Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall ... Who's the Best Pop Tart of Them All?

Back in 1999, a young chickadee from Louisiana busted into the music scene with a bang. Namely, she filmed a music video where she performed innocent, yet seductive, dance moves while dressed up in a schoolgirl uniform. The song became an instant smash, fueled by the success of the video (and impression that the costume choices made on teen boys and pedophiles alike). 

The song was "... Baby One More Time". The artist was one Ms. Britney Spears. And, after viewing said video, an adult acquaintance of mine said, "I'll bet that's the last we'll ever see of that one." 

Obviously, that wasn't exactly an accurate prediction ... and, it doesn't apply to Britney only. As the millennium approached, more and more pop tarts started crowding Britney's scene. And as they popped up, I heard one adult or another say that we wouldn't be talking about her in five years time. Well, more than 10 years later, the pop princesses of my youth are all still pretty visible ... for better or for worse. So, let's take a look at what's become of those ladies and see if the ultimate teen queen still deserves the crown. Hey, it's probably more fun than a high school reunion ... right?

Contestant No. 1: Britney Spears

Claim to Fame:
After the aforementioned "... Baby One More Time" blew up, it seemed there was no stopping Britney. She churned out five hit singles from her album of the same name, and followed up with the international smash "Oops!... I Did It Again" album in 2000. As she strove for a sexier style and a funkier sound, she continued to release wildly popular albums, including "Britney" and "In the Zone". Even a star turn in the sucktastic "Crossroads" movie didn't derail her career. Have you ever seen "Crossroads"? Oh lord. HATE. SO. MUCH.
Notable Significant Others: Justin Timberlake, Colin Farrell (rumored), Jason Alexander (No, not THAT one), Fred Durst (rumored ... started by Durst himself), Kevin Federline, Howie Day (rumored), Adnan Ghalib, Jason Trawick
The Fall: Unfortunately, when Britney fell, she fell HARD. A short list of her troubles includes ... well ... she got divorced, lost custody of her kids, shaved her head, attacked the paparazzi with an umbrella, turned in the most embarrassing live performance of her career, was forcibly taken to a mental health facility ... it goes on. However, it should be noted that "Blackout," the album she recorded in the midst of her sh!t storm, earned her some of the best reviews of her career. It was the silver lining of a truly dark cloud. 
And Now?: After her father was named the conservator of her estate by a court, Britney was able to jump off the crazy train and get back to work. Her post-breakdown albums "Circus" and "Femme Fatale" have both been commercial successes, and she recently became engaged to her former manager, Jason Trawick. At the moment, things are looking up for Brit, and, on a personal note, I still sometimes like to sing "Crazy" while I'm cleaning up my room ... just like I did back in the day.

The "Titanic" reference in this song is so hilariously bad ...

Contestant No. 2: Christina Aguilera 

Claim to Fame: After recording the theme song for Disney's Mulan ("Reflection"), Christina set out to prove that Britney wasn't the only former Mouseketeer who could carry a career in teen pop. After she scored a hit in 1999 with "Genie In a Bottle," Christina ran the race right alongside Britney, racking up three No. 1 singles from her self-titled debut. She later got "Dirrty" as Xtina when she released her follow-up album Stripped in 2002, which also included one of the most iconic songs of her career, "Beautiful." Her 2006 effort, Back to Basics, came with a glamorous Old Hollywood-style makeover and heaps of critical acclaim. 
Notable Significant Others: Carson Daly and Fred Durst (rumored, according to Eminem), Jorge Santos, Jordan Bratman, Matthew Rutler
The Fall: Christina's backslide didn't come until 2010, but when it came, it was pretty epic. Our girl Xtina was widely accused of aping Lady Gaga's style for her fourth album, "Bionic," which was pretty much purchased by her friends and family only. Christina capped this embarrassment with an outing in the truly atrocious movie Burlesque. Have you ever seen it? HATE. SO. MUCH. So, she decided that in the face of her biggest career failures to date, she'd go ahead and f&ck up her personal life, too. She filed for divorce from her husband, Jordan Bratman ... and, to boot, she gained a large amount of weight.  
And Now?: Christina still has yet to bounce back musically from her "Bionic" bomb, but she snagged a TV gig on "The Voice" as a coach/judge. She's dating a guy named Matthew Rutler, who was a production assistant on the set of Burlesque. Stellar choice, given that this guy was a party to her arrest last year for drunk and disorderly conduct. Kelly Osbourne has called her fat repeatedly, but Christina is adamant that she loves her body. Yeah, she'll say that ... and starve 40 pounds away, just like last time. 

Whatever, Kelly Osbourne. Words WON'T bring Christina down. You hearin' this? 

Contestant No. 3: Jessica Simpson

Claim to Fame: Although Jessica was always the bronze medalist in the pop princess games, she was no shrinking violet. Her 1999 album, "Sweet Kisses," went two times platinum, and the follow-up album "Irresistible," netted her a gold status and a longstanding top 20 single. Throughout her pop career, she was in a relationship with boy band hottie Nick Lachey of 98 degrees. The two married in 2002, and later starred in the reality TV show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. Although Jessica came across as a stereotypical dumb blonde on camera, the show was a pop culture phenomenon, and she became a household name at last. 
Notable Significant Others: Nick Lachey, Johnny Knoxville (rumored), Bam Margera (rumored), Adam Levine (rumored), John Mayer, Tony Romo, Billy Corgan (rumored ... and WTF?), Eric Johnson
The Fall: After allegedly cheating on her Newlyweds hubby with half the dudes on MTV, Jessica proved that she was a multi-faced failure. Her successful reality show, obviously, ceased to be. Her album, "A Public Affair" put up dismal numbers. She starred in one cinematic abortion after another (The Dukes of Hazzard, Employee of the Month, Blonde Ambition ... HATE. SO. MUCH.). She was eviscerated in the press for gaining weight. And, a string of relationship failures culminated with the ultimate slap in the face: Tony Romo dumped her right before her birthday. 
And Now?: Even though her music career, movie career, television career and enviable figure have all gone the way of her high-profile relationships (ie. in the sh!tter), Jessica is still doing a'ight. Thanks to her fashion empire, ol' Jess is apparently a gazillionaire these days. Who knew one could make so much freaking money by selling things like denim corsets? She's pregnant (perhaps you've heard), and engaged to an unemployed former football player named Eric Johnson. Yep, he put a ring on it ... and used her money to buy said ring. Even though he was something like a f%cking fourth-string tight end for the Niners, Johnson for the win!

I have to admit, I actually find this video kind of adorable ... which makes me hate myself. 

Contestant No. 4: Mandy Moore

Claim to Fame: Mandy showed up a little late to the teen pop party, but when she arrived in early 2000, she did it up big with "Candy," her signature song, and one of the biggest international hits of her career. At first, she got a bit lost in the shuffle, but she pressed on. She scored another big single from her next album, "I Wanna Be With You," and by the time she released her third album, she'd gotten in the acting game as well with roles in The Princess Diaries and A Walk To Remember. And, I'd like to add that out of all our contestants, she is the only one that I have had the pleasure of heckling in person with chants of "You suck! Get off the stage!" 
Notable Significant Others: Wilmer Valderrama (WTF?), Andy Roddick (swoon!), Adam Goldstein aka. DJ AM, Zach Braff, Ryan Adams (WTF?)
The Fall: After the moderate success of A Walk to Remember, Mandy's box office returns went down faster than a French hooker on a Saturday night. Although she was admittedly brilliant in Saved, until 2010, that film was the only one she had appeared in that had earned positive critical reception. She continued to make music, and although the reviews improved, apparently, nobody was listening. Her album "Wild Hope" moved only about 80,000 copies, and as for her most recent effort, "Amanda Leigh" ... well, I'm not that mean, folks. 
And Now?: She recently voiced Rapunzel in the awesomely cute Disney joint Tangled, and she's quietly married to Ryan Adams. Although that pairing shocked the hell out of me, I say that anything that keeps her off the screen is just fine. And just as a final note ... Holy sh!t, is is just me, or do the girls in my "Mandy Moore" photos not look the same two people? I see some resemblance, but the shape of somebody's face should never naturally change that drastically, right? Do I sense a surgical alteration here or is that just the result of somebody taking serious liberties with the Photoshopping? 

This video contains what is, bar none, the WORST lip syncing performance I've seen in my whole life. And I'm including that little incident on Saturday Night Live with Ashlee Simpson. 

Contestant No. 5: Beyonce

Claim to Fame: If it seems to you like Beyonce has been ridiculously famous for ages, that's because you're correct. As the key member of R&B/Pop girl group Destiny's Child, she has been in the spotlight since the group's self-titled debut in 1998. How notable was she as the lead singer of DC? The group replaced two of its members, and then dropped one of the replacements, and nobody even noticed until the ousted chicks threatened to sue. Destiny's Child churned out the hits, and became one of the best selling girl groups of all time. But, we hadn't seen anything yet, because when Beyonce struck out on her own ... she became a juggernaut in both music and film. 
Notable Significant Others: Jay-Z aka. Sean Carter ... and that's about it, folks. 
The Fall: Um ... there really hasn't been one. There's only ascension with this Queen "B." Seriously, this chick is bulletproof. Nothing she does gets her in trouble. Slutty clothes, provocative dance moves, and quasi-pornographic perfume ads are no problem. It's all good. She was even driving the "Pussy Wagon" from the Kill Bill films in a Lady Gaga video, and everyone applauded her. Don't get me wrong, I think the PW is badass, but can you imagine the uproar if ... oh, say ... Britney had jumped behind the wheel? Yeah, that's what I thought. 
And Now?: Beyonce should just change her name to "Midas" because everything she touches turns to gold. After four No. 1 solo albums, 16 Grammy Awards, 11 MTV Music Video Awards, a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, and a Forbes No. 1 ranking on the list of most powerful and influential musicians in the world ... Beyonce is showing no signs of stopping. She's even responsible for contributing the phrase, "Put a ring on it," to the Pantheon of popular culture. Recently, she and husband Jay-Z had their first child, Blue Ivy Carter, who has already set a Billboard record of her own. Did you really expect anything different? 

When even Liza Minelli is doin' it, you know you've arrived. 

Winner: Kind of a close one here. Britney is probably the ultimate survivor ... but I say that  nobody can stop Sasha Fierce. Hats off to Beyonce, the invincible. Over the course of the 2000s, you have prevailed over the others as queen of the pop princesses. Congratulations. I don't think I need to tell you what an incredible honor this is. Now, please spend a few months at home with that new baby and let us miss you, okay?

Sources: People.com, Wikipedia

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Jan said...

Beyonce hands down! Maybe starting in a shitty girls group made her more humble.. She is a force to be reckoned with. For godsakes she named her daughter Blue Ivy .. Only Beyonce can do that and have people not think she needs to be institutionalized...

Anonymous said...

Beyonce can do no wrong, I guess. Even when she swam in a champagne glass and gyrates on and around males a a-plenty, she is still lauded. No one seems to want to put a slut title on her but her!
So...I have to agree she is the winner, the Teflon Diva!
Everything just slides off her.

Anonymous said...

I LUV Britney! She's making a comeback!!

Jan said...

Britney is pretty amazing in her own right..

Meredith said...

True! I have to say, I enjoyed writing this. It really is kinda like a high school reunion. You have one wildly successful classmate, while the rest got fat and started sucking at life. Ha!
I don't need to worry about such things because I'm amazing at what I do ... and what I do is unemployment. Double HA! :)

Anonymous said...

I think that Jessica Simpson vid is cute, too.

Anonymous said...

What about Pink? She was my favorite. Does she count?

Meredith said...

You know, I thought about including Pink ... but somehow, for a reason I can't put my finger on, she just didn't fit. I think she's pretty cool, though. I love "Stupid Girls" ... song and video!

Anonymous said...

They are all annoying in there own ways. Beyonce is the winner by a land slide! I think she is a bit full of herself, though!