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Building the perfect pop star (V.V. Brown knows all the secrets)

You are about to be overwhelmed by a long, cool spitfire, a 5-foot-10 lass with the retro pipes, pinup gams and self-described "doo wop indie sound" to become the next great pop star. Her name is V.V. Brown, and when the 26-year-old Brit drops her debut disc on Feb. 9 — it's a 12-tracker from Capitol Records called Travelling Like the Light — she'll be heralded as an utterly unique talent . . . even though she's not unique at all. • I like V.V. I dig her weirdo pompadour hairdo, her thrift-store fashion, her sugar-rush songs juiced by retro snap, offbeat sexuality and dance bounce. I want to throw a party just so I can crank up her '50s-vintage shimmies and have guests ask, "Who is THAT?" She's a ton o' fun — she's just not very original. • You could say that the Northampton singer-songwriter (her first name is Vanessa, by the way) is tailor-made for 2010. Her publicists are pushing her not in music mags but in fashion rags: Teen Vogue, Elle, Women's Wear Daily. That makes sense for a couple of reasons: (1) Pop music in the 21st century has become as much about fashion statements (see Lady Gaga) as artistic ones. And (2) pop music in the 21st century is heavily marketed toward women and their dancing shoes — never mind that the biggest female pop artists are often as undressed and alluring as possible (see Beyonce). • But more than that, V.V. and her songs — the cheeky girl-group kissoff of Quick Fix; the Ibizan grope of Shark in the Water; the cleaned-up thrash of Crying Blood — are firmly built with the hottest, most current pop-culture touchstones. V.V. is like a parlor game; as I listened, I kept a notebook handy and wrote down the endless list of influences heard on her album. Then, like a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein (or at least Funkenstein), I started mixing, matching, doing the math. She's alive! Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the formula for building the perfect pop star for the 21st century:

The Older Woman Playlist

M y better half, my superwoman, my beloved Forever Fiancee turns 40 years old today. Normally, she'd be annoyed by my announcing her historic age to hundreds of thousands of people, friends and strangers alike. But she's in Key West, so she'll never know. Ha! Ha! How's your hip, Oldie McOlderson! For the next two months, the FF will be wheezing in the land of Middle Age, while I continue to frolic nude and youthful in the proverbial begonias of my beautiful, bounding 30s. Look at me! I'm a butterfly! Truth be told, I think it's supa-hot shacking up with an older woman. I totally have a "Shirley MacLaine thing" going on, if you catch my drift, wink-wink, hubba-hubba. And although my own 40th b-day looms — the 22nd of this March to be exact — that's still so far away! You'll never catch me, Father Time! So for now, while the fates are kind, let's celebrate the joys of women of a certain age. Happy Birthday, Golden Girl. You're still one hot mama.

1 Mrs. Robinson,

Simon & Garfunkel

2 Maggie May,

Rod Stewart

3That Summer,

Garth Brooks

4 Grown Woman,

Mary J. Blige


Diana Ross

6Old Flame,


7Old School Rules,

Danger Doom

8Me and Mrs. Jones,

Billy Paul

9She's a Lady,

Tom Jones

10 Stacy's Mom,

Fountains of Wayne

Want to contribute your own song to the playlist? Go to Sean's Pop Life blog at He can also be reached at or (727) 893-8467.


Album: Transference (Merge)

In stores: Now

Basement tapes: I bet Spoon frontman Britt Daniel has a really cool record collection. And I bet the Austin, Texas, indie hero keeps those records in a mod basement, one with low ceilings, lava lamps and a hi-fi. And I bet he likes to listen to those records — maybe the Velvet Underground, the one with the banana on the cover — late at night, with the lights and his mood turned down. And after he's done taking in that warm analog sound and Lou Reed's chilly play-by-play, Daniel probably grabs a pen and paper, or maybe a guitar, and starts writing

. . . Spoon has been a critical darling since the quartet's inception in the mid '90s, beloved for its complex popcraft (see Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga). On the new Transference, the instruments — a randy bass, a prickly guitar, Daniel's lonely-boy defiance — are stripped and isolated but cool, a product of that hypothetical basement. Such careful ruminations as The Wicked Zone and Nobody Gets Me But You expand and fracture; the longer Spoon jams, the more it sounds like a decaffeinated Talking Heads or Prince on Xanax.

Reminds us of: There aren't many basements in Florida. So you should listen to Spoon under the covers or on the roof.

Download these: The Mystery Zone, I Saw the Light and Out Go the Lights

Grade: B+




Amy Winehouse's beehive

Beyonce's thighs


Lady Gaga's fashion

(— Lady Gaga's libido!)


Corinne Bailey Rae's Anglo-island lilt

Fergie's humps

1 switchblade comb

Building the perfect pop star (V.V. Brown knows all the secrets) 01/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 22, 2010 5:50pm]
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