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PopWatch Confessional: The karaoke song that conquered you

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10 years ago Sunday, RCA Records released “Since U Been Gone,” the lead single off of Kelly Clarkson’s album Breakaway. It wasn’t long before the song became one of America’s top belt-it-into-your-hairbrush anthems—and enterprising karaoke singers began attempting to put their own spin on it, only to discover a shocking truth: That ish is hard to sing.

In honor of Kelly’s big anniversary, we asked our staffers to ‘fess up about our experiences with the most surprisingly tough karaoke songs. Here are our answers—starting with the tune that inspired the question.

Lanford Beard, staff editor: I’m an alto, so a lot of Kelly Clarkson’s songs seem perfectly suited to my vocal sweet spot… until the chorus. “Since U Been Gone” is the most ear-piercing example of my former hubris. I don’t have a specific memory—maybe I’ve blacked it out?—but I still have a vivid sensation of getting to that earworm-y title phrase and sounding like a dying cat. At least with some other upper-register belters (Katy Perry’s “Firework,” for example), there’s wiggle room vocally—but when trying to emulate Kelly Clarkson’s crazy-good range, you will fail. Don’t be fooled by the American Idol’s beginnings on a glorified karaoke competition. Her original hits should pretty much all be filed under: “Don’t try this at home… and especially not at a karaoke bar.” READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Confessional: I'm bummed that Danity Kane broke up (again)

“I have a lot of different types of music on my iPod.” That’s my go-to response when people ask for my favorite band, clearly trying to learn something about me by the fact that I like Jason Mraz or that one Mystikal song. That sentence is how I avoid judgment. But it’s also true.

I was raised on The Beatles and Queen and Simon & Garfunkel, and today, I love Mumford & Sons and The Backstreet Boys and Bon Iver and Eminem. But in between, I’ve had many musical phases, and in 2005, I was a teenager who’d just gotten her first car—equipped with a sun roof—and needed some jams that were worthy of the windows-down treatment. Essentially, I was the target audience for Danity Kane.

Danity Kane was the P. Diddy-crafted girl band formed in 2004 on the hit MTV reality show Making the Band 3. After proving their skills, both vocally and on the dance floor, Aubrey O’Day, Wanita “D. Woods” Woodgett, Shannon Bex, Dawn Richard and Aundrea Fimbres walked away the winners of Making the Band 3 and were quickly signed to Bad Boy Records. After deciding on the name Danity Kane, they released their first self-titled album two years later in 2006, with the hit song “Showstopper.”

So, at the time, as much as I loved the Beatles and Queen, 16-year-old me needed something with a little more bass if I was going to drive my besties to the mall (or wherever we went at that age). Because, you know, everything is backwards when you’re a teen and blasting Danity Kane seemed more normal than blasting Queen. (Well, that and Beyoncé’s B’Day, of course. In fact, between those two albums, I almost never rolled my windows up.)

In the next few years, I formed a relationship with Danity Kane. It wasn’t anything serious. But here’s the thing about Danity Kane’s music: You could accept it for what it was. I wasn’t walking around asking for Danity Kane to win a Grammy. I wasn’t listening to the lyrics to try and discover something about the meaning of life. I was simply playing the music at my beach house and having a dance party with my best friends in between tanning sessions and picture-taking. … Again, we were 16.

I didn’t go out of my way to keep track of Danity Kane after that. But their second album, Welcome to the Dollhouse, renewed my love for them. This album was better than their first, and having come out just in time for one last spring break during my senior year of high school, Welcome to the Dollhouse made Danity Kane once again perfectly fit into the timeline of my adolescence. So perhaps it’s fitting that my going off to college marked the end of Danity Kane (the first end, at least).

I was 15 hours away from home at college when I watched things start to go south on Making the Band 4. I’m still not positive of what happened. Diddy wasn’t happy with the person that O’Day had become, and the rest of the group seemed unhappy with the group’s management. In the Making the Band 4 finale, O’Day and Woodgett left the band, therefore putting an end to Danity Kane’s run.  I was heartbroken when the band broke up, but I was even more heartbroken when I realized that not many people cared. None of my new college friends understood my loss, so I called home and reminisce about beach dance parties with my high school friends. Because of the lack of enthusiasm around me, I didn’t dwell on the breakup long, but from that point on, Danity Kane would always be associated with good memories and an all-too-short relationship.

Jump forward to 2014, and I started hearing word of a Danity Kane reunion. Before I knew it, they’d put out a new single, “Lemonade,” and just like that, I had a new summer jam. Despite the fact that they’d lost two band mates—Aundrea and D. Woods—their sound was everything I remembered it to be. Living in New York, I was no longer a teen and I no longer had a car, but “Lemonade” seemed like the perfect fit for apartment dance parties and the occasional subway ride to work. As I should have predicted, Danity Kane’s sound had matured along with me, but much like me, it hadn’t changed all that much.

Now, just a few months later, Danity Kane is no more. I don’t really care why—whether somebody allegedly punched somebody in the back of the head, or didn’t, or whatever—because all I know is that I was robbed of what could’ve been the best Danity Kane album to date, the Danity Kane album of my 20’s. As someone who still has dance parties often, I really could’ve used it. After years of being a fan of the girl group that only ever sort-of was, I’m left feeling a little, well, damaged.

This week's cover: New 'Doctor Who' star Peter Capaldi clocks in

Does this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly defy the laws of physics by being bigger on the inside than it would appear from looking at its exterior? Fans of the British science fiction show Doctor Who may well think so. For this week’s cover story, senior writer Clark Collis travels to the UK to meet with Peter Capaldi, the new star of the now 51-year-old time travel saga, and to find out what fans can expect from the forthcoming season of Doctor Who, which premieres on BBC America on Aug. 23. “He’s more alien than we’ve seen him for a while,” says the actor, speaking about his version of the eccentric Time Lord. “He is less patient with the foibles of human beings.”

READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: 'Girl Meets World,' 'True Blood' premiere, 'Transformers' in theaters, and more

This week gets off to a supernatural start, with the return of both True Blood and Teen Wolf, but by the time it’s over, just about all of your pop-culture appetites should be filled. We’ve got finales, premieres, a big summer blockbuster, and some summer tunes to add to your beach playlist.

Check out your week in pop culture below: READ FULL STORY

We love the 2000s: EW staffers pick the decade's best pop culture moments

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Not too long ago, we were all living in the New Millennium, less affectionately known as the age of Y2K. Or if you want to be technical about it, it was the first decade of the 21st century. And during those 10 years, pop culture thrived. Not only did Nipplegate change the way we looked at Super Bowl halftime shows, but things like Laguna Beach made us rethink “reality,” Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight redefined the term “Oscar-worthy,” and Glee revived the television musical.

So with VH1’s I Love the 2000s wrapping up tonight, we thought we’d join in and round up our staff picks for our favorite pop culture moments of the 2000s. Because, hey, we loved those years too: READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: 'Game of Thrones,' 'Louie,' finales, 'Jersey Boys' premiere, and more

For Game of Thrones fans, today is arguably the most important day of 2014, because it marks yet another season finale, and furthermore, it will probably determine Tyrion’s fate. So to those of you who are obsessed with the show, I wish you good luck. But for the rest of you who are looking past tonight’s finale, there’s an entire week’s worth of possibilities that await you.

Here’s what your pop culture calendar looks like this week: READ FULL STORY

Comic Ian Edwards launches Team Coco Records with debut album '100% Half-Assed'

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Tuesday marks the release of Ian Edwards‘ new comedy album 100% Half-Assed. It not only marks the first album for Edwards, a stand-up veteran, but it is also the first release on Team Coco Records, the new comedy label launched by Conan O’Brien. It’s the latest in a long line of collaborations between Edwards (who also wrote for 2 Broke Girls last season) and O’Brien. “I think I’m the only stand-up who has been on Conan’s show every time,” says Edwards, who made his debut on the old Late Night show back in 2007. “I did it when he was in New York, and then I did it when he had The Tonight Show, and I’ve done it on TBS. Conan always just wants you to be yourself. So why not go with the people who allow you to represent myself the way I really am?”    READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: '22 Jump Street' in theaters, 'Veep' finale, Jack White's new album, and more

If you thought June would be your time to take a little pop culture break and maybe binge a few shows you’d never gotten to start, we’ve got some bad news: There’s no time for that. Between finales of some of HBO’s strongest shows — Veep and Game of Thrones — award shows, new books, albums, and movies, there’s very little time for you to play catch-up. So maybe save that for next week? Although, we make no promises that you’ll have time.

Check out your pop culture calendar for this week: READ FULL STORY

PopWatch Planner: 'The Fault in Our Stars' in theaters, 'Enlisted' returns, 'Tony Awards,' and more

The first full week of June has everything you could ask for from summer entertainment: Comedy, action, love, sex, awards, “reality” television, and Tom Cruise. From The Fault in Our Stars finally hitting theaters to the return of fan-favorite comedy Enlisted, here’s what your pop culture calendar looks like this week: READ FULL STORY

'Pretty Little Liars' star Lucy Hale calls debut album 'Road Between' a 'timeline' of her life

Lucy Hale may be best known for her role on ABC Family’s wildly successful Pretty Little Liars, but the 24-year-old actress is hoping to make her mark on the world of country music with the release of her debut album, Road Between, set to drop June 3.

EW caught up with the singer to get the scoop on her new album at YouTube Space LA, where Hale spent the day cutting a multi-song session for her own YouTube channel and partaking in a live Q&A with What’s Trending Live host Shira Lazar. READ FULL STORY

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