Monday, April 30, 2012

Burning Questions: The Pop-Star Edition (Featuring Comebacks, a Resurrection and Yet Another Justin Bieber Gaffe!)

Why do the two surviving members of TLC want to tour with a Left Eye hologram? I loved TLC as much as the next massive TLC fan back in the '90s and early '00s, but I never thought the trio needed to end after the 2002 death of original member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas certainly didn't need to search for a replacement on the ill-advised UPN reality show R U The Girl. After all, TLC was not exactly INXS, a band that, though comprised of ace musicians, soared on the charisma of its lead singer, the late Michael Hutchence.

I loved Left Eye as a pop personality, but when I think of TLC's best work -- "Creep," "No Scrubs," "Waterfalls," 2002's excellent, underrated and mostly Left Eye-free 3D -- I can barely remember her vocal contributions, except for a throwaway rap on "Waterfalls." I can't even recall much of what she did the time I saw TLC at Madison Square Garden with Christina Aguilera as the opening act. Not only is resurrecting Left Eye as a hologram for the in-the-works TLC tour beyond morbid, but musically, it's hardly necessary. If TLC must have a rapping third member, why not hire Lil' Kim to take her place? It would guarantee increased press coverage and ticket sales, and judging from Kim's recent output, it's not like she'll be too busy doing anything else.

Are you sleeping on SWV's comeback? I know I am. I knew Sister with Voices had reunited and released a new single, "Co-Sign," last year, but I didn't know that I Missed Us, the trio's first regular studio album in 15 years had come out in April until I read a glowing review of it in the Bangkok Post this past weekend. SWV had its hits in the '90s (the best of which was "Can We," from the 1997 Booty Call soundtrack), but the group was always overshadowed by TLC, when musically, SWV was something else entirely. At least if Coko, Taj and Lelee decide to launch a tour, there'll be no need for a hologram.

Why does everybody love Chris Brown -- or want to work with him? On this week's Hot 100 singles chart, Brown appears on eight songs, alone and with Rihanna, Pitbull, Kevin McCall, Nicki Minaj, Fat Joe, DJ Khaled, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. Next up: would-be comeback queen Brandy's new single "Put It Down" (out May 8). I guess since "It All Belongs to Me," her recent reunion single with her "The Boy Is Mine" '90s duet partner Monica didn't do much on the charts (and it's no wonder, considering the recent No. 4 debut of Monica's latest album, New Life, which sold a tepid 69,000 copies in week one), Brandy figured it might be better to team up with someone who's actually currently hot for the song's guest rap.

"Put It Down" kicks major ass (as does pretty much everything in Brandy's discography, minus her 2008 album Human), but here's an idea: Why didn't she team up with a real rapper, preferably one not named Lil Wayne or Drake, who are dangerously close to being as overexposed as Brown? Or what about Rihanna? She's even hotter than Brown, and she doesn't go around beating up women. I know Rihanna has forgiven him. That's her prerogative. That doesn't mean the rest of womankind has to just to get high on the charts.

Now that we've got Adele, where does that leave Norah Jones. Yesterday when I was reading an interview with Norah Jones in the Bangkok Post about her upcoming album (Little Broken Hearts, out tomorrow), it dawned on me: She was the Adele of 10 years ago. Remember her 2003 GRAMMY triumph with her debut album Come Away with Me (named Album of the Year, like Adele's 21), its multiple weeks at No. 1, and its millions of copies sold? All that were missing were the No. 1 singles. On Little Broken Hearts, she details her own recent break-up, so perhaps she will follow in the commercial footsteps of Taylor Swift and Adele, who've recently turned their romantic diaries into music for the masses, and rebound with a No. 1 album (after 2009's No. 3-peaking The Fall, which merely went platinum). Who doesn't love an excellent pop-music soap opera?!

What is wrong with Justin Bieber? He recently referred to Indonesia as "some random country" at some random event in London. I can understand if he couldn't find Indonesia, where he recorded part of his upcoming Believe album (due June 19), on a map -- a lot of people can't, including many who are up in arms over Bieber's ignorance -- but it's not as if he's never left his home country of Canada. He's been all over the world. You'd think at some point someone would have suggested Bali as a holiday getaway for him and Selena Gomez. But then, I'm sure Bieber probably has no idea that Bali is located inside some random country called Indonesia, or that Bali isn't a country itself.

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