Hottie of the Week: Mary J. Blige

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Photo_20x9_1 All Mary J. Blige Pics

The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and R & B releases her latest record today, Growing Pains. By all accounts, it’s a fine addition to her already impressive catalogue, featuring singles like “Work That,” which you might have seen on the ol’ iPod commercial. (Damn you, Mac! You and your cleverness will rue the day!) We couldn’t think of a more fitting pre-holiday hottie than Mary J. You all know her story: Discovered at a mall in 1988 covering Anita Baker’s “Rapture,” the songstress soon met Andre Harrell and was on her way superstardom. Diddy helmed the production end of her debut, and from there, the sky was the limit. She’s been nominated for a Grammy and will no doubt appear at the awards show, so until February, these photographs are just going to have to suffice.

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2007′s Craziest: Vick’s Dogfight

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Some gossip stories are too big to forget. We’re counting down the 20 biggest, baddest, and most ridiculous celeb scandals of the year. You’ll get a new one posted every day.

Football star Michael Vick took a beating this summer (kinda like his pit bulls) after federal allegations of dog fighting and killing pups that didn’t perform surfaced and landed the football star in prison. The charges were particularly gruesome, and animal lovers and pet owners across the country freaked at accusations of electrocuting and beating dogs to death. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback read a statement after pleading guilty to the charges, stating that “Dogfighting is a terrible thing. I reject it. I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to better Michael Vick the person, not the football player.”

Currently, Vick’s moving forward behind bars for the next 23 months. Hopefully he’ll emerge a changed man, and animal lover. PETA could always use another celeb to pose naked!

Top 20 Albums of the Year (16-20)

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Thousands of discs were released this year, but only 20 could make the final cut. With the most scientific of instruments (headphones, and sometimes CD players) we whittled down this year’s releases, and for the past three Thursdays, we’ve delivered five of our faves. Let us know what we missed, and what you loved.

Britney Spears, Blackout (JIVE)

16_britney.jpg The weirdest chapter in Britney Spears‘ incredibly weird year was that amid the rehab(s), the head-shaving, the VMAs bombing, the pole-dancing video that made Lindsay Lohan‘s I Know Who Killed Me look like actual art, the paparazzi run-ins, the child endangerment and the actual blackouts, Britney was able to turn out the album of her career. The 12-song Blackout isn’t art, per se, but it reflects what pop music in 2007 is so well that you wouldn’t be faulted for mistaking it as such. How much does its achievement have to do with Brit? Who knows. It could be that she sleepwalked through the making of it, showing up at the studio inebriated and letting producers like Danja, Bloodshy & Avant and the Neptunes do their progressive thing while she essentially rubber-stamped the stomping dance tracks with her notoriously unremarkable larynx. But it matters not: if on Blackout, she’s just the puppet she’s always been accused of being, she’s puppeting remarkably well. In the end, it’s reasonable to assume that she had a hand in selecting what made Blackout‘s final cut, and if that’s the case, she made up for a year of bad decisions with 12 fabulous ones.

Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (MERGE)

17_spoon.jpg With a title so dadaist, it’s ironic that Spoon’s sixth album is their most clear. But maybe it isn’t so ironic: the album’s title is taken from the onomatopoetic piano line that courses through the album’s second track “The Ghost of You Lingers.” Rather than sail over the heads of their fans with the prickly, oblique lyrics frontman Britt Daniel has become famous for, the band seems to have gotten down to the bedrock elements of music – sounds and feelings. Examples of the band’s movement toward sincerity riddle the record: Daniel tells his own genesis story on “Finer Feelings,” empathizes with the long shot on “The Underdog,” and even allows listeners behind the curtain on “Don’t You Evah,” which begins with a studio joke between band members. The band get deeper into their influences, following in the foot steps of their punk-pop forefathers the Clash and experimenting on the down-beat reggae ode to a femme fatale “Eddie’s Ragga.” “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb” recalls Phil Spector’s production, filled with heavy reverb and horns. Breezing by in just 36 minutes, the band prove there’s no genre they can’t deftly maneuver.

Kanye West, Graduation (DEF JAM)

18_kanye.jpg Haughty is as haughty does. Hip-hop’s most reliable MC hasn’t given up on positioning himself as hip-hop’s most successful MC – you know, hitting the club with all that fresh sh*t on and something crazy on his arm. But his bluster (“I always had a passion for flashing”) has oodles of creativity behind it, and it’s been a long time since any mic fiend dropped three home runs in a row. The rhymes may not be as perfect as those on College Dropout or Late Registration, and subject matter may be a tad monolithic, but with the striver-speak of “Good Life” and “Stronger,” the Luis Vuitton don can definitely lay claim to his hat trick.

Feist, The Reminder (INTERSCOPE)

19_feist.jpg As has been pointed out several times over, Feist once sang “It may be years until the day my dreams will match up with my pay.” It only took about three years. The former punk-screecher turned filth-rap posse member turned Canadian musical collective member has worn many hats during her career, but it turned out Feist’s solo songs would spawn the most success. From the now ubiquitous revival-type feel goodery of “1 2 3 4” (you know…the iPod song), to her vamping “My Moon My Man,” to her update of the Nina Simone’s “Sea Lion Woman,” Feist appears to have assembled the type of self-revelations (“I’ll be the one to break my heart,” “There’s so much present inside my present,” “You’re changing your heart, you know who you are”) that take people thousands of dollars and years in analysis to come to.

Rihanna, Good Girl Gone Bad (DEF JAM)

20_rihanna.jpg If Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer were to spend their time writing music as opposed to blowing up tractor trailers in movies, this is the kind of record they’d make — a big-budget splashy blockbuster, all done up in vibrant Technicolor with the audio to match. Rihanna, a Barbados-born teen, had shown earlier promise with infectious hits like “SOS” and “Pon de Replay,” but nothing on the size and scale of Good Girl, which continues to spawn hits long after its release (and that was only last May, if you can believe it). First, of course, there was “Umbrella,” where she stretches the syllables of the word in the chorus to fit the melody — “Umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay-oh-oh.” Genius. With its non-threatening, vaguely maternal offer of shelter from the rain, Rihanna welcomed fans by the dozen. She quickly followed that up with the Michael Jackson-inflected “Don’t Stop the Music,” the sweet soul of “Hate That I Love You,” the sad strains of “Cry” and the tough stuff of “Shut Up and Drive,” a song so powerfully poppy that they should probably seal it in a jar and bury it in the Nevada weapons-testing zone lest it get out and inspire generations to skip school and head straight for the studio. Who knew it was possible to craft pop so expertly in 2007?

Kanye West Wants to be Black & White

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kanyewest-1220.jpgHere’s a wonderful quote from that talented guy who’s really self-obsessed, Kanye West. He shared some insight in a recent interview with Spin Magazine on how he’s a “tastemaker” (check out those glasses he’s wearing and judge his taste for yourself) because he finds the best of what he thinks white people and black people have to offer. To Kanye, this means that black folk cook up some damn good food and white folk rock some solid credit. Hurray for stereotypes!

“I’m a pop enigma. I live and breathe every element in life. I rock a bespoke suit and I go to Harold’s for fried chicken. It’s all these things at once, because, as a tastemaker, I find the best of everything. There’s certain things that black people are the best at and certain things that white people are the best at. Whatever we as black people are the best at, I’m a go get that. Like, on Christmas I don’t want any food that tastes white. And when I go to purchase a house, I don’t want my credit to look black.”

[Bossip]

Tony’s Teammate Bashes Jessica Simpson

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We hopped on the anti-Jess boat a long time ago and paddled far far away into the sea so we could resist the temptation to buy her shoes, envy her hair or laugh at her pathetic movie career. But now Dallas Cowboy player Terrell Owens has joined party, trash-talking Jessica after her boy-toy Tony Romo played his worst game ever with her in the stands. He said:

“Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite – in this locker room or in Texas Stadium. With everything that has happened, obviously with the way Tony played and the comparison between her and Carrie Underwood, I think a lot of people feel she has taken his focus away. Other than that, she was high on my list until last week.”

But just as we were falling in love with Terrell, he goes and takes back his original diss! Because Jess presumably has the same sense of humor as a rock, Owens is now all like “I tried to get (Romo) to call her so I can explain to her that she doesn’t really know me and that I can be funny. And that everything I say, the media will take it and run with it. It’s not a big deal. I will try to rectify the situation between her and I.” Why is it that the second these dumb waste-of-hair-extensions pout about something, people feel the need to backtrack? Terrell was just about to be granted genius status in our book.

Jamie-Lynn Still Pregnant, 6 Months To Go!

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jamielynn_britney.jpgYou better not claim to be sick of the Jamie-Lynn baby drama yet! We’re only 2 days in and there’s so much to get caught up on. Let’s make it quick and painless (unlike that ol’ thing called birth that J-L’s gonna tackle in the Spring).

  1. Jamie-Lynn and her baby-daddy aren’t dating anymore. Girl’s going at it alone in the delivery room with her mom by her side! Brit will have to stay in the waiting room.
  2. Hey ex Casey Aldridge may be guilty of statutory rape, depending on where the baby was conceived. Someone steal J-L’s diary!
  3. K-Fed knew about the pregnancy before Britney. Telling the stable one first is always a wise plan.
  4. Papa Spears is allegedly “devastated” and thinks that Jamie-Lynn “ruined her life.” Give her a chance to at least ruin the kid before you say that, Dad!
  5. Finally, Brit has already sent her lil’ sister a gift basket of goodies – like this super-cheesy sequined tank top – though a more appropriate gift would have been a handwritten list of mothering advice. Then J-L would know what not to do.

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The Celebreality Interview – Buddha (Part 2)

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I Love New York 2‘s resident thinker had so much to say about his time on the show that we thought it was only right to accommodate all of his ruminations. Our discussion with Buddha that started yesterday continues below with Buddha’s thoughts on New York vs. Tiffany, New York’s insecurity, his notorious good looks and why I Love New York 2 may have actually been not so good for his resume, after all.

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Britney’s Worst Year Ever: August

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You were there through the bad driving, the head-shaving, and the Criss Angel thing. It’s been a tough year for our girl. No one could have imagined a mere 12 months ago that she’d create such glorious new nonsense every week. Some of the craziness escapes you? Come back every day: We’re counting down the events that made up the Year in Britney.

August 1Mom of the Year - The Britney backlash chugged on full steam ahead when numerous tabloids published disturbing details about B’s mothering skills. Teeth whitening for her tots! Feeding her babies juice! Just typical stuff in Britney’s Bizarre House of Horrors! [Us]

August 7 - I’m a Brainiac – Britney fortified her “crappy driver” status in August, when she hit a parked car while trying to pull into a parking spot. After declaring “I’m a brainiac” and asking the paps “what should I do?” Britney gets back to focusing on the important matter at hand, wailing, “Did I hurt my car?” Nope – just your reputation! [IDLYITW]

August 15Photoshopped much? – Britney appeared on the cover of Allure magazine, but damn, it sure didn’t look like Britney! Clean, sexy, not driving or chugging Starbucks – it was nice to see her looking so put together, even if it was a result of fabulous photo editing. [ONTD]

August 17 - Angel Eyes – BritBrit continued her quest to date every fugly dude in Hollywood when she took a liking to lame illusionist Criss Angel. The two were spotted carousing around Las Vegas, heightening the rumors that Britney would indeed perform at the VMAs. While Angel claimed they were pals with a mutal manager, working on a project together, the hours they spent holed up in hotel rooms seemed to signal otherwise. In the end, Criss was nowhere to be seen come the VMAs and as we know, Brit bombed. Maybe his magic tricks would have helped? [People, TMZ]

Tila Tequila: Coming Back So Soon?

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We can’t vouch for the veracity of this Web site, nor whether or not A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila will truly be returning to MTV’s airwaves. What we can say, however, is that the casting site exists. That’s right: www.shotatlovecasting.com! Now you, too, can sign up to be part of the next bi-sexual bonanza, starring some sort of quasi-famous extrovert. Our money is on Tila Tequila returning, but you never know. Anyhow . . . the site allows users to answer questions in a complex psychological profile. These include: “If you could date any celebrity, who would it be? Why?” Don’t over-think it, kids. A nice, semi-nude photo that features your piercings/tattoos ought to suffice.

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Rock of Love 2: First Look

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Hey! I’ll show you things you’ve never seen, like, say, oh, I don’t know…the ladies of Rock of Love 2 with Bret Michaels!

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Click to enlarge and feast your eyes on the spectacle. And there will be plenty more eye candy when Rock of Love 2 debuts Sunday, Jan. 13. You can also check out how the girls got to the platform above by watching the online-only Rock of Love 2 Casting Special.

And if that’s not enough, here’s an exclusive promo shot of Bret:

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