Is Jennifer Lopez — J-Lo to you — pulling a Milli Vanilli on her fans?
That's what the buzz has been on a local New York radio station lately. Lopez — who is no Whitney or Mariah when it comes to holding a note — has become the target of a bashing campaign over the remix of her single "I'm Real." This is the single in which J-Lo actually says the "n" word, which was the first bit of controversy over this otherwise banal dance single.
But then talk started that a backup singer signed to Murder Inc./DefJam Records, named Ashanti, was the actual singer of the song and J-Lo was just fronting for her.
On Monday I spoke with 18-year-old Ashanti Douglas' manager, Linda Berk, who assured me "there's no Milli Vanilli situation here."
Berk did concede that Ashanti sings backup on "I'm Real." "I can hear her voice on it because I know her," Berk said. "It's definitely mixed high enough so you can hear her. But that's Jennifer singing lead. And that's her saying the 'n' word, too, not Ashanti."
Berk says some of controversy may arise from Ashanti also being on another similar-sounding single with rapper Big Pun which is getting a lot of club play. Plus, as Berk reminded us: "This is the first time Ashanti's sung on one of Jennifer Lopez's records. So it can't be a conspiracy."
It should be noted that Murder Inc.'s Chris Gotti remixed "I'm Real," and that Ashanti — good as she is — records for that label. Lopez records for Sony, which I'm sure would have made their star's presence felt if the mix had been in their hands.
If you're in New York, don't forget that tonight is the Aerosmith family show beginning at 8 or so at CBGB's on the Bowery. This is the benefit for Cyrinda Foxe-Tyler, Steven Tyler's first wife and mother of his second child, Mia. Cyrinda is quite ill with brain cancer and living in a hotel thanks to Tyler's generosity. There's a silent auction with artwork from Peter Max, and a performance by Bebe Buell's band. Bebe, mother of Tyler's first child, Liv, is a rocker with a book about her life and the whole Aerosmith/Tyler experience called Rebel Heart, due August 1 from St. Martin's Press.
We got a call yesterday from "Brock Landers," the nom de plume (from the movie Boogie Nights) of a Conscience Point patron who was inside the bar when Lizzie Grubman roared her Mercedes SUV into it last Friday night and knocked down 16 people. Here's what he had to say:
"I was in the VIP room," he said. "It sounded like a cannon went off. We thought it was gunfire. The wall was pushed in and people were knocked off the couch. I was over at the bar and got pinned against it.
"The club did a good job keeping it quiet. You couldn't see the people who were hurt, but you could hear them. Most of the people in the club did not go out to see what happened. I heard later there were helicopters to evacuate the victims. We heard the bouncer who she had the fight with broke both of his legs."
And so the saga goes on, as the victims of the crash start to speak up. But wouldn't it have been easier, from a PR point of view, just to establish a fund for the victims right away and assure them that their bills would be taken care of? I would have thought such smart public relations people would have done that first. ...
'N Sync has a very organized and loyal fan base, that's for sure. I got a lot of mean mail after Monday's column. But that doesn't change certain things.
Love them passionately, but groups like 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys have run their course. They leave behind a legacy of good, clean pop and hummable songs that sound rather like commercials. There is nothing particularly interesting about their composition, these songs or the way they were arranged. They were performed by Rated-G Chippendale dancers with middling voices. If you don't get this, tell me why it ain't nothing but a heartbreak for members of New Kids on the Block.
One irate reader wrote to me that I had become my dad (or hers, I couldn't tell) who criticized the Beatles back in 1964. This is an easy shot, but a cheap one. From the beginning the Beatles aspired to much more — and accomplished 1,000 times more — than these prefabricated boy bands could hope for. The Beatles played their own instruments, arranged and orchestrated their music, wrote their songs from the start, and copied no one. If you're going to compare No Strings Attached to Revolver, then there's something so off in your musical education that it can't be debated here.
And with A.J. McLean of The Backstreet Boys in rehab, and 'N Sync's Justin being sued for pushing around a 15-year-old, the signs are everywhere. A chapter is ending in pop music. My advice to even the most ardent fan: Let it go.