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Hard Rock by Pop Stars

by Dan Weiss

Hard Rock by Pop Stars

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Just like so many rock stars secretly fantasize about conquering all of pop, many pop stars long to just rock out, to harness the power of a full-crunching guitar through a Marshall stack, howling at their nerviest to try and match a squealing guitar solo vibrato by vibrato. Kesha certainly acts like a rock star crashing EDM's party, brushing her teeth with whiskey on her first hit, and finally recruiting Iggy Pop for "Dirty Love" and hornily harmonizing over the glam stomp of "Gold Trans Am." Lil Wayne's rock dreams have been preserved on the widely disliked [Rebirth], but his underrated "Knockout" (which casts Nicki Minaj as a Gwen Stefani-esque punk-popster) and "Hot Revolver" (which interpolates Green Day) show rock star potential. Auteurs like Taylor Swift ("Better than Revenge," "Red") and Shakira ("Costume Makes the Clown," "Animal City") have gleefully proven to the world they're not such lightweights after all, and Katy Perry ("I Kissed a Girl," "Fingerprints") and Ashlee Simpson ("La La") started out as guitar acts. Michael Jackson's metal-influenced "Beat It" and "Give in to Me" still have the power to shock anyone who watched him evolve from The Jackson 5's baby genius to Quincy Jones' ultimate post-disco muse. And never forget "Trouble," when P!nk teamed up with Rancid.

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