Top Ten Most Ridiculous Musical Power Couples (That Probably Made Sense At One Point)
hen it comes to personal relationships, celebrities enter into a sort of unspoken contract with the general populace—that the people they date will either be on their level of fame, or not be famous at all (at least not for anything besides dating that celebrity). Anything in between would be unseemly—a world in which it was socially acceptable for Beyonce to date Tony Yayo, or for Pete Wentz to see Rilo Kiley, would inevitably lead to total chaos. We demand consistency from our celebrities, and thus when they do not act with the superficiality expected of them (or in explicitly direct opposition to that expectation), the result is confusing and frustrating.
Less easily accounted for, however, is when celebrity couples start out on par, but neglect to stay on an even keel for the duration of their relationship. It’s a tragic state of affairs, and one which I imagine has led to many devastated egos and attempted spousal sabotages. Here are ten of the more glaring cases.
10. Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston (1989-2006)
Arguably the two biggest pop stars not named Madonna or Michael at the end of the 80s, people at the time must’ve assumed Bobby and Whitney would be the reigning king and queen of the 90s. They’d be half-right, anyway—Whitney Houston became a successful lead actress, had the biggest hit single of all-time and cemented her reputation as one of the legendary pop divas, while Bobby Brown became That Whacked-Out Motherfucker Who Beats Up Whitney Houston. I’m surprised enough people still knew his name in 2005 for there to even be a Being Bobby Brown (presumably because Brown refused to sign off on the show’s original title, Being That Whacked-Out Motherfucker Who Beats Up Whitney Houston).
09. Cameron Crowe and Nancy Wilson (1986-Present)
Nancy Wilson was having a hell of a year when she married Cameron Crowe in 1986—her band Heart had their first ever #1 single, part of a surprising comeback the band made after a decade of mediocre success. Meanwhile, Cameron Crowe was languishing in a seven-year limbo after writing Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Then Crowe had his directorial debut with ‘89’s Say Anything, and the tables started to turn a bit. Now the most exposure Nancy seems to get in pop culture is when Crowe humors her enough to let her score his movies (though with the frostbite-inducing reception to Elizabethtown, the scales might be starting to balance out a little again).
08. Usher and Chili (2001-2004)
This one seems more unfair than some of the others, because it wasn’t really on Rozonda “Chili” Thomas that she wasn’t able to keep up with beau Usher for the duration of their relationship—just a bad break with the untimely death of TLC bandmate Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes. Meanwhile, Usher went on to spend 28 weeks on top of the charts in 2004 with the album Chili helped inspire. Nah, doesn’t seem right at all.
07. Goldie and Bjork (mid-90s)
Maybe the bomber was trying to tell her something. In ’95 it might’ve seemed like Goldie would go down in the history books as the man that brought jungle to the masses, and not the ‘90s punchline he is today, but while the internet froths over the release of Bjork’s Volta, you could probably count the people on one hand who can even name an album Goldie’s released this decade. Assuming he’s even released one, anyway.
06. Avril Lavigne and Deryck Whibley (2004-Present)
It seemed like a pop-punk marriage made in heaven at the time, and honestly, back before Sum-41 released “We’re All to Blame” (one of the all-time great commercial suicide singles) as the first single off the wildly unsuccessful Chuck album, it could’ve been even money as to who would be the more popular artist today. Now Avril’s The Best Damn Thing is in its second week at #1 on the album charts, and Sum-41…well, at least they got on Guitar Hero.
05. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez (1963-1965)
Somewhat hard to believe now, but before Dylan went electric, he had never even had a hit single—though, obviously more than a few people had hits with his songs. Neither did Joan Baez, really, but she had a whole lot of hit albums, and when Dylan came onstage at her early concerts, it was actually seen as a favor to him. By ’65, though—well, the scene in Don’t Look Back where Baez plays one of her shrill, wailing folk anthems while Bob Dylan types away, doing his best to ignore her, says it all, pretty much. Does anyone under the age of 50 own a Joan Baez album? I certainly hope not.
04. Royston Langdon and Liv Tyler (Late 90s?-Present)
Yeah, this is sort of cheating, since I don’t think Liv Tyler ever had much involvement in music (video for Aerosmith’s “Crazy” aside, anyway), but I really just couldn’t not include it. In the mid-90s it really might have seemed like both of these people were gonna end up decade relics—one-hit wonders for “In the Meantime” and Empire Records, respectively—but then Tyler got a lucky break in low-budget indie flick Armageddon and played an elf or something in a couple surprise hits. Langdon’s post-90s fortunes weren’t quite so generous. I hear good things about The Hogyssey, though.
03. James DeBarge and Janet Jackson (1984-1985)
The insane thing about this marriage is that at the time it might’ve even seemed like a step up for Janet Jackson, an ex-TV kid star with a famous family and no hit singles, to marry one of the dudes from DeBarge. One shudders to think what the last 20 years of pop music could have been like if Janet hadn’t given him the boot.
02. Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani (1996-present)
Lead singers of possibly the two biggest rock acts of 1996, for a while Gavin and Gwen looked like they were gonna fade into obscurity together as well (remember Return of Saturn? Well, fine, but most normal people certainly don’t). Then No Doubt discovered non-rock music and bounced back, Gwen became a mega pop-star in her own right, and Gavin got to act with Keanu Reeves. This one just gets more and more insulting every year—if I had to predict one of these dudes to pull a Star is Born style ocean-walk seppuku, it’d be Gavin.
01. Aaron Carter and Lindsey Lohan and Hillary Duff (’02-’04)
Oh man, is this guy gonna have one hell of a midlife crisis. What exactly do you do with your life after consecutively banging the two biggest pre-starlets in the country? Where is there to go from there? Unfortunately for Aaron, his career isn’t really much of an option, since even the older brother that he leeched his fame from couldn’t get a gig at an open mic night. Now he’s already resorting to reality shows while Hillary Duff is still the country’s pop princess and Lindsay Lohan breaking a heel would make headlines worldwide. You’d almost have to feel bad for him, if he wasn’t Aaron Carter.