MUSIC COLUMN: Who would’ve figured?

Hey, so what if we don’t have a Senator yet? Britney Spears filed for divorce this week! That “breaking news” was deemed important enough for CNN to send out an e-mail blast Tuesday afternoon — you know, on a day when nothing important was going on in the country.

The Britney scoop, by the way, was met with a collective shrug from most of my office mates. Not that they didn’t care (trust me, we live for this stuff), but because it was so expected. As someone who spends a lot of time in Las Vegas, I was rapping my head against the computer monitor for not taking that obvious bet. For once, I could have made some money.

Anyway, I’m not wasting space to discuss the impressively slimmed-down Brit who clued us in on the impending split when she paid a surprise visit to David Letterman Monday night, sans wedding band — and her beer-guzzling slob of a husband. Britney is more fun when she’s acting ridiculous, like getting married in Vegas in the middle of the night or letting her year-old son steer the convertible down the Pacific Coast Highway. Now she’s just being rational. Yawn.

But to whomever coined this new nickname for Kevin Federline — I’m guessing it was the ever-clever gossip hound Perez Hilton — I must say, bravo. Are you ready? Fed-Ex. Brilliant.

Now, on to celebrities behaving badly.

Last Thursday, Kanye West acted like himself at the MTV European Music Awards, jumping on stage as Best Video winners Justice vs. Simian accepted their award and complaining that his “Touch the Sky” should have won instead. West’s logic? That his video cost $1 million and starred Pamela Anderson. Yeah, well, Tommy Lee has a video with Pamela Anderson in it that hasn’t won any awards, either, so get in line, pal.

Boorish behavior and an arrogant attitude is West at his most typical. Sometimes the guy says something noteworthy — whether or not you agreed with his Hurricane Katrina rant, it was a brave statement — but more often, it’s so Kanye-centric that it moves beyond laughable into pathetic.

So you didn’t win the big award of the night. Boo hoo. Now put on a pair of $300 sneakers, drive your $100,000 car back to the mansion, work on some new music and shut up.

But most ludicrous about West’s award show whining lest we forget, in 2004 he moaned about losing Best New Artist to Gretchen Wilson at the American Music Awards — is that he takes these things so seriously. Of course most artists enjoy recognition beyond album sales or critical acclaim — and the ones who say they don’t are lying — but a cruddy gold statue isn’t worth another blemish on the character profile.

So how about Faith Hill at the Country Music Awards on Monday? If you missed it or have yet to YouTube it, Hill was shown throwing up her hands and mouthing the word “WHAT?!” into the camera when Carrie Underwood was named Female Vocalist of the Year (Hill was a nominee). If you watch the clip in slo-mo, you can clearly see Hill smiling and talking to someone off-camera before she turns toward the lens. She’s also barely paying attention when Underwood’s name is read, and her expression as she turns away from the camera shows a hint of a grin.

People, she was joking. It couldn’t have been any more obvious if she were wearing a mask that said, “I love American Idol alums.”

But Hill isn’t completely innocent. Yes, the action was amusing, especially since she was likely poking fun at the diva mentality that runs through Nashville. But it did divert attention from Underwood, who, while not entirely deserving of the award, is the excited kid experiencing this hoopla for the first time. She earned those few seconds of glory and should have been able to bask in the spotlight without any sideline drama.

Also, Hill’s hastily issued statement on Tuesday (posted on her Web site wasn’t exactly a potent mea culpa. She called Underwood “talented” and “deserving” and said she would never act disrespectful toward a fellow artist. Well, that’s nice. But “I’m sorry my joke backfired” (insert John Kerry reference here) or a more thorough explanation about her physical response would have appeased more skeptics.

But there is a key difference in the award show actions of Hill and West. Hill may have the ego required for any artist, but she’s the type of singer/performer/celebrity who is obviously in on the joke. West, on the other hand, is starting to become one.

Contact staff writer Melissa Ruggieri at (804) 649-6120 or [email protected].