When pop stars turn 40, the palm flower crystal embedded in their hand turns black, indicating its time for them to go away forever. By and large, there’s little market for a middle aged person making teenage music for teenagers. This is why we get a new slew of them every few years; Britney and Christina gave way to Katy Perry and Ke$ha, and soon their Lastday will come and we’ll get new obnoxious jailbait warblers. Older pop singers making dance pop is just plain creepy, akin to Wooderson in Dazed and Confused hanging out at high school parties, or Amy Poehler’s “cool mom” in Mean Girls. The music just takes on a level of cynicism and desperation: “Look at me! I was cool once! I still look good, right.”
It’s probably only ever attempted because it actually worked for Cher. “Believe,” despite being sung by a 50-year-old and despite sounding like a song from 10 years earlier, was a #1 hit in 1999. This was the model Paula Abdul likely had in mind when she tried to re-launch her music career in the late-aughts. A washed up pop star when she took the job as a “judge” on American Idol, a ceremonial position in several ways, as winners were determined by viewer votes, Abdul only ever commented on contestants’ outfits or gumption, and she seemed to usually be under the influence of something. After a minor hit recorded with co-faux-judge Randy Jackson in 2008, Abdul took to the Idol stage for the first time to perform toward the end of the 2009 season, her eighth with the series. So despite becoming a household name (if occasional punchline) on the most popular TV series of the decade, and a prime spot performing on that very show, Abdul’s “I’m Just Here for the Music,” made it to a weak #87 on the pop chart. She just couldn’t beat the post-40 unpalatable pop star curse; that and the fact that the song was kinda lame and really outdated, one that had already been recorded and then left off an album by Kylie Minogue.
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