Pete Kendall's Socio Times: A Socionomic Commentary

February 21, 2007
Spears' Nannies Are Speaking Out
Women who were hired — or interviewed to be hired — to care for the “Toxic” singer’s two sons say that they were asked few questions about their work history or child-rearing skills, and rather were asked about their personal lives, according to Us.

“The agency that called me emphasized that Britney was looking for a nanny who was young and hip because they wanted her to interact with people her own age,” one interviewee told the mag. “Basically, Britney wanted a friend.”

Britney Spears shaved her head at the beginning of a wild weekend which included her checking into -- and out of -- rehab.
Spears reportedly wanted the nannies to be very hands-on – but not too good at what they did.

“One nanny told me that Britney will hold her kids for 10 minutes and then say, ‘I’m done now. You can take them,’ ” a source told the mag. Said another:  “She doesn’t like when Sean prefers the nanny, so she fires them and looks for a new one.”

In other Spears news, it looks like the “Toxic” singer’s fans are no longer too keen on smelling like her. Sales of Spears' fragrances have — not surprisingly — taken a hit recently.

Spears’ first perfume was a top-seller when it was introduced in 2004 and her scents were her primary source of income for the last few years, according to OK!, which reports that sales over the holiday were “weak” and that there is concern about future sales.

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The Big Breakdown Catches Up to a Bull Market Star
Category: NEWS
By: Pete Kendall, February 22, 2007
In January 1969, stock prices turned down and the terrible bear market began to take firm hold. The Beatles fought throughout the year, with the final split coming in April 1970, as the stock market crashed toward its multi-year low. During the same period, the pop music groups and stars which had shaped the topping phase abruptly fell from popularity, quit, broke up, or died in droves (Jimi Hendrix, Cass Elliot, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Duane Allman).
The Elliott Wave Theorist, August 1985

tabloid break

Britney Spear’s nannies? Britney and Anna Nicole are bigger in death and dysfunction than they ever were as stars. It’s all part of the flame out phase that accompanies the transition to a falling social mood. As we’ve said before, socionomics deals is a science of mass change, but collective mood ultimately has dramatic effects on individual lives. Stars are extremely susceptible because the same forces that set their fame in motion frequently reverse direction when the trend shifts from up to down. The February 2002 issue of The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast (see Additional References below) identified the driving force behind Spear’s popularity near the peak in 2000, as well as its more recent transformation into infamy and rehab. Every star is social entity. The group dynamics behind Spear’s plunge are illustrated by another NY Post article that quotes an “anguished former member of Britney Spears' posse saying the singer's friends want her to hit bottom - so she can begin to reclaim her once-glittering life.” The former assistant says friends are doing "EVERYTHING in our power to get help for Britney and all in our power to NOT pad the bottom or move the bottom.”  But the tough love approach can be catastrophic for stars like Spears who identify too fully with their public personas. On some level, they may realize they ARE the bottom, which probably only tightens the self-destructive spiral. 

It may be significant that, in terms of talent, Spears and Anna Nicole are not in the same league as their counterparts of the early 1970s. This could be a subtle reflection of a fifth wave peak (vs. a third wave in the late 1960s) and the larger degree of the unfolding bear market. For some cultural parallels to the late 1960s see the entries of February 16 (Chuck Norris meets Martin Luther King), October 19, (another Tet), June 3, (acid rock redux) and May 21,(My Lai II). For the original discussions in The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast, see the Additional References to the entry of September 15, 2005.

Additional References

February 2002, EWFF
A favorite quote of ours is Plato’s cautionary note about changes in musical styles from Book IV of The Republic. Here’s another interesting translation we’ve come across recently: “The methods of music cannot be stirred up without great upheavals of social custom and law.” Two more versions on page 255 of The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior offer that when the modes of music change “the laws of the state change with them” and “the walls of the city shake.” Reading deeper into Plato’s account of a connection between music and social change, we find that, like most modern-day commentators, it inaccurately assumes a causal link.
[A new] form of play makes itself at home little by little, and gently overflows upon manners and practice; from these now stronger grown, it passes to men’s business agreements; and from business it moves upon laws and constitutions in a wanton flood, until at last all public and private life is overwhelmed.

Of course, Plato had an excuse. He did not have the stock market, which The Elliott Wave Theorist has identified as the most precise recording of social mood and thus the most important tool of socionomic research. In 360 B.C., translator H.D. Rouse notes in his preface, there weren’t even books or newspapers. But there was music. In fact, in Plato’s time, music was probably the most precise recording of social mood. Rouse notes, for instance, that it literally subsumed the marketplace, which was Athens’ “central fount” of social interaction. This would explain the reversal in the perceived direction of cause and effect. In the quote above, notice that instead of ascribing social changes to shifts in business or politics as many erroneous observers do today, Plato’s dialogue assigned the root cause to the music itself. This is another honest mistake as music can be an incredibly accurate barometer of social change. If we didn’t have the advance-decline line and other major indicators to chart the course of the topping process, we’d probably be listening to the music a lot more intently ourselves.

Looking back across the long stock market topping process, the same “little by little” change Plato witnessed in ancient times can be seen overflowing “upon the manners and practices” of the music industry. The transition has been going since at least 1998, when the New Music Express, a well-established music industry trade publication, produced an eight-page report saying that the business appeared to be “in the early throes of a depression which could be terminal.” A London Times music writer inadvertently identified the approaching “meltdown” as a bear market when he said it resembled its status in the “the pre-punk 1970s,” the disco bust of the early 1980s and “the early 1990s when sales were static and everything from computer games to comedians were being touted as ‘the new rock ‘n roll.’” All three periods featured coincident declines in stock prices. The music industry steadied itself through 2000, but 2001 brought unmistakable evidence of decline. The most obvious is a sales decline that left the record industry with its “worst performance in at least a decade.” Another sign is a sudden loss of interest in musical acts that had been cash cows during the bull market. The latest crater came on January 24, when Mariah Carey’s $100 million contract was terminated. Carey was dumped when her latest album sold 501,000 copies. Glitter was “the first bomb in a dazzling career” that began in 1991, the start of the last leg of the bull market. As this clip reveals, there are many more victims from much deeper in the bull market:
Record Labels Are Shedding Big Names
Star singers and musicians are increasingly being dumped from their record labels. Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Tori Amos, Sinead O’Connor and Anita Baker are among established artists who have found that they do not sell enough records to justify the overhead.
Financial Times, December 24, 2001

Late in the year, musical icons Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney put out albums that have already disappeared from the charts. The two biggest sellers of Cycle V, Garth Brooks and Michael Jackson, also put forward albums that fell almost immediately from the Top 10. Back in 1989, EWT identified Jackson as the pop music idol of Cycle V. He earned the title on the strength of a string of mega hits in the 1980s. But like many wave V cultural manifestations and music in general, Jackson has been losing momentum for years. In fact, he peaked with Thriller, which came out a few months after the start of the bull market in 1982 and went on to sell 52 million copies, the most in history. On November 13, in the middle of what may well be the Dow’s last failed bid for its final highs, Jackson experienced his own last hurrah with a 30th Anniversary show. The TV special was the highest rated network concert in six years. (The show that Jackson could not beat out was The Beatles Anthology featuring the Cycle III musical heroes). At the same time, Jackson’s “comeback” album Invincible opened at the top of the Billboard 200. But then it slid to No. 3, right behind a greatest hits album from Pink Floyd, a bear-market band EWT has previously identified as the “the strongest-selling group in ‘downer theme’ history.” Another sign of the emerging downturn was the reception that the album received in the media. Critics savaged the release as “Bizarre,” “Invincibly Awful” and “Downright Creepy.”

A shorter-term signal is being given by the suddenly failing fortunes of teen pop sensations like ’N Sync, Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys and Christina Aguilera. All are off the fast pace of recent years. In November, for instance, Britney’s new album opened at No. 1 on the charts with sales of 746,000, far short of her last album’s opening tally of 1.3 million in May 2000 and ’N Sync’s July total of 1.8 million. As one headline notes, “Teen Pop’s On the Way Out.” Like the Beatles in 1965-1969, Spears is now engaging in a desperate bid to turn with the tide. Her version of the Beatles’ persona-shifting Lonely Hearts Club band in 1967 will take full form in her first movie, which comes out later this month. The film features sex, rape, underage drinking and teen pregnancy. “It’s a far cry from the Miss Priss image Spears has tried to cultivate,” says the NY Post. “The flick features the sultry songbird dancing in her underwear, getting drunk and losing her virginity to an ex-con.”

Meanwhile, the bulleted albums on the Billboard 200 reveal an emerging demand for darker fare. Among surprises in recent months is The Great Depression, The Sickness and Iowa by a band called Slipknot that has “risen out of obscurity” with the help of a “dark grinding sound” and “grotesque masks.” This progression from bubble gum at the highs to grinding guitars and dark lyrics is a replay of the transition from 1965-1969 as described in EWT’s 1985 report, “Popular Culture and the Stock Market.” During that peak, the old uptrend, characterized by “studio manufactured ‘Bubble Gum’ hits, a sickly-sweet extreme in trend,” competed with the emerging bear market, which supported “bands whose accent was on the negative, [with a] noisy, foreboding sound.” As the second major leg of Cycle wave IV got rolling in 1969, bubble gum made a quick exit. This era’s lingering teen sensations should now do the same. Spears’ slackening sales and makeover suggest that that is exactly what is happening. Time magazine reports that a “rap-metal fusion” album by Linkin Park “shocked the record industry by selling 4.8 million copies of its debut album to eclipse ‘N Sync and britney Spears as the top selling act of 2001.” The band’s themes of “alienation, frustration and loneliness” seem made to order for a post-bubble and a post-bubble gum world. A lot of the band’s lyrics could be titled Ode to the NASDAQ : “I tried so hard and got so far/but in the end it doesn’t even matter/I had to fall and lose it all.”

Or, how about this one for a drastic shift in musical style? After 66 weeks on the charts, a collection of blues and folk songs from the 1930s rose to No. 10 on in the latest Top 200. “In an era of teen pop and rap/rock, only a complete nut job could have predicted the genre-hopping, cash-register-ringing success of O Brother [Where Art Thou?],” says a recent article. OK we’re nut jobs. Back in 1989, in a discussion about what to look for on the other side of the tidal wave, The Elliott Wave Theorist said, “Styles from the 1930s and 1940s will become adopted in or influence music.” Call us crazy, but we suspect the ancient Greek philosophers would take more than just a passing interest in the meaning of O Brother’s popularity.

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Thank you for being the "social thermometer" of our times. It takes a perceptive intellect to think differently enough from the crowd in order to gauge its "social temperature".
Posted by: Tango
February 22, 2007 04:45 PM

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