Grammy-nominated singer Teddy Pendergrass died yesterday at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Pennsylvania, where he was being treated for colon cancer. He was 59.
Before launching a solo career in the late 1970s, Philadelphia-based Teddy introduced the world to his smooth vocals during his stint as lead singer of Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes. The group racked Philly soul hits like the Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff-produced “The Love I Lost” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” (watch below)—nearly inescapable staples on Oldies radio.
Pendergrass endured tragedy at the peak of his career when he was paralyzed from the waist down after suffering spinal chord injuries incurred during a 1982 auto accident. Nevertheless, he carried on recording throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
Here’s “Hold Me,” Pendergrass’ duet with Whitney Houston, from her debut album:
“To all his fans who loved his music, thank you,” the singer’s son, Teddy Pendergrass II, said to Billboard. “He will live on through his music.”
The Washington Post has published a career-spanning slideshow of photographs of the singer.
The best moment on last night’s American Idol had nothing to do with auditions or judges or the usual early-season freak show: it was seeing Atlanta-native Ryan Seacrest’s baby photo aired on national television. (Ryan is the epitome of the geeky kid who grows up to rub all his millions in his childhood bullies’ faces.)
So did Mary J. Blige make her mark as a judge? Did we find the next Fantasia or Kris Allen hidden there among Atlanta’s would-be stars? Idol judges handed out 25 golden tickets last night—let’s take a look at all the lucky guys and gals going to Hollywood. And heck, why not, let’s give them one extra minute of fame and go over our favorite train-wrecks as well. American Idol Season 9 rolls on below.
GUEST LOVE: Mary J. Blige previously appeared on Idol during the Season 5 finale, when she performed a duet with Elliot Yamin, but Wednesday night she snagged a spot behind the judge’s table, where she proved instantly more helpful than Tuesday night’s wallflower, Victoria Beckham. (Though we’d probably agree with what we imagine Posh would say about Mary, which is that she looked fantastic). When shy, apparently indesctructible Jesse Hamilton (who almost died three times!) froze during his audition, Mary was the one almost sobbing from laughter while Randy, Kara and Simon were barely giggling. Guess they’ve had more practice learning how to keep a poker face during those awkward auditions.
I CAN DUET ALL BY MYSELF: Dewone Robinson kicks things off singing a schizophrenic song he penned himself, “Lady We’re Not Together Anymore” and sings both the male and female parts. We were fully expecting this to meander into “Trapped in the Closet” territory, with more characters and voices being introduced, but alas, he’s cut short.
THE FANTASTIC MS. FOX: Keia Johnson, a spunky girl with a gorgeous head of hair and an infectious smile, sings a fantastic rendition of “My Heart Will Go On.” She tells the judges she won Miss Congeniality in a beauty pagaent. Simon says: “I’d rather have the other award,” to which Kara, who has displayed new depth (and amped up the bitchiness) in the first two episodes of Season 9, shoots back, “You wouldn’t get any award.” We guess we know who’s vying for the meanie role at the judge’s table once Simon vamooses. In any case, Keia is awarded a golden ticket, and deservedly.
MOVE OVER, JASON DERULO: Jermaine Sellers, a choir boy who takes care of his disabled mother all by himself, sings a gorgeous R&B version of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” and basically checks off every box on the Idol list of ideal contestants: sob story? Check. Appealing to churchgoing Middle America? Check. Good looks? Hoo boy, check. Amazing voice and ability to make songs your own? Check. Jermaine walks out with a golden ticket in hand — was there really any doubt?
411, THIS IS YOUR EMERGENCY: Kristy Marie Agronow, a TV show host for 411: The Show, might have sounded good enough for Hollywood if she didn’t sing “Love is a Battlefield” like she was trying to impersonate a failing drama student who was impersonating Pat Benatar. We weren’t exactly shocked to see her deliver a passionate post-performance soliloquy so over the top we could almost envision the italics as she said it: “This is my battlefield today because singing is my love. Singing is my life. Music is my passion. I would really love to go to Hollywood.” Is anything more depressing than having a rejected contestant’s parents waiting outside with a sign? How about a dismissed girl with her entire cheerleading squad waiting for her downstairs?
PICKIN’ PICKLER: It’s a dead tie between Vanessa Wolfe and Holly Harten for the title of Season 9’s Kellie Pickler. Vanessa, a heartfelt girl from a small (and we mean tiny) Tennessee town, is a twangy one-woman pull-quote machine, drawling lines like “I’m going to Hollywood! I’m gonna ride on an aero-plane!” But other blonde Holly Harten, the “Guitar Girl” who dressed up in her Halloween costume of a human guitar, has got more confidence and spunk: when Simon criticizes the cheesy costume, she winks, “I can always lose the guitar,” knowing full well that she’s playing up her sex appeal. They’re both on their way to Hollywood—first girl to get a boob enhancement wins the title of 21st Century Pickler.
SAY MY NAME, SAME MY NAME: Skii Bo Ski—a name you never knew you loved until you first heard it— is responsible for several fabulous (if , incomprehensible) gems you’ll be repeating for the rest of the season, including “It’s a package deal. I’m like the dollar store” and “Skii Bo Ski, baby! Skii Bo Ski!” The funny thing is… Skii Bo Ski (aka Antonio Wheeler) can actually sing! That is, when he isn’t repeating his name like he just learned it. (This is 21st century “branding,” apparently.) Randy has to yell “Shut up! You’re through to Hollywood!” to even get him to leave the room. You can see why someone might have to tase this guy to get his attention. Skii Bo Ski, baby!
BFF4EVA: Whenever you have two people auditioning in the room at the same time, chances are one is good and one is bad, because that’s how drama works. “Annoying, annoying, annoying,” says Simon to Corben Turner and Lauren Sanders, two lifelong besties who probably cling to each other because no one else can stand them. Simon either wants them to leave together or go to Hollywood together (or form a two-person girl group called The Ditzies). Corben can actually belt a tune, and she makes it through, but her tone-deaf pal does not. The girls are shattered that they can’t continue to Hollywood together, but Simon assures them, “If it’s any consolation, I don’t think you’re going to be away from her for very long.” This is why Season 9 is going to hurt so much — because the caustic zingers that once delighted us now sting us as reminders that the show will never be quite like this again.
SUPERSTAR: Bryan Walker, now known as “The Singing Police Officer,” impressed most of the judges with a rendition of the Carpenters’ “Superstar,” in the style of Season 2 winner Ryan Studdard, and he was awarded a golden ticket. Why didn’t he impress all of the judges? Because Simon suddenly left the room due to a “migraine.” Clearly, this is part of Fox’s oh-so-clever strategy to ween us off him by showing “less and less of Simon.” We do not like this one bit. We only get so much time left with you, Cowell, don’t abandon us yet!
KISS OFF FROM A ROSE: Lamar Royal LOUDLY sings Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” and before the judges could get a (critical) word in edge-wise, he leapt into a second take in a last-ditch attempt to woo them… then cursed at them, storming off… then came back to sing some more before security ushered him out. Lamar basically illustrated Poor American Idol Auditioning 101: aggressive, bizarre behavior coupled with a total lack of self-awareness and an unbridled love of profanity. Ah, even after nine years, it’s still so entertaining to watch.
JUST PANTS: Ladies and gentleman, I give you the “Umbrella” of 2010: “Pants on the Ground” as performed by senior General Larry Platt, the final person to audition in Atlanta.
Simon says: “I have a horrible feeling that song could be a hit.” Make it happen, America! I believe in you! After all, William Hung’s debut album literally peaked at #34 on the Billboard 200.
Best Guy of the Night: Jermaine Sellers. Best Girl of the Night: Keia Johnson. Best Quote of the Night: Lamar Royal, while being escorted out by security, confronts the camera: “Who is Kara? I never even heard of that [bleep]. I wish Paula was here!”
So do we, Lamar. But not as much as we imagined, especially not if Kara keep developing the personality she grew this season.
Jimmy Fallon’s career might be in turmoil with the hasty shuffling NBC is planning for its late night schedule, but Ke$ha’s doing just fine. The singer, currently drunk (literally!) on the success of having both the #1 single and album in the country, hit the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon stage on Wednesday to belt out her smasheroo “TiK ToK.”
It was a fairly standard performance of the tune, save for the Indian headdress-esque mullet weave the dollar sign-sporting singer had strapped to her head. (Watch below!)
Now that Ke$ha’s “Blah Blah Blah” has also crashed the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 (it’s at #7), you kinda hope she’ll finally retire “TiK ToK” and starting performing that one during the promo rounds.
After all, “Blah Blah Blah” has the added bonus of featuring 3OH!3—and surely they’re not too busy to lend a helping hand.
Morning folks! Did you enjoy day two of American Idol like us? (Like it matters—you watched it, and that’s all that Fox cares about.) More on that later, but first let’s start the day catching up on the music mix:
Did You Hear?
:: Taylor Swift has reportedly written a 350 page novel and is looking into writing her memoirs. Sorry, Taylor, I’ma let you finish, but Charles Dickens wrote one of the best books of all time. [Ocean Up]
:: Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne are the new acne-free faces of ProActiv, which apparently uses Photoshop as an ingrediant. [Just Jared]
:: Guy Ritchie has started his own music label, Punchbowl Recordings. Madonna’s laughing at you all the way from Live Nation, dude. [Paste]
:: The style evolution of Rihanna: from clothed to not-clothed. [Celebuzz]
Behind the jump: did one particular rapper accurately predict the death of hip-hop?
Music On TV Tonight:
:: Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) – Katherine McPhee :: Late Show with David Letterman (CBS) – The Low Anthem :: Last Call with Carson Daly (NBC) – Pete Yorn :: Lopez Tonight (TBS) – Snoop Dogg
VIDEO REWIND OF THE DAY: On January 14, 2007, Nas had the number one album in the country with Hip Hop is Dead. Guess Nas wasn’t too psychic, because three years later, hip hop is far from deceased. Jay-Z is arguably bigger than ever, and Lil Wayne is dropping tracks on us left and right, even while preparing to go to prison. A new generation of hip-hop artists, including Drake, Kid Cudi and Wale, are popping up everyday, too.
The New Yorkerpoints out that hip-hop hasn’t died, exactly, but “has relinquished the controls and splintered into a variety of forms. The top spot is not a particularly safe perch, and every vital genre eventually finds shelter lower down, with an organic audience, or moves horizontally into combination with other, sturdier forms.” True enough, but let’s call it a reincarnation into a higher form rather than a demise, shall we?
Here’s the video for the album’s title track, featuring will.i.am, who’s a lot—and we mean a lot—more present in the music scene than Nas nowadays (or anyone else for that matter).
We’ve been eagerly awaiting VH1’s two very different case studies on pop artists seeking redemption, Fantasia Barrino’s Fantasia For Real and Sandra “Pepa” Denton’s Let’s Talk About Pep. Is either one worth watching, or are we better off just remembering these two by dusting off their albums? Check out clips of both shows’ debut episodes after the jump:
For the record, we never really wanted to see a Fantasia reality show — we’d rather the Amercian Idol Season 3 winner enjoy a hit-filled music career, a dream that she once seemed destined for. But since we’re dealing in reality, we will say this: whether from the constant presence of the cameras on Idol, or from something else, the girl’s a natural in front of a lens. She doesn’t hold back one bit as she gets tough with her older brother, Tiny.
But if one episode is any indicator, the heart-rending troubles in her life (teenage pregnancy, illiteracy) were somehow more captivating to watch in her autobiography-turned-Lifetime movie, Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, in whichFantasia played herself, than in the bland format of a generic reality show.
We’re still rooting for Fantasia, though—we just wish she didn’t have to be concerned with the necessary soap opera required by a reality show while recording her album and instead put all her focus on actually recording it.
Fantasia For Real – Episode 1
Sandra Denton, aka Pep aka one-third of Salt-n-Pepa, previously played out her life on camera in VH1’s The Salt-N-Pepa Show, which chronicled a would-be reconciliation with her former bandmates. Now, it sounds like music is taking a back seat, and she’s using the reality show format to land a date.
After a series of failed relationships, says the show’s site, “she’s ready again to search for love and action in the capital of hooking up, New York. She’s joined by three friends also trying to negotiate the romantic minefield of NYC.”
So, it’s really more like Pep in the City, no?
Let’s Talk About Pep – Episode 1 (Full Episode)
Really, Pepa? This is one step above starring in a VH1 dating reality show à la Brett Michaels in Rock of Love. We would say TLC would never stoop that low, but they already kinda did.
It’s no secret that the audition episodes of the American Idol season are all about the misfits, oddballs, freaks and geeks we suffer through/gawk at while the judges pan for Idol gold. While these episodes lack the drama of the real competition, they often represent the best chance for us to catch one of those precious “spit takes” from the judges. We snagged our favorite moments from Boston’s auditions, as seen in last night’s kickoff of American Idol Season 9, proudly presented below. Just think, you’re seeing this from the contestants’ perspectives. In other words, these are the images that will play over and over in their memories for all of eternity — which is why they’re GIFs!
Kara can’t help but get her groove on when the night’s first singer, Janet McNamara, handed in a dismal version of “Pocket Full of Sunshine.” This, of course, is before Janet calls Kara “Paula.”
Derrick, the blonde hippie, stops to smell the flowers before his audition. This is Kara getting her first whiff of his singing ability.
Waitress Lisa Olivero might not have had a great singing voice, but that doesn’t mean the judges didn’t notice her other “talents”.
Even though Joshua Blaylock’s rendition of “God Bless The Broken Road” made Randy check his watch, the 28-year-old singer still managed to nab a golden ticket to Hollywood.
And then there was the cowboy who “sang” Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.
Kara and Victoria likey hunk Luke Shaffer. They’re just about ready to jump over the judges’ table to tackle him.
That’s all from the season premiere. We’ll be back tomorrow with more “Idol On Infinte Loop”: the way we’ve always wanted to watch it.
Justin Bieber certainly backs up what he tweets. While promoting his album My World in London, the tween sensation uploaded a video of himself singing an acoustic version of a brand new song, the soulful “Baby.” The recorded version (available on iTunes next week) will feature Ludacris, who between this and his Chipmunk-tastic “How Low,” is apparently on a mission to work with anyone remotely smacking of cuteness. Video of Bieber performing after the jump.
Justin writes on his YouTube page:
Here is an acoustic sneak peek of my new single “BABY” which comes out on ITUNES this Monday January 18th, 2010 and features LUDACRIS!! Spread the word and let’s help make it my first ever #1 on ITUNES!! All this is really a dream and not possible without the amazing support you all have given me on youtube, facebook, twitter, and around the world. Thanks for making dreams for a small town kid. thank you -Justin
Justin Bieber – “Baby”
Pretty simple, pretty song, and we definitely can’t wait to find out where the hell Ludacris comes in (though we could definitely live without the Christina Aguilera impression at the end of the song).
Justin is set to perform on the final night of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo with Demi Lovato. This is the same concert series that has booked both Mary J. Blige and the Black Eyed Peas, and yet they’ve picked JustinBieber to close the show. Do not doubt the power of the Bieb again! Now if only he could escape from the giant wind machine that always seems to blast his his hair into his face.
Nicki Minaj didn’t always have the luxury of being photographed in her bra and panties, with thighs akimbo, while gliding her tongue up and down a giant lollipop. No, the 2010 go-to female MC of the Young Money roster was once like everyone—an awkward, nervous teenager wearing hand-me-down jeans from JC Penney while carrying a Garfield lunch box through the terrifying halls of High School USA.
Or, uh, maybe that was just us. At any rate, those rascals at Bossip did a little sleuthing and uncovered Nicki’s high school yearbook photo, which you can take a glimpse of after the jump!
Oh, Nicki, how was anyone to know back then that behind the sassy stare of that earnest Lauryn Hill-quoting adolescent lay the sucka free “Little Freak” of today?
Maybe the label “Drama” underneath her name should have been the tip-off.
Not everybody finds Adam Lambert offensive—the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced its nominees for the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards, and Adam is up for Outstanding Music Artist. The (toned-down?) pop star is up against Lady Gaga, Brandi Carlile, Gossip, and Otep, but we’re going to call it now as two-star race, with Gaga vs. Lambert for the title. Or maybe even a tie? Somebody put these two on a stage together already, if not for a performance, then at least a shared awards show speech.
Glee is up for Outstanding Comedy Series for embodying to the awards’ ideals of “fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives,” according to GLAAD’s website. We’re not entirely convinced how progressive Glee’s depictions are—there is but one openly gay character, Kurt, (FYI, Mr. Reyerson is still listening to Josh Groban CDs in the closet) and he’s incredibly flamboyant, not unlike a younger version of Jack from Will & Grace. Still, you could argue that’s better than pretty much ignoring gay characters altogether. (We’re looking at you, Lost.)
Check out all the nominees at GLAAD’s website. Not up for a GLAAD award this year or probably any year? Eminem.
The hits haven’t exactly rained down from Rihanna’s Rated R album the way they did with her previous effort Good Girl Gone Bad. Her latest single, “Hard,” peaked at #11 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and this week sits at a ho-hum #15.
Enter the Queen Bee, Lil’ Kim, who along with Dutch from Major Figgas adds some spicy rhymes to “Hard” in a new remix. Will it be enough to turn the jam around on the charts? Hell no! But at least it’s a fun listen.
“I’m in Paris doin’ shows for the Eiffel Tower, no wonder you rap bitches so sour,” Kim taunts in the newly swizzed-up version of “Hard.” [Source]