Britney Spears

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Miley Cyrus is a hot topic. Her recent performances, characterized by nudity, hypersexualization, and a lot of twerking, have gained her a great deal of attention in the American media. These performances raise interesting and nuanced questions about society and our place in it. College students are, like Cyrus, members of a new generation, the Millennials, who are forming and reforming our identities through the landscape of our educational and social environments. Therefore, Cyrus’ choices and actions, as distant as they might seem from ours, highlight trends in our society that we should be aware of, as these trends may have serious and dangerous consequences.

It would seem that part of Miley Cyrus’ new persona is an attempt to reinvent herself in her industry. But why did Miley choose this path for her reinvention? Of course, there is no perfect answer to this, but there are some speculations. In an open letter to Miley Cyrus, Northern Irish singer Sinead O’Connor says that Cyrus is allowing herself to be prostituted by her industry because, as the adage goes, sex sells. In other words, Miley may have seen before her two choices: Either she could risk invisibility in an increasingly competitive and ruthless business, or she could use her sexuality to ensure that she stays in the spotlight.

Then again, Cyrus may have also seen her choice from a different perspective: that of a young adult practicing at growing up. As a younger person, Cyrus expressed herself in a more “wholesome” way. Now, she’s trying to express herself through sexual appeal. Although her intentions may be self-motivated, the reasoning that “you’re just expressing yourself in a world that is trying to keep you down” is a tool often used by producers and directors to exploit young women — women like Cyrus. 

Cyrus may see herself as rebelling against a repressive system, but is she really? Many female performers have experienced similar periods of sexual rebellion — Britney Spears is a prime example of this.  Some argue that this type of sexuality actually serves to objectify women further.

But what do Cyrus’ choices mean for others in her generation? In some ways, Cyrus is very different from the average 20-something — if I had a nickel for every time Steve Carrell shook his head angrily at me, I would have zero nickels. Cyrus would have enough for a steak dinner. Yet in some ways, she is also very similar. Around college campuses like ours, it is not hard to find young people trying to reinvent themselves, and these young people are faced with similar choices, especially in regard to expressions of their sexuality.

Cyrus’ choices raise questions of what is and should be acceptable in terms of displays of sexuality. Journalism professor Robert Jensen explained it nicely. Jensen said that we are forced to look at sexuality through a dichotomous framing: Either we can retreat to a virginal image and completely resist displays of sexuality, or we can accept objectification of our bodies by not resisting at all. This limited framing is especially true for women.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Miley Cyrus discussed her VMA performance with Robin Thicke. “No one is talking about the man behind the ass,” Cyrus said, and this statement is rather astute. As a woman, her behavior is scrutinized in a way that it probably wouldn’t be if she were a man.

I do not seek to criticize Cyrus’ choices as being good or bad. Rather, I believe she provides us with an interesting dialogue about the choices and expectations for not just women, but all people of our generation. Growing up, we are socialized into a culture that we end up accepting, because we don’t know that anything else is possible. As we search for our identities in this tumultuous time of young adulthood, we need to be aware that our choices may be rooted in something deeper, and that we need to be critical of our culture in order to understand our own actions.    

Franklin is a Plan II, linguistics and Middle Eastern languages and cultures senior from Sugar Land.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Bangerz is the guilty pleasure you hide from your loved ones and sneak off to your dorm room to indulge in. Miley Cyrus has produced pure musical crack that is so wrong it feels right.

Bangerz is a bipolar mix of self-aware, wild child anthems and helpless heartbreak, hitting the highs and lows of the 20-something life. The “short hair, don’t care” attitude of “SMS (Bangerz)” and “Love, Money, Party” clash with the familiar pain of failed love in “Wrecking Ball” and “Maybe You’re Right.”

“We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” are the obvious singles on Bangerz. They are the only songs on the record with any genuine broad appeal. Southern hip-hop permeates the album and Cyrus even tries her hand at some rapping — she mentions an orangutan; it is not her finest lyrical hour.

Bangerz is not deep by any stretch of the imagination. Lyrics discuss discovering suspect text messages and preferring a vibrator to a boyfriend, but was anyone really expecting the next “Peace Train” from the woman who performed “Party in the U.S.A.”? “FU” has Cyrus belting it out like some of the great lady singers, and for good reason.

Her recent VMA performance got tongues wagging, for better or worse, in anticipation of the pop star’s fourth studio album. Bangerz fulfills Cyrus’ evolution from the obnoxious, double-lifed hillbilly Hannah Montana to ratchet Miley 2.0, grill and tiny peroxide buns included.

Those who are shocked by her transformation must not know much about 20-somethings. The “me generation” has a bizarre, self-aware wildness that Cyrus brings to the public eye. The revival of the “Pretty Woman” hooker dress, crop tops and super-stacked platform shoes joined with the “I know I look crazy, but I don’t care” attitude create a controlled rebellion of confidence and independence.

Cyrus wears red carpet outfits that could have been easily knocked off years ago through Forever 21 and GoJane. One would witness more risque dancing Thursday night on Sixth Street. 

Frankly, Cyrus has garnered most of this criticism because her new persona is not sexy. Rewind to the VMAs – shots of Cyrus playing with long hair she obviously does not have and sticking out that infamous tongue while emerging from a teddy bear. It’s weird, it’s goofy and it’s in no way sensual. 

Pop princesses like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera have “grown up” through revealing performances. Remember Spears’ nude and crystal bodysuit at the 2000 VMAs? It was scandalous, yet acceptable because she was sexually appealing.

The new Cyrus has reached sexual saturation to the point where she isn’t the mainstream idea of “hot” anymore. On the track “4 x 4,” Cyrus sings “Driving so fast ‘bout to piss on myself,” which, by most standards, is not sexy. Throw in Cyrus’s guttural Southern accent and you have one big boner-kill.

Bangerz reinforces that there really is room in the pop world for the weird chick in a fuzzy costume and creepers, even among the barely-legal, crystal bikinis and long blonde hair. 

Cyrus is transforming into a true force to be reckoned with. She doesn’t give a flying fig and neither should anyone else. Hey, she’s just being Miley.

Mrs. Carter Show World Tour; Starring Beyonce - Barclays Center show added on December 22nd, tickets on sale Monday, August 12th.

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

The Video Music Awards hold a hallowed place in the minds of all pop culture fanatics. Unlike the tame Academy Awards and elegant Grammy's, the Video Music Awards are ripe with dramatic proclamations and memorable moments. Here are the Daily Texan's Top 10 Moments:

1. BRITNEY SPEARS DONS A YELLOW PYTHON (2001)

If she's not the queen of pop, she's certainly Video Music Awards royalty. Spears upped the ante for VMA performances when, just "like that," she draped a yellow snake around her shoulders

2. BEYONCE REVEALS HER PREGNANCY (2011)

Just when we thought Beyoncé and Jay-Z couldn't be loved any more, they announced their pregnancy for us on national television. #BLUEIVY

3. BRITNEY SPEARS (AND CHRISTINA AGUILERA) KISS MADONNA (2003)

No one remembers that Madonna kissed Christina Aguilera too in her performance of "Like a Virgin." Watch closely for the quick pan to Justin Timberlake looking like a kicked puppy.

4. KANYE INTERRUPTS TAYLOR SWIFT (2009)

When Taylor Swift won the VMA for "Best Music Video," millions of fans were outraged for Beyoncé's shafted "Single Ladies" performance. Kanye West interrupted Swift's acceptance speech to make sure she knew.

5. LADY GAGA WEARS A MEAT DRESS (2010)

Gaga. In a dress. Made of meat.

6. THE SEA OF EMINEMS (2000)

Find Marshall Mathers, the Real Slim Shady, in this sea of his Eminem lookalikes. This image of dozens of Eminems may have terrified us as children, but it was certainly memorable.

7. BRITNEY SPEARS BECOMES A GROWN WOMAN (2000)

This may be the third Britney Spears moment on this list, but this video is important because it signaled Britney's adulthood.

8. BEYONCE LOWERS FROM THE CEILING (2003)

Being "Crazy in Love" with Beyoncé is easy after you watch her lower down from the ceiling in a harness and dance around in a weave that is to die for.

9. MICHAEL JACKSON PERFORMS FIFTEEN MINUTES OF HITS (1995)

Michael Jackson will always be the King of Pop and his live fifteen minute mashup of "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Black or White," "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" is pop music at its finest.

10. FIONA APPLE CALLS THE WORLD "BULLSH*T" (1997)

Fiona Apple began her acceptance speech sweetly, but it derailed quickly. By the end of her spotlighted moment Apple had sworn at the planet as well as her millions of fans.

Beyonce is the new Pepsi girl, and she's not in bad company

Yesterday, love of our lives, pop icon and queen of the world Beyonce Knowles Carter released a very short clip featuring a comeback of the robotic hand, and a couple of hairflips. More importantly, it prepared us to anxiously click a reload button today at 8 a.m. 

Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z are known for their love (read: obsession) with the number 4. She is known to have said to The Telegraph, "We all have special numbers in our lives, and four is that number for me." Beyonce's fourth studio album is titled 4. Her birthday is September 4. Jay-Z's is December 4, and the two were married on April 4. Happy anniversary, you two! 

So on the fourth day of the fourth month, when Beyonce's video went live, the world was abuzz with rumors. Would it be a music video? A full new song? A public service announcment? 

It was a Pepsi commercial. 

I was initially furious. Where was "Bow Down Bitches"? Where was the new song for me to listen to on repeat for months? Why was I being handed what seemed like a strangely similar video to the also disappointing Justin Timberlake music video for "Mirrors?" But then I remembered something.

I have been complaining for years that Pepsi commercials don't feature pop stars anymore. As a loyal Britney Spears fan, I've always loved Pepsi pop commercials. And, honestly, so has America.

Remember Cindy Crawford in that tight tank? 

And Michael Jackson?

Remember this iconic Britney Pepsi commercial? 

And this girl-power one with Britney Spears, P!NK and Beyonce singing "We Will Rock You?"

Remember Shakira dancing with a grocery store clerk?

Sure, this new Beyonce Pepsi commercial may not be a music video, or a full new song, but it is something. It's the return of the pop star Pepsi girl, for better or for worse. 

We could make a feminist critique on how scantily clad these women are in their Pepsi debuts. Or we can follow Beyonce's instructions at the end of the video, "Embrace your past, but live for now," and consider this her induction into a sort of pop-star hall of fame. 

This film image released by A24 Films shows, from left, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and Vanessa Hudgens in a scene from “Spring Breakers.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo | Daily Texan Staff

Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” doesn’t seem to have much on its mind as the credits unfurl over a barrage of beer bongs, bare breasts and bad behavior, and on the surface, “Spring Breakers” is nothing more than an excuse to get some of the most popular Nickelodeon and Disney stars into very compromising situations on camera. However, once you start to peel back the layers of the film’s neon-drenched aesthetic, “Spring Breakers” becomes a coyly disguised film about, among other things, responsibility, living a rewarding life and the corruptive power of Britney Spears.

Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel Korine star as a quartet of underfunded college students who, desperate for an escape to the beach, rob a restaurant to bankroll their dream spring break. A few keg stands later, they end up in handcuffs, and their unlikely savior is drug dealer/rapper/self-described gangster Alien (James Franco).

Anyone in search of a meaningful narrative arc will be disappointed by “Spring Breakers,” and the film isn’t exactly interested in telling a story. It’s a film about a lifestyle, not characters, and almost every moment in the film is dedicated to exposing the dark underbelly of the YOLO philosophy. Even as the film’s neon aesthetic and dupstep-driven momentum seem to revel in the beachside debauchery, it’s clear that Harmony Korine is interested in exploring the mind-set of the modern American youth, holding a mirror up to our ugliest behavior accusingly.

All of that sounds a bit like a 40-year-old director telling a bunch of bikini-clad teens to get off his lawn, but there’s no denying that “Spring Breakers” is an absolute blast to watch. There’s not a wasted moment in the film, and the woozy spring break plays like a half-formed memory at times, with a disorienting, arresting lilt to the rhythms of its dialogue, driven by Cliff Martinez and Skrillex’s seductive score. Korine stages several bravura sequences, especially the creatively filmed and thematically loaded robbery that kicks off the film, a bizarre montage set to a crooning Britney Spears song, and an unusually constructed but satisfyingly climactic shootout.

“Spring Breakers” is building a good bit of its appeal around its youthful cast, but Korine didn’t cast his titular characters because they were willing to tarnish their (mostly) squeaky-clean images. Selena Gomez is surprisingly effectively as Faith, the “good girl,” and Gomez’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed innocence strikes an essential contrast to the rest of the cast. Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine are both solid in their roles, but Vanessa Hudgens tears into her character with surprising fierceness, determined not to cast off her image but to shatter it into a million pieces. 

Hudgens’ performance kicks into high gear once James Franco’s character enters the picture, and his totally gonzo performance fits Korine’s style perfectly. Alien is a character who solves his problems by throwing bills at them, and Franco's essentially playing Korine’s thesis statement, a life lived with no responsibilities taken to its most natural extreme.

For a film with so much potential for inciting moral outrage, “Spring Breakers” is actually a fascinatingly purposeful film from Harmony Korine. The film is a thoroughly modern bait-and-switch, blinding the audience with a barrage of colors and bass drops, leading them to believe that the film is a gleeful celebration when it’s actually a damning condemnation.

Photo Credit: John Massingill | Daily Texan Staff

No matter how much he tries, Justin Timberlake will never be a bad boy. 

But he sure gave it his best try at the final Myspace Secret Show during South By Southwest on Saturday. Timberlake’s show featured two versions of himself: boy-next-door Justin, and sex symbol Timberlake.

The Mickey Mouse Club gave Timberlake a wholesome start to the entertainment industry, but unlike some of his fellow mousketeers, he has maintained a relatively good-guy persona. While Christina Aguilera became X-tina and performed her “Dirrty” music video in a bikini, Timberlake frosted his tips and joined a boy band. 

As the ramen-haired frontman of *NSYNC, Timberlake’s career skyrocketed. No Strings Attached, when released in 2000, became the fastest-selling album of all time, and — of course — he had America’s sweetheart on his denim-suited arm. 

His relationship with Britney Spears in the early 2000’s was caked in reassurances that they were not having sex and that they were good kids. When they broke up, Spears released the horrible In the Zone and then, well, ended up with Kevin Federline. Timberlake, meanwhile, released “Cry Me A River,” where he sort of seeks revenge, but mostly pouts. 

Sure, there was that Superbowl halftime fiasco in 2004 where Timberlake played a key role in revealing Janet Jackson’s breast to most of America. This is one of the only real claims Justin has to bad boy fame, but he denied having any prior knowledge of the event. In fact, while Jackson’s new album tanked, Timberlake was awarded two Grammys for his release of Justified. He issued an on-stage apology for his bad behavior, and won all of our mothers’ approval back. 

Since then, his solo career has done well, and our boy from Tennessee has held his own among the nation’s biggest popstars. Even when he took a six-year hiatus from music after bringing sexy back with FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006, Timberlake remained on the stage of American popular culture with his “Saturday Night Live” appearances and movie roles in “Friends With Benefits” and “Model Behavior.” 

For Timberlake, the scandal is always under wraps. He hasn’t been caught driving with his child on his lap like Spears, and he hasn’t come out of the closet like fellow *NSYNC member Lance Bass. Yet, at Saturday’s show, Timberlake tried to seduce us with typical bad boy behaviors. 

As it is in his “SNL” skits with Andy Samberg, Timberlake’s bad-boy antics are always in jest. After referencing the drugs that he was presumably on at his Myspace show, Timberlake went on to say “I’m just ... serious,” with a wink back into the crowd. 

We could claim that Timberlake is just transitioning with the release of his new album The 20/20 Experience, and he really did have that option. After six years, Timberlake could have produced any album he wanted. He could have stretched into hip-hop, jazz or even river-dancing. But he didn’t. The 20/20 Experience falls in easily with all of his previous work. He played songs from every album at the show on Saturday, and while he rapped in the middle of “Cry Me A River,” the transitions were seamless.

At midnight, Timberlake stood backlit at the microphone. “Is it St. Patty’s Day yet?” he purred. The crowd cheered, and Timberlake appeared blazer removed in a black tuxedo t-shirt holding a pint of dark beer that he promptly downed in one gulp. 

Soon after the guzzling, Timberlake sang “That Girl,” which is the seventh song on the 20/20 Experience. In it he sings, “Pretty lady, you’ll always be my baby, baby, baby// It’s so amazing, how you became my baby, baby, baby.” If that isn't a boy-next-door line, I don't know what is. 

At the end, when the stage went black except for a single spotlight and Timberlake whispered into the microphone “I’m motherfuckin’ bringin’ sexy back,” it was his wedding ring that cast a massive reflection back into the crowd. 

Printed on Tuesday, March 19, 2013 as: Pop star's image remains 'good' through changes 

Students enrolled in the Videodance series at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School learn music video choreography. Photo courtesy of Vicki Parsons.

Beyonce and the “Single Ladies” hand. Britney Spears writhing on the floor in “Toxic.” Lady Gaga’s monster arms from “Bad Romance.” These are just a few of the iconic dance moves many of us have spent countless hours pausing, rewinding and repeating music videos in hopes of mastering. Music videos have been teaching the youth culture how to move since the 1970s, but modern videos that incorporate intricately choreographed routines are much harder to duplicate without a little help. 

Enter the Videodance series at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. These classes take famous choreography from the likes of Britney Spears and Lady Gaga and teach them in several class sessions.

Vicki Parsons, director of the Butler Community School, and Kody Jauron, a Ballet Austin II dancer and the Videodance instructor, created the series together in fall 2011. 

“[We] wanted a fun contemporary class that was less about teaching technique and more about just coming to dance and have fun,” Parsons said. “Due to the popularity of ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ dance is a big interest. With the interest in pop singers and their music videos the idea came to combine the two.”

When creating a new Videodance series, the choreography selection is left up to Jauron. He said the real difficulties don’t arise in learning choreography, but in choosing which dances to teach.

“Because the class is marketed through the artists and the particular singles, it’s always hardest to decide exactly what would be the most successful in terms of numbers of students and which piece would be the most enjoyable to dance,” Jauron said.

Videodance has spanned genres and age groups, bringing in an unexpectedly diverse audience of dancers.

“The audience is so broad because the music videos range from the early 1980s to present day,” Jauron said. “It’s interesting to see how each video brings in different dancers and different generations. Despite this difference, the energy is always high and vibrant which is my favorite part.”

The classes also take on seasonal twists, Parsons said.

“Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ was popular at Halloween,” Parsons said. “We try to offer songs that will be familiar and artists people know. We even did a piece from ‘Mean Girls’ around the holidays. Santa hats and all.”

Jauron cites the King of Pop and recent Superbowl queen Beyonce as the series’ biggest crowd-pleasers. The most recent series is Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” which Jauron said has been a huge hit.

“Just recently we began our ‘Single Ladies’ workshop with over 40 dancers in the class,” Jauron said. “Talk about high energy.”

Despite the crowd favorites, Jauron admits to having his own favorite artists to teach.

“My personal favorite is always Lady Gaga,” Jauron said. “Her choreography is a really great fusion of hip-hop, jazz and of course plenty of theatricality because it is Gaga. I think the ‘Marry the Night’ choreography is my favorite because of its energy and choreographic versatility as music video choreography.”

Videodance is currently teaching Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and is set to begin Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in March.

Published on February 25, 2013 as " Music video dances taught as Ballet Austin".

Pop trio Miike Snow released their second album after three years (Photo courtesy of Downtown Records & Columbia Records).

Photo Credit: Courtesy of press | Daily Texan Staff

Swedish indie-pop trip band Miike Snow, known for their 2009 breakout hit “Animal,” stay close to their sugar-induced pop equation on their follow-up album, Happy to You.

Composed of Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, who also go under the moniker Bloodshy & Avant when churning out hits for Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue, Miike Snow are not afraid to frolic in the Swedish pop landscape. They are the anti-Lana Del Rey; their appeal lies in their unabashedly major-chord hooks and utter lack of mystique.

With Miike Snow, it’s as if the pop factory itself has become the Barbie doll it’s creating. On “The Wave,” synthesized drums tip and tap under twinkling electronic beats over the echoing vocals, while on “Devil’s Work” piano chords charge as horns burst in and out, similar to their “How I Roll” on Spears’ Femme Fatale.

It’s this familiarity Miike Snow has to their other alter ego’s productions that works both for and against them. The songs are immaculately produced, every inch of the songs masterminded by Karlsson and Winnberg to be jammed out to in a major brand commercial, and they make for a cohesive album. After a while however, monotony sinks in. That repeating piano melody over synthesizers becoming grating by the time the seventh track “Pretender” comes around.

Miike Snow has a bags of tricks that work well on singles but lack the originality to take on a full album, especially on an album with few changes from the debut. One wishes they would let go and let a screech in the vocals or a messy real life instrument enliven things. Only on “Black Tin Box,” do the heavy drums and whispered singing surprise listeners with their total weirdness.

However, the extremely polished production is balanced by surreal lyrics. On “Archipelago,” an apocalyptic world is described from above over a infectious chorus, which makes for a jarring combination.

The group also describe a relationship gone sour under dreamy vocals and gentle melodies on “God Help This Divorce.” The ironic disjoint between the emotional heft of the lyrics and the cheery music recalls fellow Swedish band, The Cardigans of “Lovefool” fame, using pop music as a vehicle for warped tales.

This self-awareness saves Happy to You from the fate of albums from producers-turned-singer/band that fail to be anything more than a showcase for production tools rather than substance. They may make pop candy, but it’s both sweet and sour.

Editor's Note: This video contains violent images.

Printed on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 as: Swedish band lacks variety, uses cheerful techno beats

Participants of the Pop Princess Singalong dance with balloons and glow sticks beneath Beyonce’s video for “Crazy In Love” at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz last Thursday.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

The Alamo Drafthouse’s Downtown and Lake Creek locations will be putting on the Pop Princess Sing-Along event for its third and final show of the year tonight.

Audience members are invited to dress up as their favorite bubblegum princess and rock out to the tunes of nearly every guilty-pleasure pop diva of the past 30 years.

The Drafthouse has put on a Pop Princess Sing Along multiple times before, and in previous years, the sing-along show has focused on the classic female pop artists of the ’80s and ’90s: think Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Cyndi Lauper, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. This year, the show has been updated to accommodate the many upcoming female pop artists that currently infiltrate the charts and implant their maddeningly catchy tunes in our brains for days at a time.

“I had the thought that Katy Perry is making a run to be cemented in the history books as the pop princess of our time,” said Greg MacLennan, director of interactive programming at the Alamo Drafthouse. “I wanted to add the stuff that’s going on now, like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, all those girls. So we’ll still keep in the ’80s stuff, but I also tried to include more contemporary stuff this time. It’s more fun that way.”

MacLennan said the Pop Princess Sing Along evolved out of past sing alongs hosted by the Drafthouse, including the Boy Band Sing Along and the Disney Musketeers Sing Along.

Although the show is designed to be an interactive experience for the audience, MacLennan said that the audience determines both the level of interactivity and the amount of fun they’ll have.

“We’ll have fun, kind of passive things for the audience, like when we pass out flashing rings during Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),’” MacLennan said.

“But it’s not aggressively interactive. I just say, ‘The only limits to the fun you’ll have tonight are your own inhibitions. Let’s just get over ourselves and have a good time. If you wanna dance in the aisles, get up onstage, dress up, you can take it to that level of interactivity.’”

Although one might expect a largely female audience in attendance for the Pop Princess Sing Along, MacLennan says it’s easy for guys and girls to enjoy the saccharine sounds of Britney and Christina.

“No matter gay, straight, guy or girl, these are the songs you can’t help but sing in the car by yourself,” MacLennan said. “Once you get into the theater, you realize, ‘Wow, I’m surrounded by 200 people who all do the same thing that I do,’ and then you just cut loose and enjoy yourself. I’ve seen a group of straight dudes sitting at a Pop Princess show and just having a good time.”

Printed on August 25, 2011 as: Seeing Stars

LADY GAGA: NEVER BROKE, ONLY EVERGREEN
When Lady Gaga sings “there ain’t no other way,” she isn’t mincing words. Her second album, Born This Way, is devoted to her two favorite sonic levels: over-the-top and bombast. She likes her pop with rolling dance beats, grandiose lyrical adages and hooky, arena-sized choruses. Born This Way is her love letter to ’80s and ’90s pop-rock anthems, with plenty of tributes to Bruce Springsteen and Madonna.


Although most critics were divided, her army of “little monsters” didn’t need any convincing. They gladly turned Born This Way into a platinum-certified hit. To wit, Nielsen SoundScan reported Tuesday that Born This Way will debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 1.11 million copies in its first week — the highest since 2005, when 50 Cent’s The Massacre sold 1.14 million. It’s an impressive showing: Born This Way is only the 17th album to sell a million in a week since SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991.

BILLBOARD MUSIC AWARDS
For an awards ceremony that seems to carry as much gravitas as the Peoples’ Choice Awards, it had some serious star power: Rihanna and Britney Spears arm-danced together in a blitzkrieg of sparks, chains and canned vocals. Cee Lo Green at one point performed upside down at a piano. And if there was doubt before of Beyonce’s talent, then watch her elaborate dance number, inspired by a YouTube video of Italian artist Lorella Cuccarini.

SEASON FINALLYS
(The following contains spoilers from recent TV show season finales.)
The TV season wrapped up with some long-awaited (but not always on-camera) consummations, lame, anticlimactic fake-outs and the dullest trip to New York ever.


On “The Good Wife,” Alicia and Will, finally (finally!) released their sexual tension in a brilliantly done elevator ride to a $7,000 presidential suite. Also (finally) having sex: Booth and Brennan on “Bones,” but the show maddeningly withheld their copulation for a surprise scene of Brennan announcing her pregnancy.
Meanwhile, “The Office” chickened out of their months-long buildup of a replacement for the departing Steve Carrell. The finale didn’t even make good use of its star-studded lineup of guest stars, including Ray Romano and Jim Carrey. Twice as infuriating was the finale for “How I Met Your Mother,” which included the key piece of Bob Saget narration we’ve all been waiting for (“And kids, that was how I met your mother”), with a slap-in-the-face “psych!” It would have been funny had the season not been so mediocre.


On the terminally uneven “Glee,” New Directions finally made it to Nationals in New York. The season came to a close as expected. Rachel and Finn rekindled their relationship; Mr. Schue’s plot line was swiftly abandoned for the sake of the kids (if the producers don’t do something soon to give Matthew Morrison more to do, he’s just going to be a singing vest); and the team just barely lost the competition — but they all had fun in New York, so who cares! Also, Sam and Mercedes are secretly dating, but it’s difficult to believe the romance will last. Mercedes would be the third cast member Sam has dated over the course of the season.

ARNOLD TERMINATES HIS MARRIAGE, CAREER
Hopefully Arnold Schwarzenegger has no further political aspirations: the bomb he dropped has ruined any chance he might have had. With his run as governor of California coming to a close, he announced that he had fathered a lovechild with one his housemaids 14 years earlier and he’d been secretly financially supporting them. His wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, announced the couple’s separation shortly thereafter. His comeback animated series, “The Governator,” which was set to start production, was cancelled. “Hasta la vista,” never seemed so prescient.