Maybe Miley Would Be Better Off Dead Like Selena, Kurt and These Others...

In case you missed it - and if you value your immortal soul, we're sure you did - Hannah Montana star/future tell-all memoir author Miley Cyrus unveiled a newer, more "mature" look last weekend at the only venue appropriate for such things: the Teen Choice Awards.

Nothing says "successful transition from 'tween idol to grown-up entertainer" like booty shorts and pole dancing, and we here at Rocks Off hope the 16-year old is prepared for the coming decades, which will likely be spent drinking martinis and exchanging knowing, doleful looks with the surviving Jonas Brothers.

Then again, there is one sure way to preserve a legacy of early success, and that's by dying young. For every Leif Garrett and Debbie (sorry...Deborah) Gibson who grows up to become a bald drunk or appear in Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus, there are a handful of artists whose careers are forever lauded because they had the good fortune to croak before their time.

Selena (1971-1995): The 23-year-old Tejano superstar was gunned down by the president of her fan club just as she was on the verge of mainstream (read: English-language) success. Her four previous albums had gone either gold or platinum, and she'd just performed in front of 65,000 fans at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. However, what's fairly obvious from the English-language singles she released ("I Could Fall in Love" and "Dreaming of You") is that while she had decent chops, Selena was probably never going to release anything aside from soporific adult-contemporary ballads.

Where She'd Be Now: In the newly vacated Paula Abdul seat on American Idol.

Tupac Shakur (1971-1996): As recently as 2007, Tupac was listed in the top ten of Forbes' richest deceased celebrity list. The recent deluge of famous dead people has caused him to drop somewhat, but the fact remains that Tupac's post-pushing up daisies album sales have far outstripped his output while still breathing, lending credence to those who claim he never died at all but instead pulled off the musician's equivalent of the perfect crime.

Where He'd Be Now: Assuming he isn't actually holed up somewhere on a luxury island in the South Pacific, 'Pac would likely have continued his burgeoning acting career, perhaps at the expense of the less theatrically talented Common.

Kurt Cobain (1967-1994): As probably the most acclaimed band associated with the "grunge" movement, Nirvana likely would have - at the very least - enjoyed Pearl Jam levels of post-1990s success. Then again, why take the chance? Would playing Bonnaroo every couple of years really match being posthumously mentioned in the same breath as John Lennon?

Where He'd Be Now: Contributing a duet to the latest Paul McCartney album; still forbidding Dave Grohl to start his own band.

Sid Vicious (1957-1979): It isn't like the Sex Pistols had a chance in hell of surviving the 1970s anyway. The band lacked a forceful personality like Johnny Ramone's to keep them on track, relying instead on Malcolm McLaren's lust for publicity to hold things together. Sid's self-destructive behavior was really just the icing on the cake, but his death by heroin overdose in 1979 guaranteed generations yet unborn would continue to wear T-shirts celebrating his lack of hygiene and musical ability.

Where He'd Be Now: The Sharon Osbourne seat on America's Got Talent.

Jim Morrison (1943-1971): The Doors were the world's luckiest lounge act, making their debut at a time when almost anything was forgiven thanks to the new (and, not coincidentally, drug-fueled) appreciation for "musical experimentation." Adoring fans allowed themselves to be duped by his laughable poetry because he looked hot with his shirt off, but when drink and drugs started ravaging his good looks, he bolted to Paris. His future marketability was secured when he (allegedly) died of a heart attack before he could become an even bigger parody of himself.

Where He'd Be Now: Hawking "Lizard King" brand terrariums on QVC.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar