her voice, per usual, but felt more like that episode of Dawson’s Creek where Andy and Dawson get drunk and sing the blues on stage. Kree’s playing the part of a blues singer, and unlike James Van Der Beek, she can really sing, but it’s still a performance better served with a third glass of whiskey than as a Top 4 performance on Idol.
Finally, we get a tiny bit of relief in the form of a girl I’ve been rather harsh on: Angie. She reprises her rendition of “Who You Are” by Jessie J, which she sang during the audition rounds, and if we’re going to do a mini half-time report after the episode’s first hour mark, Angie was the one moving the majority of the chains. The song doesn’t overtake her the way last week’s tribute to Boston did. She’s able to be more herself: Her facials are less canned, she’s not singing like Mary Poppins, and she’s not thinking about making cute or attractive faces. She’s just singing the hell out of the song and doing her thing on the piano.
But we need to fill two hours, folks. It’s time for everyone’s favorite Idol moment: duets. (Not.) First up are Kree and Amber with “Rumor Has It,” and while this Adele song is something that either one of them could have performed on her own to sheer perfection (I’m looking wholeheartedly at Amber here, who needs some contemporary flavor more than Kree), together they fumble it. The vocals (as we’ve been saying all night) are wonderful, but it’s the performance that suffers. They were clearly tired and unwilling to put forth the extra effort for this third song that was forced upon them in addition to their two solo performances. Kree was distant and Amber relied on her newfound power stance. There was no fire for a song as incendiary as “Rumor Has It.”
And as convenient as the exhaustion excuse was, it didn’t hold water once Candice and Angie took the stage for their duet of “Stay” by Rihanna. This simple duet is far more engaging even with the first few moments in which Angie looks like a young girl getting the shot to sing with her Idol. By the time they reach the end of the song, they’re so in sync. Their tones wouldn’t normally seem to fit, but emotionally, they’re on the same playing field, adding depth and emotion to their final back and forth, a friendly tete-a-tete of vocal skill. The result is pure emotion, a known form of musical magic. It makes the judges lose their minds and it shows that Angie and Candice are the two most dynamic performers in the set. It’s something Candice needed, because her song choices for the rest of the night weren’t as on point as they needed to be.
Part of that was Candice’s (or the other ladies’) faults. They were given the second category of “One Hit Wonders” (a.k.a. songs people heard so many times they never wanted to hear more from the original artist). Great category, voters.
Amber starts of this stellar category of 20-40 year old songs with “MacArthur Park” (that’s the one about leaving cake out in the rain, or about the dinosaurs running wild in Jurassic Park if you’re more of a Weird Al person). And not only did she pick one of the cheesiest songs possible, she chose to perform the Donna Summers disco version. It’s as if she doesn’t even want to win. That glorious, beautiful voice is going to waste on songs that no modern music fan would want to buy. Still, Randy continues to call her current, hoping that if he keeps saying it, it will become true, when what he should be saying is that she can be current, if she makes the right calls. She possesses that ability, she’s just not exercising it.
Candice makes a similar mistake, though not to the extent that Amber did. She tries “Emotion” by the Bee Gees (and Destiny’s Child if you need a Beyonce connection here). Candice is still able to bring her own genuine brand of singing to the classic song as usual, but she’s fighting something she shouldn’t have to. She’s struggling against the song, not vocally, but with her own personality to make herself the takeaway, and not the fact that everyone remembers that song from the Gibb brothers’ rendition. What’s worse, is that while they were supposed to be judging Candice, the judges veered off into more discussion about Amber and eventually the aforementioned playfight with Jimmy steals every last ounce of Candice’s thunder.
Kree goes a step above Candice and picks a slighter better song: “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” It’s still an old as dirt song, but at least it’s organic-feeling enough to let Kree be bigger than the song. It’s clear that after the judges called her out for needing to loosen up, that she’s making a conscious effort during the song, which detracts a little from what could be a typical Kree smash. But when Nicki points out that something about Kree is dimming, it’s a bit puzzling. While it definitely seems that way, nothing about the way Kree performs has really changed. She’s always been that effortless, laid back, less excitable girl, who can sing absolutely anything with total vocal clarity. Perhaps her light’s not dimming, but she’s been the most consistent all season, so while the other ladies have more triumphant journeys, Kree is static and therefore her luster loses its effect on us, rather than losing its place in her eyes altogether.
Finally, Angie continued to reign supreme over the Top 4. She sang “Cry Me a River” (not the Justin Timberlake one because he’s not a one hit wonder, unless you’re choosing to forget screaming women all over the world and one very sexy Bud Light commercial) and while it’s not typical Angie, it really works. Someone needs to teach her that bobbing your head like a bobble head doll while singing is the new Christina Aguilera emphatically-moving-hand-scale-o-meter (see: annoying), but other than that the performance is on point. She’s elegant, but not too stiff: she’s simply living in the song and making it all her own. I’d say she won the night, but unfortunately my opinion was not unique on that point because all four judges said the same thing.
Angie is making it a lot harder to decide who’s winning this competition. At this point each year, it seems like fans have picked their favorites and their sticking with them. But it’s not that easy with these girls switching pole position each and every week.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
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Death is a natural part of life. Without one, the other cannot exist. And in 2012, many heavyweights of the entertainment world were lost. Sometimes death can be a moment to mourn those we've lost, but also celebrate their achievements.
Perhaps the most notable death of 2012 was that of Whitney Houston. Houston passed away at age 48 in February of this year, and with her the world mourned. Houston was a true icon in every sense of the word: her voice was like none other in the world, and her death served as a wake-up call to the real dangers of narcotics. It is said that "despite her past personal troubles, she still became one of the most successful and award-winning female artists of all time." Whether on-screen in The Bodyguard and Sparkle, or on-stage at the Grammy Awards, Houston made every moment shine with her golden vocal chords, and her loss will be felt far beyond her 48 years of life.
In August we lost iconic and barrier-breaking female comedian Phyllis Diller. Diller was "often cited as a pioneer of comedy, helping establish women in Hollywood as legitimate stand-up talent." Her work as a female comedian started "in radio in the 50s, before leveraging the appearances into television spots and a full touring career." A feat, no doubt, impressive at any time, but especially while Diller was doing it. During the 60s, Diller starred alongside Bob Hope in 23 television specials and three films.
Another female icon gone too soon was Nora Ephron, a woman who wore many hats, including director, writer, journalist, and more in her impressive career. In our obituary for Ephron, we discussed the "surprisingly diverse and fantastic career," of hers, one "with nary a creative miss on her IMDb page." She wrote and directed some of the most classic romantic comedies out there, including Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and Julie & Julia, Heartburn, and When Harry Met Sally. "What separated Ephron from her counterparts was not only her distinct sense of humor, but the way that she could create original, complex female characters and put them in traditional movies without making them seem simple or pandering." It is a universal truth that the name Nora Ephron "was a hallmark of the quality that she brought to all of her work."
Hero to space nerds and humans everywhere was Neil Armstrong, who lost a battle with complications from a heart bypass surgery in August. His first steps on the moon were "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" even though, in the end, Armstrong fancied himself "a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job."
A shocking loss was the unexpected death of Green Mile actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who was especially known for his booming voice and hulking stature. But not only that, Duncan was a comedy man. "Duncan's comedic timing coupled with his action-star prowess made him a staple in other films," including Daredevil, a remake of Planet of the Apes, Sin City and animated kids' film Kung-Fu Panda.
One of the longest-running careers in Hollywood was cut short in July when Ernest Borgnine passed away. The charismatic 95-year-old had a career that spanned decades. Six, in fact, "making him an icon of the business, beloved and respected by many." He was mostly-known for his work as a character actor, where "Borgnine made the Hollywood scene his playground, making a name for himself with generally villainous roles. His career-bucking role as a lovelorn butcher in 1955’s Marty won him an Oscar for Best Actor." Other highlights of his career included 1953's From Here to Eternity, and his long-standing run on TV's McHale’s Navy as the title character Quinton McHale.
Author and political and gay activist Gore Vidal left us in July, and with him an iconic voice of truth-telling and honesty in writing. From the plays (and screenplays) of Paris is Burning to his work on Ben-Hur, "Vidal was considered many things outside of his writerly pursuits" and one of his most famous works, The City and the Pillar, is said to be one of the first mainstream American novels to feature overtly gay characters at its center." It was so controversial at the time that The New York Times refused to review it in 1948. His passion for Hollywood and his interests never wained.
Another author, Ray Bradbury lost his life in 2012. Best known for works like Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Illustrated Man, "Bradbury gained notoriety around the world as one the 20th century's most important voices in science fiction."
In May, the children's literature world lost the iconic creator of Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, the wildly imaginative voice of growing up everywhere. He was considered "a defining voice in children's literature as both an author and illustrator."
This December, we lost Jenni Rivera, the world-renowned Mexican-American singer and reality star. Rivera had "a wildly popular career as a singer and reality-television star and has sold over 20 million albums worldwide in addition to her mun2 reality series I Love Jenni." Millions of fans the world over mourned her untimely passing in a plane crash. Other iconic musicians to leave too soon included the and-you-don't-stop, intergalatic party-rights-fighter Adam Yauch of The Beastie Boys lost his battle with cancer in May. Fans the world over mourned the shocking loss of such a huge player in music and movies, as his Oscilloscope Laboratories is "now one of the most important distributors in the film landscape."
These two heavyweights weren't the only losses in music, which also included such big names as "sitar master and Oscar winner" Ravi Shankar, The Monkees' own lead dreamboat and television star Davy Jones, The BeeGees' founding member Robin Gibb, and At Last crooner Etta James. All of whom made huge marks within their respective genres. The loss of disco diva Donna Summer after a battle with cancer also shook the music world to its core.
In a tragic turn of events, director Tony Scott took his own life in August. Scott "rose to prominence in the 80s with Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II," He had recently co-produced the summer's alien blockbuster Prometheus with his brother," as well as several TV production credits including The Good Wife and NUMB3RS.
Others, including television actors Jack Klugman and William Windom of The Odd Couple and Murder, She Wrote also passed on in the past year. The men were 90 and 88, respectively. Dallas star Larry Hagman died of cancer complications in November, leaving behind a career that included I Dream of Jeannie, numerous stage productions, and several films like 1972's The Blob, and Oliver Stone's Nixon and Primary Colors. The comedian and actor Sherman Hemsley — star of movin' on up The Jeffersons passed away in July.
Sesame Street also lost two of its performers, director Emily Squires and puppeteer Jerry Nelson. Tom Cruise's mother in Risky Business, Janet Carroll also lost a lengthy battle with illness in May.
In the end, death will always be what comes after life, but the contributions of those we lost this year will reverberate within the industry for years and years to come. May they all rest in peace.
[Photo Credit: CHP/FameFlynet Pictures; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Carrie Devorah/WENN; Joseph Marzullo/WENN; WENN]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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Welcome back to text The Voice. Last night’s episode saw the top 12 reduced to only 10 — from now on, all that counts is your votes, with the worst-performing contestants to be eliminated regardless of which team they’re on. We’ve dissolved the electoral college, but I still can’t shake the feeling that Florida’s going to find a way to screw things up anyway. Also, don’t forget that live performances downloaded from iTunes count as a vote for that singer. (This, incidentally, is how Super PACs work.)
The episode opens with the live premiere of Christina Aguilera’s new single “Make the World Move,” which confusingly samples the horn intro from “Hips Don’t Lie.” The song features our very own Cee Lo Green, whose primary role in the performance is to stand around and wield a staff. He does it well. The song is good, and the whole production has a fun Gaga-in-Wonderland feeling.
The show briefly reverts to a favored reality TV trope, the confession cam, except everyone is sober, and no one is Snooki. The contestants share anecdotes about their newfound fame and being recognized on the street for the first time. “For some reason, moms love me,” Bryan Keith creepily boasts, while Michaela “The Mohawk Girl” Paige complains that she’s always referred to as “the mohawk girl.” Terry McDermott insists that his hairdo isn’t a mullet, and the cutest part is that he really believes it, too.
Carson Daly announces that the two artists who earned the most votes — and the first two to advance safely to the next round — are Sylvia Yacoub, Team Xtina’s diva supreme, and Bryan Keith, proving that moms represent a formidable voting bloc.
After the commercial break, Jason Aldean — who is, apparently, a very famous country star — performs “The Only Way I Know,” with backing vocals by Dez Duron and Bryan. In case his twang and cowboy hat weren’t enough to indicate that Aldean is Country Strong, an obligatory rocking-out reaction shot of Blake Shelton handily confirms it.
The next artists saved are Team Cee Lo’s soul man Nicholas David and animate Ken doll Dez of Team Christina. So far, every coach has had at least one team member advance to the top 10 (Christina has two) except Blake. Get it together, Shelton!
Aldean tells Christina Milian that he and Blake first met as opening acts for Rascal Flatts in 2006, and mentions that Blake once had the “gnarliest” mullet around. BRB FRANTICALLY GOOGLE IMAGING NOW, because you are useless, Milian. I’m not sure it’s a mullet per se, but whatever it is, it’s glorious. Blake’s devotion to Terry makes all the more sense now, and I will forever imagine his courtship with wife Miranda Lambert as a Southern, gender-reversed reboot of She’s All That.
Cee Lo and his team — Trevin Hunte, Nicholas David, and Cody Belew — offer a glorious cover of “Stayin’ Alive,” complete with leisure suits, disco balls, and a light-up dance floor. Before I watched The Voice my day was tracking at about a three out of 10, but this performance alone ramped things up to a 5. Trevin and Nicholas are great, but Belew absolutely excels, nailing a flawless Bee Gees falsetto.
Saved next: the 18-year-old pride of Queens (and Team Cee Lo) Trevin, and Team Blake’s (and Hey Monday’s) Cassadee Pope.
For his first performance of the season, Blake joins Cassadee, Mohawkla, and Terry McMullet (please send the Pulitzer directly to my P.O. Box, thanks) for “Life Is a Highway.” It’s a lot of fun, if tragically devoid of Cee Lo and Christina-brand insanity — it’s also nice to see how undeniably competent these pop-punk and rock artists are within a relatively unfamiliar genre. In other news, I bet Blake smells really, really good.
Mullet trumps mohawk — my word processor aggressively insists on capitalizing Mohawk, because it thinks I’m writing a thoughtful history paper on the Iroquois confederation — Terry McDermott is saved next, along with Team Adam’s Amanda Brown.
In the episode’s final moments, cutie-pie Melanie Martinez and cutier-pie Cody Belew become the last two contestants to advance to the top 10. Michaela and Adriana Louise are sent home, but not without a few obligatory close-ups of their strained, tear-stained faces. Are you not entertained?
The Voice’s top 10 performers return Monday at 8 p.m. Follow Molly on Twitter @mollyfitz.
[Image Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC (2)]
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