By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
Kicking and Screaming
Explosions! Flares! Screams! Cannons! Flag-carrying extras! No, this was not an outtake of Saving Private Ryan. This was 'N Sync at Giants Stadium, entertaining a sold-out crowd at the Women's World Cup opening ceremony. How badly do the organizers want soccer to succeed in the States? Badly enough to bolster Saturday's sexy lineup of guest speakers (Kofi Annan, Christine Todd Whitman) with performances by 16-year-old Brit popster Billie, the quartet of Irish Lasses of the Dance known as B*witched, and homegrown boy band 'N Sync. (The U.S. may be the only country in the world where soccer and boy bands share a demographic.)
While dozens of children who appeared to be holding giant tablecloths moved about the field in seemingly random fashion, B*witched teased us by choosing the utterly unmemorable "Rollercoaster" over their hit "C'est la Vie." Billie robotically sang the official World Cup anthem, "Because We Want To" one of at least six times it blasted from the PA that day. She was followed by a woman who read a motivational poem in which the words womb and phenomenal popped up at an alarming rate. But why bother with phenomenal wombs when 'N Sync were waiting in the wings? "It's tearing up my heart when I'm with you," the five Florida hunks implored. The unfazed section 334 ignored them in favor of a Dane in a Viking outfit, a Mexican supporter wearing a sombrero the size of a satellite dish, and a group of scantily clad, Carmen Mirandahatted, feverishly dancing Brazilian women. The scene neatly encompassed soccer's roots-based appeal: as the fans stole the show from the corporate spectacle below, there finally was hope that the game would take hold in this country after all. Elisabeth Vincentelli
Three Minutes of Fame Back in the days of AM-pop, just about any girl with a common enough name could eventually get to pretend that a song on the radio was about her from "Barbara Ann" to "Suzy Q" to the army of Julies who related to "I'm Not Lisa." No suspension of disbelief is necessary, however, for the 30 folks who ponied up a grand apiece to have Casio-pop misanthrope Momus write tunes about them for his new Stars Forever album, out in August.
The list of demi-Medicis immortalized contains a few famous names, including Japanese retro-monger Cornelius and artist Jeff Koons (who'll no doubt claim to have written his tune himself), but most of the songs are simple tales of simple folk, some hoping to turn a profit from the notoriety.
"Getting some exposure for the store was part of the idea, but that was really just a bonus," says Tom Cappodano of Other Music, who admits to asking for a lyrical shoutout of its Web site URL. "Mostly, it was just a way for us to show support for an artist we love and for free speech."
Free speech at a thousand bucks a pop might sound like a contradiction in terms, until you realize Momus was forced into this work-for-hire project because he wrote a song for his 1998 album The Little Red Songbook about transsexual composer Wendy Carlos. "Momus intended it as a tribute, but she didn't take it that way," says Matthew Jacobson, who owns Le Grand Magistery, the label that issues the artist's music in the States. "In fact, she threatened to sue unless we recalled and destroyed all copies of the album." David Sprague
Is it any surprise to find, in the wake of Louima and Diallo, anti-Giuliani sentiment surfacing in the work of area hip-hop acts? Probably not, but even the mayor might be momentarily taken aback to hear the more detailed of the assassination fantasies that have been circulating.
Underground rappers Screwball were the subject of a NY1 segment last week, for their song "Who Shot Rudy?" The report noted, with considerable anxiety, the track's hostile intent, but incorrectly depicted it as an anomaly. At least since last year, critiques of the mayor have been appearing in the lyrics of hip-hop artists like Dead Prez and Mos Def, who tells Giuliani to "screw off" on the 1998 Black Star album and warns him and "his coppers": "Got your bird chest popped up but keep your guns cocked up/cuz all those cats you knocked up ain't always gon' be locked up." Pacewon's "I Declare War" has attracted attention for its catchy Rudy-bashing hook: "This year I declare war on the mayor/like, let my niggas out the Devil's lair or I slay ya . . ." The most explicit expression of resentment so far can be heard on Rawkus's new Soundbombing II compilation, on which Pharaoh Monche raps: "My last minutes on earth/drop, say a prayer, fuck it/if I'm gonna die, at least I shot the mayor." Kem Poston