WORLD'S BEST POPULARITY CONTEST… Mumbler rapper 50 Cent has been crowned the “World's Best Artist 2003.” And, somehow, he's also the “World's Best R&B Artist.” 50 Cent, R&B? That's like saying t.A.T.u. is the “World's Best Duo.” Oh, wait, they are, according to the totally silly yet completely serious 15th Annual World Music Awards, announced last weekend in Monaco. (No, not Club Monaco, though surely that's the World's Best Music Store, based on the awards' line of reasoning.) Like a modern-day Eve Harrington, 50 Cent bested his progenitor, Eminem, who this year had to content himself with being designated the “World's Best Pop/Rock Artist.” World's Best Dance Artist, you ask? Justin Timberlake. And just who makes these decisions, you also ask? It's all our fault, the music-buying public: the winners are selected purely based on worldwide record sales.
This World's Best Music Awards Show, co-hosted by Rupert Everett, of all blokes, was yet another to be upstaged by same-sex kissing shenanigans. No, not Madonna again, and not even t.A.T.u. Singer Pink, winner of the Best American Pop/Rock Female Artist award, kissed actress Kristanna Loken, who played a killer robot in -- ahem -- Terminator 3, and the tabloids are capitalizing on the development. Forget about tomboy Pink for a second -- what might this do for Loken and her inevitable, eventual run for governor of the World's Best Music State?…
Smith of The Cure
HEAD OVER HEELS… At a time when the music industry is under more pressure than ever to be innovative or else lose even more customers and more money, label after label has taken to releasing new music from old, long-lost acts. You can't exactly say the industry isn't taking risks here. Who really knows if there's any profit to be made these days from Duran Duran? There doesn't seem to be lingering interest in Sir Mix-A-Lot or The Bangles -- have you heard any buzz about their recently released albums? To that pot, you can also add three other groups trying to go where they went so long ago -- the top of the charts, in the ‘80s. More than a decade after Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith went their separate ways and attempted solo careers, the Tears for Fears duo is back. Known for the hits “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Shout” and “Head Over Heels,” Arista Records will release their first group album in fourteen years early next year. The rock group Europe will also return next year with a world tour and a new album. The long, stringy, blond-haired power-pop rockers told the BBC that the album will be full of the syrupy sweet melodies that “The Final Countdown” ‘80s band was known for, like virtually every Swedish pop act before and since. But it's the return of The Cure that holds the best hope for success. Not only did these moody ‘80s poppers have the more cult-like fan base, evidence suggests it's still firmly in tack. Modern “it” bands, from Interpol to Hot Hot Heat, have derived much of their musical sensibility from the Cure. Interpol's bassist Carlos Dengler explained the lasting appeal to Rolling Stone: “The Cure are the Led Zeppelin of the fucked-up generation. They will never get old.” The group's new album is due next spring…
KING OF POP'S LAST CHANCE?… When a new album from an old artist is a sure shot to fail, a greatest-hits package is the only hope for profit. So we find Epic Records' November 18 release of Michael Jackson's Number Ones CD/DVD set. In truth, the release is Epic's way of fulfilling its contract and thus breaking free from Jackson, who publicly feuded with the label two years ago. The title is misleading, since several of the 18 tracks included never hit No. 1 on any Billboard chart (“Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal” foremost among these), and at least one No. 1 (“Say, Say, Say,” his duet with Paul McCartney) has gone missing. The compilation also includes a new single, “One More Chance,” a title that sums up Jackson's position for years now. Well, that's not exactly fair, since his last studio album (and maybe really his last, ever), 2001's Invincible, sold more than 2 million copies. That's a paltry sum by previous King of Pop standards but about twice as much as what Madonna has achieved with this year's American Life, for example…