Jennifer Lawrence's Sudden Pop Dominance Is Legit

Sometimes in life, we normal human beings must shelve our own insecurities and recognize that some among us are simply good at anything they attempt. Like that song from the Annie Oakley play, they can do anything better. Some of us recognize these people with awe and admiration, while others choose to hate.

These are the prevalent reactions to Jennifer Lawrence, Billboard-charting singer. Her sing-song contribution to the Mockingjay Pt. 1 score is "The Hanging Tree," which entered Billboard's Hot 100 at No. 12, ahead of multiple entries by chart whores Ed Sheeran and Iggy Azalea. The seriously depressing tune from a movie about teen genocide came in higher than recent comeback attempts by Fall Out Boy and Fergie. The Oscar-winning actress's vocal turn has now charted higher than "Yellow Flicker Beat," Lorde's Golden Globe-nominated song from the movie's original soundtrack.

Lawrence has now joined the odd ranks of "Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife" Web star Antoine Dodson, the NFL's Chicago Bears and Irene "Granny Clampett" Ryan, who also all had Billboard-slotted hits. But those other folks were one-offs, whereas Lawrence is so good at being good there's probably already a pop album in the works for her (I hope).

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It's Okay Taylor Swift Is Skipping Houston

Categories: Pop Life

Big Machine Records
Never mind a pop star, there is probably not a single more overexposed human being on the planet right now than Taylor Swift. So why do so many people have a problem with her skipping Houston -- at least at first -- on next year's "1989" tour?

Easy. Swift is one of the most approachable celebrities in the history of fame, the perpetual girl next door who has just been elected prom queen for life with the release of her latest album, 1989. Sunday the Hollywood Reporter predicted the album could sell approximately 1.3 million copies in its first week, the most since Eminem's The Eminem Show 12 years ago. Put another way, it will immediately become the biggest-selling album of 2014 after only one week at retail, trailing only 2013's Frozen soundtrack. (And not for long.)

So when her hordes of local fans feel snubbed, it stings pretty badly indeed. Have a look at just a few of their Twitter reactions Monday; even allowing for the usual social-media hyperbole, it's an eye-opener.

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Houston Jilted by Taylor Swift's "1989" Tour

Categories: Pop Life

Photo by Marco Torres
Taylor Swift at Minute Maid Park in November 2011
That high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston now in the early planning stages can't get here soon enough for fans of Taylor Swift, who this morning announced that next year's world tour behind her brand-new album 1989 will include just about every major city in the continental U.S. except this one right here.

Announced this morning, the tour begins in Bossier City, La., a four-hour drive, on May 20, 2015, and dips down to LSU's Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge before resurfacing in Detroit a week later. The tour hops over to Europe in June before hopping back to North America, where it visits mostly football stadiums and scattered basketball arenas, including two dates in July at Gillette Stadium outside of Boston. Other cities visited include Fargo, N.D., as well as Nashville, Kansas City, Omaha, Phoenix, Toronto, St. Louis (two shows apiece), and the lone Texas stop to date next October 17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Of course, Houston fans are used to being bypassed on tours, but this one smarts a little; like not being invited to a party thrown by the most popular girl in school. It's not that demand isn't here -- Swift sold out Minute Maid, handily, in November 2011, and did the same at the smaller Toyota Center last May -- so other factors must be at play. (Perhaps she is now reluctant to venture onto Beyonce's home turf.)

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Charli XCX at Fitzgerald's, 10/16/2014

Photos by Jack Gorman
Charli XCX, Elliphant, Femme
October 16, 2014

Fans of British pop starlet Charli XCX who missed her show at Fitzgerald's last night are pretty well out of luck. We're not likely to see her in such a small venue again anytime soon. She's already too famous for the place.

That wasn't the plan, exactly. When her current club tour was booked, it was meant to help break the singer stateside as her new album, Sucker, hit store shelves. But now, after her hook on Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" helped propel her to household-name status over the summer, she is broken, baby. Her advance single from the new record -- the bouncy, synthed-out "Boom Clap" -- hit No. 1 on the Top 40 chart, prompting her label to push the release of Sucker back to December in order to prepare a much larger marketing blitz.

That blitz will almost certainly involve putting her on stages much larger than the one at Fitz. The old club on White Oak was packed past the rafters on Thursday night with a strange mix of radio-obsessed teenyboppers and synth-loving hipsters, illustrating the British import's unusual crossover appeal.

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Alice Cooper Once Made a High Schooler's Dream Come True

Categories: Playbill, Pop Life

Illustration by Emily Costello
Note: This story was written by Kathy Cano-Murillo and comes to us from our sister blog in Phoenix, Up on the Sun.

Once upon a time in Phoenix, in the fall of 1980, my high-school journalism teacher, Mrs. Finerman, was standing before the class, her voice thick with Willy Wonka mystery.

"This is a very special room," she told us. "Years ago, right here, a man by the name of Vincent Furnier wrote for this school newspaper."

We all shrugged, unimpressed.

"Annnd...?' someone finally asked in a polite why-should-we-care tone.

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Iggy Pop vs. Iggy Azalea: Two Legit

Categories: Pop Life

Iggy Azalea: fancy.
It's been a hell of a year for Iggy Azalea. Behind a few monster singles, the Australian hip-hop chanteuse has finally broken out of the novelty-rap ghetto and into the gated community of the mainstream. Sure, she may have accumulated a guerilla army's worth of haters along the way -- No. 1 hits will do that for you. But when Iggy-Igg bounces into Bayou Music Center tonight, she'll arrive as a hater-proof conquering superstar, practically unrecognizable from the teenager who moved to Houston in 2008 to soak up the Dirty Third sound.

Did we mention that she made the cover of Billboard? You gotta shift more than a few units to make that happen.

"This has been the year that I got signed to a major label, have released singles and am going on tour with Beyoncé next month," Azalea told the industry rag in August. "It's the year I got legit."

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Ariana Grande Should Explore Her Dark Side

I'm going to take a wild guess and assume many Rocks Off readers are probably more rockers, metalheads, and punks than fans of teen pop music, so those folks may have no idea who Ariana Grande is. If that's the case, she's the latest in a long line of disposable pop stars created by record labels and executive producers.

Oh, the girl can sing, I'll give her that. She can also act. Your author has seen many an episode of her Nickelodeon show Sam & Cat on sleepless nights after getting bored watching the same hour of SportsCenter on an endless loop in the wee hours of the morning. She could not possibly be that dumb in real life, could she?

Well, turns out last year she revealed her true personality to us all. You see, as she told Complex, she has a dark side. She is haunted by demons. Personally, I think that is awesome, and deserves a lot more attention.

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Maybe It's Time to Retire the Term "Boy Band"

Photos by Jack Gorman (unless indicated)
The real stars of last Friday's One Direction concert
One week ago today, tens of thousands of Houston's biggest One Direction fans -- most of them accompanied by their parents -- flocked to the gates of NRG Stadium, toting signs, glow sticks, and homemade T-shirts. It was strange to realize that only 13 years ago, I was on my way to watch 'NSYNC perform on their PopOdyssey Tour at the Astrodome, now run down and dwarfed by its newer neighbor.

What was even more surreal, however, was realizing that though the Dome is a monster, its capacity would have never been large enough to house the crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of the world's biggest act on their current tour. Then or now, it's not likely that any other band would have been able to pull the same size crowd.

Then again, a lot has changed for pop music in the last decade.

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Iggy or Isn't She? "Fancy" Star's No-Show Leaves Some Fans Upset

Some Houston fans are upset and wondering what happened after rapper/pop star Iggy Azalea's purported appearance at a popular Midtown dance club this weekend never materialized -- or if it was ever truly on the books to begin with.

The event had been promoted by Houston-based Sticky Promo, the local nightlife company behind other nights such as Twerk Thursdays and Devious Saturdays at Limelight, and Seductive Fridays at Washington Avenue club Dekan. According to this Eventbrite page, Azalea had been advertised to appear at Limelight this past Saturday night, although not to perform.

Even so, some said $22 for a possible glimpse of Azalea and maybe an autograph was still too low for an artist who has blown up to become one of the year's biggest stars. The event was billed as "no refunds, returns or exchanges."

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The 15 Best Songs We Heard In July

Categories: All In, Pop Life

"The Clarity," Sleep
After 11 years out of the game, you might wonder if stoner-metal band Sleep has lost a step. Thankfully, their new ten minute masterwork of the genre, "The Clarity," shows that they have not. Think of this like the metal version of Dr. Dre's Detox.

You never thought Sleep would emerge from their post-marijuana haze to ever record again, and when they did, you could hardly believe your ears. Yet here it is, and unlike the still as-yet-unreleased Detox, it's real and it's spectacular. COREY DIETERMAN

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