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Musical turkeys of 2012: Nicki, Axl, we’re talking to you

For years at my old newspaper, I would make Thanksgiving more than a day to enjoy fowl and football and take the opportunity to target some music celebrities who had engaged in some sort of dopey behavior during the year – musical turkeys, if you will.

So why not continue an amusing tradition, a Thursday Riffs, if you will?

Of course, as with most lists, this one could go far beyond 10 picks. Some weeks it seems as if idiotic behavior among the well-compensated is a requirement, so feel free to tack on any additions you think belong under the “musical turkey” header and have some fun.

Also, here’s wishing you a happy Thanksgiving – and thanks, as always, for reading.

Lotus10. Christina Aguilera: She, herself, is not a turkey for any reason in particular – though one could argue that her stylists certainly belong on this list – but despite her extreme exposure on “The Voice” and her undiminished vocal ability, Aguilera laid a giant turkey egg with her new album, “Lotus,” which had the lowest opening sales of her career, selling slightly more than 73,000 copies. True, in today’s chart world, those aren’t repulsive numbers. But compared to her past – and the fact that the No. 1 seller, One Direction, moved more than half a million copies of its sophomore album the same week – it’s an indication of a wobbly future on the charts.

9. Jermaine Jackson: Or, as he soon hopes you be known, Jermaine JackSUN. Yes, another day, another looney move by a member of the Jackson family – this time, Jermaine’s petition to change his last name for “artistic reasons.” It does not, however, guarantee an increase in relevancy.


All photos: Getty Images

8. Jason Aldean: With a sold-out summer tour, a hotly anticipated new album that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and a stack of award nominations, 2012 was clearly a breakthrough year for the Macon-born country singer. And then he had to go and do something stupid like get publicly frisky with an amorous female fan (and an “American Idol” also-ran at that!). Dude, just remember: If the head of the CIA can get caught, you don’t stand a chance.

7. Nicki Minaj: Supposedly instigating a nasty verbal spat with Mariah Carey on “American Idol.” Picking a fight with Barbara Walters – of all people! – for chastising her behavior toward Carey on “Idol.” What are you, 12? It’s probably a safe assumption that Carey wasn’t cowering in the corner during that reported on-set issue several weeks ago so she isn’t blameless. But could you possibly imagine Keith Urban reacting to Randy Jackson in such an immature manner?

6. Bobby Brown: First there was the disruption at Whitney Houston’s funeral – an incident that could keep a game of he said/she said going for months. Whatever happened or whoever is to blame, Brown’s arrival and almost immediate retreat turned the attention away from the woman being memorialized, and that’s a shame. Then came the first DUI arrest. And a few weeks ago, a second, to which he just pleaded not guilty. If he’s convicted, he could face up to two years in jail. It’s beyond time to pull it together, buddy.

Babs5. Exorbitant ticket prices: $1,500 for Barbra Streisand. $800 for the Rolling Stones. $350-plus for Madonna. Promoters will argue that as long as the market will bear such jaw-dropping prices, they’ll continue to charge them. So who are the real turkeys here – the artists asking fans to unload a mortgage payment to spend two hours in their presence or those of us who buy the tickets and support them?

4. Obscenely late concert starts: Madonna. Axl Rose. Lauryn Hill. Talking to all of you. At least last weekend’s Madonna show at Philips Arena started at 10:30 p.m. The poor saps who attended her Monday show in Miami – a school night, no less – had to wait until 11:30 for her to arrive on stage. With any artist who insists on coming on stage hours after the time printed on the ticket, it’s pointless, arrogant and disrespectful to fans, most of whom have jobs, babysitters and public transportation to catch. Besides, you’re not 24 anymore, so act your ages and show some courtesy to the people who support your careers.

Rihanna3. Rihanna: And speaking of arrogant…her recent “777” tour that hit seven countries in seven days sounded, from all accounts, like a nightmare assignment. As the writer from Billboard succinctly noted, “We were experiencing the touring life of an artist, without the artist.” Why bother inviting a press corps to document your tour if you aren’t going to show your face until a hasty press conference at the end of the run? It’s just the latest in a string of condescending actions by the pop star, who loves to put herself in the spotlight and then complain when people pay attention to her. Just take a listen to her recent single with Chris Brown, “Nobody’s Business,” a not-so-thinly veiled complaint about all of the haters who condemn her who-cares relationship with Brown. As Howard Stern noted on his radio show last week, yes, honey, you made it our business by shoving this dysfunctional relationship in our faces.

2. Axl Rose: So many bands and artists would be honored to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Anyone who claims otherwise is probably never going to get in and uses a pre-emptive strike as a shield. But Axl Rose, you WERE honored, along with the band that wouldn’t have pummeled our rock ‘n’ roll senses quite the same without you in the ‘80s and ‘90s. And how do you acknowledge this honor? You pen a crybaby letter to the hall to decline your induction. Such class.

Chris1. Chris Brown: Despite his supposed efforts to rehabilitate his image, Brown manages to blow every opportunity and become more reprehensible in the eyes of everyone except his blinded-by-devotion fans. How about the sketchy details of his community service requirements (700 hours at a daycare center in Tappahannock, Va.? If you say so), the pot charge earlier this year in Virginia, the constant need to shed his clothing on award shows – as if flashing his abs is some sort of magical elixir – and, oh, let’s not forget dressing like a terrorist for Halloween. Sure sounds like a guy on the path to maturity, doesn’t it?

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By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene

16 comments Add your comment

Toledo Dan

November 23rd, 2012
11:41 am

My favorite line: “What are you, 12?”


November 23rd, 2012
1:25 pm

There isn’t one artist here worth the print, nor worth your respect, save Aldean, and that’s only because he manned up immediately.

The world of pop music, which almost all those mentioned inhabit, is a virtual wasteland of talent for the most part. From a critical standpoint, almost none warrant a serious look. Even Madonna has fallen off significantly. If any fan argues that her latest, or even her last few, in any way approach her best, I would suggest otherwise. And it isn’t close.

In real life, most of these people are embarrassments to themselves. If your close friend acted in the way they act, you would be appalled. It’s not a clink-dink that the many of them – Carey, Aguilera, Jackson, Axel, the Stones – are down or on their way.

As for the question of who is more lame, the promoters or the ticket buyers? Both. The irony of the Stones at their highest priced ticket while delivering what will inevitably be the least bang for the buck show isn’t lost on me. I actually saw them when they were great. Madonna at $360? I had to chuckle at all those who defended her last week on these pages when her tour got bad to mediocre reviews. It, and she, deserved them. Het, Nadoody, take that crap where it belongs: Vegas. And stay there. If your tastes runs where you’d say that was a great show, I can guarantee you that at some point in your life you’ll recognize how wrong you were. No hating here, either, this is simply apt criticism. Great businesswoman, no doubt, maybe one of the best ever. But she’s coming up woefully short in every other facet. The songs are not as good, and the show isn’t either. If you saw her years ago, you’d agree. “Bigger” does not make it better.

Chris Brown merits a special nod for his strain of db behavior. If the ‘hood ever came back to claim you I its most despicable way, you really wouldn’t be missed. Well, except by those misguided, and morally bankrupt, fans. Hating? Hardly. A punk is a punk is a punk. The truth will set you free.


November 23rd, 2012
11:33 pm

The rock n roll HOF is a complete and utter joke and the fact that you defend it pretty much just killed any credibility you may have as a music writer.

As Ozzy said,”The nomination is meaningless, because it’s not voted on by the fans. It’s voted on by the supposed elite for the industry and the media, who’ve never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives, so their vote is irrelevant to me.”


November 24th, 2012
8:18 am

Quoting Ozzy pretty much killed any credibility you have as a music fan.


November 24th, 2012
5:16 pm

Totally agree with your comments, especially the one about the exorbitant ticket prices. “Stars” will continue to demand outrageous prices as long as people are stupid enough to pay them. That’s why I decided years ago to stop giving my hard-earned money to a bunch of spoiled millionaires.


November 24th, 2012
10:04 pm

The RRHOF is a farce. Axl did the right thing, and the GNR show at the Tabernacle was amazing.


November 24th, 2012
10:05 pm

Ozzy’s a rock legend. And he’s right about the RRHOF.

chucky chese

November 24th, 2012
10:44 pm

Mr. Aldean is really a douch, who has forgetten where he’s came from and who helped him get there


November 25th, 2012
9:24 am

Nicki Minaj should be higher up on this list. She is a prime example of ‘ you can take the girl of out the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of the girl.’ A completely fake person, from her hair to her shoes, including her auto-tuned voice.

Kam Phong as Chin Ho

November 25th, 2012
9:53 am

These idiots and sooooo many more that constitute the “elite” of the music industry make me sick. The masses that pander to their excess make me even more sick. I’m done with concerts AND buying CD’s. I know it won’t make any difference what so ever to any of them, but if more people quit buying tickets to the shows they will have to look at the price and adjust. Look at NASCAR these days. Priced themselves into half-empty venues Sunday after Sunday. Free internet radio for me from now on! It’s all the music I need.


November 25th, 2012
12:09 pm

I am annoyed by almost everything in the top 40. Music today is gutless, over produced and has no soul. What ever happened to rock and roll?


November 25th, 2012
6:17 pm

I don’t understand Nicki Minaj’s popularity. She is ghetto trash. I was in Ulta yesterday – she has her own line of perfume! You have GOT to be kidding me! She needs to go away and take Kim Kardashian with her.

Cleveland Rocks

November 25th, 2012
7:13 pm

How many of you Rock Hall haters have ever actually been inside? It’s actually pretty cool, and they sponsor tons of interviews, concerts, and special events that make it a vibrant and relevant institution. It’s a registered 501c museum, not Ozzy’s attic or the People’s Choice awards.


November 25th, 2012
9:53 pm

Nicki Minaj tops my loser’s list. Her facial expressions alone turn me off. Never heard her sing a note and don’t want to. Couldn’t be any worse than Katy Perry, and she isn’t any good, either. The rock scene, and to an extent, the country scene, is a joke, more fitting for clown makeup than songs that project talent and depth. Self righteous grunge started the ball rolling and now there isn’t many remarkable musicians or groups out there. Steve Miller was sort of the “K-mart” special in years past, and he could blow anyone now out there off the stage. Heart’s concert a week or two ago was cream comparied to Minaj type cheeseball efforts. If anyone thinks what’s out there now is better than 70s-80s rock or 90s country, you don’t have the ability to discern what’s good and what isn’t…


November 25th, 2012
10:45 pm

I’ll never ding a performer for telling the NearlyAnythingAndEverythingEXCEPTRock Hall of Shame to get stuffed. Axl may be an obnoxious git but he was on safe ground on that particular call.

[...] recently named the Musical Turkey of 2012 on this very blog, then deactivated his Twitter account after sending a final rambling tweet that signed off with, [...]