April 20-27: Fests, Lies, And Videotape


First, there was Beyonce. Now, here’s a clean-living, happily married career woman who rarely is the subject any scandals (unless you count drawing the wrath of Etta James). Beyonce is also rarely the target of any Auto-Tunes/ProTools-centric accusations that she cannot sing. Because, well, she can. But this week Beyonce’s talent was called into question, when a tape of her unedited vocals, supposedly pulled for the Today Show soundboard, was played on Howard Stern’s radio show. The tape of her allegedly live “If I Were A Boy” performance sounded worse than an American Idol reject’s bad audition, and soon all the blogosphere was debating Beyonce’s vocal abilities, or lack thereof. Was Beyonce really just another lip-synching Britney or Ashlee?

Well, after emphatic protests from Beyonce’s manager/dad, Matthew Knowles, who insisted that it was not his daughter/meal ticket’s voice on the incriminating recording, it turned out the whole thing was a hoax. A good hoax, but a hoax nonetheless. Later E! News announced it had even found the jokester who’d digitally altered the original Today Show track to make it sound as if Beyonce was the female William Hung. “Yes, I created [the bad vocals], and they are fake,” a mystery blogger named “Matt” told E!

Beyonce’s daddy didn’t find Matt’s practical joke too amusing. (He griped to TMZ: “If no one took the time to listen to Beyonce sing ‘America The Beautiful’ and ‘At Last’ at the Neighborhood Ball for the first dance of President Obama and the First Lady, and they question Beyonce’s vocal ability, they’ve gotta be an idiot. That would be like questioning if Kobe Bryant could shoot a jump shot. The vocals were obviously altered.”) But Sasha Fierce herself actually demonstrated a sense of humor, or at least a sense of wonder, about the whole thing, telling the Today Show this week: “It’s so amazing that someone in their home can do a little prank and it can end up on these major radio stations. How could you believe that? I heard it was really over-the-top.”

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Another TV performance that made the news this week was that of Britain’s Got Talent spinster-turned-superstar Susan Boyle, of whom we here at That’s Really Week are already sick after the current media overload. (Susan is this week’s Octo-Mom.) The dowdy Scottish singer became an unlikely Interweb sensation thanks to a viral video of her allegedly Simon Cowell-shocking reality-television performance. Apparently the idea of a somewhat unattractive person having vocal talent blew many people’s minds! But part of the 47-year-old’s TV underdog appeal was also her sympathetic back story that she’d “never been kissed.”

However, this week Susan admitted that wasn’t really true, telling U.K. morning show GMTV: “That was made as a joke! Never been kissed? I’ve never stopped!” One of the Britain’s Got Talent judges volunteered to give Susan her first liplock before this truth about her lovelife was revealed…and now that the tabloids are reporting she’s hired a hunky bodyguard and has undergone a makeover (slick leather jacket, hairdye job to conceal those grays, Burberry scarf, weed-whacked eyebrows), Susan will probably be getting plenty more offers.

In other Simon Cowell-related TV news, the always newsworthy and often wacky Paula Abdul granted an exclusive interview to ABC’s Nightline this week, on which she vehemently stated: “I’ve never been addicted to any prescription drugs. I’ve never been drunk. I’ve worked my whole life. I will not take those drugs. And you can check my medical records. There is nothing like that. I was never on Oxycontin or Vicodin or anything like that. I was on [non-addictive] nerve medicine and anti-inflammatories [for a 1992 neck injury].”

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Paula actually went so far as to say that her biggest career mistake was signing up for a show that perpetrated false rumors of her alcohol and drug abuse–a confession which in turn perpetrated rumors that she won’t be returning to American Idol after her contract expires at the end of this season. We will just have to see later if Paula is forever Idol’s girl.

But it wasn’t all about tall TV tales this week. Festivals made the news, too. The 10th annual Coachella Festival took place in California’s Indio desert, the highlights of which were a poignant Paul McCartney headlining performance on the anniversary of his first wife Linda’s death (he paid lovely tribute to her, and to John Lennon and George Harrison as well); a Public Enemy set consisting solely of a complete recreation of their landmark album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back; new mom M.I.A. filling in on the main stage for cancelled performer Amy Winehouse; and a Sunday night curfew-breaking Cure performance that amusingly continued for several songs after Coachella authorities pulled the plug on their sound system. Meanwhile, the stellar 2009 lineup for this summer’s Lollapalooza fest in Chicago was announced, featuring Depeche Mode, Tool, the Killers, Jane’s Addiction, the Beastie Boys, Kings Of Leon, and Snoop Dogg, among others.

Yes, the 2009 musicfest season is now fully and officially underway–let’s just hope that prankster “Matt” doesn’t steal, and subsequently doctor, any audio from the festival soundboards.

And finally, speaking of Depeche Mode, and of huge concerts, the veteran English electropop band commemorated the release of their much-anticipated new album Sounds Of The Universe this week by shutting down several blocks of Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles to play a free outdoor concert taped for The Jimmy Kimmel Show. This wasn’t the first time the band had caused chaos in L.A.’s streets: 19 years ago, an infamous Mode autograph signing at L.A.’s Beverly Center mall went awry when more than 10,000 fans showed up and then rioted after being turned away. Incredibly, history repeated itself this week as another 10,000 Depecheheads swarmed the corner of Hollywood & Vine to see their idols–quite a testament to Depeche’s longevity. Apparently Mode fans still just can’t get enough after all these years. Luckily, this time things went off pretty much without a hitch, aside from the resultant even-worse-than-usual gridlocked L.A. traffic.

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