Kelsea Stahler
Celebrity Editor Kelsea Stahler was born in a pile of dirt. Okay, she was actually born in an old Naval hospital in San Diego, which then became a pile of dirt and remained as such for a number of years before becoming a parking lot perfectly sized for circus tents, and finally a museum. She eventually left San Diego to attend New York University, where she studied Journalism and English literature — two less-than profitable liberal arts degrees about which guidance counselors warned her. Against all odds, she now resides in Brooklyn, where she fights the constant fear that the locals will soon discover she isn’t quite cool enough to live there, and makes a living writing absurd, pop culture features about Batman, zombies, vampires, funny people, and Ron Swanson.
  • Margaret Thatcher's Death Makes 'Ding Dong The Witch is Dead' a Top 40 Hit
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 09, 2013
    We're all well-aware about the late Margaret Thatcher's complicated relationship with pop culture, especially when it comes to music. The number of songs written about her eventual death can't even be counted on one hand, and Britain's comedians continually took aim at the politician with almost hyperbolic levels of hate. So it should come as only a mild surprise that the day after her death, U.K. iTunes saw a jump in sales for Judy Garland's Wizard of Oz anthem "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead."  It's not a coincidence. The rapid rise of the 1939 song is actually a result of a Facebook campaign that links the song directly to the death of the former British Prime Minister. The aptly-named "Make 'Ding Dong the Witch is Dead' Number 1 The Week Thatcher Died" campaign simply urges followers to buy the song, and stick it to the polarizing politician one last time. The song is currently at 27 on the U.K. iTunes charts, and the ensuing chatter can only push it further.  This may not be the rosy picture of every future politician's dreams, but at the very least, Thatcher was the sort of person who inspired passionate responses right until the end.  Follow Kelsea On Twitter @KelseaStahler More:Margaret Thatcher and Pop Culture: It's ComplicatedMargaret Thatcher Dies at 87Meryl Streep Pays Tribute to Margaret Thatcher  From Our Partners:Eva Longoria Bikinis on Spring Break (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'Bates Motel' Recap: One Evidence-Laden Severed Hand, Coming Right Up
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 09, 2013
    That was quick. We’re only four episodes into Bates Motel and Norma Bates is already wearing handcuffs. After shirking her son’s advice to come clean about defending herself against Keith, her attacker and rapist, Norma’s decision to throw the body into the ocean is showing itself to be a poor one because a very telling piece of evidence in the form of Keith’s severed hand with carpet fibers from the Bates Motel has just come ashore. Norma’s goose is cooked, but is the series moving too fast already? It wasn’t like Norma hadn’t put in the effort to save herself from a jail cell. She’s been sleeping with Officer Shelby - a truth we’re now very sure of thanks to a nooner in one of Norma’s unfinished motel suites. And she almost had it all under control, even the part where she wanted Norman and her new beau to bond and get along. That was a tall order after last week’s explosive conclusion, which found Norman in Shelby’s basement with a Chinese sex slave begging at his feet for him to rescue her. This week, we jump back a few minutes to see that Dylan was the man on the motorcycle when Norman was walking down the highway towards Shelby’s house. He follows Norman to the cop’s abode where he actually buys his brother time to escape from the basement by knocking on Shelby’s door for directions. He swears he won’t tell Norma, clearly unaware that her murderous moment is the thing that’s driving all this. After Shelby stops Norman on the street the next night and tries to offer up his friendship, Norman sees only one way to get this man, who holds Keith’s belt and a big ol lump of evidence over his and Norma’s head: he tells Norma about the sex slave. It takes no time at all for Norma to take a post coital stroll to Shelby’s basement, which is significantly less barricaded this time and has your average piles of boxes and exposed light bulbs where Norman saw a sex dungeon with mood lighting. Again, Norman’s strange tendencies are brought into question and Norma accuses him of seeing things, despite the bruise on his ankle which he thinks he sustained from the poor sex slave grabbing his leg as he escaped. Bruise or not, Norma insists that Norman go on Shelby’s awfully premature “I’m screwing your mom” bonding session: fishing on a nearby creek. Luckily for Norman, he gets the chance to feign trust in Shelby (who for some reason can’t read Norman’s lies as clearly as we can) before he’s called away to the scene of Keith’s severed hand. It takes no time at all for the sheriff to make a connection to Norma. He may not know about Keith’s belt, but he finds carpet fibers under the watch on his friend’s ex-hand and he’s sure it’s connected to the carpet Norma ripped up the night of the murder. Plus, he’s got the element he’s yet to expose until this week: he grew up with Keith, so he knows he had the capacity to harass Norma enough to drive her to murder. It’s a layer that really helps the series develop beyond bad cop chases anti-hero. The sheriff sympathizes with Norma, and possibly knows what kind of hell Keith was capable of putting her through, but he’s also committed to the law and she’s breaking it over and over again. There was little doubt Norma and Norman wouldn’t be able to intercept the evidence before the sheriff and his officers could get to it, but Norma was determined not to play nice with the police even after the sheriff tried pretty earnestly to help her as best as he can. The result is Norma with all her limbs hanging on the fence at the dump, shaking it as if the answer to her giant problem will come spilling out. It doesn’t, but her confession to Norman does: she didn’t stab Keith in self defense, she “killed the crap out of him.” With that, it’s not long before she loses Norman’s loyalty and her own freedom. While his mother is getting cuffs slapped on her wrists, Norman has officially abandoned her: he acted like any other 17 year old boy. After bonding with Dylan, who Norman spills the entire story to, Norman manages to bond on a more average level. Norman has spent all episode comforting Bradley in the wake of her father’s death and Emma’s complete and total absence thanks to the flu. Sure, he tells her father he’s “decent” when the British expatriate tells him his daughter has a crush on him, but Bradley is crying behind those fancy sunglasses of hers and Emma is laying in bed with an illness. So when Bradley texts Norman “hey” at 10 PM, Dylan does his brotherly duty and sends the younger Bates off to make out with the hot girl from school, which is exactly what Norman does. Of course, when his encounter with Bradley descends into a breathy, blue-tinted scene of two presumably naked teens frolicking under the sheets, we have to wonder if this another moment meant to make us question reality versus Norman’s reality. Either way, it seems it’s the last bit of respite young Norman will know before his whole world implodes even further. Even with Dylan on his side and his separation from Norma and her borderline psychotic decisions, Norman is inextricably involved in Keith’s murder and Emma’s mission to find and free the alleged Chinese sex slaves. You can't help but feel for poor trapped Norman. While his decision is what's going to break Emma's heart (and likely soon, the way things are moving), how can you blame the kid who's clearly not the most unhinged person in his tiny, little family? More:'Bates Motel' Recap: Our First Glimpse of a Shower 'Bates Motel' Recap: What is Wrong With Norman? 'Bates Motel' Checks In For a Second Season  From Our PartnersJessica Alba Bikinis in St. Barts (Celebuzz)Pics of The Rock Making Things Look Small (Vulture)
  • 'Evil Dead' Remake Softens The Tree Rape Scene, But Does That Make It Okay?
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 08, 2013
    Warning: This post includes major spoilers from Evil Dead and one NSFW photo. Despite all of Evil Dead's great strides for strong female characters, there's one glaring element standing in its way: the famous tree rape. Sam Raimi's original film included a torturous first encounter between a young, beautiful woman and a demon-infested tree. In the graphic scene, the plant brutally strips her of all her clothing and violates her. Director Fede Alvarez's 2013 remake tries to soften the brutality of the original, but as it turns out, there is no such thing as lesser degrees of tree rape.  The sad fact is that the remake almost made it to screen without resurrecting this black mark on the Evil Dead legacy, but one anonymous producer insisted it be worked back into the plot according to a 2012 interview with Alvarez on io9.  "This is not a classic being remade by a big studio, it's still his film. It's the guys from the original. I didn't write one scene and [the producer] asked "where's my raping tree?" So *types on the table and whistles* raping scene, there you go. But it has to be way more terrible than the original." What's sadder is that this producer may have been right. Back in October of 2012, at New York Comic Con, where the first footage of the remake was being debuted, the rabid fans were uproarious when star Jane Levy teased that the infamous tree rape would in fact make it into the final cut. It was a reaction that merited a furrowed brow at the very least: Nothing about the idea of subjecting another female character to the atrocities of the first tree assault seems worth cheering for. If anything, these people should have been gasping for some small breath of air strong enough to erase the thought of something so horrible coming back for a second round. Instead, they were jubilant. Evil Dead fans apparently needed the reprisal of actress Ellen Sandweiss' heart-shrinking terror. The 1981 cut of her character Cheryl having her white, virginal robe ripped from her attractive frame as vines tickled her inner thighs, caressed her exposed breast, and spread her unwilling legs before one oppressively large branch penetrated her as violently as possible wasn't enough. They needed Levy's Mia to experience the same terror too for the remake to be faithful.  It's clear Alvarez did all he could to lessen the blow of the apparently essential scene in which Mia becomes possessed. Mia is hoisted up in the branches of a tree and bruised and lascerated by the vines but keeps her clothing and some of her dignity. Where the original took more time to hyper-sexualize Cheryl by stripping her down and capturing her from pornographic angles, Mia's torture is significantly less about making her a sexual creature and more about showing the demon possessing her as a violent, immovable force.  Still, by the time the scene has reached completion, vines again pull Mia's legs apart and make way for an over-sized branch to invade her vagina almost as violently as the oppressive branch in the 1981 original. While the scene may take steps to lower the sexual nature and heighten the element of possession, the use of Mia's private parts as the entry point makes it inherently sexual. Bottom line: It is still a very deliberate and disturbing rape scene.  It may be the film's biggest plot changes that allow the scene to have something of a purpose in opposition to the original's gratiutious, misogynistic scene. Mia being violated — mind, soul, and quite literally body — lends an element of revenge to her plight in the final, blood-drenched scene in the film. Not only is she surviving by taking a chain saw to her tormenter, not only is she exacting her rage for losing her brother to this evil, she's fighting back against that being which attacked her in a very personal way. In a sense, it gives the film a bit of an air of Kill Bill Part 1, in which Uma Thurman's character exacts bloody revenge on the attackers who raped her, and less of a senselessly violent, pornographic encounter with little point that we saw in the original Evil Dead. Still, there's little to indicate that Mia's triumphant violence at the end of the film would have played out any differently had she become possessed by some less sexual invasion. Had she ingested the branch that led to her possession rather than having it freely enter her most private parts, would she not have still been left standing in blood rain with a severed hand and a chainsaw? Would she not still be fighting against this threat to her life and possibly humanity itself? Would she not have still managed to saw its blood-filled head in half with the aggression supplied by the very fresh loss of her brother and all her friends?  While the tree rape may have found a way to "work" in Evil Dead, in the grand scheme of the film, it's still completely and totally gratutitous — even for a movie whose tagline could simply be "oodles of blood."  Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler  More:Why The Bloodiest Scene in 'Evil Dead' Is Good For Women'Evil Dead': After the Credits'Evil Dead' Review: Does It Best The Source Material? From Our Partners:Eva Longoria Bikinis on Spring Break (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Margaret Thatcher and Pop Culture: It's Complicated
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 08, 2013
    Margaret Thatcher wasn't just the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the country's Iron Lady, she was also an inspiration for every nook and cranny of pop culture. From music to movies, to TV and even fashion, Thatcher's policies and beliefs were fruit for the artistic mind, especially during the late '80s and the years leading up to her resignation in 1990. Unfortunately for the former prime minister, those voices tended to skew liberal, and thus pop culture's relationship with the British politician was a rather testy one.  Despite her positive effects on history, including the promotion of feminism and women in power (and even the invention of soft serve ice cream, apparently), Thatcher took a beating from the music world. From Elvis Costello to Paul McCartney to Morissey, musicians took up lyrical arms against the leader. Even Billy Elliot includes some harsh words set to music by Elton John: "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher/ We'll all celebrate today/ 'Cause it's one day closer to your death." But none spewed quite as much obvious hate as Pete Wylie's "The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies" which boasts, "When Margaret Thatcher dies/ There will be no tears/ Save it for the people/ That she stomped for years."  In 2008, one theater company took the sentiments of Wylie's song to a new extreme. The Death of Margaret Thatcher depicted a series of characters reacting to the fictional death of the politician, including one man who is driven to tears at the news, but can't fathom why since his beliefs were against everything she stood for. Thatcher was very ill when the play ran in London and it stirred some controversy about where art ends and disrespect begins. Ultimately, the play continued and even won a nomination for the King's Cross Award for New Writing.  For those of us who were mere children when Thatcher ran England, experiencing the weight of protest music and the emotion behind plays like The Death of Margaret Thatcher takes a little more effort. Instead, we're left with what might be Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery's most memorable line — outside of "Yeah, baby!" and "I lost my Mojo." Surrounded by fembots hellbent on seducing him into submission, Powers uses Thatcher for anti-inspiration. And thus "Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day!" was born.  Thatcher received a rather complete depiction of her life from the time of her youth to her old age and the development of Alzheimer's Disease when Meryl Streep delivered an Oscar-winning performance in The Iron Lady. But despite the film's decided turn away from pop culture's rampant negativity about the former British leader, many critics were disappointed that the film failed to take a stance at all on Thatcher's reign. Still, being played by the great Meryl Streep has to count for something, doesn't it? Television has had a generally less favorable relationship with the Iron Lady. She's been portrayed numerous times on Saturday Night Live, often played by men including Monty Python legend Michael Palin and John Lithgow. Johnny Carson used her famously sober demeanor to prank Joan Rivers into thinking she was being insulted by the leader (it turns out it was a Thatcher impersonator after all). But no one was more critical than the British comedian community, including the 1980s puppet sketch show Spitting Image, which hit her rather hard with a Mad Magazine-esque puppet singing "My Way" while the streets of London are beseiged by riots.   Of course, Thatcher famously got her own revenge when she used a famous Monty Python sketch to make her own point against the Liberal party during a 1990 speech to the Conservative party. She not only cleverly trotted out the famous "This is an ex-parrot" line from the beloved "Dead Parrot Sketch," but she playfully ended her speech with John Cleese's well-worn Python transition: "And now, for something completely different." Point, Thatcher.  If we take a closer look at Netflix's most recent gift to fans of great television, House of Cards, we can see that we have Thatcher to thank for its existence. Her resignation in 1990 inspired the British version of House of Cards about one man's ruthless scheming to replace the Iron Lady as prime minister. And, as we now know, that character inspired Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood on Netflix's American adaptation of the series, which is revolutionizing the way we watch television by presenting all its episodes at once. So, if you think about it, Thatcher (in an admittedly very small and completely indirect way) influenced the evolution of the television medium.  Not too shabby for a woman whose relationship with the performing arts has been, well, complicated.  Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: Wenn] More:Margaret Thatcher Dies at 87 Meryl Streep Pays Tribute to Margaret Thatcher  From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Why The Bloodiest Scene in 'Evil Dead' Is Good For Women
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 07, 2013
    WARNING: The following posts contains major spoilers for Evil Dead. Evil Dead fans have been gobbling up every tidbit of information about the 2013 remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 camp thriller, including the biggest twist on the theme: replacing Bruce Campbell’s Ash as the star of the movie with Jane Levy’s possessed Mia. The shift in focus was an easy peg for celebration on the part of women seeking a more level gender playing field in horror. Mia is giving us a potentially feminist alternative to Ash, but the change could also be a simple refresh button choice on the part of director Fede Alvarez. It’s Mia blood-drenched moments in the final half hour of the film that truly makes the role far more prominent and begs the question, does Mia’s powerful role change things for women in horror? RELATED: 'Evil Dead' Softens Tree Rape, But Is It Any Better? The answer is slightly more complicated than a straight “yes.” At the end of the film, Mia is buried by her brother as a means of killing the demon inside of her and when she comes back as herself, she’s eventually the only living member of her group of friends, forced to defeat the demon herself. Mia not only takes Ash’s role as the star, she takes his role as the movie’s central badass, and one who eventually sends the demon back to hell with a blood-covered chainsaw as blood rains from the sky. She’s resourceful, smart, and when she’s backed into a corner, she’s the one with the last minute surprise that saves the day: She rips off her own hand when she’s trapped (also an homage to Ash) instead of being rescued by a miraculously surviving friend with the element of surprise (like the spectacled buddy who saves her brother David earlier in the film). Basically, Mia not only survives: she absolutely pummels evil. Still, she’s not the shining beacon of feminism, exactly. This last-ditch effort could be categorized somewhat broadly as the classic horror trope of the "final girl." She’s the last one standing, she’s rarely the blonde, and she steps up to defend herself in the face of death. It’s a story we’ve seen again and again, but up until characters Buffy Summers won our hearts on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, the final girl was generally the mousy brunette whose purity was her main trait. Buffy (as well as characters like Sidney from the Scream movies) was very sexually active, dispelling the notion that the final girl had to be chaste. Like Sarah Michelle Gellar’s heroine before her, Levy’s character takes it a step further. RELATED: 'Evil Dead' and Hollywood's Goriest Moments Mia, whose trip to the ill-fated cabin where she will spend the worst night of her life was inspired by her recent near fatal overdose of cocaine, is somewhat of a degenerate. She's not a sweet babysitter or a straight-A student or some pure being about to be corrupted, like Cheryl who served as the devil’s vessel in the original The Evil Dead. And with that, she's opening the definition of the final girl even further. It's something horror expert and Women in Horror Month founder Hannah Neurotica (Forman to the non-horror community) says is happening more and more in the genre, "One of the things about the final girl, back then, was that she didn’t do drugs, she didn't have sex, she didn't do anything immoral. Now we're seeing more of a shift that girls aren't actually going to be punished for engaging in those activities." And that's just it. Generally, the more free-spirited, sexual girls generally go down first or at least earlier in the hierarchy of horror movie slayings, while the good girl is the one who triumphs. To some extent, Evil Dead doesn't abolish that tendency. Take Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) in Evil Dead: the ditzy, blonde girlfriend of Mia’s brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) is scoffed at by nurse and know-it-all Olivia (Jessica Lucas) as yet another of David’s many girls. She’s primed for falling prey to the villain (or devil taking possession of anyone he can get his hands on, in this case). She's not a prime candidate to be the final girl and that's still the case. That being said, she's certainly more of a "good girl" than drug-addled Mia, who isn't exactly set up for the final girl slot either. For Levy's heroine, the places at which she breaks the conventions of the final girl aren't limited to her nasty little habit. Unlike final girls before her, including Jamie Lee Curtis' classic Laurie from the Halloween series, Mia isn't a babysitter with no need for depth or a backstory. She is full of rage, built on the notion that her brother abandoned her when their mother was dying in the hospital. We sort of connect the bridge between her anger over her past and her life-threatening dependence on drugs, and suddenly, she's not just a vessel for the spirits awakened by the book of the dead. She's a full character who comes into the film with her own agenda, acting out motivations and demons of her own. In many ways, she's introducing that side of horror to a mainstream audience thanks to a wave that has been building and continues to build in the genre. Of course, it must be stated that Mia isn't some heroine gleaming in the face of a misogynistic genre. She’s a member of a growing group — and a sign that the shift that began with final girls like Alien’s Ripley is not so much a trend (which implies that it’s a temporary wave), but a permanent change in the fabric of mainstream horror. "A lot of horror films now are taking the character of the final girl and experimenting with it and taking it in different directions and that is a feminist act regardless of whether or not it was intended because it's allowing women to have more to them and a role in the genre and that alone is progress," says Neurotica. RELATED: 'Evil Dead' & Other Movies With 100% on Rotten Tomatoes It's something that touches all areas of the genre, not just Evil Dead’s slasher category. In television we're seeing characters like The Walking Dead's Michonne and any character Jessica Lange plays on American Horror Story acting as not only formidable presences on screen, but as actual draws for audiences. Entire movie franchises like Underworld and Resident Evil are built on the shoulders of women fighting the forces of horror. Part of that can be attributed to the fact that, well, Kate Beckinsale looks pretty hot fighting vampires. The other factor is that the base of horror fans is diversifying, and fast. A quick look at TV ratings for horror hits proves that. According to Ad Week, Walking Dead draws more women than supposedly lady-friendly shows like The Real Housewives of Atlanta or New Girl, and Fox's bloody serial killer drama The Following ranks high among women as well. And of course, there's the Resident Evil series, which is a billion dollar franchise and has plenty of female fans of its own. Horror that pleases both sexes by delivering full characters with depth as well as guts on both sides of the gender divide isn’t just a step for leveling the playing field and raising the bar on quality horror, it's a necessary way to make sure a film appeals to the full breadth of horror fans. Evil Dead's Mia may not be breaking ground, but she's performing the very important task of keeping the progression of strong women in horror moving forward. The more opportunities we have to see a woman so badass she'll rip off her own hand to kill the devil, the better. Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures; 20th Century Fox Television] From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Beyonce's Pepsi Ad: Did Britney Do It Better?
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 04, 2013
    Perhaps I'm just jilted by the cruel sting of anticipation met with disappointment, but Beyoncé's new Pepsi ad featuring a new song called "Grown Woman" is kind of flat. After watching her (literally) shut down the Superdome down with her Super Bowl halftime show and the dramatic teaser her official website released on April 3, we thought it was a no-brainer that the hinted at April 4 release would be something big. But instead, we got this self-reflective, pretty ad that gives us the glossy Bey we saw in her self-directed documentary. And we want more.  RELATED: Is Beyonce's Hype Train Slowing Down? What, pray tell, does more look like? It looks like Britney Spears' impossibly infectious Pepsi dance explosion from 1999. Unlike Bey's turn at the soda pop helm, which is clever and nostalgiarific but without the bubbles an unforgettable soda ad requires, Britney's spot was so addicting that I can probably still locate the catchy tune in my old iTunes collection. (And I still know all the words... okay, I know the dance, too.) Look, B. We all love you (but I love you more). And here's some tough love: First, don't tease us like you're about to release your first single when you're really just giving us an ad. That's just mean. Second, if you're going to tantalize us in the name of advertising, then deliver, girl. Yes, we get a snippet of a new song, which is lovely, but we were expecting the woman who just told us to Bow Down to give us a reason to do just that. And what we got was, well... nice.  RELATED: Bey, What is Going On in This Pepsi Ad? In the "immortal" words of Miss Pepsi queen herself, Britney: Beyoncé, gimme more.  Of course, we could just agree to get along and enjoy the other Pepsi advertising marvel that was the gladiator parody featuring both Brit and Bey (and Enrique Iglesias and Pink, but who's worried about them?). RELATED: What Beyonce's Documentary Was Missing Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: Pepsi/YouTube] From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'American Idol' Recap: Rock & Roll Night Or a Bad Trip?
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 04, 2013
    I can’t be the only one left with a feeling of disorientation after Wednesday night’s Rock & Roll night on American Idol. The episode which promised “no slow stuff” during the promos was meant to turn down the sombre moments and ramp up the fun, presumably in the face of drooping ratings, but the result was an episode on uppers, and not the classy kind. From the way in which “no slow stuff” pummelled many of the contestants attempts to build their own brands by watering them all down into your mom’s favorite episode of toddlers on Star Search, to the fact that guest guitarist Orianthi took the stage like the Hamburglar, never allowing anyone to actually see her eyes under her Heisenberg pork pie hat, to the judges’ insistence on spending much of their precious time talking about fashion and the worst of all Idol qualities (flair), the episode felt like one long, disorienting trip. And we’re hitting the hangover right about now. RELATED: Burnell Says 'Idol' Amber Has a Crush on Him We entered the episode with the Lawrence Welk (in its own personal hell, where bras show freely) judging panel: both the men dressed in black while the ladies donned Alice in Wonderland light blue. While Nicki Minaj’s decidedly more scandalous buttoned up dress revealed her undergarments on the sides, it certainly felt like deja vu after last week’s matching red outfits and raises the question: is someone trying to re-stoke the fire between the two pop stars? But hey, they shouldn’t worry too much. They may keep accidentally matching, but at least no one is making them wear a brooch from Randy’s Storm Troopers and Liberace collection. But enough about wardrobe. That sort of discussion is the judges’ job, apparently. There was some actual singing this episode, though there seemed to be some sort of disconnect between what was happening in the studio and what we saw at home on our televisions. First up was Burnell Taylor with “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi. Yes, watching Burnell sing this cheesy ‘80s song because it was the only one he knew on the list was like watching John Legend hit rock bottom by being hired to perform a New Jersey mom’s favorite songs at her son’s bar mitzvah. Burnell looked great, his voice was still doing its usual buttery thing, and he even figured out how to move around the stage (none of those hand flourishes that his co-contestants were so keen to tease him about), but nothing about this performance was Burnell. But considering the pressure the “no slow stuff” bro-down of a theme that Burnell was given, can we really blame him? His style isn’t like Kree’s or even Angie’s, that both lend themselves to more uptempo, blues or rock moments. Burnell is a very specific type of artist who needs his sweet spot or nothing. And this theme may be what kills him in the competition. At least Nicki thinks he’s huggable. Her “Teddy Rupskin” (her exact wrong words, not mine) is going to need a little comforting Thursday night, unless voters have finally grown tired of Lazaro Arbos’ courage card. And how could they not be? When Lazaro and Angie Miller followed Burnell with a duet of Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” it felt like Lazaro had won a fan competition to sing on stage with Miley Cyrus. He had the confidence, but once again his voice and his ability to learn the lyrics were the problem. Big surprise, Lazaro doesn’t know another classic song and he uses it as an excuse. If you recall, last week Kree forgot some of the words to “Like a Prayer” and the judges almost didn’t care because her vocals were so incredible: it’s because in the end, it’s all about performance and even when she forgets a word, Kree performs the hell out of any song. Lazaro gets jerked around by every song. And luckily, the judges seem to somewhat agree, each of them searching for the one compliment that applies to Angie’s adept performance and Lazaro’s floundering one in order to avoid making the kid cry on stage again. The best compliment for the young man is that the abolition of his “candy man look” is a good call (Lazaro still knows you didn’t like his performance when all you can talk about are his bowties, folks). Keith manages to find the sweet spot of insulting the arrangement and production of the song instead of commenting the duo’s vocals, calling it “kitchy” and “variety show” and he’s right, but I start to wonder if he’s really been here for any of the other group numbers. Kitch is sort of the Idol group number sweet spot. As a sort of remedy for that performance, which sent us into a deep downward spiral, Kree Harrison delivers Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” And if her (duh) amazing performance in the face of a killer pinched nerve in her back wasn’t indication enough, the package before her performance paints her as a den mother, ironing everyone’s shirts and getting to know everyone on the crew like family. If we were going to call the top two right now, I’d say this video package just shored up Kree’s spot in America’s hearts by being a better person than most of us. But she actually sang too, stepping onto the stage looking like a vixen with red lipstick and slim-fitting black leggings and I turn to her fashion, because she’s almost boring to write about now because she’s too damn good. It’s like they’re putting her in the middle of the singers just to shake it up a bit and confuse us, but Kree is at the top of the heap. Randy trotted out his tired old horses “This girl can sing” and “she’s in it to win it” which somehow still get the crowd going. (Someone get this man a thesaurus!) Nicki spends her judging moment reminding us how the Idol app works (translation: get it now, you guys, pleeeeease?) But strange commentary aside, Kree killed it yet again, even with a pinched nerve in her back. Suddenly, Lazaro’s “I didn’t know the song when we started” excuse is feeling thinner and thinner. RELATED: Kree and Candice on Their 'Idol' Injuries Because we’ve only got seven contestants left, we’re treated to another group performance from Candice Glover and Burnell Taylor who sing “The Letter.” As expected, this jazzy version is cheesy, but allows both singers to settle into their vocal sweet spots. The problem is that Burnell’s sweet spot is subdued and artsy, while Candice’s is explosive and incomparable. And her chance to perform with her close friend on the show brings out her inner fire in a way her trio with Amber and Angie did not. Even their highlighter yellow accessories couldn’t put them on the same playing field - I mean how do you compete with a woman Nicki says can summon the entire galaxy with her voice? I love Burnell, and it kills me to see him standing on that stage like a sad puppy, but this number proved that Idol isn’t necessarily the vehicle for him: the winning factor this year is a big voice, not a Phillip Phillips-level cultivated and stalwart persona. Then comes the first true bout of disorientation after a series of uppers and downers. Janelle Arthur is up, but not without hearing from her fellow contestants about how country she is (Lazaro even has a borderline offensive idea about Janelle being a girl in a rural cornfield who’s only yet to lose her teeth - what the hell, Lazaro?). But that doesn’t seem to stop her from diving head first into “You May Be Right” (which I can’t hear without taking a trip back to Dave’s World). This song is inherently cheesy, and Janelle’s showboating vocal suffers. Rather than sliding into her vocal sweet spot, Rock week coaxes her into trying to match the drama of her competitors, but this is not the way to do it. Her cowboy boots from a bedazzler’s paradise may have wowed the judges, but perhaps they distracted the quartet from Janelle’s less than perfect vocal. And while Keith’s comment that she certainly worked the stage like a professional is true, she didn’t handle the song like a professional. She sounded like someone singing a song that Dad picked out for the church talent show. She’d take home the prize at a summer fair for sure, but the quality wasn’t where it should be. Perhaps Randy was just buttering her up because he wanted her fringe vest, but I would argue this performance was not the mark of a “great contender.” Ah, and then there’s Lazaro with “We Are The Champions” by Queen. It’s a song about redemption and unfortunately, Lazaro’s redemption is only that he didn’t totally bite the dust this week. He’s got his swagger back, but swag does not a singer make. His vocals are reliably awful. It takes an active effort from Keith and the rest of the panel to be interested in the fact that he’s singing right next to them when he takes his Latin dance moves to the judges’ platform. Still, when it comes time to judge, they’ve only got sweet things to say. Maybe they were a little happy, Nicki did call his performance “crack juice” while Keith did an impression of Lazaro as a matador. But the truth is, the judges need to stop giving out gold stars when someone improves on their previous performance, especially when the previous performance is terrible. A cut above awful is still pretty awful. Sure, it’s a lot less uncomfortable to be nice to Lazaro on live TV, but it’s pointless. The weird continues with Kree, Amber, and Janelle singing Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me.” Word to future Idol contestants: It is impossible to pull off upbeat Billy Joel without sounding campy, stop trying. Granted, this trio didn’t choose each other and they didn’t choose the song, but it did not do them much service. At best it was middle number during a VH1 Divas tribute, or as I like to call it, the moment at which I take the opportunity to refill everyone’s wine glasses. The judges loved that yo, yo, yo, yo you guys seemed like a group. Like, there were three of you and that’s what group is and you guys were it. Right. Luckily, Nicki seemed to pick up on the impossibly pageanty feel of the performance, while all I could think about was how Janelle got to cozy up to the sexy guitarist during the song while Amber and Kree got the clearly season musicians to sing next to. Is it time to just give every contestant two songs yet? Finally, we get something good in the form of Candice, a.k.a. our temporary fix on this long, strange trip. She’s got a broken toe thanks to her attempt to pull an April Fools joke on Lazaro, and yadda yadda she’s got a cute brother-sister thing going with Burnell. That’s not why we’re here. We’re waiting to hear her sing “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” to perfection like a bunch of drug addicts. And that she does. She’s flawless, as always, even with a broken toe and a genre that’s not really her thing, Candice delivers. Her fellow frontrunner Kree may have won the week with her impossibly adorable package but Candice feels like the sort of old soul who could make something of herself in Beyonce’s music industry. But Candice’s performances do leave me exhausted, because to quote to Nicki: “I can’t think of extra things to say about your voice for the next six weeks.” Preach, ladybug. RELATED: Did Lazaro Redeem Himself on 'Idol'? On a similar token, comes Amber Holcomb with “What About Love?” by Heart. After fielding questions about Burnell’s shameless crush on her (though, who can blame him?), Amber takes the stage with all sorts of fog and atmospheric decoration. Once again, the issue is that her vocal is amazing, and perfect even, but I cannot see a single place that she fits in the music industry. Randy is right when he calls her Whitney Houston-esque, but where does that fit? Record labels aren’t exactly looking to find Whitney’s successor. It’s the reason that Amber’s technically stellar performances are always followed with a bit of a bout of sadness: she’s incredible, but no one seems sure how to bring her out of her dated bubble and into some space of relevancy and that could be her undoing - even with those legs for days that creepy Uncle Randy seems insistent on praising. Still, the judges are obsessed, even Nicki, who finds her connection to a song she’s probably normally call cheesy if she hadn’t once dedicated the same tune to Lil Wayne. You know, normal stuff. Finally, Angie Miller closes the night with an exciting, but perplexing performance. After watching her reel, in which we get to be annoyed by her penchant for overzealous clapping, Angie takes her smizing to the stage to perform “Bring Me to Life” by Evanescence. I hate this song, admittedly, but it was a smart choice for Angie. It lets her start at the piano and then move into the “no slow stuff” part in a way that helps her lose her Disney character essence a bit. Putting herself in a rock position like that lets her have a little more of that edge while occupying a space in that genre (she’s professed her desire to produce music in the Evanescence, Mute Math sort of category) that we haven’t often seen: the soft glam alt rocker. It’s not something that’s going to win her this competition, but it certainly made her a standout performer on Wednesday night. Though, like Keith says, if she’s going to get too wrapped up in getting her hair going nuts in a fan on stage and holding down her shirt, she’s kind of losing that rock goddess feel. Though honestly, the fan was working, as long as she can sort of forget it’s there. After getting through all those performances, it sort of felt like the beginning of a bad hangover. Some were great, and almost none were terrible, but for many contestants, forcing them into the rock genre felt like putting a square peg in an oversized, sparkly star-shaped hole: the contestants who didn’t pull it off were drowning in the rock-ness of it all. It’s something Idol has done a lot in the past, but it seemed to be over this season. Apparently not when ratings are slipping away faster than Randy’s edge. Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: Michael Becker/Fox (2)] From Our PartnersSee 'Game of Thrones' as 'Mad Men' (Vulture)Hayden Panetierre Bikinis in Miami (Celebuzz)
  • Nicki Minaj's Sexed Up 'High School' Video Puts Her In Bed With Lil Wayne
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 03, 2013
    It's one thing to hear Nicki Minaj tell attractive young men she'll eat them up when she's behind the judging table on American Idol, it's quite another to see that sexual aggression in action, and with Lil Wayne, no less. The rapper's new music video for her single "High School" could be described as a mafia-inspired music video about two young lovers taking the mob for all it's worth, but it's more likely that it will be remembered as the music video where Nicki and Wayne totally hook up in a bed of gauzy sheets and pink, oddly cylindrical Beats by Dre speakers.  RELATED: In Defense of Nicki Minaj on 'American Idol' After Nicki fully exposes her assets in two revealing bikinis (one that shows off her derriere and the other being responsible for a nip slip during filming), she and Wayne retreat into a billowy lovers paradise where they writhe around together like two characters on the cover of a romance novel. Of course the duo never actually kisses, but the sexual suggestions are more than enough to make for one hell of a steamy encounter between the two rappers.  RELATED: Nicki Minaj Joins the Nip Slip Hall of Fame Watch the video in full below. Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: Cash Money Records] From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'Real Housewives of Orange County' Recap: Must Be The Season of the B**ch
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 02, 2013
    Even Vicki Gunvalson’s new facial armor can’t protect her from her apparent fate this season on The Real Housewives of Orange County. Of course we won't know exactly how b**chy things will get, because Monday night’s premiere was basically one big tease for what looks to be an explosive string of episodes. The theme, however, is consistent: Vicki is the b**ch. After sustaining some hacky commentary from Slade during his brief and terrible reign as an open mic night stand-up comedian, Vicki is still stinging from his idea that she looks like Miss Piggy. Sure, that’s natural. Words hurt and Slade is a douche, but most people just buy themselves some new clothes and take up with a younger man for a few weeks. Vicki, however, wants something more permanent: out the doors goes her hoarse cry “my parents think I’m beautiful!” and in comes surgical procedures from Alexis Bellino’s trusted plastic surgeon-who-totally-only-does-medically-necessary-plastic-surgery-so-back-off. Vicki had fat from her rear injected into her cheeks and “cartilage reconstruction” on her nose (Vicki just say it: you had a nose job). Much like Heidi Montag before her, she claims that her face looks a little strange because she’s still swollen from surgery. Okay, sure. Just know we’ll be here all season, Vicks. After we meet Vicki’s new face, we prepare to meet the second most important new person in her life: Briana’s baby. Mama Vicki says Briana is “huge” (thanks, mom) and “ready to pop,” and so we follow Vicki, Briana, and Briana’s boyfriend Ryan to the hospital where labor proceeds to take 18 hours and then poof (skipping past the part where labor is a b**ch) Briana has a beautiful baby boy. And Vicki has a new thing she gets to pride herself on: being a grandma. Of course, she’ll play grandma alone because after the fallout last season over Brooks — King Rapscallion himself — Vicki thought it was best to break up. Still, she says she could go back to him because she’s “like totally handicapped without men.” (Suck it, feminism.) Which means she didn’t so much break up with him as she did prepare him to be one of the main story lines this season. It’s something Gretchen and Tamara aren’t buying. Later, at Heather’s gala disguised as a clam bake, the cackling bookends (no literally, they are dress identically and cackle endlessly) offer up the theory that Vicki didn’t really break up with Brooks, she’s just hiding him from everyone. I don’t often like to agree with two grown women dressed in bestie matching outfits (accidentally, right), but yeah, Vicki’s probably got Brooks hidden under that pile of furniture she says is there because they’re “renovating.” Still Tamara and Gretchen are ones to talk. Tamara is engaged to and living with Eddie in his house with his kids. We’re treated to montage of her cleaning every last inch of the house while Eddie, who only owns 49 percent of their company (compared to her 51) takes all day designing business cards. If this wasn’t a regression enough, Eddie then berates Tamara for wearing her sneakers in the house and for leaving lights on — those things are against his rules. Right, because basically when you get engaged it means you promise to boss that little lady around for the rest of your life. Gretchen isn’t doing much better. Slade recently got a job as a radio DJ, which might be the only job he’s actually capable of, and he’s left her alone to run her own business and make her own breakfast. These are tasks Gretchen doesn’t handle well, resulting in her bothering Slade at “work” so he can tell her how to use their Keurig coffee maker, also known as coffee for dummies machine. At least she’s found some poor soul to help her run her makeup and bag business out of her living room/off of her Barbie pink laptop. Heather is probably in the best shape of everyone, but mostly because she just does whatever the hell she wants all the time. She brings home live lobsters to test out (oh please, who doesn’t just come home for lunch with a variety of lobster for testing?) for her clambake, which she explains to her children as they look on like she’s speaking Russian. Yes, Heather, we get it, you’re an ex-actress. You could still speak like you’re not reciting lines from a school play. But the kids are onboard; it’s her husband Terry who’s trying to twist her arm to do things his way — namely, to include onion rings on the menu at their clam-less clambake. They do agree on one thing, however, as they munch on their lobster like it’s grilled cheese: they need security in case of intruders or Vicki’s loser boyfriend. Heather won’t have to worry about Alexis, however, because she’s invited everyone except her: a truth that isn’t lost on Alexis because this is a reality show and everyone knows everyone’s business all the time. But Alexis is convinced she’s doing amazingly. She’s got a new haircut and a new house that her Real Housewife money bought, so clearly everything’s totally different. Especially the part where her husband Jim refuses to get rid of his “art” (cheesy pool hall naked lady sculpture) on the grounds that Alexis is more scantily clad than his statues are. While she should say, "my money bought this house, you lump of dough," she instead says that she will always change her clothes if he tells her to. What century is this? But Alexis’ inability to stand up to her husband isn’t what we’re here to discuss. According to clever editing, the big concept here is bullying (and best-friend-stealing, which apparently didn’t die in grade school). Alexis thinks Tamara stole her best friend Gretchen, and that she was bullied by the other women because, as she puts it, she’s weaker, outnumbered, and will never be on the same page as them. Tamara and Gretchen, sipping champagne while making fun of all the clothes in an Orange County boutique, cackle over Alexis’ accusation. Because duh, bullying is only bullying if they physically harm that person or make them so distraught they seek out suicide, according to these geniuses. Please, no one let Gretchen have kids. And after all that wonderful set up, it’s finally time for Heather’s party. Of course, Heather is just a pot stirrer — days before, she had delivered the news that Vicki’s daughter was in labor — something Tamara was insulted not to have heard from Vicki herself. So for the party, Heather places Tamara and Vicki across from each other, because the producers told her to. That well-placed email from Vicki to Tamara about how Eddie is going to leave Tamara sure isn’t going to come up when these ladies are using blunt instruments to crack lobsters open across from one another. Come party time, Tamara is scared of seeing Vicki and Vicki is afraid to see everyone because she’s alone and her face is still swollen. To ensure that Tamara and Gretchen are all fired up, they somehow get their hands on a totally unstaged photo of Vicki holding onto a beam while the wind tousels her hair and they realize, hey Vicki’s face is totally different. After Heather wins an argument with her husband over his unfulfilled wish to serve Australian lobster and onion rings (they got Maine lobster and new potatoes, boohoo), Tamara and Gretchen arrive to the “like presidential house” to beat up on Vicki before she gets there. Gretchen is worried that Vicki will “eat” her. Tamara and Gretchen start the rumor that Vicki is only pretending to be broken up with Brooks to keep everyone off her back. And the rest of the episode probably should have had a “b**ch” counter in the corner, because it pretty much only consisted of Vicki and Tamara’s talking head interviews about how much of a b**ch the other is. Of course it all ends very maturely with them staring dramatically at each other from opposite ends of the party as prelude to any real action whatsoever, and what looks to be the season of the b**ch (and by b**ch, they mean Vicki, but I mean all of these women). [Photo Credit: Bravo/NBCU] From Our PartnersSee 'Game of Thrones' as 'Mad Men' (Vulture)Hayden Panetierre Bikinis in Miami (Celebuzz)
  • What's Worse: A 'Game of Thrones' Nipple-ectomy or The 'Girls' Bloody Q-Tip? — PICS
    By: Kelsea Stahler Apr 01, 2013
    Is it possible that Girls, a dramatic comedy series about twentysomethings living in Brooklyn, could outgross its HBO brethren, Game of Thrones? Well, that depends on your perspective.  RELATED: 'Game of Thrones' Recap: Season of The Woman? When the fantasy series returned on Sunday night, it went out with a bang. Or should we say "a slice"? In the final scene, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is in the market for an army to help her take the Iron Throne for herself. But she can't have just any gaggle of mercenaries; she needs the most ruthless killers possible (what with the Dothraki and their woozy tummies upchucking all over her ship). When the war lord du jour sees she's balking at the tenacity of his warriors for hire, he decides there's only one way to prove just how effective these fighters are. As he talks about how they've all been robbed of their manhood (which, as disgusting as it is, doesn't truly come as a shock), he casually lifts up an armor flap on one his men, and as casually as one would show off a new brooch or bauble, the warlord sticks a knife into the unlucky warrior's nipple and quickly sliced the whole damn thing off. The warrior is unfazed and Dany is terrified and intrigued. The rest of us at home were, for lack of a better term, losing our mother-loving minds.  RELATED: 'Girls' Recap: A Bloody Q Tip Unravels Adam As the immediate appointment TV replacement for HBO's Girls, we couldn't help but think back to the second-to-last episode of Lena Dunham's darling TV baby, in which Dunham's Hannah lets her anxiety run so rampant she ruptures her own ear drum with a Q Tip. Just typing that turned my stomach, memories of the gutterally violent popping sound and Hannah's subsequent squealing rushing back into my brain. The nippel-ectomy was shocking, but the Q Tip moment was perhaps a little too close too home. (We've all got some Q Tips in our medicine cabinets, but how many of us find ourselves working for ruthless warlords with iron stomachs these days?)  GALLERY: TV's 19 Most Disgusting Moments  <a href="">Which HBO scene was more disgusting?</a>   Follow Kelsea On Twitter @KelseaStahler [Photo Credit: HBO (2)] You Might Also Like:Topanga's Revealing Lingerie Shoot: Hello '90s! 13 Most WTF Fan Tributes