Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Artist Off!

If you're an actor or a singer or (God forbid) a reality TV contestant, there are many things that you should never say. The biggest one is, "I'm an artist." It's ok if someone else calls you an artist. Or if your concert rider refers to you as "the artist." But you should never take your cues from sycophants or concert riders. Unless you're a sculptor, or a photographer, or someone who produces something that can either be hung on a wall, or, of course, Prince, you should never refer to yourself as an artist. Because as soon as those words escape your lips, you will come off as the most pretentious, self-important, clueless idiot to ever act or release an album. Basically, you'll be Constantine Maroulis:

A man who, after smoking a joint, told the

Village Voice (a newspaper that should never have been talking to him in the first place):

I mean, whatever. If people thing that's so terrible that I like, ooo…took a puff off of a little joint. You know, I'm a fucking artist.

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But, let's give Maroulis the benefit of the doubt. He calls himself an artist, so how would he measure up against a fellow Greek-American singer that many people, or at least Wikipedia, consider to be an artist, Maria Callas?

Artist Off: Constantine Maroulis vs. Maria Callas Career Callas: "Perhaps the best-known opera singer of her era," she performed at all of the world's big opera houses, always to great fanfare. Later in life she acted in a number of films and eventually gave master classes at Julliard. Maroulis: "The fifth runner up in the fourth season of American Idol," Maroulis now stars in a musical adaptation of an Adam Sandler movie on Broadway. Oh, also he was on TRL a while back, and is planning to release a solo album eventually as well as a documentary about his own life "that he claims will feature some 'pretty substantial' celebrity appearances." "Artist" Advantage: Callas. If only because she never participated in a Broadway version of The Wedding Singer. Finest moment Callas: "Callas created a sensation in Venice in 1949 by immediately following a series of performances of Brunnhilde in Die Walkure with performances as Elvira in I Puritani (learning the role in five days in order to step in for an indisposed Margherita Carosio). Her performance in I Puritani immediately passed into legend." Maroulis: "His popular rendition of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' earned an inclusion on a Queen tribute CD titled Killer Queen, and he even got to chat with Jay Leno when he performed on The Tonight Show." "Artist" Advantage: Callas. Jay Leno does not a finest moment make. Accolades: Callas: "Walter Legge said that in her prime, there was nothing written for the soprano in the 19th Century that Callas could not toss off with unostentatious ease. Callas was also famous for the ease and perfection of her scale-work, especially the descending scales which have often been described as 'pearls falling off a string.'" Maroulis: Paula Abdul once called him "the one to beat." And Maroulis said of himself on American Idol, "I showed different layers…I had different looks and took risks…If I was crooning one week I had on a great suit. If I was rocking, something else." "Artist" Advantage: Callas. But if that last accolade had come from anyone else but himself, Maroulis would have easily won this category. Thinking about all those complex layers makes me dizzy. Quotes about fame: Callas: Callas once said, "If I have stepped on some people at times because I am at the top, it couldn't be helped. What should I do if someone gets hurt… retire? Maroulis:"I've paid my dues." And, of course, here's what Maroulis says after a girl throws herself at him in the back of a club, "For the record, she wanted me to leave with her and I didn't. I'll probably call her though." "Artist" Advantage: Callas. Everyone says "I've paid my dues," and rejecting the advances of a girl at Stereo is less about fame and more about health concerns. Winner: Callas. Shocking, I know. But if the categories had been different, if I had evaluated the the two artists based on their use of Axe body spray, say, or number of fans/potential dates they meet on MySpace, Maroulis would have won. Easily. (Much more to evaluate, including the Voice's editorial direction, here)

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