What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Unless your name is Britney Spears and you signed a $30 million deal for a two-year residency, because in that case you sure would. There comes a point in some artist’s careers when they have reached that legendary status that merits a retrospective peek back into their musical journey. Though with Vegas comes plenty of contingencies, posing the question: is the prestigious Sin City residency the best career move?
With the recent announcement of Britney’s Vegas deal, you could almost hear the money being thrown left and right. A massive remodel of the Planet Hollywood resort venue, a reported $100k press stunt on Good Morning America (helicopter desert landing included), and the list goes on. The show, Britney Spears: Piece of Me, is being billed as an intimate 90-minute concert experience with a club meets theater vibe. In total, Spears is slated to perform a total of 100 shows between 2014 and 2015 with the possibility of adding even more. And despite the rumor mill churning with stories of bombing at the box office, reps for both Spears and Ceasers Entertainment insist that the shows are selling fantastically well and the demand has them scrambling to unveil the next batch of dates. Flights are being purchased and hotels are being booked as Britney fans from all over the world prep their mass migration.
The deal comes with limitations though, as it has been speculated that it ensures the only place to see Spears perform domestically for the next two years in the will be on the Strip. With her eighth studio album dropping in early December, this blocks out the possibility of an actual tour… something foreign to the pop music scene. However for Britney, this deal couldn’t be working out more in her favor if she tried. Not only does she get to be stationed in one place for extended periods with her children and avoid the constant travel, she’s getting paid likely the same amount (if not more) as she would per show on the road! Tour or no tour, the album will sell and the singles will be hits because she is at a stage in her career where that isn’t even a question. It takes a true superstar to sit pretty and have the fans come to you, and if anyone can do it, it’s Britney… b***h.
Let me start off by saying that I really didn’t want to write a Miley Cyrus blog. Everything that could possibly be said regarding her recent antics and VMA performance has been repeated on a loop for the past two weeks. Over the years, we’ve all seen our fair share of musicians evolve from teen role model to adult powerhouse, each with different audience reactions. With the recent behavior of the musician formerly known as Hannah Montana, I was inspired to look at whether or not her transition into adulthood differed from pop stars before her. So stop licking the sledgehammer for a second Miley, and let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
The identity transition taken on by Miley is strikingly similar to that of Christina Aguilera back in 2002. Leading up to the release of her second album, Stripped, Christina dyed her hair black and got inked with her new nickname “Xtina.” Provocative photo shoots followed, along with the scandalous video for the album’s first single, “Dirrty,” that featured the singer dropping it low in leather chaps and underwear. Parents were horrified that the former Mouseketeer took such a drastic departure from her “Genie in a Bottle” bubblegum-pop image, scrambling to cover the eyes of their children tuning in for their daily dose of TRL. Though the evolution in her career was controversial and left a fair share of feathers ruffled, it yielded major success for Christina and laid the foundation for what would end up being a successful career.
When it comes to Miley, she is following a blueprint that has proved effective for countless female pop stars before her. Somewhat similar adulthood-shift tactics have been used for years by the likes of Madonna, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Debbie Gibson, and Jessica Simpson. Whether the approach will work on the current demographic of music fans is an entirely different story though. What worked for Christina in the early 2000s could easily be ineffective with the current wave of pop music fans. If in 2000, I wanted to re-watch the video of Britney ripping off a black suit at the VMAs to reveal a flesh-colored bodysuit, I’d have to wait for the recast on MTV the next day. Now, YouTube puts the controversy at our finger tips and allows us to pull up content within seconds for analysis and comment. Tearing down an artist has never been easier, making the dynamic between musicians and public opinion even more complex.
Miley isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last celebrity to put the pedal to the metal with her image. Though the question is, will it continue to pay off?
I don’t think I’ve ever met a human being that does not enjoy the legend that is Beyoncé Giselle Knowles. Microsoft Word even autocorrected the accent on the “é” in her name as I typed it, so that must mean something. And while I too am a shameless member of the Beyhive, I can’t help but have a bone to pick with Mrs. Carter.
Let’s cut to back to February and the Super Bowl XLVII halftime performance that brought a blackout to the Superdome. In a spectacular display of talent, Beyoncé danced through fire, rolled among strobe lights, flipped her hair in the majestic wind, materialized Kelly and Michelle to reform Destiny’s Child and left everyone at home scrambling for their DVR remotes so they could rewind it back again. Seems like the perfect time to announce her fifth studio album, considering it had been two years since her last, right? Not even close.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve forgiven Blue Ivy for delaying my yearly ritual of unwrapping a fresh Beyoncé album, but now I’m getting antsy. With everyone glued to their TVs, I couldn’t imagine how she passed up the chance to premiere a new single during the halftime set. Soon after, when she released her Pepsi commercial set to the tune of the new song “Grown Woman,” I thought the time had finally come… but I was wrong yet again.
Now two strikes into my album anticipation, Beyoncé announced her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. There was no way she would go on a tour without a new album. No way, not a chance. It had to be coming out before then right? Wrong. She is not only touring with music from an album released two years ago, she is completely selling out every show. And as I sat for the fourth consecutive day trying to get tickets in the middle of my Media Ethics class, I realized that she is a force to be reckoned with.
To end the saga, I found myself standing in a crowd of excited Beyoncé fans in New Jersey last month waiting for the Mrs. Carter Show to start and change each and every one of our lives. And after two hours of non-stop perfection, Bey made one thing very clear: she’s a grown woman; she can do whatever she wants.