Britney: Torture or Gospel?

Plus, YouTube launches messy music awards and James Blake and Lou Reed name mixups


Torture or Gospel?

Judging from a pair of recent headlines, Britney Spears’ status as a pop cultural icon is stronger than ever. A merchant navy officer recently revealed that blasting the singer’s music was the go-to deterrent used for keeping Somali pirates away from oil tankers on the African coast. Meanwhile, SPEARS: The Gospel According to Britney, a musical about Jesus Christ that lets Britney’s songs and lyrics tell The Greatest Story Ever Told, is getting a one-night trial run on Broadway. The show’s creator says SPEARS is not sacrilegious and will actually appeal to churchgoers (though probably not churchgoers who are also Somali pirates).

Here's the SPEARS project's Kickstarter video from last year:


The ADHD Grammys

If you’ve ever thought, “You know what would make music awards shows better? Six categories, no focus, no script and an online stream that freezes up constantly,” the YouTube Music Awards is your new awards show jam. The inaugural event made even less sense than most awards shows, rewarding artists for their ability to catch fire on the video site — K-Pop group Girls’ Generation won Video of the Year over Bieber, Miley and other usual suspects, for example. Still, the “live music videos” by Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and others were interesting concepts (albeit with mixed results) and it was fun to watch hosts Jason Schwartzman and Reggie Watts stumble through the event like they had even less idea of what was going on than the viewers. According to, viewership peaked at 220,000 (vs. the 10 million that watched the MTV Music Awards), but I bet most people figured they could just watch it later on YouTube.

Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt's "live music video" from the awards show:


Mistaken IDs

Electronic artist James Blake recently scored this year’s Mercury Prize, awarded annually to the best album to come out of the U.K. But his victory was slightly tainted when the ceremony’s host introduced him as James Blunt, the Soft Rock crooner with the obnoxious 2006 hit “You’re Beautiful.” Such indignities don’t only happen to newer acts. Even though Lou Reed was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, several online “R.I.P.” shoutouts were mistakenly directed toward Lou Bega, a not-dead one-hit wonder known for 1999’s “Mambo No. 5” (the result of a journalist’s error, according to Bega.)

Quick history lesson. Lou Reed:

NOT Lou Reed:

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