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LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes
(Curb Records)

October 26, 1999: Perhaps stung by the criticism that her "Purple Rain" cover on last year's presumptuously titled Sittin' on Top of the World made her sound like an aging and incoherent drag queen, LeAnn Rimes releases an album of country standards. (Among the selections: "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Faded Love," and a rather unfortunate rendition of "Me and Bobby McGee.") Rimes, hoping to once more capture lightning (or ashes) in a bottle, again slides into Patsy Cline's hand-me-downs and performs "Crazy," "She's Got You," and "I Fall to Pieces." A jealous Mandy Barnett promptly heads into the studio and begins recording "Blue," beginning a bitter feud between these two Patsy Clones; Rimes, in fact, goes on CMT and refers to Barnett as an "ass master." Record-buyers steer clear of Rimes' self-titled fourth album, since they know exactly what the record sounds like before they even listen to it. It ships platinum, returns platinum.

December 3, 2000: Rimes, against father-manager-producer-food-taster Wilbur C. Rimes' advice, ditches the whole teenage-country-girl shtick and releases her long-awaited glam-metal album under the name "L.A. Rhymes." She affects an androgynous appearance by cutting her hair, taping her breasts, stuffing her pants, and growing out her rather thick moustache. Her first album as L.A. Rhymes, Glycerine Queen (an homage to longtime hero Suzi Quatro), features such songs as "I Like it Thick," "The Space Between My Legs," "Unicorns and Feet," "C'mon, Zion Bitch," and "Succubus Sally." Her Curb Records bio makes no reference to her early albums and, in fact, manufactures an entirely false history for the former star, beginning with her birthdate: midnight, January 1, 2000. The album does well, topping at No. 3 on the Billboard charts. At the beginning of 2001, Rimes goes on tour with Marilyn Manson, who has since changed his name to Neal.

June 12, 2001: L.A. Rhymes goes into the studio with Busta Rhymes to record the single "My Feets Don't Smell." The success of the song, which debuts at No. 1 on the charts and remains there for six months and one week, leads to L.A.'s first hip-hop disc, Sounds Like Ass. Dr. Dre comes out of retirement after the failure of Chronic 2001, which sold 1,932 copies back in '99, to produce the disc. It scores four Top 10 singles: "I Fall to Pieces, Bitch," "She's Got You, Bitch," "Walkin' After Midnight with My Bitches," and "Crazy Bitch." An ill-fated tour with the reunited N.W.A. ends after three shows, when Ice Cube tries to "cap" L.A.'s ass.

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August 28, 2002: On her 20th birthday, Rimes divorces her third husband -- Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst -- and goes on CMT to announce her return to country. She goes into the studio with Wilbur to begin work on what will eventually be her masterpiece: a random series of blurts, squeals, pops, and farts backed by a pedal steel. It goes triple platinum in a week.

Robert Wilonsky

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