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Scandal: It’s a term music super manager Larry Rudolph is all too familiar with.
As Miley Cyrus continues to revamp her image, the former Disney star has raised eyebrows with a controversial new music video, frank discussions about alcohol, drugs and sex, and near-constant “will they, won’t they” speculation surrounding her engagement to Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth.
Cyrus might be the latest, but she follows in a long line of pop princesses such as Britney Spears, also managed by Rudolph, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and more to shed their family-friendly skin in an effort to “grow up.”
Now, Rudolph is managing up-and-coming girl group G.R.L., a quintet of young ladies hoping to break into the industry. Since the manager rarely takes on new clients, there’s something to be said about the group’s prospects.
Asked whether there’s a plan in place to watch the girls grow up in the industry, Rudolph says it can only happen “organically.”
“Miley is doing it now organically,” he says. “There’s no such thing as ‘OK, let’s figure out the plan for growing up.’ It doesn’t work. The public sees through it in two seconds, and every artist who’s tried to do it has failed.”
Spears, he says, mastered the art of organically evolving in the industry.
“First it was …Baby One More Time, then the Oops! … I Did It Again album, all super bubblegum pop records,” he recalls. “Third album, she wanted to make edgier music. She sought out Pharrell. She’s the one who insisted ‘Slave 4 U’ be the first single and she was right. She was the one who sat down with Francis Lawrence and came up with the video concept.
“It was not some record-company executive and a manger sitting in a room plotting this out,” he continues. “Same thing with Miley. What you see now, this is her. Some artists have it, some don’t have it, in terms of the ability to make that transition. Most don’t, but you can’t plan for it. If you get to that point, you hope it happens. If it does, it does. If it doesn’t, then it wasn’t in the cards.”
And the headline-grabbing scandals? Those just come with the territory, Rudolph says.
“But you’ve gotta remember,” he concedes, “the scandal with Britney happened way later.”
Even in her prime, Spears still managed to outrage parents and thrill her fanbase by dancing provocatively, appearing nearly naked and, on the cover of Rolling Stone, posing with a purple Teletubby.
“There was always talk of whether she was appropriate for daughters, and a healthy amount of that is healthy,” says Rudolph. “No doubt about it.”
UPDATE: Cyrus sent shock waves coast to coast on Sunday, Aug. 25, with a raunchy, teddy bear-filled performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. The spectacle has prompted the Parents Television Council to blast the network for serving sex to teens, and has spun off into countless GIFs, memes and Twitter topics. While performing her own hit “We Can’t Stop,” Cyrus writhed around the stage in a teddy bear-esque bustier. Later, she stripped down to a flesh-toned two-piece to grind on Robin Thicke for a duet of his “Blurred Lines.” Accompanying her onstage was a distracting foam finger, which she used to touch herself and Thicke inappropriately. Watch the performance below.
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