Katy Perry's "Kathy" the latest rock-star alter ego
It's no secret that Katy Perry has a wicked sense of comedic timing. Remember when her Sesame Street appearance didn't air and she donned a skin-tight Elmo T-shirt and bounced around on Saturday Night Live as Maureen the sixteen-year-old who just hit puberty (and hard)? No one could forget the sheer brilliance of that move, which was at once self-deprecating and culturally relevant, even if it was for the fifteen minutes of fascination surrounding Katy Perry's boobs.
This time around, Katy's channeling a different aspect of her personality: her affinity for the '80s as the super nerdy, Sudoku-lovin', brace-faced Kathy Beth Terry, KP's new alter ego, in the video for her new single "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)," which premiered on Funny or Die yesterday. She enlisted some friends for the video, too, including Corey Feldman and Debbie Gibson as Kathy's parents, and Rebecca Black (yes, that Rebecca Black) as the host of a major rager. Gotta love those self-perpetuating celebrities of yesteryear. How many can you spot in the video?
Katy has Kathy, Nicki Minaj has Roman Zolanski, Janet Jackson has Damita Jo, T.I. has T.I.P., and Prince has his symbol -- plus his songwriting alter egos Camile, Jamie Starr, Joey Coco, Alexander Nevermind and Christopher -- but all of these pale in the light of these nom de tunes.
Garth Brooks as Chris Gaines
Chris Gaines was country megastar Garth Brooks's personified venture into rock territory back in 1999. Call it a mid-career crisis or call it a self-indulgent excuse to get out of country for a while -- either way, make sure you also call it a flop. Even though Brooks's single "Lost In You," released under the Gaines moniker, was his only song to break the Billboard Top 40, fans still struggled to get behind this side project, so the subsequent plan to release a movie (called The Lamb, of all things) was scrapped, and Garth Brooks became Garth Brooks once again -- and there was much rejoicing.
Beyoncé as Sasha Fierce
As if Beyoncé weren't enough of a diva already, her alter ego is even more fierce. Literally. B created it to give herself more stage confidence, and baby boy, did it work. She even named half of her third album, I Am...Sasha Fierce after the alter ego -- the first disc, with "If I Were a Boy," was pure Beyoncé, but the second disc was twenty minutes of ferocity, led by the fierce "Single Ladies," which went quadruple platinum. If becoming Sasha Fierce is what it took to rock "If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it," maybe Sasha should have come around more often. Unfortunately for music everywhere, B killed off the Sasha Fierce alter ego in 2010 because she no longer needed the confidence boost. Agreed.
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust
In 1972, David Bowie released the concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, which, as you might expect, chronicled the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust, Bowie's most interesting alter ego (a close second goes to Bowie's other alter ego, The Thin White Duke, who reportedly lived off red peppers, cocaine and milk). Ziggy Stardust's androgyny was perhaps his most alluring feature. Unlike Chris Gaines and Garth Brooks, Bowie did release a movie about Ziggy Stardust and even went on to record another album with the Ziggy concept, Aladdin Sane, which Bowie described as "Ziggy goes to America." Too bad he had to leave.
Elton John as Captain Fantastic
Elton John's concept album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy debuted at number one on the U.S. Pop Albums Chart (the early equivalent of the Billboard 200) when it was released in 1975. It was the first album to do so -- and it's no wonder the album stayed at the top for seven weeks. The songs on Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy were all autobiographical in some way -- chronicling the early musical careers of Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin (the Brown Dirt Cowboy). The album and the Captain Fantastic concept were both influential to music in the '70s, and Captain Fantastic continues to be influential even thirty years later. From the album (the reissue, anyway), we get Elton John staples like "Philadelphia Freedom" and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight." Don't recognize the latter? Maybe you've heard the song that samples it: "Good Morning," by Kanye West.
Eminem as Slim Shady
For Marshall Mathers, the 38-year-old, thirteen-time Grammy winner from Michigan better known as Eminem, Slim Shady is a violent but comedic -- and hugely successful -- alter ego. Originating in 1997 for The Slim Shady EP and hanging around ever since, Em's alter ego is his more interesting of the two alter egos that make cameos throughout his seven-album discography -- his second alter ego, Ken Kaniff, only makes brief appearances and, unlike Slim Shady, targets Eminem himself as the subject of his rhymes. No wonder Em only lets Ken out on occasion.
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