So this week (for those under-rock-dwellers and cave inhabitants out there), an unassuming nice guy from Conway, Arkansas named Kris Allen won on this popular talent show called American Idol. And FYI, for millions of non-under-rock-dwellers and non-cave inhabitants who followed the show all season, this was a shock. Many wanted, or at least expected, a more flamboyant rocker guy named Adam Lambert to win.
Some Idolmaniacs had theories (or conspiracy theories) as to why this season's dark horse (Kris) prevailed over the more obvious frontrunner (Adam): that conservatives were put off by rumors surrounding Adam's sexuality or by his penchant for mascara and over-the-top theatrics; that the general public was fatigued by premature Lambert hype perpetrated by Simon Cowell, Entertainment Weekly, and Katy Perry; or that maybe 38 million Arkansans CAN be wrong. But even though Kris's victory seemed like an anti-climactic conclusion to an unusually exciting Idol finale featuring great performances by Kiss, Queen, and comedic genius Norman Gentle, he IS the new American Idol, like it or not. And apparently enough Americans do like it (the guy won by public vote, after all), so perhaps it is time to move on...
Certainly other music news happened this week, much of it just as shocking and some of it much, much more saddening. Case in point: the shooting death of rising rapper Dolla. On Monday afternoon the 21-year-old former member of the hip-hop group Da Razkals Cru and onetime model for Diddy's Sean John fashion line was gunned down at the Beverly Center mall in Los Angeles, only hours after flying in to L.A. from Atlanta. Although a motive for the crime has not been announced as of this writing, a suspect, Aubrey Louis Berry, was arrested and is currently being held on $5 million bail. He has entered a not guilty plea to murder and assault charges.
Ironically, Dolla (real name: Roderick Anthony Burton II) had cited the Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, and Pimp C--all legendary rappers who died while in their prime--as three of his chief influences. "I wish I could have [recorded with] Pimp C," he once said in an interview. "I wish I could have done a song with Tupac and Biggie, all the legends." And now, tragically, Dolla has met with a similar fate, dying young.
We here at Yahoo! Music send our condolences to Dolla's friends, family, and fans.
In other disturbing albeit not life-and-death news, Green Day battled with Wal-Mart this week, when the retail behemoth refused to sell the punk-pop trio's latest album, 21st Century Breakdown. Wal-Mart wanted the album edited for language and content, but Green Day refused to offer the chain a "clean version" for sale, so Wal-Mart opted not to stock it at all.
"Wal-Mart's become the biggest retail outlet in the country, but they won't carry our record because they wanted us to censor it," frontman Billie Joe Armstrong griped to the press. "They want artists to censor their records in order to be carried in there. We just said no. We've never done it before. You feel like you're in 1953 or something."
Billie Joe continued: "If you think about bands that are struggling or smaller than Green Day...to think that to get your record out in places like that, but they won't carry it because of the content and you have to censor yourself. I mean, what does that say to a young kid who's trying to speak his mind making a record for the first time? It's like a game that you have to play. You have to refuse to play it." Added bassist Mike Dirnt, more succinctly but just as effectively: "As the biggest record store in the America, [Wal-Mart] should probably have an obligation to sell people the correct art."
However, 21st Century Breakdown still managed to debut at number one this week without Wal-Mart's help, so all this "scandal" did was probably generate more PR for the album. Sounds like a 21st century success story to us.
Meanwhile, some other artists are looking to make some more Wal-Mart-friendly music these days: country music, that is. Troubled R&B singer Chris Brown, perhaps trying to clean up his tarnished image after being arrested for domestic assault in February, is reportedly considering recording a country song called "Trapped In A Dream," according Robert Allen, a writer and producer currently working with Chris. Robert told the press this week that Chris might even invite a country music superstar to appear on the track.
"Maybe we'll see an appearance from Carrie Underwood or someone like that," Robert said. "It's that kind of song." Apparently "Trapped In A Dream" is about "feeling like you don't want that dream to go away," Robert explained, although he made it unclear whether or not that "dream" has anything to do with Chris's dreamy-turned-nightmarish relationship with his ex-girlfriend and alleged abuse victim, Rihanna.
Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt is also setting her sights on a country career, according to her what her boyfriend Jamie Kennedy told People.com this week. J.Love has recorded music before but has not released any new material since her Meredith Brooks-produced 2002 album BareNaked, but Jamie revealed: "[Jennifer is] writing a country song. I really want to make her a new demo for her music, because I think she should do singing again. She's so good."
Perhaps Chris and Jen could record a country duet? Stranger things have happened...
One thing that seems less and less likely to happen at all is Michael Jackson's London O2 concert residency, which is supposed to kick off this summer starting in July. Last week a concert promoter claimed to have a contract with Jacko that would prevent the O2 concerts (his first in 12 years) from taking place, and this week Michael's reps announced that several of the comeback shows will be postponed. The opening night had been scheduled for July 8 but will now be moved back to July 13, and the shows set for July 10, 12, and 14 will now be rescheduled for March 2010.
This announcement, along with ongoing rumors about MJ's poor health, only further fueled speculation that the concerts may be cancelled altogether, but ticket-holding Jacko fans still hope that the King Of Pop can successfully reclaim his throne. And Kenny Ortega, Michael's collaborator, denied the illness rumors and claimed the date changes were necessary to perfect the ultimate concert extravaganza for MJ's audience. "We apologize to all disappointed Michael Jackson fans and remain extremely dedicated and focused on creating an exceptional live music experience," Kenny said in a statement.
Watch this space to see if Kenny and Michael can really pull off this concert thriller.
And finally, in other news related to illness and concert postponements, hepatitis-struck soul singer Natalie Cole, who had been on dialysis since last fall, underwent a successful kidney transplant this week at L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Despite both of her kidneys failing, the 59-year-old Grammy-winner had still been performing regularly--singing on American Idol just last month, in fact--but now she will take time off to recover from her surgery, postponing the remaining dates on her world tour.
Bittersweetly, however, the same day Natalie had her surgery, her older sister, Carol Cole, died. We wish Natalie a speedy and painless recovery and send the entire Cole family our condolences.
And on that sad note, thus concludes another week in music news. Come back next Friday for more headspinning headlines, and until then, goodnight and good music.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Kris Allen Is Voted The New American Idol - And the Glamberts are NOT happy about it.
2) Rising Rapper Shot Dead - Dolla was only 21 years old.
3) Green Day Earn No Green At Wal-Mart - The punk band is angry that Wal-Mart refuses to stock their new CD.
4) Jacko's Concert Plans All Jacked Up - Some of his London shows are postponed.
5) Poetic Injustice - A rare Bob Dylan poem put up for auction turns out to be penned by someone else.
6) Chris Going Country? - Brown is reportedly considering recording a country tune.
7) Natalie Cole's Unforgettable Recovery - The ailing soul star receives a new kidney.
8) Not Lovin' It - An employee of Justin Timberlake's restaurant sues for sexual harassment.
9) He's Got 99 Problems But Def Jam Ain't One Of 'Em - Jay-Z leaves his job at Def Jam Records.
10) J.Love Sings Again - Jennifer Love Hewitt is relaunching her music career, this time in country.