Pity: Our Greatest Marketing Tool

A look at 2007's most successful train wrecks

How is it that two of 2007's top sellers — Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears — sold more than a million records in the U.S. without touring the U.S. this year? It's because pity has become the new indispensable promotional tool. See how your faves have already maxed out the misfortune market in 2007, and who's already lowering the bar for pitiable releases in 2008.

January: Courtney Love's last album sold a paltry 86,000 copies. She hopes to at least double that in 2007 by blogging 53 New Year's resolutions and not spell-checking a single one of 'em. (Example: "Undertsnad who my= enemeies are since a few exacs and bloggers out there seem to enjoy hirtiung me.") Let's just hope she types her own lyric sheets from now on.

February: Determined to out-rehab Lindsay Lohan, Britney flees her rehab facility twice with a self-loathing head-shave thrown in, the first in a series of moves to make K-Fed look like "the responsible one." Pity party — it's on!

March: Amy Winehouse's Back to Black is released in the U.S. with new cover art depicting her on her back to capitalize on her newfound notoriety as everyone's favorite fall-down drunk. And unlike Lindsay and Britney and pal Pete Doherty, Amy had the smarts to have a song called "Rehab," which news outlets would be forced to play every time she and her junkie husband re-commited themselves.

April: Sheryl Crow's solution to global warming is telling people they need to rein in their toilet tissue use and employ "one square per restroom visit." World worries she's either lost her noodle or has never eaten a hearty bean burrito.

May: Sanjaya Malakar is voted off American Idol and immediately gets the "Hey, sucking is my turf" speech from William Hung.

June: The day Paris Hilton was due to start her 45-day jail sentence, a Christian coalition called The Resistance invites parents to bring their children's Paris Hilton CDs to a rally so they can trash them. The rally is quietly called off when no parents can find Paris Hilton CD in their kids' collections.

July: Passengers are detained and interrogated by FBI agents at Tulsa International Airport following an "air rage" incident involving Clay Aiken. Since when is a hissy fit synonymous with terrorism?

August: Hoping to jumpstart his recording career, Bobby Brown tells how Osama bin Laden talked about having Bobby killed so he could make Whitney one of his wives in the '90s. This only serves to humanize the World's Most Wanted Mass Murderer, to where you can almost imagine him drawing "Osama and Whitney" hearts on the 9/11 planbook.

September: 50 Cent comes in second in a much-hyped Soundscan showdown with Kanye West. Backpedals on a promise that he'd retire; insists he meant he'd put new Goodyears on his Escalade.

October: Amy Winehouse cancels all remaining tour dates. Her U.S. record label announces it will release her 2003 U.K. debut album. This will probably have an alternate cover with both toes over her beehive.

November: Despite her abysmal MTV Video Music Awards performance, Britney's Blackout goes platinum. She celebrates by drinking in public and possibly getting pregnant again — by a guy whose name rhymes with scrotum. Ahh, next year's VMAs just got better — by which we mean worse!!

December: Catty joke surrounding the Spice Girl reunion tour — Q: Which one's Old Spice? A: Which one isn't?

 
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