Country princess Carrie Underwood would much rather be a rock star.
Rapper Kanye West is honest to the point of humiliation.
William Shatner loves William Shatner, Beyonce loves Beyonce, but neither has anything on frizzy diva Diana Ross, whose shameless self-caressing can be said to border on the Napoleonic.
Also, Michael Jackson might not be the weirdest member of his family.
How have I gained such valuable insight, gazing through Hollywood’s impenetrable PR curtain and seeing celebs for who they really, truly are?
Because I am addicted to Celebrity Playlists. A popular feature on Apple’s online iTunes store, the playlists are where athletes, actors, authors and musicians usually in the midst of promoting this or that list favourite songs found on their own iPods. The celebs also reveal, often in deeply personal prose, why these songs mean so much to them. (Of course, the lists could be the work of their publicists, but more on that later.)
Janet Jackson’s 12-song playlist is almost all devoted to sex: Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On, Foxy’s Get Off. But her list also includes Nine Inch Nails’ sexually graphic Closer, which Jackson finds oddly arousing. “Makes me wanna ..%$.! ,” she writes. “The image of the video is incredible.” The image she’s referring to is a rotting, spinning pig carcass.
More than 350 Celebrity Playlists are available and iTunes shoppers can choose to buy individual songs or the stars’ full lists. Reading these entries is fun and a little perverse, like rummaging through someone’s underwear drawer. But more than that, at a time when celebrity spin is at an all-time high, Celebrity Playlists are necessary doses of pop culture honesty.
With American Idol on millions of minds, Underwood’s playlist is especially enlightening. The former Idol champ and supposed Nashville saviour stuffs her playlist with hard rock. My Chemical Romance, 30 Seconds to Mars, Our Lady Peace.
“I LOVE the Rolling Stones,” she writes about Paint It Black. Could Lil’ Miss Twang be more Joan Jett than Loretta Lynn?
Musical preference is a deeply personal thing, of course, making our iPods as much music diaries as music players. We might lie, but our iPods don’t.
I was shocked to read that rapper Kanye West, normally portrayed as an egomaniacal jerk, really likes Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles. (He writes: “This must be the white song that all black people like.”) Not even I would admit to liking Carlton’s sapfest, but West, with his street cred on the line, lets his softer side show on his playlist.
Most musicians’ playlists gush about other artists’ songs. But Diana Ross includes only Diana Ross songs. William Shatner mostly includes William Shatner songs, too, but to his credit, they’re from the album he titled Has Been.
I’m a huge fan of M. Night Shyamalan, director of The Sixth Sense and Signs. I never wanted to believe the rumours that he’s an insufferable egomaniac. But Shyamalan’s Celebrity Playlist is comically solipsistic, almost to the point of revolting. About his choice of Blink-182’s All of This, he writes: “I love this song. Almost did a video for this. It would have been about vampires.” And so on.
Am I being naive? Have some of the Celebrity Playlists been written by a celebrity’s PR flack? Probably. Eminem “picked” three songs and barely wrote a thing. Nicole Kidman’s list rings phony, too. But if the list stinks of a ho-hum press release, well, that tells me something, too.
Officials at iTunes did not respond to requests for comment. But I’m willing to believe that most celebs concoct their own lists.
Playlist obsession is the ultimate sign of a healthy celebrity. It means you pulled yourself away from the mirror long enough to sweat over Elton John vs Van Morrison.
A favourite playlist of mine is by NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr, whose 23-song entry is a hoot. One of his shorter comments is about .38 Special’s Caught Up in You . His comment is sweet and randy and genuine, the Celebrity Playlist as a coming-of-age tale: “I remember hearing this song when I was a boy, right about the time I started stealing Daddy’s Playboy magazines. It kick-started my curiosity about girls at a young age.”
The New York Times
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