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This month we are awarding prizes of $100 to winners of the competition finals. In the future there will be prizes to help your musical career. Check back to find out.

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Exclusive Q and A: Eva Simons Talks Honesty, Touring With LMFAO, And Crazy Collaborations

It’s rare to see an artist go from piano lessons to party rocking, but Eva Simons is not your typical pop star. The 28-year-old Dutch singer-songwriter found her musical passions at an early age. Simons was classically trained pianist who graduated from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Her monster dance hit with Afrojack, “Take Over Control,” which she also co-wrote, topped the iTunes dance charts globally, and has sold nearly a million downloads in the U.S. alone, while the video has racked up more than 10 million views on YouTube. Having already collaborated with big stars like will.i.am and Chris Brown, Simons is ready to introduce herself to the American pop scene at the perfect time, as electronic dance music continues to take the world by storm. We caught up with Simons to talk about staying true to herself, being on the Identity Tour with LMFAO, and her ideas for the future of her career. Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Eva Simons Talks Honesty, Touring With LMFAO, And Crazy Collaborations’

Paris Hilton Attempts To DJ

Earlier this month, Paris Hilton made headlines by announcing plans to launch a career as a house music DJ. Saturday night, America’s favorite most famous heiress took to the decks at the Pop Music Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil to play her first-ever DJ set. What resulted was a Top-40-heavy set filled with plenty of arm-flailing and off-beat hip-shaking… but not much mixing.

Hilton seemed to have put more effort into her wardrobe (featuring a pair of bedazzled headphones) than she did practicing for the gig. Approximately 11 seconds into the video, Paris accidentally speeds up the track before catching her mistake and awkwardly playing it off by waving a Brazilian flag. Every DJ can relate to accidentally nudging the most important control on the CD player (which happens to be located on the opposite side of the device as the rest of the controls)… but happening twice in one minute? For shame, Paris.

 

Perhaps the best point of the night came when Paris attempted to drop her new single “Last Night” (courtesy of producer and ex-boyfriend Afrojack.) It seems as though the plan was to play the song in full, before transitioning to “We Found Love” by Rihanna. Somehow Paris jumbled up her ‘Play’ buttons and the crowd was treated to an unintentional mash-up. Instead of attempting to fix the mistake, Paris just tossed her diamond-crusted headphones off and sang over the mess. Needless to say, the sound tech had to come on stage and fix her mistake before the all important drop. Really, really good stuff.

Paris Hilton And Other Acts Trying Their Hand At Dance

Heiress and socialite Paris Hilton might be coming to a rave near you. And chances are she’ll be in the DJ booth. It’s no surprise that Hilton is a fan of dance music seeing as she’s been a fixture of the club circuit for the past few years. She also has a relationship, platonic or otherwise, with Afrojack, a well-known commodity as a DJ and producer. So it can’t be too surprising when she says, “I have a huge passion for house music.” Hilton has even flirted with a career in music before, going back to her 2006 debut Paris, an album that some people actually bought.

But still. This is a marketing ploy from a master self-promoter, lest anyone be mistaken that this signals some kind of earnest artistic intent from Hilton to further ingratiate herself into the music scene that she loves. Funny thing is, the last time Hilton made an album, it was of pop music, designed to slot in nicely with the rest of the Top 40 at the time of its release. Now, she’s going after the EDM market.

The rise of EDM in America has been far less chronicled than the arrival of EDM. Hilton’s move to make a dance record is a signal of the next phase as electronic music settles into itself as a genre with mainstream appeal and following.

That’s not to say that other bands haven’t tried to break into the dance world. We can’t use pop artists as an example, so no Black Eyed Peas or Chris Brown since these acts need to keep their sound current to stay relevant. So, let’s turn to the rock world. Skrillex, arguably the hottest star in EDM at the moment, is known to have gotten his start in music fronting the post-hardcore band From First To Last. Skrillex was also one of the collaborators on Korn‘s last album, the genre-bending The Path of Totality. That path was already a road well taken, with British heavy rock acts Enter Shikari and Asking Alexandria melding electronic sonics to metal modes.

But Skrillex isn’t the only person making these kind of connections. We already talked about Diplo, a man the New York Times described as a, “negotiator and collaborator.” Diplo, real name Thomas Wesley Pentz, has touched on nearly every genre in music. 2012 saw his first major foray into the world of rock music, producing some of No Doubt’s upcoming comeback album. Diplo (and production collaborator Switch) also left their sonic watermark all over the recent debut of British singer-songwriter Alex Clare. While Clare does not have a large following stateside, it’s likely that many TV viewers have heard his work before.

Clare’s “Too Close,” featured in the Internet Explorer commercial above, is a funny kind of synthesis. Lightly plucked chords with a light R&B flavor are married to soulful vocals in the verses. Synth enters and signals the upcoming chorus, which is club ready with the requisite wobbles. A song like this wouldn’t be able make it to rock or the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the U.S. a year ago. But today, things are different.

But Hilton’s move into the house music world is a step further then some rocker’s dalliances into EDM. After all, Hilton isn’t really a credible artist. She’s not even a tastemaker. She’s a human barometer. Hilton will make her club ready debut, replete with her dead-eyed vocals and topical synths. When this din sounds, it will double as an alarm. It will be a call to order, a signal that EDM will have finally lost all of the trappings of being an “underground” genre. As goes Hilton, so goes America.

Get a taste of Hilton’s upcoming contribution to the grand pantheon of EDM, “Drunk Text,” below. Choice lyric? “No one is safe in the Twittersphere anymore.”

EDC NYC Lineup Announced!

Insomniac Events has finally announced the long-awaited Electric Daisy Carnival New York City lineup. If you can take the day off, the newly added Friday, May 18th date (4pm- 11pm) will kick off the event, with top dogs Fatboy Slim, Armin van Buuren, and the YouTube/Beatport sensation Madeon. The remaining two days, Saturday and Sunday, will start at 12 pm and go until 11 pm. On Saturday, expect to see Avicii, Sebastian Ingrosso, legendary house music pioneer Carl Cox, and Steve Angello. Sunday will consist of a fantastic closing lineup, including acts such as Bassnectar, Afrojack, Nero, and Richie Hawtin. Click here to check out the full EDC NYC lineup.

Shakira and Afrojack Working Together?

In a recent interview with Billboard, DJ Afrojack revealed that he and Shakira have been working together in the studio.

“She’s really nice and that’s why we started working together,” says the DJ. “She has a unique voice and really loves the new dance thing. Like when a beat drops, she makes this like… face. She’s feeling it.”

This sheds some additional light on Shakira’s recent announcement that she has returned to the studio to work on a new album. Other sources have revealed that she will also collaborate with LMFAO, Akon and RedOne, but whether or not her tracks with Afrojack will be on the album is still unsure. “I never want to put a name tag on something,” says Afrojack. “I wanna just see what happens, but probably. We’ll see.”

Ultra 2012

Over the weekend, 160,000 ravers gathered in South Beach Miami for the 2012 Ultra Music Festival. Taking the crowd by surprise, the event attracted several iconic celebrities, all of which shared their appreciation for EDM.

For starters, Madona’s introduction of headlining DJ/EDM producer Avicii was quite memorable.”Electronic dance music has been a part of my life since the beginning of my career,” she told the crowd. “I can honestly say a DJ saved my life.” (A reference to Junior Vasquez.) Lastly, she proposed a question for the audience: “I have a few questions for you,” she shouted. “How many people in this crowd have seen Molly? Are you ready to dance? Are you ready for the next DJ, motherfuckers?”

19 year-old Porter Robinson and 17 year-old Madeon performed memorable sets as well. The YouTube sensation and glitch-electro DJ tore up the UMF Korea Stage. Despite their age, these youngsters have acquired an incredible fan base over the last year. Robinson alone has opened for Skrillex and Tiësto, topping the iTunes dance chart, and sold out his own headlining tour.

Afrojack brought some celebrity buddies as well. During his awesome performance, rumored girlfriend Paris Hilton and rap buddy Lil’ John waved to the crowd and showed their support.

Fatboy Slim broke some local rules by mixing LMFAO‘s “I’m in Miami, Bitch” into his set. However, I’m sure most of the natives didn’t mind because the performance with inarguably amazing – as you can see in the video below.

 

 

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?’

Sound And Vision: Songs Of Summer 2011

Sonny and Cher. Britney and Justin. Meg and Jack White. Nothing lasts forever. Well, almost. There’s one inseparable pair that’s likely to survive until the end of time: sunny summer weather and pop music. What would these dog days be without the perfect soundtrack? Possibly, over and done with. Hello, autumn!

“California Gurls” by Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg ruled both the airwaves and the charts last Memorial Day to Labor Day, refusing to go down until the temperature did. This year’s girl of summer: Adele, thanks to her No. 1 hit “Rolling in the Deep.” But even if Adele isn’t quite your thing (nor Lady Gaga, nor Perry, who’s once again making heat waves in 2011), ’tis the season for musical memories that will last a lifetime—or at least until next year when beach weather once again rolls around.

What are the biggest summer of ’11 pop trends? Keep reading…

Sisters are doing it for themselves—again. Last year’s Top 10 list in Billboard magazine’s Songs of the Summer 1985-2010 featured only three female artists, and each one, Katy Perry, Rihanna and Hayley Williams, had a boy on the side (Snoop Dogg, Eminem and B.o.B., respectively). Though so many of pop’s leading ladies recently had been standing by their men or whatever last-minute remix cohort could get them a shot at No. 1, this season, the most successful ones are going it alone. Rihanna and Beyoncé may be struggling with their latest pair of solo efforts, but Lady Gaga already has had three Top 10 solo hits from the Born This Way album, including the summer-anthem contender “The Edge of Glory,” and Adele didn’t need any guest rappers to keep “Rolling in the Deep” at No. 1 for seven weeks (as of Billboard’s Hot 100 dated July 2).

Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj, who apparently has never met an artist with whom she wouldn’t collaborate, finally has scored a Top 10 single of her own with “Your Love.” And after enlisting Kanye West to help lift “E.T.” all the way to the top, Perry is carrying the weight of “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” hit No. 5 from the Teenage Dream album, all on her slender shoulders. Deborah Gibson, Corey Feldman, Kenny G, Hanson, Rebecca Black and two guys from Glee all pop up in the video, but the song itself is a one-woman show.

It takes two (or three or four) to make a hit go right. The women on top may be spending the summer alone (at least on record), but they are pretty much the only ones. Last year, more than half of Billboard’s top summer songs paired singers with rappers. This year, if two’s company, three and four is, too. Pitbull is getting by with a little help from three friends (Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer) on his current hit, “Give Me Everything.” The duo LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” has Lauren Bennett and GoonRock on the guest list. Jennifer Lopez had Pitbull and Katy Perry had Kanye West on their respective spring holdovers, “On the Floor” and the already mentioned “E.T.”, while the Black Eyed Peas have each other on “Just Can’t Get Enough.”

If you want to be a boy of summer, learn how to rap. Bruno Mars might get by on hit after hit by swinging sweetly (which he does once again on “Lazy Song,” his latest Top 5 single), but Chris Brown, one of contemporary R&B’s strongest male singers, spent all of his recent Top 10 comeback single, “Look at Me Now,” rapping alongside Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne. And even before he performed with Ludacris on the CMT Awards, Jason Aldean already had a hit with “Dirt Road Anthem,” on which he performed the rap himself. Now the remix featuring Ludacris doing the rap is in danger of becoming the first country-rap collaboration to top Billboard’s Hot 100. Maybe Coldplay’s “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” would have had more staying power if Chris Martin had broken into a rap. It’s not too late for the currently ubiquitous Lil Wayne to give a brother a helping hand.

Groove is in the heart (and all over the charts). So you think you can dance? Then you’re in luck. Nearly every song in the Top 20 of the Hot 100 works just as well under the strobe lights as on the radio. The aformentioned LMFAO has a huge international hit with “Party Rock Anthem,” a track whose video features shuffling, a dance that originated in, of all places, Melbourne, Australia. Meanwhile, after escorting Jennifer Lopez into the Top 10 with “On the Floor,” rapper Pitbull, still on the floor, has gone even higher with “Give Me Everything.” This time his dance partners are Afrojack, Nayer and Ne-Yo, an artist previously best known for silky soul singing, but if you can’t beat ‘em, get down with ‘em.

Teenage dreams are still coming true. Last year when “California Gurls” was topping the charts, who would have guessed that Perry still would be putting out the hits from Teenage Dream one year later? As party rock anthems go, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” is my pick for the summer of 2011, but musical hangovers can be just as brutal as alcohol-related ones. Will we remember “Last Friday Night” in the morning? Definitely. But come autumn, “Last Friday Night” already might be a distant non-memory, Perry will be on to the sixth hit single from Teenage Dream (Peacock?), and we’ll probably all still be “Rolling in the Deep.”

 


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