Jul 17, 2006

'Reasonable impersonation of a human being'

Paris Hilton's debut single and the dog-eat-dog world of the pop diva.
The internecine diva battles make an engrossing spectator sport. But rivalry among these women should not obscure their larger collective victory—the widening gender gap at the top of the pops. Of course, there are chart-topping rappers and rockers, and even a couple of plain old mega-selling male pop stars. But marquee artists like Usher and Justin Timberlake seem small and niche next to BeyoncĂ© or Shakira, whose huge voices and pretty faces dominate the mass-media dreamscape on the grandest scale. In the 21st century, the superstar pop singer—that heroic mantle once held by Sinatra and Elvis and Michael Jackson—has become almost exclusively women's work.

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