After a week of speculation, Nicki Minaj has at least confirmed that her camp is in talks for the Young Money star to open for Britney Spears on tour.
Speaking with MTV, Minaj said, "I am in talks of joining Britney Spears, yeah... I'm in talks about a lot of things, ya know. I don't know — oops, I did it again."
Usher and Joe Jonas (?!) have also been rumored to be in talks to join the jaunt.
Brit-Brit's Femme Fatale tour has been juggling that supporting slot vacancy ever since she announced the stint: the same day the dates were confirmed, "co-headliner" Enrique Iglesias dropped out.
I don't put that term in quotes to be vicious. It's just that procuring a name as big as Britney's to join her on tour has got to be a difficult task, especially as she and Jive are trying hard to maintain Spears as a premiere act. It's been an uphill battle for that exact prerogative this week...
Iglesias' departure was a bad enough omen anyway. Pair that with 2010 abysmal concert ticketing sales and the continued threat this year, picking a good dance partner has become increasingly imperative. Even other A-listers like Rihanna have had to fight off speculation that sales are bumpy.
Spears' last Circus tour was a spectacular success, but those were healthier times: 2008 was a proper comeback, after she spent years in the tabloids for erratic behavior and public breakdowns. "Circus" sold just over half a million in its first week and her live gigs were well-received.
Fast forward. This week, though her "Femme Fatale" topped The Billboard 200, sales were tepid to say the least, with a 276,000 arrival. "Hold It Against Me" wasn't held as dearly by radio and fans as, say, "Womanizer" was, and the jury's still out on dance/club-oriented track "Till the World Ends" and how well it fares over the spring and summer. Sales projections from this week are pointing to Adele's "21" to replace Spears in the penthouse next week. Granted, Adele's fanbase skews older, a little more generalist, and thus to listeners who tend to actually purchase their music. But critical reception of "Femme" was also mixed overall; HitFix's Greg Ellwood rather enjoyed the album, but many writers took issue with the facelessness of the set, sometimes pointing out that she had no songwriting credits unlike previous albums.
Then there were the TV appearances. Her dancing on "Good Morning America" didn't exactly leave critics screaming "gimme more," though things were a little brighter on her "Kimmel" stop.
There were also gratuitously toxic rumblings this week that Spears uses a body double for her crazier antics in "Till the World Ends" (along with the usual lip-syncing complaints). It seems unusual, but her camp actually addressed the unconfirmed rumor on her website, calling it "bulls***," courting a drama just by acknowledging it. U.K. newspaper The Sun also ran quotes from an anonymous source claiming that handlers are trying to convince the pop star to move the tour dates, claiming she's not ready to take the stage again.
I'm not against Britney enjoying success once more, which she inevitably will. She's an icon, to multiple generations. Her "...Baby One More Time" was my very first published music review, and being the same age as her, in a way I feel like I grew up with her.. I felt badly for her when she shaved her head and shook umbrellas at the paparazzi and I liked that she came back and made some killer new singles.
But she did have a tough week, two months out from the start of the Femme Fatale trek. The co-headlining or supporting act shouldn't be a friendly competition. Particularly sharing the spring release season with Lady Gaga, Spears probably doesn't want competition at all.