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Huge Hits, Massive Celebrity, Failed Rehab, Disastrous Love Affairs And also a Penchant For Catsuits And Nevada. The Princess Of Pop's Life Echoes That regarding The King. But they are We Hounding Britney Spears To A Similar Fate, Asks Laura Barton
It really is 1977. On stage, the performer in the tight spangly outfit is barely recognisable: doped up, spaced out, the once sleek physique swollen and spread, the singing slurred and unintelligible. The target audience is aghast yet mesmerised. These are the basic dying times of Elvis Presley. Skip forward 40 years, and Britney Spears appears at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards to unveil her new single, Gimme More. The fact is unhealthy: "Spears was stuffed in a spangled bra and hotpants," jeers the brand new York Post, "and jiggled like Jell-O as she sleepwalked over the song."
The similarities between your lives of Britney and Elvis, a couple of the most successful acts inside good pop music, are striking. Born in Mississippi a lot more than 45 years apart, their lives have followed a similar course, encompassing not merely # 1 singles, Grammys, wealth and fame, but drug abuse, divorce and also a dubious attraction to Nevada. The other day, Spears launched her new album, Blackout, to critical applause, but after having a year of increasingly unpredictable behaviour, failed rehab stints, attacks for the paparazzi as well as an ongoing child custody battle, it remains to be seen whether the Princess of Pop can navigate the immense celebrity - and attendant excesses - that destroyed the King.
Both Presley and Spears were sturdily managed white pop acts who found fame repackaging traditionally black music for any white audience. Inside the 1950s, Elvis combined rockabilly while using gospel music of his church and the rhythm and blues he heard in Memphis and gave it a pop spin. "He opened the door for black music," Little Richard once said. Britney, too, draws heavily on traditionally black musical styles: appraising 2004's Inside Zone, Guardian pop critic Alexis Petridis observed: "There is southern hip-hop, deep house, Neptunes-style R&B, the ubiquitous Diwali beat and, most of all, armloads of Madonna."
Both performers owe much of their ascent to stardom for the marketing of these sexual allure. The Elvis controversy was sparked by a performance on The Milton Berle latex clothes Show in 1956, where he performed a protective cover of Hound Dog, a song which, like Spears' 1998 debut . . . Baby, Once more, carried blatant sexual undertones. Nevertheless it was the performance around the lyrics. With Elvis it was the pelvis, the seductive shake that drove female fans to distraction and saw among his early TV performances, around the Ed Sullivan Show, censored in order that viewers saw only Presley's chest. Britney, needless to say, skipped in the public consciousness provocatively clad in education uniform and pigtails. Her currency spent my youth from the disclosure that for many her saucy cavorting, she was in fact a great little church-going girl plus a virgin as well.
There have been other visual similarities along the way - the hair-cutting for example: Elvis was publicly shorn for his stint within the military; Britney, for less explicable reasons, wielding the clippers herself prior to baying paparazzi. They have got both, too, demonstrated a love for catsuits and sequins, and the other day, as Britney unveiled her newly augmented pout, there was clearly an echo in the King's famous lip-curl.