THE TOP TEN Most Embarrassing Pop Star Video Moments
It could happen to anyone: Having a drunken argument, taking your clothes off in public, being divorced via text message … but only rock stars make a habit of it while there’s a camera around. Blender presents the 20 most embarrassing pop-star moments ever captured on video. / Blender, May 2007
It could happen to anyone: Having a drunken argument, taking your clothes off in public, being divorced via text message … but only rock stars make a habit o... more
Saturday Night Jive
Ashlee Simpson’s SNL Mime
Poised with her band to begin her second song on Saturday Night Live in October 2004, Simpson suddenly hears something strange: her own disembodied voice singing the opening lines to the song she’d already performed, “Pieces of Me.” Simpson covers this gaffe by dancing a spastic jig then disappears offstage. Following a hasty commercial break, she reappears with the SNL cast and lays the blame for her lip-sync fiasco where it clearly belongs: “I feel so bad. My band started playing the wrong song.” (Technically, this later turned out to be true: A member of her band had cued the wrong pre-recorded track.) Within hours, video of the incident is one of the Internet’s most popular downloads, kick-starting a tidal wave of public condemnation for Simpson and a wrenching national debate on the musical merits of the teen-pop wave she’s ridden to stardom.
Simpson claimed attacks of acid-reflux necessitated the use of a backing track: “I can’t cancel something like SNL. It was silly of me to do it, silly to blame the band, but I don’t think it did me much harm.”
Britney Falls Apart
Tired of being treated like trash by the media, Britney sits down for her interview with Matt Lauer in June 2006—chomping on gum, wearing smudged mascara and dressed in a frilly pink halter top and microscopic jean skirt from which her pregnant body struggles to escape. She declares her marriage “awesome,” defends driving with her infant son on her lap by saying, “We’re country” and shrugs off nearly dropping him headfirst on a New York sidewalk with “accidents happen.” Then, as she breaks into sobs while talking about the paparazzi, one of her fake eyelashes starts falling off.
She claimed to have gotten some respite from the paparazzi (“They’ve lightened up a lot since I’ve been speaking up about it, so maybe I should speak up more”) but nonetheless blamed them for her head-shaving meltdown eight months later.
Hunka-Hunka Burned-Out Love
Elvis Unravels Onstage
In late June 1977, the King was bloated, addled and sweating in his sequined white jumpsuit when, in Lincoln, Nebraska—with the cameras rolling for a CBS television special—he launches into “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Two sentences into the song’s earnest spoken-word interlude, he begins to spew a stream of incomprehensible gibberish punctuated by childish giggling and nonsensical phrases like “plus tax” and “Who am I talking to?”—all the while struggling to catch his breath. Eventually he just gives up, muttering, “Aw, the heck with it,” and staggers toward the song’s conclusion.
The performance would be edited out of the TV special, but even Elvis wasn’t fooled. “I may not look good now,” he reportedly said during his last tour, “but I’ll look good in my coffin.” He died less than two months later.
Off the Wall
Jacko Accepts Nonexistent Award
In the history of acceptance speeches, Michael Jackson’s words on accepting the Artist of the Millennium honor at the 2002 VMAs are only mildly embarrassing. Sure, saying, “David Blaine, your magic is real, and I believe in you,” seems a little misguided, but what really made Jackson’s appearance so memorable is the fact that the award itself was a figment of his imagination. Britney Spears utters the phrase “artist of the millennium” when bestowing birthday wishes and a cake upon him, but Jacko misunderstands her flattery as recognition of his superiority to the Beatles, Mozart and every other person who’s made music in the last thousand years.
MTV claimed it was all a “misunderstanding.” There is no such award as the Artist of the Millennium. “I think some wires got crossed,” a spokesman said.
Courtney vs. Madonna
As MTV talking head Kurt Loder interviews Madonna following the 1995 VMAs, the contents of a purse are hurled over Madge’s head by what at first appears to be a drunken prostitute but turns out to be Courtney Love. Madonna looks on with a mixture of fear and disgust as Love interrupts to stammer about Alanis Morissette, shoes and her love life. After Madonna is literally dragged away by her publicist, Courtney comes fully unraveled, unleashing a string of non sequiturs that touch on Michael Stipe, her mother’s Birkenstock outlet store and an alleged sexual encounter with Ted Nugent. For a grand finale, she falls off her chair.
Courtney and Madge continued their love-hate relationship. “I like her,” Love said. “She’s funny. Every decade has its big star, and Madonna was it in the ’80s. But the ’80s are over.”
Mariah’s TRL visit
There were already whispers about Mariah Carey’s diminishing sanity when she showed up unannounced on MTV’s Total Request Live wearing a blue T-shirt with high heels, and pushing a street vendor’s ice-cream cart. After telling host Carson Daly “You’re my therapy session,” she proceeds to lose the shirt in an impromptu striptease, then passes out ice cream to the assembled masses. “I just wanted one day off,” she explains to the audience, “when I can go swimming and eat ice cream and check out rainbows and maybe learn how to ride a bicycle.”
Carey entered rehab for “exhaustion” weeks after the incident but otherwise insisted the whole thing was blown out of proportion. “Me going on TRL and taking my shirt off? Last time I checked, nobody had any clothes on TRL.”
That Syncing Feeling
Milli Vanilli Exposed
Headlining the Club MTV Tour in the summer of 1989 in Bristol, Connecticut, Milli Vanilli are “performing” their signature hit, “Girl You Know It’s True,” when the prerecorded vocal track they have been miming to begins skipping. As one half of the Vanillis, Fab Morvan, breaks into the running-man dance routine, the other, Rob Pilatus, bolts offstage while “Girl you know it’s … girl you know it’s … girl you know it’s … ” repeats over the amphitheater’s sound system.
The unmasking of the duo didn’t have much initial impact; they even collected a Grammy seven months later. But for Pilatus it was the beginning of the end: “I wanted to die,” he said of the incident. “I panicked and ran offstage. I didn’t want to go back. I’d had enough.” He committed suicide in 1998.
Pam and Tommy’s Sex Tape
Tommy Lee is lucky he’s hung like an African elephant, otherwise people might remember the less flattering aspects of the infamous 1997 sex tape he made with his then-wife Pamela Anderson. While driving down the highway, he admires his own penis (“Look at that! That’s fuckin’ rad!”) and compliments her naked form with phrases normally reserved for a really cool skateboard (“Fuck! You rip!”). Pam gives as good as she gets, at one point grabbing Tommy’s manhood and addressing their thankfully absent children: “I get this for the rest of my life, kids. Mom is a lucky camper.”
Pam & Tommy Lee: Hardcore & Uncensored became the best-selling adult video of 1998 and 1999. Their marriage was less successful: Tommy was locked up for assaulting Pam in 1998, the same year they divorced. In 2002, she accused him of giving her hepatitis C.
Janet’s “Wardrobe Malfunction”
At the tail end of the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Justin Timberlake joins Janet Jackson onstage to dry hump her through his hit “Rock Your Body.” As Justin delivers his final line, “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song,” he tears off a portion of Jackson’s costume, exposing her naked breast (adorned with a sun-shaped nipple shield) to an estimated 140 million people worldwide.
Despite having teased the show’s “shocking moments” beforehand, show producers MTV later apologized—claiming that the nudity was accidental. Jackson and Timberlake also said they were sorry, and in doing so forever enshrined the phrase wardrobe malfunction in the popular lexicon.
Houston, We Have a Problem
Whitney Cracks Up
Determined to silence rumors about eating disorders and rampant drug use, Houston opens her prime-time interview hoarsely insisting “I am not sick,” then offers an hour’s worth of empty stares and inappropriate laughter that suggest otherwise. Quizzed about anorexia and bulimia, she says, “Whitney is not going to be fat ever.” Confronted with a tabloid headline about her failed crack rehab, she delivers her now-infamous socioeconomic analysis: “Let’s get one thing straight: Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Crack is wack.”
Houston made trips to drug rehab in 2004 and 2005, split with husband Bobby Brown in 2006 and has been plagued by financial woes: In early 2007, she sold memorabilia and even her underwear to pay overdue bills.
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