Stop The Presses!

June 30-July 7: American Life

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

It's 4th of July week, which means we Yanks are celebrating our independence from those evil, redcoated Brits. And holding the best celebration this week was Jay-Z, who flaunted his flag-flying American supremacy in front of an audience of thousands at last weekend's Glastonbury Festival in England.

See, Glastonbury is Britain's biggest summer rockfest, and it's usually headlined by popular limey rock bands like Coldplay, Muse, Radiohead, and Oasis. So this year, when it was announced that American rapper Jay-Z would top the Glasto bill, Oasis's own mouthy mouthpiece Noel Gallagher was none too thrilled. Noel even went so far as to publicly blame Jigga for Glastonbury 2008's unusually low ticket sales. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you break it, people ain't gonna go," the famously cantankerous Britpopper complained to the BBC in one of his typically brazen interviews. "I'm sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance. I'm not having hip-hop at Glastonbury. No way. No. It's wrong."

Well, apparently 140,000 or so festivalgoers disagreed with Noel and showed up for the headlining Hova...who kicked off his Glastonbury set in a most cheeky fashion by performing Oasis's "Wonderwall" acoustic, dressed in a Gallagher-esque anorak, while a parody film featuring Noel's nasty comments screened behind him. The crowd exploded, according to The London Times, which reported: "Both audience and artist rose to the occasion and turned in a moment of real, euphoric, pop-culture history."

"[Jay-Z's] performance will go down in Glastonbury history," British paper The Independent also declared, while The Guardian concurred: "It's brilliantly staged, utterly thrilling, and it makes Gallagher look a bit of a berk."

Yep, Jay-Z showed 'em what he got, indeed. But hey, Mr. Gallagher--don't look back in anger, a'ight? And have a happy Independence Day...

Someone else who's rumored to soon be getting independence from the British this 4th of July week is Madonna, whose marriage to Englishman Guy Ritchie is still reportedly on the rocks. Once again, Madge's much-beleagued spokeswoman, Liz Rosenberg, denied all divorce gossip--gossip fueled by a recent front-page, two-page report in Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper claiming Mrs. Ciccone-Ritchie had hired Heather Mills-McCartney's cutthroat divorce attorney, Fiona Shackleton. We at That's Really Week sincerely hope that these rumors are untrue, and hope the Ritchies are able to reignite some marital fireworks this 4th of July weekend. A split between this power couple could set Anglo-American relations back years!

In more patriotic news back on American soil, presidential hopeful Barack Obama locked down the all-important Deadhead demographic this week by sparking speculation that the surviving members of the Grateful Dead may reunite for another Obama benefit concert. Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Mickey Hart got back together last February for a Barack fundraiser in San Francisco, and this week Mickey told Billboard: "We're all deeply into this, into Barack Obama and the thought of taking this country back in some shape or form, what's left of it--it's probably one thing we can all agree on!

So, you bet, I would spend a night with my brothers for that any time, any place." Mickey also revealed that he and his former Deadmates have exchanged "a few friendly emails" about doing something more for the Obama cause.

Wow, what a long, strange campaign trip it's been--and will continue to be--if the Dead rise again for Barack. We just hope Obama is grateful for the support! (Sorry, couldn't resist...)

Meanwhile, all-American girl Jessica Simpson--who back in 2006 was accused of snubbing current U.S. president George W. Bush at a Republican fundraising event, an allegation she vehemently denied--is going back to her all-American Texas roots by working on her first country album. This week Jessica's debut country-crossover single, "Come On Over" (not to be confused with the Shania Twain song of the same title), gained significant ground at country radio, actually cracking the top 30 on Billboard's country singles chart.

"I don't think people were anticipating the song to be that good," admitted John Paul, program director at Portland country radio station KUPL.

"She's done what a lot of newcomers and established stars have done by putting out fun, uptempo, put-the-top-down-and-cruise type songs," added David Scarlett, senior editor of Country Weekly magazine. "It's a great way to introduce herself. I think country audiences will be receptive based on the music they hear. If they like what they hear, they're going to embrace her. And so far, she's done very well."

Let's hope Jessica's upcoming first country album sells better than her last pop flop, A Public Affair, which only shifted a measly 299,000 units (not enough to even go gold). And hey, since her little sister Ashlee's recent Bittersweet World album flopped too, maybe Ashlee ought to consider going country on her next outing, too.

In other all-American country-girl news, American Idol finalist and occasional "God Bless The USA" singer Kristy Lee Cook signed a record deal this week. Ironically, she won back what she already had--a contract with Arista Nashville--since she was already briefly signed to that label in 1999. At that time she made a low-budget video, which troublingly earned her the nickname "KKKristy" due to the unfortunately un-PC Confederate flag featured in one of its shots. Kind of funny, then, that KLC's first single released via her new Arista contract will be titled "15 Minutes Of Shame." Hopefully this time she'll just wave a regular ole stars 'n' stripes banner in that song's upcoming video.

And finally, Americans may be celebrating their breakaway from the British this week, but the United Kingdom's Coldplay are still kings of the U.S. charts. Not only did Chris Martin and company's fourth album, Viva La Vida, hold steady at number one on Billboard's album chart for a second week, but in even bigger sales news, it has now officially sold more downloads than any album in digital history--beating out previously held download records by apple-pie-eating American acts John Mayer, Daughtry, and Justin Timberlake, as well as a record set by fellow Brit Amy Winehouse. Someone alert Paul Revere, because the British are still coming, apparently.  

And thus concludes another confusing, bemusing, and occasionally amusing week in news. Come back next Friday for more updates--and until then, have a happy 4th of July!

THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:

1) Glastonburied - Jay-Z puts detractor Noel Gallagher in his place.

2) The Ritchies Justify Their Love - Madonna and Guy once again deny they're divorcing.

3) Barack Raises The Dead - The Grateful Dead intend to reunite for another Obama concert.

4) These (Cowgirl) Boots Were Made For Rockin' - Jessica Simpson's first Nashville single climbs up the country charts.

5) Magical Mystery Interview - An old tape of a long-lost Lennon & McCartney interview airs on BBC Radio.

6) You Want A Piece Of Her? - Well, now you can get one, because Britney Spears' Mickey Mouse Club memorabilia is going up for auction.

7) Coldplay's Payday - Viva La Vida is now officially the most-downloaded album ever.

8) Kristy Lee Cook Extends Her 15 Minutes - The Idol finalist signs a record deal, announces her first single will be "15 Minutes Of Shame."

9) Poison Drummer Clears His Name - After Rikki Rocket was accused of rape, it turns out the crime was really committed by an impostor pretending to be the '80s headbanger.

10) They Give Freebies A Good Name - Bon Jovi are planning a free Central Park concert for their fans.

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