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Ross von Metzke | August 14, 2006

It's going to be a smackdown on the record charts

All throughout history, rumors of feuds among divas have fueled headline banter.

From Bette Davis and Joan Crawford waging all out war on the set of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? To rumors of Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston throwing down backstage at the MTV Music Awards; Suzanne Somers and that manly Joyce Dewitt on Three�s Company to that annoying tribe of twits Paris, Nicole, Lindsay and sometimes Mischa Barton and every generation has its legendary diva feuds.

So prepare for the record store smackdown to end all record store smackdowns later this month when just about every 20-something female singer alive (and a 30 and a 40 something thrown in for good measure) unveil their new albums just in time to hopefully score some recognition from Grammy – or, in a more likely turn of events, at least sell enough CD�s to pay their mortgage one more year.

Before August is out, we�ll see new releases from Jessica Simpson, Stacie Orrico, Christina Aguilera and a debut offering from Paris Hilton. Fergie, Monica, Beyonce, Kelis and Janet Jackson follow in September. Nicole Richie has her debut due in October and word on the street is Clive Davis might move up Kelly Clarkson�s third album to October to put her in the running for another Grammy sweep. And of course, there�s always that rumored Whitney comeback CD floating around out there that could surface at any minute – of course, she�ll have to find her teeth first.

That�s a whole lot of names competing for an increasingly shrinking piece of the pie – with album sales steadily falling for a third year in a row, these lovely ladies of pop have an uphill battle ahead. And though I�m fairly certain each of them stands a solid shot at landing a hit or two in the gay clubs, there�s not a shot in hell all of these ladies will score platinum selling records. I mean, to be real, we live in a time when we�ve got a chick named Ciara, who as far as I can tell can�t sing a note on key to save her life, sells 1.5 million albums in the United States and Pink puts out one of the best CD�s of the year and barely goes gold.

The fight for the prize could quite literally go to anyone, but if I might be allowed to put my predictions out there, a few of my calls might surprise you� but I�m curious to see how many I get right.



Sure Thing:
I know the powers that be would say there�s no such thing as a sure thing in the up and down industry called entertainment, but I think it�s pretty safe to say Christina Aguilera has a number one debut on her hands with the four years in the making Back to Basics. �Ain�t No Other Man� is already a huge hit at radio, and she�s the sort of artist who has such a loyal fan base, they�d snap up a recording of Christina singing on the can. Same goes for Black Eyed Peas lead singer Fergie, who follows her number one smash �London Bridge� with the tongue in cheek titled Duchess. Look for big numbers from her too. And Kelly Clarkson, whenever she decides to drop her follow-up to 2004�s Breakaway, looks to have lightening strike twice.



Could Go Up, Could Go Down:
A month ago, I�d have lumped Jessica Simpson in with the sure things – but that was before her first single �A Private Affair� played to a very private few. She�ll debut with big numbers, but I question her staying power. Same goes for Paris Hilton, who may score a huge first week from folks hoping the bitch will fall on her ass, but the numbers should quickly fall from there. Janet Jackson could honestly go either way. She could explode given all the hype surrounding �20 Years Old� and pull a Mariah style comeback. Or she could fade into oblivion a la �Damita Jo.� And while I�m certain Nicole Richie brings more musical ability to the table than her former cohort in crime, there�s no hype – and no hype means bad things for record sales.

Never Underestimate the Power of Urban:
In 2003, Monica put out an album called After the Storm. Many of you have probably never heard of it because it didn�t score a huge pop hit, Monica wasn�t on the cover of every magazine on newsstands and she didn�t screw some married rap star to drum up publicity. And yet it sold more than a million copies. That�s because she has a solid fan base and R&B; radio loves her. So will her latest, The Makings of Me, sell 10 million and land her on the cover of Rolling Stone? Probably not. But she�s a solid performer likely to do a fourth round of solid sales.



Shaky Ground:
One pop star who should be shaking in her knickers is Beyonce. Not only did her much anticipated new single �D�j� vu� tank at radio, critics hated it, and if gossip Perez Hilton�s reaction to second single �Ring the Alarm� is any indication – should be renamed �Signal the end of Beyonce�s career,� he said – the much hyped reigning diva of song should be scared. Very scared! Ditto for Stacie Orrico, who may not be a household name, but back-to-back hits �Stuck on You� and �(There�s Gotta Be) More to Life� sent her album to million copy status. Of course, I haven�t heard a word about the follow-up, Beautiful Awakening, which can�t be a good thing.

That Ship Has Sailed:
OK, I�m not one to sand up to declare the end of anyone�s career, but the song �Milkshake� has one hit wonder writer, spray painted and stamped all over it. Not that there�s anything inherently wrong with Kelis – she�s talented enough, has a rapper husband (she�s married to Nas) and she�s not totally unfortunate looking. It�s just that there�s no substance there, and with a first single that tanked, she needs a succession of prayers to dig her career out of the gutter.



Robin Williams follows Mel Gibson's lead

Not that divas are the only ones in trouble. It�s a bad time to be a drunk in Hollywood now too – which is odd when you consider half the talent in Hollywood is about two martinis in by the time a decision is made.

Mel Gibson got smashed, rallied against the Jews and now ABC�s yanked his planned Holocaust documentary. Second blow? Disney just announced it will no longer release his Apocalypto during Oscar season� instead, they�re selling the rights. Lay off the bottle, buddy.

Following in his footsteps (not down the coast highway, mind you, but toward admitting he has a problem), Robin Williams has admitted to falling off the wagon after 20 years of sobriety and checked himself back into rehab. Reports indicate his wife gave him the final push after Mel�s story hit the headlines, using the argument, �you don�t want that to be you, do you?�

So I�m banking on Lindsay Lohan being next. Not that we all haven�t known she�s got a problem for months, but now that a studio head has taken the time to sit down and put his frustration toward her on paper, I think its safe to say someone�s going to sit up and take notice or face being a has been at 21. Hey, it�s happened to greater talents. Remember Tatum O�Neal?



Hottie if the Week

Now I know I�ve shown Channing Tatum more than his fair share of love in the past, but I have to say, watching the trailer for the just released dance drama Step Up, I�m compelled to plead his case again.









Not only is the whole bad boy from the streets act hot, but the fact that he does all his own dancing, much of which involves tremendous upper body strength, is hotter. Add to that some tight fitting tank tops and, in one scene, some form fitting tights and you�ve got one of the best �bodies of work� in the business. Not sure if that will translate to ticket sales, but I for one will be gushing over Channing in theatres this weekend.



And there you have it for the buzz this week. Not too much mean stuff going on, but then again, Star Jones can�t be fired every week. Until we chat again, remember – stop and smell the gossip.

  • Ross von Metzke is the Editor in Chief of Xodus Magazine and a featured columnist for GayWired.com. His work has appeared in YM, Performing Arts, The San Diego Union Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, Instinct and Gay Web Monkey. Ross lives in San Diego.


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