Hotel News From London: Book a Suite, Drive a Ferrari

Bath Butler? Pet Concierge? Minibar Negroni making kits? You can’t, it seems, swing a Frette-swathed pillow without hitting another silly, superfluous hotel amenity. But we’re personally not inclined to bother about the thread-count of our bedsheets so much as the horsepower of our driving machines.

If you’re similarly disposed, consider that a stay at the Baglioni Hotel London (the only Brit outpost of the exalted Italian hotel brand) should be next up on your springtime travel agenda. Indeed, when you book a suite for three nights at the Italo-stylish Kensington five-star (which attracts the likes of Will Smith, Jade Jagger and Christina Aguilera), it comes complete with a new model Ferrari or Lamborghini, so you can glide around the capital in enviable style.

The hotel’s suites are actually some of the plushest in London; and in-room aperitvo hour, well as dinner for two at its sexy Brunello restaurant, are all part of the fun. Afterwards, zip up to Buckinghamshire for a stay at the ultra poshie Stoke Park estate, which is offering Baglioni guests an exclusive package of leisure, wellness and culinary indulgences.

Oh, and do remember to keep to the left side of the road.

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Baglioni Hotel London - Italian Driving Experience 2

Christina Aguilera Performs ‘Love Your Body’ With Jimmy Fallon & Office Supplies

As if you needed further proof that Jimmy Fallon is the greatest: Christina Aguilera performed Love Your Body in his office with the Roots playing music with office supplies.

Christina’s vocals are powerhouse as usual and Jimmy wielded the boop-boop of his iPhone like a champ. Questlove was a badass playing coffee pots with pencils and various other members of the Roots "played" staplers, a keyboard, scissors, rulers and ripped paper.

The whole thing is pretty righteous and may even be better than the time Carly Rae Jepsen performed Call Me Maybe with Jimmy, et al. 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

We’re Breaking Up With ‘The Voice’

You watch too much TV. No, you do. So do I. We all follow too many series and overload our DVRs to the point where we have to spend Sunday afternoons clearing them out like they’re our junk drawer. And there are new shows premiering all the time! Some of them worth a look—okay, most of them aren’t, but SOME. But we can’t just keep piling on like this. We’ve gotta start weeding shows out. On the plus side, if you’re a wonky sort, a good TV purge is often a great way to examine what you’re looking for in your entertainment. What you value. So each week here at BlackBook, we’re going to tell you what show you should be giving up on. It won’t be easy, but it has to be done. This week, we’re letting go of The Voice.

Getting Dumped: The Voice

What’d They Do This Time? Look, we all know why we started watching The Voice. We’d just gotten out of a grueling relationship with American Idol that left us disillusioned and with nightmares about LeeDWyze. At the time, The Voice was as good a rebound choice as anything else. A leopard never changes its spots, after all—we’re always going to need some kind of music-based talent show to rally around. And The Voice had a lot of great elements. For one thing, they seemed to value exactly what their title said they would, preferring impressive vocals over gimmicky, freakshow auditions. And the focus on mentorship, rather than throwing contestants out to the wolves not knowing anything, was a cool twist. But let’s be honest: we had one thing on our minds when we were falling for The Voice: those chairs. They were a brilliant innovation, bringing all the spontaneous excitement of a Whack-a-Mole game to the traditional singing competition. Watching the power shift from the judges one minute (will they hit that button??) to the contestant the next minute (which mentor will they choose??) is legitimately exciting TV.

This is the problem, though: everything that’s great about the show is swiveling around in those chairs, and after the audition rounds are over, there are still weeks—MONTHS, even—to go before the show settles on a winner. Which, also, not for nothing, but can you name one winner of The Voice off the top of your head? Do you even know how many there have been? The simple truth is that the contestants have never been more compelling than the judges, and the later weeks really suffer for that. After multiple seasons of trying to make the middle and later rounds as compelling as those wonderful chair-turning rounds, isn’t it time to admit that this is all the show is capable of offering, thank it for some hot rebound action, and start looking for something more stable?

Anything Else? Carson Daly. Why? Why is Carson Daly? Why is he constantly introducing himself to the families? Do the other judges even know he’s there? We should be fine with not knowing the answers to any of these questions, by the way.

What We’ll Miss: The judges, of course. Their competitive camaraderie is a lot of fun to watch. But that’s actually another reason to call it quits now, with Christina Aguilera and Cee-Lo Green leaving after this season. If the sad last few years of American Idol have taught us anything, it’s that the desperate search for random celebrities to plug into judges’ chairs is a sad spectacle indeed. We’ll be able to get our fill of Adam Levine on American Horror Story, and THAT show will get him naked, so we’re fine with the tradeoff.

What We’ll Have More Time For: The Voice is on two nights a week, for three hours total, so it’s like breaking up with THREE shows at once! Mondays are kind of a wasteland if you’re not into Dancing with the Stars or Bones, though we’ve heard good things about Switched at Birth on ABC Family (seriously!). But on Tuesdays, you’ll have more time for the promising Ben & Kate on FOX. No singing on that one, but Lucy Punch kiiind of looks like Christina Aguilera?

Follow Joe Reid on Twitter.

Christina Aguilera Reflects On Early Career: “Bull-dozed” By “Disgusting” Record Label Reps

These days Christina Aguilera is all over TV as a judge on The Voice, so its easy to forget her pop star roots. Remember Genie In A Bottle? And Dirrty? (That’s two "r’s", spellcheck.) In an interview with the September issue of Lucky magazine, the singer implies she would be all to happy to forget it, too.

After politely telling her interviewer "That’s cute" when the Lucky reporter informs her that she and a bunch of friends dressed up like Aguilera and Cher to go see Burlesque at a rural Pennsylvania mall, the singer settled into a conversations with the shopping mag about her personal style. With songs like Beautiful and Fighter, it has been no secret that Aguilera’s early life was a difficult one: her father was physically abusive to Christina and her mother, causing them to flee, and they’ve been estranged in her adult life. But the singer also reveals that controlling behavior from her record label made life difficult:

When you’re young, it’s so easy to get bulldozed. … There were these two ladies who always wanted to come to fittings and dress me up like a Barbie doll. It was disgusting.

It wasn’t until her second album, Stripped, with her girl power anthems like Can’t Hold Us Down and Fighter, that Aguilera came into her own voice musically and felt more empowered in her professional life. (Rihanna has voiced similar complaints about her early career, too. For the life of me I cannot find it online, but I remember Rihanna talking in an interview once about how she was only allowed to wear certain colors of lipstick approved by her handlers. And people wonder why female pop stars have a high rate of losing it.)

Good for Christina for speaking out like this. I hope the label doesn’t freak out and make her issue a statement saying she was "misquoted."

Contact the author of this this post at Jessica.Wakeman@gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

A Brief History of David LaChapelle’s Music Videos

Famed fashion photographer David LaChapelle does more than snap pictures for advertising campaigns and pal around with the world’s most glamorous trans woman. LaChapelle has a very solid resume as a music video director.

The latest example of LaChapelle’s work is the just-released video for Florence and the Machine’s “Spectrum,” a sexy, dramatic, sparkly take on the powerful song.

But it’s been a long road getting there. From early ‘90s videos for artists like Penny Ford (we didn’t know either) through long-lasting collaborations with icons like Elton John and Christina Aguilera, LaChapelle has spent years making music videos—and some of them are pretty great. Here’s a look back at five favorites.

Amy Winehouse – "Tears Dry On Their Own"

Gwen Stefani feat. Eve – "Rich Girl"

Macy Gray – "She Ain’t Right For You"

The Vines – "Outtathaway"

The Dandy Warhols – "Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth"

Your Daily Guide to Trending Topics

Every day there are some topics that are trending. Since many of them don’t make sense, we provide easy contextualization. Also, this way, you won’t actually have to know anything about anything.

Over at Google, the fifth trendingest thing of the day is “Lugar,” and it’s not about spitting phlegm balls. No, the story is about longtime Indiana Republican Senator Dick Lugar (heh), who was unseated after six terms Tuesday night by Tea Party-endorsed upstart Richard Mourdock. After losing his seat, 80-year-old Lugar released an epic rant about the state of partisanship and promptly tuned into Matlock.

Also on Google, after a strong and trendy showing yesterday, is John Travolta. The actor has now been accused by a second man of being a handsy gay; the second man said in his lawsuit that he has “substantial documentation and numerous witnesses regarding the substance of Travolta’s actions.” The lawsuit also alleges that Travolta has an eight-inch penis and unruly pubic hair, which is way more than we ever wanted to know.

Travolta’s also trending over at Yahoo!, but there’s serious news to be had as well: the passage of North Carolina’s Amendment 1, which added an amendment to the state’s constitution that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, is a hot topic over on that site. Lest you think Yahoo! overly newsy, other trending topics include Brooke Shields (why was she walking with a cane?!), Christina Aguilera (the finale of The Voice was last night) and superstar Columbian prostitute Dania Suarez.

Even more inane is what’s getting #hashtags over at Twitter, including the very important #QuestionsIHateBeingAsked. Check out the highlights below.

Trending Questions 1

Trending Questions 2

Trending Question 3

Trending question 4

Christina Aguilera Sings At Etta James’ Funeral

Legendary singer Etta James was laid to rest yesterday with a service in Gardena, California that was attended by hundreds. Rev. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy, opening his remarks with a statement from President Obama that said, "Etta will be remembered for her legendary voice and her contributions to our nation’s musical heritage.” Stevie Wonder performed three songs and Christina Aguilera did her rendition of "At Last," wearing what could be deemed an inappropriate cleavage-baring top. Click through to watch.

The rhythm and blues singer died from terminal chronic leukemia on January 20.

Kelly Osbourne Can’t Stop Bashing Christina Aguilera

Kelly Osbourne, famous for being an Osbourne amongst a variety of other things that didn’t really pan out with the same success, can’t stop talking smack on Christina Aguilera. A host for E!’s Fashion Police, she ripped into pictures of the singer from last weekend’s Michael Jackson Tribute Concert looking a bit like Axl Rose. “She called me fat for years,” Osbourne said. “I was never that fat.” Harsh.

Joan Rivers went on to say “Lady Marmalade got into the peanut butter again,” but she’s a comedian who makes her living saying this kind of stuff. Osbourne, who struggled with bulemia and body dysmorphia and knows how it feels to have others comment on your weight, is not. And it’s the second time! She called Aguilera a “fat bitch,” last month on the show.

There’s holding a grudge and then there is airing your personal issues on live TV. Aguilera wasn’t nice but she never came out with a song called “Kelly is a Drug Using Porker.” Still want to get her back? Go ahead and hate the outfit, the fishnets, the hair, the song she sang, her dance moves. There’s plenty to pick on. Why not just get invited to the same event and punch her in the face and be done with it? Or hey, just be a grown up and get over it.

Christina Aguilera Details Her Unlucky Year in ‘W’ Magazine

Christina Aguilera has had a pretty rough year, beginning with her divorce from husband Jordan Bratman and ending with her failed album Bionic album, the flopped Burlesque movie, a botched Super Bowl performance, a public intoxication mishap, and even a well-publicized stumble on stage at the Grammy’s. For a minute there, it looked like X-Tina (now a judge on The Voice) was heading down a troubled path, but in this month’s issue of W Magazine, she seems confident that it was just a series of bad luck.

On her botched Super Bowl performance: “I got lost in the emotion of being there and I messed up the lyrics to the song.I went to dinner after the Super Bowl with Matt and I laughed about how I’d made myself into a Trivial Pursuit question: ‘In 2011 what female singer flubbed the lyrics to the national anthem?'”

On her divorce from Jordan Bratman: “At one time or another we were both not angels. It got to a point where our life at home was reminding me of my own childhood. I will not have my son grow up in a tension-filled home. I knew there would be a negative reaction in the press to my divorce, but I am not going to live my life because of something someone might say. That goes against everything I sing on my records.”

On passing out in Jeremy Renner’s Bed: “At one point I sat on the edge of a bed. It was a guest room. But it only takes one person to start the negativity, and then everyone wants to hop aboard and continue the story.”

On the failure of Burlesque: “I was sad, but I’m still glad that I did the movie. During production, I was going through a lot of self-discovery. As a quote-unquote pop star, you have your entourage with you at all times. When you enter and leave a place, backstage, even at home—you always have your team. On the movie set, I didn’t have anyone around me. And it felt good. After the movie, I grew out of being that little girl: I became more of an adult.”

On the Grammy’s stumble: “And during that Grammy moment, when I nearly collapsed, I was thinking, Are you kidding me? I’ve always been really good with my heels. Even pregnant, I could perform in heels. Note to self: Never wear a train onstage. My heel got caught in my train, and if it wasn’t for Jennifer Hudson, who picked me up as I went down, I would have fallen to the floor. When it happened, it was just like, What else, God?! What else?! I threw my hands up in the air and started smiling, because what else could go wrong?”