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Soundcheck: Meet British Beauty VV Brown

You may not be familiar with this beautiful British import, but VV Brown is no newbie. Born Vanessa Brown in Northampton, England, the beautiful singer-songwriter-model-actress is already a star overseas.  Her debut album Travelling Like The Light soared to No. 1 on the French Digital Album chart and prompted a sold-out UK tour in 2009.

In 2010, she hit the road with Maroon 5, joining their North American tour before jumping on the UK leg of Pink’s Carnival Tour.  She hit the stage with Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige for BET’s Black Girls Rock.  She also made the television rounds on Ellen, The Late Show with David Letterman, Rachael Ray and Jimmy Kimmel Live! (among others) with her single, “Shark In The Water”, which eventually went gold in the US.

In November, she was featured on MTV’s documentary series, World of Jenks, chronicling her break into the US.
market. She describes her style as “alternative pop”, with her cutesy delivery disguising the deeper underlying notes on modern-day society that permeate her lyrics.

There’s something instantly cool about this soft-spoken import, who counts Q-Tip as a friend.  She has played at huge festivals like SXSW and Glastonbury, and toured two continents with major headliners, and still she’s noticeably grounded.

A true artist in every aspect, VV casually references the amazing architecture of Chicago, or notes the beauty that can be found in the lines of a vintage jacket during a conversation about touring.  “I like being creative. I love it from the core of my belly.  It’s what I would be doing either way.”  She seems to find the beauty in everything, and reflects it in her music, her personal style and her demeanor.

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Meet British Beauty VV Brown’

Lana Del Rey’s SNL Appearance: A Mainstream Gambit

If you have a life outside of the Internet, then there’s a good chance that you haven’t heard of singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey. In that case, consider yourself introduced.

Del Rey, the handle of one Lizzy Grant, has become a figure of infamy within the online music world with unprecedented speed. Between the highly stylized videos, the songs about video games, Diet Mountain Dew and shooting her boyfriend in the head, the accusations of her image being a well managed concoction, the hipster baiting and—most importantly— those lips, it’s hard not to have an opinion about her.

Continue reading ‘Lana Del Rey’s SNL Appearance: A Mainstream Gambit’

Sound And Vision: The Year in Review — What Was Hot and Not in Pop (and Beyond) in 2011?

No discussion of the last twelve months in music would be complete without a proper shout out to Adele, the blue-eyed, soulful Brit who ruled 2011 with one album (the multiply GRAMMY-nominated 21) and two No. 1 singles (“Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You”), so here we go.

Girl!

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what was hot and not about the rest.

HOT

1. Drake: Last year, he called his debut album Thank Me Later, so now feels like the right time to express our genuine appreciation for the Canadian rapper who balances tough and tender so perfectly. With his second album, Take Care, and two of its key cuts, in particular—the fantastic first single “Headlines” and the title track (featuring Rihanna)—he brought sexy back to rap for the first time since ladies loved (LL) Cool J.

2. Girls on film: From Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends” to Lady Gaga’s “Judas” to Jennifer Lopez’s “I’m Into You” to Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” it was an excellent year for women in pop videos. But it was Ke$ha in “Blow,” Kelly Rowland in “Motivation” and Rihanna in “We Found Love” that injected new energy into a decades-old art form and elevated it above and beyond promotional tool to indispensable companion piece.

3. Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams “Moanin’” on American Idol: I didn’t love the bulk of their solo performances during the 10th season of Idol, but when Reinhart and Abrams came together on the Top 8 results show for the vocalese version of Charles Mingus’ “Moanin’,” the unexpected result was the best musical moment I saw all season.

4. Diana DeGarmo on The Young and the Restless: Speaking of Idol losers, season three’s runner-up’s stint as Angelina on daytime’s No. 1 soap hasn’t been so well-received by critics or fans, but I dissent. There’s both artistry and comedic gold in DeGarmo’s portrayal of a tone-deaf “singer” and daughter of a New Jersey mob boss, and I’m looking forward to being as wowed by her Pygmalion-style makeover as I was by her Idol rendition of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” all those years ago.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: The Year in Review — What Was Hot and Not in Pop (and Beyond) in 2011?’

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Michael Bublé Christmas duets on SNL

There’s no better way to introduce this SNL Christmas skit starring Michael Bublé other than quoting Jay Pharoah’s Kanye West: “You ride a donkey, I ride a Mercedes. Jesus, I’m so much better than you.” Enjoy.

Senior citizens flash mob to Glee’s “Last Christmas”

Sure, they move a little bit slower than your average flash mob, but these senior citizens are carrying tanks of oxygen, people. Enjoy this performance of Glee’s version of “Last Christmas” in all its geriatric glory.

The Bad

Jon Bon Jovi rumored to be dead

If hearing that Jon Bon Jovi died this week felt like a shot through the heart and you were livin’ on a prayer that the rumors were untrue, then you can breathe easy. Turns out it was just a random death hoax. If you don’t believe us, here’s proof.

Rihanna slams Dutch magazine over “disrespectful” story

After Dutch fashion magazine Jackie dubbed Rihanna the ultimate, ahem, “n**gabitch,” the pop star took to Twitter to read the editor the riot act. “I hope you can read English, because your magazine is a poor representation of the evolution of human rights,” she wrote. The editor, Eva Hoeke, apologized on Rihanna’s Facebook page, and then resigned. Read all about it here.

The Ugly

Nicki Minaj disses Lil Kim with “Stupid Hoe”

The war between Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj just got taken to a new level. Kim’s violent cover for her mixtape, Black Friday, was the first blow. Now, Nicki has parried with her new tune “Stupid Hoe.” Sample lyrics: “I’m Angelina, you Jennifer, come on bitch, you see where Brad [Pitt] at.” Come on ladies, leave Jennifer Aniston out of it.

Miley Cyrus goes off on fans

Miley Cyrus stopped to sign a couple autographs while on vacation, and when her boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth, tried to help steer her away, the natives got restless. Watch the showdown below.

Miscellany

Your Country’s Right Here: Scotty McCreery, Ricky Skaggs, Lauren Alaina and Others Add Country to Your Holidays

Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Ricky Skaggs and Phil Vassar are just some of the country stars that are ready to brighten your holidays with their down-home music. Sure, you’re overwhelmed with all kinds of lists—shopping and otherwise—during this season but take a look at the stellar line up of artists offering you holiday-themed country music and enjoy.

Think of American Idol alums Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina as melodic bookends of the holidays. McCreery, who performed in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, is also featured in the Disney Christmas Day parade that will be televised on ABC. Find out when it will be aired in your area by going to the Disney Web site. Lauren Alaina will join other artists on American Country New Year’s Eve at 11 p.m. on December 31 on FOX. Find out more about the show on this Web site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Scotty McCreery, Ricky Skaggs, Lauren Alaina and Others Add Country to Your Holidays’

Soundcheck: Will T.I. Take Back The Top Spot?

It’s been quite a year for T.I. An early prison release followed by a quick return to the slammer followed by another early release and ANOTHER turn around trip to prison before heading home to his beloved family, friends, fans—and film crew.

The self-proclaimed King of The South has had a tumultuous and somewhat ironic journey to the top and the bottom, and may now end up somewhere in the middle. T.I. first headed to prison on gun charges; but only after he filmed a reality special aimed at keeping kids out of trouble.  The next time he wound up in the hot seat, (this time for a parole violation) he conveniently saved a suicidal fan from jumping off a building by literally talking him off the ledge.  Upon his release, Tip wasted no time jumping back into the limelight. He has already filmed another reality show for BET, T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle, which started rolling the moment he stepped off the prison grounds.

He was greeted with open arms just days after his release at the BET Hip Hop Awards, where he kicked off the night’s festivities by hitting the stage for a performance of“I’m Flexin’” alongside Jeezy, spitting lyrics that described his current sentiments. “I been out of sigh been out of mind…another year of prison promise this is it for me trying to make It through the storm should be makin’ history. No feeling sorry keep your pity and your sympathy good or bad take it like a man whatever meant to be.”

Continue reading ‘Soundcheck: Will T.I. Take Back The Top Spot?’

How Did Blake Shelton Become Country Music’s Top Tweeter?

Blake Shelton, the country superstar who officiates as a judge on hit music reality show The Voice and makes up half of country music’s newest power couple, had his most recent record debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. Now he can add another notch to his belt as country music’s most engaging star… on Twitter. Given his resume and achievements, Shelton is not an unlikely candidate for “Most Followed Country Music Tweeter”—outside of Taylor Swift, of course. But you cannot judge somebody’s Twitter worthiness based on the number of their followers. No, you must also evaluate the content of their tweets.

Part of the description on Shelton’s account reads “You’re getting the real BS straight from Blake himself.” This is not an empty statement: Shelton is one of rare breed of celebrity that actually tweets from their own account as opposed to having a team do it for them. And he tweets a lot; all day, every day. The closest and most unlikely of parallels to Shelton’s Twitter feed is that of rapper cum professional instigator Lil B. Both constantly retweet @mentions, both make outlandish statements to the ire of the easily offended and both just do not give a damn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is why Shelton is so refreshing: his tweets are pure id. If someone tweets at Shelton talking shit then Shelton will just throw it right back at them. Any fan appreciation is returned in kind and, most importantly, there is no better troll than Shelton in the country music twittersphere. His specialty is imagined inebrated escapades. If you believed his tweets, then Shelton is shopping with Miranda Lambert drunk, peeing into dresser drawers, propositioning everyone in sight and, well, doing stuff like this. His online reputation is such that the second result in a search for “Blake Shelton Twitter” is the twitter account for Blake Shelton’s Liver.

Continue reading ‘How Did Blake Shelton Become Country Music’s Top Tweeter?’

Most Memorable Music News of 2011

It was a big year in the world of music. The past twelve months were filled with huge collaborations, new releases across every genre and some drama as well. The year also brought us lots of new talent to go crazy over, and the loss of some incredibly influential artists. So, let’s review 2011 and highlight the top stories that affected the world of music—from concerts to television; technology to YouTube sensations.

  • Jay-Z and Kanye West teamed up to release their much-anticipated collaboration album, Watch The Throne, in the beginning of August. They’re currently on tour across the United States and Canada promoting the album, which has already been certified Platinum.
  • Tragedy struck big music festivals in a couple countries, when severe weather caused stages to collapse. Ottawa Bluesfest and Pukkelpop Festival were two of the events affected.
  • Ryan Murphy apparently took it personally when artists such as Slash, Kings of Leon and and Foo Fighters didn’t want their songs to be used on Glee. Dave Grohl was especially pissed, calling out Murphy for thinking every artist would want their songs featured on his show.
  • Speaking of drama, some artists learned the hard way that Twitter is not all fun and games. For example, rapper The Game almost got himself in trouble with the authorities, when he tweeted a number for fans to call, which happened to be the phone number of the  Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Continue reading ‘Most Memorable Music News of 2011′

Sound And Vision: Strange Bedfellows — The Best of Music’s Unlikely Collaborations

“I get high with a little help from my friends,” Ringo Starr sang on the Beatles‘ 1967 classic. These days, so do many of music’s top stars. Two’s company, and so is three and sometimes four. The more the merrier, the higher and higher they get.

On the charts, that is.

In the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week ending December 10, seventeen songs were collaborations between separate recording entities. Four of them featured Drake, and three apiece featured Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both appeared on tracks with Drake and with each other. But will.i.am featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger—and debuting at No. 36 with “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),” which the threesome performed on the November 20 American Music Awards—was probably the one that nobody saw coming.

Old-school Rolling Stones fans must be cringing at the idea of Jagger going anywhere near Lopez and will.i.am so soon after Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera went to No. 1 by invoking his hallowed name on “Moves Like Jagger.” But for a sixty-something legend like him, hit records—even if in name only, a la Duck Sauce‘s GRAMMY-nominated “Barbra Streisand—are a near-impossible dream unless they’re in tandem with other, often younger, stars.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Strange Bedfellows — The Best of Music’s Unlikely Collaborations’

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Jason Segel performs “Man or Muppet”

Jason Segel didn’t have to stretch too far to portray his puppet-loving character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Turns out the actor is a bit of a Muppet enthusiast. In this video from the new Muppets movie, Segel tackles the existential quandary, “Am I a Muppet or a man?” Enjoy.

Katy Perry stars in SNL digital short “Best Friends”

Two best friends who love Cornish hens. What could go wrong? Throw in a meth-addled bum, a mad scientist, a time machine and a game of Russian roulette. Ladies and gentleman, Katy Perry and Andy Samberg in the SNL digital short, “Best Friends.”

The Bad

R Kelly sets sail on a concert cruise

R Kelly’s book may not be coming out until next year, but the R&B singer isn’t resting on his laurels. Kelly will be performing on the “Love Letter Cruise,” a six-day cruise of the Caribbean offered by Concert Cruises next October. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little bump and grind on the high seas y’all. Read more about this floating fiasco here.

 

Barry Manilow goes under the knife

Barry Manilow underwent surgery for bursitis of the hip and torn leg muscles this week. The sixty-eight-year-old singer blamed his bum appendages on jumping around to Copacabana for thirty years.

The Ugly

Woman gets Drake forehead tattoo

Probably the only thing funnier than the thought of someone walking around with a Drake tattoo on her forehead for the rest of her life is the interview that Vice did with the woman’s tattoo artist, Kevin Campbell. “The funny thing is, I didn’t know who Drake was, I figured it was her hood or some sh**, not some goofnugget R&B dude.” That’s only one of many gems Campbell drops. Read the whole treasure trove here.

Deadmau5 not dead

There always seems to be a rumor going around that Deadmau5, a.k.a. Joel Zimmerman, is dead. This time a prankster altered the DJ’s Wikipedia page to say Deadmau5 died as a result of alcohol poisoning on December 11th. The death rumor didn’t piss Zimmerman off so much as the uncreative method of his demise. The artist wrote on his Facebook page, “I thought we had all agreed on acid spitting koalas skydiving and volcano.” Oh well, maybe next time.

Miscellany

 


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