Linkage: Solange Pops Out at ‘Girls’ Party, Beyoncé Might Be Crazy, Justin Timberlake is “Ready”

Holy cow, Solange. Sure, we’ve been paying a lot of attention to Beyoncé’s moves lately, and it seems like her kid sister didn’t want to stand in her shadow too much longer. Last night, the singer-songwriter attended last night’s Girls premiere party in a Just Cavalli patterned suit. You have our attention, Solange. We’ll spend the afternoon listening to “Losing You” on a loop. [MTV Style]

Speaking of Beyoncé, the interview accompanying her recent GQ cover reveals that pretty much every moment of her life for the past seven years has been recorded on film: “This digital database, modeled loosely on NBC’s library, is a work in progress—the labeling, date-stamping, and cross-referencing has been under way for two years, and it’ll be several months before that process is complete. But already, blinking lights signal that the product that is Beyoncé is safe and sound and ready to be summoned— and monetized—at the push of a button.” So much for hoping that Beyoncé isn’t a total nut. [GQ]

Paul Schrader was apparently so desperate for a project that he agreed to direct The Canyons—his first film in ten years—despite protests from friends and family. Even his wife, Mary Beth Hurt, gave up on the screenplay, penned by Bret Easton Ellis, after just fifty pages. And then he cast Lindsay Lohan and James Deen. Is anyone still thinking this isn’t all a completely terrible idea? [NYT]

Britney Spears is bowing out as a judge on The X-Factor after a tenure of just a single season. Without Britney regularly on live television, how will we make sure Britney is OK? I’m worried. [Reuters]

We had no idea what to expect from Justin Timberlake this morning, but the singer dropped a video of him wandering around a recording studio as his thoughts meander about his music and his obsessions and what the next year holds, et cetera. The important part: we’re supposed to wait longer for new music from Justin Timberlake. But, like, he’s ready. Just not “right now.” [Idolator]

The ads for David Beckham’s H&M underwear line were directed by Guy Ritchie, but they also feature the soccer star running around in boxer briefs, so, you know, things could be a whole lot worse. [The Gloss]

Then again, Conan O’Brien and Ricky Gervais took a bath together. [Hypervocal]

Featuring songs with titles like “They Get Nasty,” “I Don’t Make Love, I Fuck!,” and “There’s a Hole Inside of Me” a musical parody of Fifty Shades of Grey heads to Manhattan this weekend by way of Chicago. [NY Post]

The BAFTA nominees are pretty close to the Oscars, although they recognize Kathryn Bigelow and refuse to hand out nominations to nine-year-old girls. [Guardian]

Godzilla is coming back, this time possibly battling not Mothra or Megalon, but rather Kick-Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson. [Deadline]

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Britney Spears Responds to ‘X Factor’ Walk-Off Reports

On Thursday, TMZ reported that Britney Spears angrily walked off the X Factor set after a contestant butchered her song, "Hold It Against Me." This led to much speculation over Spears’ reliability as a new judge on Simon Cowell’s American Idol clone, but in a video message to TMZ today, both Cowell and Spears–who tells Harvey Levin to "Play nice"–deny any strife.

Meanwhile, TMZ is out with another report detailing the unprecedented terms Spears was able to negotiate before signing on to judge the talent competition, including, apparently, the right to walk off set whenever she feels like it.

More details:

"X Factor" wanted Britney so desperately, she was able to negotiate terms that are "unheard of" — so say people with direct knowledge of her deal. As one source put it, "Simon is a smart and shrewd businessman who knew Britney could make his show and he was willing to give her just about anything to come on board — and he did."

So, will Spears be worth the headache that comes from working with her? I guess we’ll find out this fall.

Britney Spears Joining ‘The X-Factor’


On the O.G. British version of the Simon Cowell-helmed talent-search glitter explosion that spawned One Direction, the judging panel includes a couple of major ‘90s pop veterans, including Take That (Robbie Williams’ boy band for those who spent those years outside of the UK or under a rock) frontman Gary Barlow and, up until recently, Girls Aloud member-turned-high-powered-WAG Cheryl Cole. The American version of the show, about to start its second season, will be taking the same route in enlisting former ‘90s tween/teen idols, when Britney Spears joins the panel next season on a $15 million deal, MTV reports.

Spears joins producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger and former American Idol judge Paula Abdul. Fans and industry folks are watching her move to the show carefully, considering she’s been spending so little time in the public eye since her last album. Is this a Britney Spears comeback? Is this all part of a larger and perhaps diabolical plan? As Spears super-fan Jordan Miller points out to MTV, her public image has been so heavily monitored in the wake of her 2007 breakdown that the opportunity to go unscripted in front of a wide audience is actually a huge deal for her, and, for what it’s worth, an opportunity for her to show audiences what she’s capable of when going off-book. And hey, for a fledgling pop star who could barely string a sentence together when “Baby… One More Time” was released, getting a thumbs-up from B. Spears could be a huge vote of confidence.

Season 2 of The X-Factor will premiere at the end of September 2012. 

Watch Singer-Songwriter Willis Earl Beal on ‘The X-Factor’

Chicago singer-songwriter Willis Earl Beal has been gaining traction pretty quickly, thanks to his stunning, blues-tinged tracks and his highly personal manner of reaching out to fans (call him up and he’ll sing you a song; write to him and you’ll get back your own drawing).

But it seems Beal previously attempted another rise to the top of the music world through a different channel: a television channel, that is. Beal auditioned for the first American edition of The X-Factor, a.k.a. the Simon Cowell-helmed talent competition whose UK version is responsible for the plague of One Direction-related tweets clogging your Twitter feed like a Big Mac to the arteries. Music blog Disco Naïveté found the video of Beal’s boot camp interview on the X-Factor website today and tweeted it, and a million indie rock dilettantes raised their eyebrows in unison. 

When Beal, then 27, was asked how he felt about reaching boot camp and receiving this opportunity, he responded with brevity and profundity: "I want some Del Taco. That’s how I feel." He goes on to express his primary concern about appearing in the competition ("blowing a gasket" from seeing himself on screen repeatedly) and reveals his noble intentions: "I think art is equally as important as anything else because art inspires people to do great things. I would like to believe that if I win the money, if I win the competition, I will change the way people think about these kinds of competitions… it’s not all fluff." 

Beal advanced to the boot camp round, but didn’t get much further than that. But the attention he’s getting elsewhere proves you don’t have to win these silly singing competitions to jump-start your career. Or something like that. 

Watch the interview (via Disco Naïveté & Pitchfork) below: 

Teenage Girl & Adult Lady Humiliated in Equal Measure on ‘The X-Factor’

I have never watched The X-Factor and I have not yet figured out how it is different from American Idol other than employing a Pussycat Doll and a man named "L.A." as judges. But last night’s elimination was so mind-blowing that even I, someone who usually despises reality TV competition shows that aren’t about designing dresses or tricking money-hungry women into fighting over a poor man, couldn’t avoid the clip of a poor 13-year-old’s complete emotional breakdown when the clip hit the internet this morning.

Here’s the gist, for those who sometimes need Cliffs Notes for what passes as pop culture these days: two contestants were vying for a spot in the semifinals. Their names are Rachel Crow and Marcus Canty. (I’m sure those are names you will hear once again, most likely on a VH1 special called The Top 100 Reality TV Contestants You Forgot About, Part Two.) Judge L.A. Reid throws in a vote for Marcus, while Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell show their support for Rachel. Fourth judge Nicole Scherzinger is left to make a decision: she could either vote for Rachel, therefore kicking Marcus off the show, or vote for Marcus to let the audience vote decide the pair’s fate.

Scherzinger, who is getting paid millions of dollars to judge a competition, basically throws her hands up in the air with tears in her eyes and refuses to make the decision we all can tell she wants to make. Instead of casting a third vote for Rachel, she blabbers on about how she can’t be responsible for making such a tough choice. "Please don’t cry," the 13-year-old girl tells the 33-year-old woman. Scherzinger sends the vote into a deadlock, and then the anonymously European host announces that the audience voted for Marcus to stay. And that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Do you enjoy watching the hopes and dreams of adolescents being crushed in front of millions of people? Would you like to watch as the heart of a child is ripped out in front of America and then crushed on stage with the spiked heel of a Pussycat Doll’s stiletto? Are you unable to imagine the sight of Simon Cowell consoling a weeping teenager? Well, congratulations, because this is where we’ve ended up as humans. Check out the goods at the 2:15 mark in the video below:

Why Was ‘The X-Factor’ Premier So Underwhelming?

Last night, Simon Cowell’s singing contest spectacular The X-Factor debuted on Fox. Given the popularity of the genre and Cowell’s track record of success, The X-Factor was a shoo-in for ratings gold, right? Wrong(ish). 12.1 million viewers tuned in for the show’s first episode last night. For perspective, 21.6 million viewers saw the Cowell-less American Idol premier in January.

The numbers matched Fox’s projections, but any modest evaluation of The X-Factor was blown out of the water when Cowell announced he wanted to beat American Idol in ratings. “You don’t enter into something for the silver medal,” he said. The X-Factor didn’t even reach the podium, as it was only the fourth-most-watched show last night: Modern Family, CSI, and Criminal Minds were all viewed by more people than X-Fac. How does a show with all the right ingredients and remarkable hype have such an underwhelming premier? We have some theories: • Viewers checked local listings alphabetically and didn’t make it all the way to “X” • Millions of people piled into the home of Ben Cahill of Eugene, Oregon to watch, and he doesn’t have a Nielsen box. • It was a pretty nice night in most of the country, perfect strollin’ weather. • Everyone turned off their sets after the first audition, as that contestant clearly had the X-Factor. • Most of the ratings share was sucked through a time-space continuum after researchers at CERN recorded neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. • Books? • The majority of the country actually auditioned for The X-Factor and they refused to watch because of nerves. • People thought it was about math.