In Tuesday’s “Why Didn’t Anybody Think Of That Before” news, Madonna is set to make an appearance with Miley Cyrus on the “We Can’t Stop” singer’s MTV Unplugged performance, scheduled for broadcast Wednesday night.
After Madonna spent much of her early career courting controversy with her music, videos and public behavior, she seems like the perfect partner for the budding provocateur, whose 2013 quite frankly seemed like it was cribbed from the Material Girl’s playbook.
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Meanwhile, the announcement prompts the question who else among the next crop of pop stars might be well-suited to team with their forebears, folks who went down the path they’re currently navigating and might benefit from the experience of an older performer’s wisdom and experience.
Justin Bieber and Mick Jagger
An obvious choice would be the Bieb, whose bad-boy evolution has alienated him from some of his fans, and unfortunately overshadowed his considerable talent. There are few artists with more of a longstanding reputation for mischief than Jagger, and one images that the Rolling Stones frontman could impart some important advice about creating memorable, enduring music while surviving a decadent rock & roll lifestyle.
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Selena Gomez and Janet Jackson
Not to draw obvious connections between her and Bieber – especially given the acrimonious text argument that probably ruined any chance they’ll get back together – but Gomez is herself going through a transition from teen star to adult performer, albeit in a decidedly more understated, or sure, “mature,” way. But without any new music released thus far that really evidences her sophistication or adulthood, she might shoot off a message to Jackson, whose evolution from the chaste yearning of “Let’s Wait Awhile” to the fearless hookup of “Any Time, Any Place” felt remarkably well-rounded and natural, especially paired with her venture into film acting with Poetic Justice.
Lana Del Rey and Stevie Nicks
Although she’s described herself as “a self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra,” Del Rey hardly entered the pop world with the automatic visibility that her predecessor did. But the singer of “Blue Jeans” and “Summertime Sadness” has a quality as a performer that distinguishes her from her contemporaries – if she can get ahold of that quality, and perhaps outgrow the young-person decadence of her lyrical content.
Nicks seems like an obvious forebear as the two do share some qualities in common in terms of their performance style. But what the former Fleetwood Mac singer can offer Del Rey is some clarity as she’s outgrowing the superficial charms of portraying – and possibly living – a lifestyle that involves drug use and self-destructive behavior.
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Psy and Ricky Gervais
Internationally, “Gagnam Style” singer Psy is poised to become one of the most dreaded casualties of pop music – the One-Hit Wonder. But even with a flourishing career in his native South Korea, he might benefit from a little advice from Gervais, of all people. Himself a former pop star now transformed into one of the most popular comedians and actors in the world, Gervais seems to possess the greatest secret in the entertainment world – namely, how to have a second act in your career after the first ends.
Lorde and Patti Smith
And finally, Lorde has captured the international spotlight with her runaway hit “Royals,” which effectively deconstructs and lampoons all of the material excess of the music of her contemporaries. But starting one’s career with a hit that aims for as much substance as style puts her in a tenuous place looking forward, which is why she should possibly try to track down Smith. An artist whose early music vacillated between topical breakdowns and tributes to artistic icons, Smith has endured as one of the most important voices in rock, without sacrificing musicality or inventiveness.
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