10 teen pop stars who fell from the public's grace
Lindsay Lohan may or may not go to prison (again) because she may or may not have assaulted a staff member of the rehab facility she's staying in. Her parents must be so proud. Oh, wait...never mind. Lohan, whose music career was brief and mostly predicated upon cleavage, joins a pantheon of fallen teen pop stars.
More often than not, teen idols find that their fame is fleeting, and pretty damn cruel, to boot. It's a high perch from which to fall, and the air up there is rarefied -- which accounts for some of the brain damage that must have occurred to warrant some of their later actions in life. Below, the inner circle of teen pop-star hell Li-Lo's working to join.
10. Michael Jackson The King of Pop was also the biggest pop idol. And you know the old saying: the bigger they are, the harder they fall. And fall Michael did, over and over again. First it was just that his music was less and less what the world was looking for anymore; his true fans stuck with him, but his musical influence was waning. Then came the insanity: the endless plastic surgery, the elephant man's bones, the hyperbaric chambers, the pet monkeys, the Neverland Ranch, the Macaulay Culkins and Emmanuel Lewises. And finally, there came the accusations of things that are best left to Catholic priests. None of which are good. This was a fall that went through schadenfreude, and out the other side to just feeling crappy about the whole thing again. The only thing that made sense in MJ's strange life? That he had a strange death.
9. Hanson A pop trio of brothers that had their day in the musical sun, got a little red (fair complexions, you know), and came inside only to be almost immediately forgotten by the public. I'm not sure there's much left to say, except the inscrutable wisdom that will haunt the trio for the remainder of their unpopular days: Mmm-bop.
8. Mandy Moore Where once she was one of teen-pop music's most favored daughters, Mandy Moore has more recently been demoted to "touching death of the week" on Grey's Anatomy, where her character wore a colostomy bag. I'm not sure there's anything else you can add to a fall from grace that ends with "colostomy bag."
7. Leif Garrett Leif Garrett was the height of cool during his heyday, which coincided with the sex and drugs of the 1970s...so his particular addictions of choice make sense, given that. And his fall from idolatry also coincided with something - this time, a car accident just shy of his 18th birthday (and right around the time of the release of his third album Same Goes for You, which did not have a single that broke the top 100). Garrett was high on Quaaludes at the time, and the accident left his best friend and passenger a paraplegic. His drug use spiraled out of control, and he went in and out of rehab (and Behind the Music episodes) for years. In 2010, he was once again arrested on drug possession charges, this time for black tar heroin. Ah, Leif. Some things just don't change.
6. LeeAnn Rimes Where once LeeAnn was the wunderkind darling of country music - she traded on her innocence and youth for most of her early career - LeeAnn Rimes has more recently revealed herself to be something of a big fat tramp. And that's not a comment on her weight, but rather a comment on just how big a tramp she's been. Marital infidelity and wrecking homes? Bad form, prom queen. Bad form.
5. Shaun Cassidy One of two Cassidys on this list, Shaun appears here because his fall was a little less precipitous than his soon-to-be discussed half-brother. Granted, the guy's posters aren't on teen girls' bedroom walls anymore, but he is a director of some small note (he was responsible for the short-lived but excellent American Gothic and more recently Invasion). And if there were justice in the entertainment world, he and Parker Stevenson would still be raking in bucks from the awesome Hardy Boys series from the 70s.
4. New Kids on the Block New Kids on the Block only had two things working against them: it didn't have N'Sync's luck in hiring Justin Timberlake, and early on it lost the better Wahlberg and gained only a Joey McIntyre. Add to that the backlash against pre-packaged boy bands in general, the accusations of lip-synching in the wake of the Rob and Fab debacle, and the unfortunate move to gain cred by shortening their name to NKOTB, and you have a recipe for one big vanilla failure cake.
3. David Cassidy The second and final Cassidy on the list, David Cassidy got his big break on TV, starring on The Partridge Family with his step-mom Shirley Jones. It was his fame due to that show, and the exhausting series of sold-out concerts that followed (makes you really feel for the guy, I know) that spurred him into early retirement, at which point most of the world promptly forgot him. Granted, this is sort of a self-imposed fall, but it's a fall nonetheless, especially considering that once he put down the microphone, there was no one clamoring for him to pick it up again for a long time. He's done a lot since, but you can bet there are no chicks waiting for him at the after-party. At least, not ones without AARP cards.
2. Spice Girls Even at their height, I think a decent portion of the Spice Girls' fanbase was comprised of dirty old men. But teen girls loved them too, and their incredibly fake message of grrl power and all that crap. (Not that the power of women itself is crap; it's just not going to be found in the cynical attempt at creating a female musical act with the all the integrity of mashed potato flakes.) Seriously, when Geri Halliwell left the group, it was all over except for the still-useful utilization of "blank" Spice in describing someone inappropriately sexualized, like describing Sarah Palin as Tea Party Spice. See? Still works.
1. Britney Spears Ah, Britney. From the Mickey Mouse Club to the strip club, her career might still be going strong, but there's really no arguing that she's fallen far from the pop idol stature that she once enjoyed. Where once we were shocked by her school-girl sexy dancing, that's now quaint by comparison. Where once we bought (some of us, anyway) her "saving herself for marriage" stance, it's a joke Justin Timberlake tells on Saturday Night Live at this point (video below). Britney might be one of the biggest entertainers in music today, but she's by no means a teen idol anymore. And she's walking down a trailer-park version of Michael Jackson's road towards bizarre and ridiculous weirdness. Minus the plastic surgery. So far.
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