"[With regard to One Direction] we are encountering a world divided. There's one camp, largely populated by young girls ages 6 to 16, each with bedrooms wallpapered with posters of Harry or Liam, who have collectively made—by forming a valiant fan army outfitted with 140-character weapons and daddy's credit card—One Direction the biggest band in the world. In the other camp, there's everyone else. They're the people who may have heard 'What Makes You Beautiful' once or a twice while grocery shopping, but may have had no idea they were listening to a group called One Direction—or, if they did, that the band is currently experiencing this decade's equivalent of Beatle Mania. … Now [more] than ever, and certainly more than when boybands like Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync were at their peaks, culture consumption is segmented and selective. It's easier than ever to choose what we listen to and ensure that we only listen to that. (Thank you, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, Vevo …)."
—Kevin Fallon, in his profile of the British/Irish boy band One Direction [thedailybeast.com, 8/28/13]
What new distinction do Jack Daniel's, Grey Goose, Patrón and Hennessy all share? They're the alcoholic drinks most likely to be featured in popular music. Researchers from Boston University's School of Public Health, the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) and Johns Hopkins' School of Public Health analyzed the lyrics from 720 hit songs from 2009 to 2011. Of those tunes, 167 (23.2%) contained alcohol references, while 46 (6.4%) called out brands by name. Brand references were most frequent in hip-hop, rap and R&B, followed by country and pop music. Rappers were more likely to name-drop tequila, cognac and vodka brands, while country crooners and pop stars were more likely to mention beer or whiskey. "Given the heavy exposure of youth to popular music, these results suggest popular music may serve as a major source of promotion of alcohol use among youth," said study co-author David Jernigan of CAMY. "The findings lay a strong foundation for further research." [nydailynews.com, 8/28/13 stats, c&e]
In the wake of Miley Cyrus' raw and ravenous MTV Video Music Awards performance, her manager, Larry Rudolph, who also manages Britney Spears, said, "It could not have gone better. The fans got it. The rest eventually will." And Lady Gaga responded with, "I don't like to pass judgment on Miley Cyrus. Generally, people need to lighten up about pop music—it's about entertainment. It is here to make you smile and make you happy." As for Miley herself, she told U.K.'s Mirror: "I have so many f‑‑‑ing issues. … I am so f‑‑‑ed up—everyone does dumb stuff when they are messed up. … I don't have a normal life. I take a hiatus every now and again but I'm not good at that." In a separate interview with MTV, she added, "What's amazing is I think now, we're three days later and people are still talking about it. They're overthinking it. You're thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. Like, I didn't even think about it, because that's just me."
Writes Christian youth culture expert Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding, "There was nothing at all surprising [about MTV's 2013 Video Music Awards]. Not one thing. If you've been watching culture for any length of time it should come as no surprise that what you saw is not only all around us, but it's reflective of who we are. It is the soup that our kids swim in every day. It shapes their values, their attitudes, and their behaviors. How many young bloggers were protesting [afterwards]? Why didn't we see any? For most kids, this is normal fare. Nothing out of the ordinary. Sure, it's nuanced in the sense that it has been evolving over the years. Pop culture is always stretching the envelope. … [But] even this year's routine by twenty-year-old Miley Cyrus wasn't shocking in the sense that it could never have been anticipated. We are reaping what we've sown and culture is on a step-by-step progression that is not only still moving in the same direction, but it's moving faster and faster as time passes."
The result of it all? Well, in the short term at least, big sales spikes for virtually every performer on the broadcast. Justin Timberlake's songs and albums saw a 1,876% increase on iTunes and Amazon the day of the broadcast. Lady Gaga's Applause shot up 112%, and Robin Thicke's single "Give It 2 U," his follow-up to "Blurred Lines," increased by more than 300%. Presales of Miley Cyrus' new album Bangerz (to be released in October) climbed up to the No. 5 position on iTunes' preorder chart. [omg.yahoo.com, 8/26/13; usatoday.com, 8/30/13; parentstv.org, 8/26/13; theatlanticwire, 8/29/13; huffingtonpost.com, 9/1/13; mirror.co.uk, 8/31/13; learningmylines.blogspot.com, 8/27/13; time.com, 8/28/13 stats, c&e]
Billy Corgan, frontman and founder of '90s alt-rock darlings Smashing Pumpkins, says he believes God represents the thematic future of rock. "God is the third rail in rock and roll. You're not supposed to talk about God. Even though most of the world believes in God. It's sort of like, Don't go there," he told CNN International's Monita Rajpal. "I think God's the great, unexplored territory in rock and roll music." When Rajpal followed up with the question, "What would you say to Christian rockers, then?" Corgan responded, "Make better music. Personally, my opinion—I think Jesus would like better bands, you know? Now I'm going to get a bunch of Christian rock hate mail. … Just wait, here's a better quote: Hey, Christian rock, if you want to be good, stop copying U2. U2 already did it. You know what I mean? There's a lot of U2-esque Christian rock. … Bono and company created the template for modern Christian rock. And I like to think Jesus would want us all to evolve." [cnn.com, 8/23/13]
Another teenage fan of the movie Into the Wild went missing recently, and has been found dead in the woods; his parents suspect that he might've been at least partially inspired by the movie. David Croom, father of 18-year-old Johnathan (of Mesa, Ariz.), reports, "He was talking to another friend that it would be great to just leave penniless and just work along the way and get resources like they did in the movie."
And people are also wondering about the influence Grand Theft Auto IV had on an unnamed 8-year-old boy who recently shot and killed his grandmother after playing the M-rated third-person shooter. Originally the boy said the gun accidentally went off, but later confessed that he had made a plan to shoot her in the head as she watched TV. [huffingtonpost.com, 8/26/13; time.com, 8/26/13; nydailynews.com, 8/25/13 c&e]
Despite lots of entertainment industry hand-wringing about big-budget flops such as The Lone Ranger, After Earth, R.I.P.D. and White House Down, it turns out Tinseltown netted its best summer ever in terms of total box office receipts. Strong returns from films such as Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2, among others, contributed to a $4.7 billion summer for Hollywood, up 10.2% from last year. Summer attendance rose as well, with an increase of 6.5%. [AP, 9/3/13; latimes.com, 9/3/13 stats]
It was Madonna, the Material Girl herself, who was the world's highest-earning celebrity between July 2012 and June 2013, raking in more than $125 million from her MDNA tour, investments and branding ventures. Steven Spielberg finished second on Forbes' annual list with $100 million, followed by Simon Cowell, Fifty Shades of Grey's E.L. James and Howard Stern ($95 million each), James Patterson ($91 million), Glenn Beck ($90 million), Michael Bay ($82 million), and Jerry Bruckheimer and Lady Gaga ($80 million apiece). [time.com, 8/27/13 stats]
"I would go to [Madonna's] parties, name any star and they would be there. But these people weren't my friends. I didn't feel comfortable. To think of myself in a scene like that felt empty."
—Donna De Lory, who recently parted ways with Madonna after being her main backup singer for decades. She added, "I love having fun and dancing, and I love the celebration of performing, but I want to use my voice for something more." [foxnews.com, 8/29/13]