All Articles Tagged "Taylor Swift"
It’s Not That Serious…Is It? Why I Don’t See Taylor Swift’s Controversial “Shake It Off” Video As Cultural Misappropriation
Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj both took the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards to perform their latest singles (“Shake It Off” and “Anaconda”). Despite occupying two very different genres, both stars have one common detail in their recent visual productions that seem to be bringing in a fair share of controversy– twerking backsides.
One video is being well accepted, albeit a little controversial, and is cited as a return of the booty bounce days.
The other? Well, that artist is being shamed for apparently being misguided and being given two definitive thumbs down.
Twerking became the most prominent dance craze of the moment last year. While twerking isn’t anything new within hip-hop culture, pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Lily Allen have received an insurmountable wave of backlash for including the rump-shaking dance in their own music videos. It’s very easy to cross the thin line of appreciation and appropriation (just ask Katy Perry, who is often side-eyed for the latter), but in the case of Taylor Swift, if you ask me, it isn’t an open and shut case. How is it possible to celebrate Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” that features four minutes and 49 seconds of vibrating assets while Taylor Swift included fragmented segments of it in her four-minute production?
I understand rapper Earl Sweatshirt’s immediate response when he says that this video may be “inherently offensive and ultimately harmful.” But if this video montage of dance is harmful than what does that say about “Anaconda?” If Swift spent her entire video with only black dancers putting their hands on their knees while she rapped in her hoodie, fitted cap and boom box, then I would better understand how some view the video as wrong. But seeing as how she’s showcasing a medley of dance from ballet, cheerleading and even break dancing (all in a seemingly comical way), when does it really become offensive?
We’ve become so sensitive as a culture and throw darts at any artist that doesn’t have the same amount of melanin in their skin, deeming them to be culture vultures when they feature the same images in their videos that we do. There are moments of taking it too far, but sometimes we can take things a little too far.
There has to be some sense of balance. Every white girl who features twerking in her video is not racist. Things can be done in good taste and in good, clean fun. The storyline of the video is clear that it is poking fun at Swift’s two left feet. As director Mark Romanek put it: “If you look at it carefully, it’s a massively inclusive piece. It’s very, very innocently and positively intentioned. And — let’s remember — it’s a satirical piece. It’s playing with a whole range of music-video tropes and clichés and stereotypes.”
If we fault stars for including what is popular in their visual work – because let’s face it, white, black, purple and green people are all doing it – and even for questioning what seems to be popular, we’d all be stressed out.
Each video fits the genre it operates within. The head Barbie had every man, and maybe even some women, glued to the screen when “Anaconda” dropped, while the former country star has provided a cutesy, cookie cutter “be yourself” video for her fan base. Sometimes that’s all there is to it. So really, is this video really that bad?
Some stars have a reputation of being a tight wad when it comes to money even though they have more than enough of it. But these stars are quite to opposite and don’t mind sharing the wealth when it comes to leaving a tip. Check out this list of celebs who tip well… very well.
Jay Z has 99 problems but money certainly isn’t one. After the Brooklyn rapper teamed up with his mentee Kanye West for their collaborative “Watch The Throne” album, Hov went all out during the party thrown to celebrate its release. Jay Z ordered a quarter of a million dollars worth of champagne and when it came time to pay for the bill, he didn’t bat an eye dropping an extra $50,000 for the wait staff.
Sometimes it’s over just as quickly as it starts – it being these ridiculously short celebrity romances you might’ve missed if you blinked an eye.
Jennifer Lopez and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
When Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony tied the knot back in 2004, it seemed like a match made in heaven so fans were understandably shocked when they announced their split in 2011. J. Lo moved on to back-up dancer Cris Smart and they remained a couple until early June of 2014. While hot on the promo trail to get the word out about her upcoming album, Lopez started making different headlines. Reports leaked that Lopez had hooked up with “Dancing with the Stars” dancer and recent mirror ball champ Maksim Chmerkovskiy. But as quickly as it started, things have seemed to fizzle out. Reportedly, Chmerkovskiy was turned off by the media attention Lopez garnered and was looking for something a little more low-key.
Tags:Ashley Olsen, Ashton Kutcher, audrina patridge, beyonce, Bradley Cooper, celebrity romance, chris pine, eva longoria, fergie, geri halliwell, henry cavill, jake gyllenhaal, jay z, jennifer lopez, Justin Timberlake, kaley cuoco, kim kardashian, Kristen Bell, Lance Armstrong, Mark Sanchez, matthew morrison, mos def, nick lachey, Rihanna, Rosario Dawson, Russell Brand, sofia vergara, Taylor Swift, tom cruise
Is Music By Female Performers Filled With Just As Much Man-Hating As Hip-Hop Is Filled With Misogyny?
Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas has done a piece for Complex magazine’s website on the art of the male response song, particularly the many (and I do mean many) responses to Nicki Minaj’s “Lookin’ Ass Ni**a,” and how it all exudes extreme “butthurtness” as he calls it. Damon Young also writes that all the responses are redundant and comical, considering how those in hip-hop address women in their music.
Of course, the comment section is full of folks who weren’t trying to hear that “respect women” bull crap. As one commenter noted:
“I’m also very suspicious of men like you who (rightly) point out instances of misogyny in rap, while at the same time, try to excuse, or turn a blind eye to the slew of misandric/ female supremacist material filling the catalogues of artists like Beyonce & Taylor Swift.”
I have heard this reasoning before: Female singers and rappers have as many man-hating songs as rappers have their woman-hating hits. But is it true? A casual listen to the radio would say, hell no! But in the name of pseudo-science, I decided to find out if songs performed by women in music were equally “misandrist.” The answers will surprise you – but likely not.
For this research, I decided to focus on the two “urban” radio stations here in Philadelphia. WUSL, better known to listeners as “POWER 99FM,” is owned by Clear Channel Communications. As evident by its signature, “Bangin’ Hip Hop and R&B,” Power 99 caters to those who listen to hip-hop as well as those who listen to R&B music. And according to the station’s marketing material, its audience is 54 percent women and 44 percent men. Therefore, if I were to find misandrist music anywhere, it would likely be on a station, which appeals largely to women.
The other station is WPHI, which is known locally as Hot 107.9 FM. Like POWER 99FM, WPHI is known as an urban station. Although demographics on the station were hard to come by in the short amount of time I allotted for this study, judging by the similar musical format, I assumed that its audience is also reflective of that of 99FM – with slight variations.
Since radio today tends to be repetitious (which might have something to do with the fact that only six companies control 90 percent of mainstream media), I limited my research time to two hours. To be specific, I listened to 99FM on Saturday from 4 to 6 p.m. The playlist was as followed: YG, “My Hitta (My N-Word) Remix”; “NaNa” by Trey Songz; Drake feat. 2 Chainz and Big Sean, “All Me”; Young Thug, “Stoner”; Kid Ink feat. Chris Brown, “Show Me”; T-Pain feat. BoB, “Up Down”; Rick Ross feat. Jay Z, “The Devil is a Lie”; Rich Homie Quan, “Type of Way”; Miguel, “Adorn”; “All of Me” by John Legend; “Que” by OG Bobby Johnson; ScHoolboy Q, “Man of the Year”; Rico Love feat. Trey Songz, TI and Tiara Thomas, “They Don’t Know”; Beyoncé, feat. Jay Z, “Drunk in Love”; Mack Wilds, “Henny”; and finally, Sage the Gemini, “Gas Pedal.”
What struck me the most was in spite of 99FM’s listening audience being slightly more female, its playlist for those two hours was heavily dependent on male-performed content. Because of that, I decided to tune in again on Sunday, from 11 to 1 p.m. The only other differences were old school songs Like DJ Khaled’s “All I Do is Win” as well as the following: Mack Wilds, “Own It”; Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, “Part II (On the Run)”; Wale feat. NickiMinaj, “Clappers”; Chris Brown, “Loyal”; and French Montana, “Ain’t Worried About Nothin’.”
On 107.9FM, which I tuned in to from 9 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, there was more of a gender balance in the playlist, but only slightly: Rico Love, “They Don’t Know”; Beyoncé, “Yoncé/Partition”; Janelle Monae, “Primetime”; Tamar Braxton, “All the Way Home”; Aaliyah, “Try Again” (throwback classic); Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, “Part II (On The Run)”; “Happy” by Pharrell; Ariana Grande feat. Mac Miller, “The Way”; Kid Ink feat. Chris Brown, “Show Me”; Beyoncé feat. Jay Z, “Drunk in Love”; Sevyn Streeter feat. Chris Brown, “It Won’t Stop”; Rick Ross, “Sanctified”; August Alsina feat. Chris Brown and Trey Songz, “I Luv This S**t”; John Legend, “All of Me”; Bruno Mars, “When I was Your Man”; Jay Z feat. Rick Ross, “F**kWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”; Jhene Aiko, “The Worst.”
In total, I heard 32 unique songs in a span of six radio hours. Despite the gender imbalance of both playlists, quick research showed that the playlists were more aligned with the national top 20 lists for popular urban music. Therefore, this was as good as it was going to get. In terms of misogyny, here are some of my observations as followed:
- Nineteen out of the 23 unique male-performed songs referred to women as either b**ches or hos or a combination of both.
- At least 10 of the male-performed songs had direct themes revolving around using money as economic power over women, particularly using it to lure a woman home or entice them to shake body parts. “Gas Pedal” gives you that much in the title without even having to cite a single lyric. Equally as direct was T-Pain, who reminds us that “she don’t even like girls but a stack will make her kiss her.” However, Trey Songz was a little more smooth in how he financially finessed himself closer to the “NaNa.”
- At least half of the male-performed songs were keen on establishing boundaries for women, and usually of lesser importance, even when the song itself had little to do with male-female relationships. For example, Chris Brown tells us directly about how he “done did everything but trust these hos” in “Loyal.” However, Young Thug, who focuses most of his lyrics in “Stoner” on his drug use, takes a bar or two to make clear that you can “can suck my banana, but I won’t eat your pudding.”
- At least 12 of the male-centered songs contained lyrics, which treated women as possessions, in particular, collectible items. For example, in “Devil Is A Lie”, Rick Ross brags about “switching old b**ches for new b**ches” and more. Whereas ScHoolboy Q couldn’t see women outside of disembodied body parts (“Titty, a**, hands in the air, it’s a party over here”) in “Man of the Year.”
- While not necessarily misogynistic, at least 10 of the male-centered songs had lyrics, which focused on non-committal relationships with the opposite sex. In “They Don’t Know,” Rico Love tells us about the very special yet secret relationship he has with a side jawn, who he is willing to wine and dine, just as long as she keeps her mouth shut.
- Only five of the male performed songs featured lyrics that were non-authoritative, combative and expressed healthier sentiment with the opposite sex. The majority of those songs were R&B, including Miguel’s “Adorn” and John Legend’s “All of Me” – or duets performed with a female performer. Even when the topic was about heartbreak, male-centered R&B songs were more likely to engage in self-reflection compared to their rap counterparts. The unique exceptions to that included R&B singer Chris Brown, who blames the cheating girls he willingly has relationships with in “Loyal” for his trust issues and rapper Big Sean, who seems willing to own up (slightly) to his paranoia in “All Me” with the following lines: “Like I got trust issues, I’m sorry for the people I’ve pushed out. I’m the type to have a bullet-proof condom and still gotta pull out. But that’s just me, and I ain’t perfect, I ain’t a saint but I am worth it…”
So the misogyny is well-documented, but what about the misandry? Well, according to my observations:
- Out of the nine female-performed songs on the radio, I found two examples, which could possibly be interpretative of misandry: the first is in Jhene Aiko’s “The Worst,” when she says of her deceiving significant other, “Please don’t take this personal, but you ain’t sh**t…” The second is Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Clappers” when she says,“Where your money? Let a b***h evaluate. If you ’bout big money, elaborate.” However, Minaj’s lyrics on “Clappers” seemed to be aligned with misogyny more than man-hating in that particular song.
- The vast majority (eight in total) of female-performed songs involved themes of love: how to get it and how to keep it. In “Drunk in Love,” Beyoncé told us sordid tales of all-night sex and drinking babies (as she also did in “Yoncé/Partition”). Tamar Braxton is so in love in her song she thinks about her man on her drive all the way home. Ariana Grande’s track was about being in love, as was Sevyn Streeter’s.
- All of the female-performed songs were more likely to focus on keeping and maintaining relationships with the opposite sex as opposed to their male-performing counterparts, whose songs were on varied topics (note: I included Janelle Monae in that number because “Primetime” was a duet with Miguel).
Again, this is not to sit in judgment of the artists and their individual songs, but rather, to smack down the silly notion that female-performed contemporary music is filled with just as much misandry as hip hop is filled with misogynistic lyrics. The most interesting side note to this experiment is that if you take the female-performed songs and put them between the male-centered songs, you get an interesting mix of mostly men saying, don’t trust these girls – unless you can pay them to dance and have sex with them – while female performers are begging these guys, who don’t seem to care about them at all, to stay. I guess it is true what Beyoncé says, “who wants that perfect love anyway – cliché, cliché…”
With a new year comes a whole new set of enviable Hollywood figures. While some of the lovely ladies on our list have become mainstays in the fashion, beauty and fitness worlds already, there are certainly a few new women the world should take notice of. And though staring at these gorgeous women might fill us with a little bit of jealousy, we’re also hoping it kicks us into high gear with our resolution to get it right, get it tight in 2014. So without further adieu, here’s a look at 2014’s hottest celebrity figures.
Beyoncé, Gaga, Nicki, Miley: Patti LaBelle Finally Identifies Which “Divas” Actually Deserve The Title
Diva is NOT the female version of a hustler anymore, guys. According to Patti LaBelle, a diva is either someone with at least 25 to 30 years in the game or a woman with real, undeniable talent.
Of course, Patti has made her distress clear in the last month or so over female performers being called “divas” so soon, and when so many can barely hold a note. And I can somewhat agree with her grievances, especially since every lineup for the VH1 Divas show since the golden days of Mary J Blige and Whitney, Aretha and Tina Turner, have been divas-in-training like Demi Lovato, Keri Hilson and Jordin Sparks.
On Watch What Happens Live, LaBelle was given a cow bell to ring when the image of a performer from today flashed on the screen and she didn’t agree that they were the divas people had pegged them as. I guess this was done to finally put some names and faces to who the modern-day divas are and who has falsely been labeled as one.
Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Nicki Minaj, Selena Gomez, and Taylor Swift were featured, but I’ll let you check out the video to see who she said was diva-worthy and who wasn’t. But LaBelle did reiterate her initial complaints when defining what a “diva” is:
“These heifers have to get on stage and show that they can perform. Not with 20 people up there with them. No.”
So what do you think of the women LaBelle believed were true divas? There are some surprises, right? Talk about it below.
Awards shows are prime breeding grounds for artists to stand out and what better way to do this then through fashion, meme-able speeches, and explosive performances. We live in a time where it’s a bit passé to plug your latest project outright at an event. But the bolder your twerking or aerial tricks, the more off-the-cuff and viral your antics (whether intentional or unintentional), the more popular and marketable you are apt to become.
Whether an artist performs, presents, or just sits in the audience, being a part of the show — any awards show — is crucial to their brand. Leave it to directors to pan to reaction faces and the Internet will light up with “Oh No She Didn’t’s!” and “Oh Yes He Did’s!” Cue the rapid-fire search results and GIF attacks. Taylor Swift, as usual, was the subject of another awards ceremony viral sensation — or rather a few — courtesy of her “I thought I won” gaffe and hyped up dance moves. This further solidified her image as the semi-awkward ,“oh-em-gee” girl we have come to know since Kanye speech-bombed her during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Even though Taylor didn’t win any awards at this Grammy event, she was winning on the Internet long after the evening’s entertainment came to an end.
Esteemed rapper Kendrick Lamar also did not receive any Grammys this year and people were very upset. Even Macklemore, who won the “Best Rap Album” award along with his cohort Ryan Lewis, texted Kendrick to say that the golden gramophone should have been bestowed to him instead. For Kendrick, just being nominated for a Grammy and in the same category with Jay Z, Kanye West, and Drake is an accomplishment. But Lamar may have proved himself in a more significant matter, as his collaboration with Imagine Dragons was dubbed the most talked about and one of the best performances of the night. Without a Grammy everyone is talking about Lamar now, his recognition has advanced, and with his brief, yet effective Grammy mashup, the marketability of his next album and future tour dates will double.
Besides GIF-worthy moments, there are the over-the-top performances. Katy Perry took to the Grammy stage with dancing horses, pyrotechnics, a black and red cross emblazoned over her chest, and a witch’s broom/stripper pole for her song “Dark Horse.” She says this performance is a preview of what audiences should expect on her upcoming Prismatic world tour, of which tickets for the North American dates are now available and selling out.
With Katy Perry in mind, there’s the paradox of Kacey Musgraves, who truly was a dark horse of the awards. Her seemingly demure presentation (check out the lyrics) followed Lamar and Imagine Dragons. After what looked like a ridiculous error on the part of the Grammy show producers, Musgraves had the last laugh after snatching a Grammy for Best Country Album. Now she is known as the girl who either beat out or is the next Taylor Swift. Her shiny new Grammy coupled with a spot on Katy Perry’s 2014 world tour bill is going to propel Musgraves’ status in the music industry.
In retrospect, don’t cry for the singers and songwriters who don’t pick up Grammy awards or whose performances may err on the side of lackluster. Everyone is a winner these days. There are so many chances to pick up fans, gain relevancy, and give people a chance to talk about you. The music and the image are both a part of the whole package of a music artist. And at the Grammys, just showing up and being seen has proven to be one of the best marketing opportunities for today’s stars.
Who else is excited about the Grammys on Sunday? We’ll be live Tweeting, posting and chatting on all our social media about the performances and of course, who gets what awards. But before the big night comes, the folks over at Access Hollywood got a sneak peek of who will sit next to who at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, and we thought it was pretty interesting. Also makes us wonder how they decide who will sit front and center and who will go where…?
Of course, most of the folks in the front are performers. Bey and Jay are scheduled to perform (the rumor is that they’ll do “Drunk In Love,” but I have a feeling it will be a medley of their past collaborations…who wants to bet?), as well as Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. And as for Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, they will be accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award for the Beatles, so front and center is where they belong.
But folks on Instagram still had questions: Where’s Kendrick Lamar going to be seated (probably far from Drake…)? What about Tamar? Will Rihanna be there since she’s nominated for two awards? Where will Pharrell and Bruno Mars be seated? Well, guess we’ll have to tune into the show on Sunday (at 8/7c on CBS by the way) to find out…
Celebrities put their names on just about anything and makeup lines are no exception. From “Basketball Wives” to supermodels and singers — everyone is getting in on the beauty business with their own brand of cosmetics. Here are 15 celebrity makeup lines we’d consider to beat our face.
Vidalux Cosmetics by Evelyn Lozada features different lip glosses, lipsticks, bronzers, eye shadows, liners, blushes and more. The line is fun and colorful and Evelyn’s beautiful daughter Shaunice serves as the spokesmodel for the website.
Kanye West is slowly becoming the Pistachio Disguisey of the hip-hop community.
You might think I’m referring to West’s latest rant – the one where he was admittedly loose off that goose and making convoluted and almost irrational statements about Pusha T’s contribution to the the fashion community. More specifically,
“All these ni**as trying to extend their muthaf**king T-shirts, trying to throw numbers on the back of their sh-t….this muthaf**king Pusha T. For ni**as with a T-shirt line that has numbers at the back of their sh-t, f**k you.”
That’s right, all you biting-behind football players, soccer players, little leaguers, referees, cattle ranch cows, inmates, graduating-class-of-whatever-year folks –you have been warned to pay up for your bootlegging or risk a pissy-drunk West showing up to your middle school graduation, ready to snatch all the numbers off your backs.
Seriously, what a horrible lush. While he really should learn to hold his liquor better, this latest West outburst is not what I’m referring too. Rather, I’m speaking about his code-switching.
As nonsensical and out-there-past-yonder he has been lately, it pales in comparison to the tone in which he tends to say those crazy thoughts, particularly how that tone appears to change depending upon the recipient. For example, see his appearance on Kris Jenner’s short-lived talk show, where it was noted widely that Mr. West sounded a little airy and more European than usual. As stated by the website Awesomely Luvvie:
“This is WEIRD as hell. Am I tripping? I mean, what he’s saying about loving Kim is cute and stuff but THIS VOICE! What is that? This ain’t the Kanye we’ve known in ANY way. He is so different and it’s odd. The voice coming from his mouth ain’t what it used to be. What happened?? Don’t believe me, just watch his speech from 2008 Grammy Awards and tell me that man on Kris Jenner’s show sounds the same.”
Let’s be clear here: it is common for folks of the same environmental space to adopt certain linguistic rhythms and intonation patterns. In fact, there is a great deal of scholarship and research done into the different ways in which black folks and white folks interpret the English vernacular. What folks have to accept is that there is nothing wrong with those differences in speech. And sounding like a black person, including the penchant for Ebonic and cultural slang, does not make one less intelligent no more than sounding white makes one less black.
It’s hard to figure out why West, who seems most vocal about just about everything that seems to bother him nowadays, would feel the need to speak in such a contradictory manner. Usually this kind of grammatical correctness is reserved for us mere mortals in need of steady paychecks and benefits. And then I remember the tough few years image-wise West has had. All of those years find their roots in the Taylor Swift incident, which has landed him squarely on the list of the five most hated men on the planet – right behind Osama Bin Laden and right before The Devil. Since then, he has been ridiculed by the press; he has been chased and goaded into fights by paparazzi; and he’s basically been ripped to shreds by just about everyone – including the President of the United States. West has certainly done stuff to contribute to his treatment, however, the pressure and constant ribbing in the press could explain why he feels the need to communicate differently.
A while back, I caught this interview with Mike Tyson, former heavyweight champion of the world, who spoke very candidly about the need to tone himself down, in order to make himself appear less threatening to the mainstream, which is largely accustomed to viewing him through his controversy. When I saw West sitting on the oversized couch, across from his child’s grandmother, explaining to a sea of white faces how he is misunderstood – even going as far as to denounce himself as a “crazy drunk black guy in a leather shirt” - I wondered how much of this new speech was meant to make himself appear, just like Tyson, as less threatening? It’s sad to think, but it is still very much true that even a black man revered for his artistry by folks of various cultural and racial backgrounds and is at the height of what is success here in America, might have to capitulate – even if it is just vocally – just to be taken seriously.
Of course, there is always the possibility that black-sounding West might have been an act all along. Yeah, I know. That sort of linguistic caper would require a huge conspiracy involving years of planning. However, West is a product of two highly educated and middle class black professionals. Not to mention that validation is important in hip-hop. And there are some rappers, whose entire personas are borrowed; even going as far as to shoot themselves for a “rep.” So it is possible for a rapper to be compelled to fake black speech, particularly black street vernacular, in order to be taken seriously by his peers as well as the general public. Would it have been possible for hip-hop to embrace a more nasally and European sounding West? If Drake and his frequent trips in and out of black speech are any indicator, the answer is pretty much a no. It’s ironic that the language used to colonize and castigate a people could now serve as their litmus test pronouncing “authentic” black identity.