In the spirit of the New Year—we at TYAC thought we’d make the Yuletide gay by offering not one, but two, January Yankettes of the Month. Okay—so we’re really not that generous. What really happened is the original Yankette was nixed (and I’ll lobby for her at a later time) and so we reached a compromise that begat another compromise. The second compromise resulted in Britney Spears, because we thought we may as well start the New Year with an icon.
The 28-year-old Spears is one of the only people on the planet, outside of the President and his staff, who can legitimately argue they had a busier 2009 than the U.S. Men’s National Team. Spears’ sixth studio album, Circus, capped a marvelous comeback and found its way to # 1 on the U.S. and U.K. charts, and thus far she has three singles from that album, “Circus,” “Womanizer,” and “3”, that have reached # 1 on the Mainstream Top 40 charts. The three number ones on one album is a career first, and with the extremely controversial (and awesome) “If You Seek Amy,” the Louisiana beauty just missed a fourth number one. With one more # 1 in 2010, Spears will pass Mariah Carey for the most # 1’s by a female pop performer in the seventeen year history of the Mainstream Top 40 countdown. Throw in a nomination in the U.K. for Video of the Decade (“TOXIC”)—and you have a pretty busy year for Brit Brit—who looks to release a new album in May.
Like the USMNT, not all was rosy for Spears, who was lambasted for not singing well in more than a few of her “Circus Tour” shows. This goes with the territory, as Spears has since the Catholic school girl outfit days lived in the specter of the Queen, Madonna, and this year, the Queen attended her Uniondale, New York show, which drew a new wave of comparisons and a rather critical review of the “Princess of Pop’s” performance in Rolling Stone . You have to be a soccer nerd for this to remind of you of the unfair comparisons Jozy is getting right now to U.S. hero Brian McBride—but hey—that’s why your reading this. All this talk of comparisons leads us too…
A party cannot start until the 22-year-old Tennessean walks in—and in fact her debut U.S. single, TiK ToK, was the first U.S. number one of the new decade. What’s more impressive is the fact that a mainstream pop single has drawn smashing critical reviews, including this write-up by the typically harsh Jon Caramanica, who wrote that the 22 year old with the wiry, New York runway model figure had achieved a “milestone in contemporary pop: the complete and painless assimilation of the white female rapper into pop music.” In fact, if we’re being completely honest—I think he’s spot on. The song is a bit revolutionary and really, really, really good.
KE$HA, or K Money, for short—cites influences ranging from Madonna to Spears to Lady Gaga to wait for it…Dolly Parton… (good Nashville girl)…of all people—and this remark leads me too…more comparisons!!
A popular thing to do in many sports, but especially in one of my favorites, college basketball—is too look @ Coaching Trees to judge the influence and legacy of a particular coach. Once you use the extended version of the immediate tree (Rick Pitino, Tim Welsh, Ralph Williard)– Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, believe it or not (and it isn’t that hard to believe given his remarkable Hall of Fame career)—has without question the most vibrant list. You’d never know it either—but it’s true. Simple logical progression: anyone who emerged from Rick Pitino (Billy Donovan, Tubby Smith)—also emerged from Boeheim. Given that Donovan and Tubby have extensive trees of their own now—you see the overall specter of Boeheim throughout college basketball.
This brings me back to Spears. Britney is perhaps the longstanding darling—the Rick Pitino, if you will (sex controversies and all !!)— of Madonna’s “Queen of Pop” tree. The incredible and innovative Lady Gaga would also qualify in this category—and given that KE$HA, who is often found looking like a hippie pirate with a glittery star patch covering one eye, cites Gaga as an influence—you see that the specter of Madonna continues to impact female pop music, and of course, our culture in general, which is how you end up with an iconic pop star and an innovative future pop star as the first Yankettes of the New Year.