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Tag: "Amy Winehouse"

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Tony Bennett Joins Forces With… Everyone

Few artists can include World War II veteran, jazz singer, painter and MTV fixture on their resume, but Tony Bennett has it sewn up. Almost twenty years after breaking through to the MTV generation and twice that in the industry, Bennett is relevant yet again with Duets II.

MTV Networks premiered Bennett’s duet of “Body and Soul” with the late, great Amy Winehouse (watch the video after the jump), and with another song recorded with the unstoppable Gaga, Duets II debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s top albums chart, selling 179,000 units in the first week and holding steady in the Top 5 on iTunes.

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Winehouse’s Lionness And The Tricky Prospect Of The Posthumous Release

We haven’t heard the last of Amy Winehouse yet, folks.

The BBC reports that Lioness: Hidden Treasures will be the third and potentially final release from the tragic singer. Coming out in December—just in time for the holidays—the twelve-track collection consists of assorted curios; b-sides, demos, covers, reworks and outtakes. Lioness supposedly shows fans where Winehouse was going with her sound at the time of her death and includes some unreleased material that gives the listener a true sense of her musical identity and influences. The project was curated by members of Winehouse’s family along with producers that Winehouse had worked with in the past, and though there is “a trove” of live performances from which to cull more material for future releases, this appears to be the final studio offering of the late singer.

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Sound And Vision: Justin Timberlake as Elton John and Six Other Wish-List Music Biopics

Every great screen biography of a music superstar needs three key ingredients to really sing: 1) An icon with the greatest story never told. 2) A talented lead actor or actress gunning for an Oscar nomination—singing talent and striking resemblance optional (Angela Bassett didn’t sing a word in What’s Love Got to Do with It, and she looks nothing like the film’s subject, yet she was Tina Turner). 3) Kick-ass songs.


Fantasia Barrino
as gospel great Mahalia Jackson is coming soon. The Elton John Story (aka Rocketman) is reportedly finally in the works (I’d cast Justin Timberlake over mentioned favorite James McAvoy and pray that he can nail a British accent), as is Aretha Franklin’s (with or without Halle Berry, the Queen of Soul’s No. 1 choice), Anne Hathaway as Judy Garland and Sacha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury.

Robert Pattinson was announced as a possible Kurt Cobain at one point last year, but it’s hard to imagine that we’d get the true story as long as Courtney Love is around to kill it or put her spin on it. Ryan Gosling has the chops to pull off Cobain, but he’s already in everything and he’s several years older than Cobain was when he committed suicide. Note to aspiring biopic producers: One doesn’t have to cast a “star” as the star. Some biopics (Amadeus, starring Tom Hulce as Mozart; La vie en rose, with Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf) do just fine without huge names.

Now that she’s gone too soon, too, it’s probably only a matter of time before we get Amy Winehouse‘s “untold” story. Note to aspiring biopic producers: Tabloid-era stars are best left alone unless, as with Eminem’s 8 Mile, the focus is on life before they were famous. Otherwise, we’ve already seen the action play out in the pages of Us Weekly and People magazine.

But what about those biopics in various stages of development and non-development? Here are six that I’m dying to see.

1) David Bowie: The star. The spectacle. The songs… Iman. I can’t think of a rock icon whose story is more deserving of the screen treatment. It would be a shoo-in for the Best Costume Design Oscar, and with a star like Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who already played a Bowie-esque figure to perfection in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine), an actor worthy of the material.

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Live Wired [Review]: iHeartRadio Festival

iHeartRadio is all about well…radio, and taking it to the next level. Not only does the site allow you to live stream talk and music radio stations locally and nationally, it also enables you to create your own custom stations based on your musical tastes. This past weekend, iHeartRadio went all out to promote their new and improved Web site, along with the launch of the iHeartRadio mobile app that grants users listening access from their phones. For the launch, they put on a giant, star-studded festival in Las Vegas, which sold out about ten minutes after tickets were made available. The theme of the night was very much focused on the diversity and popularity of the festival’s artists.

For the majority of fans who weren’t able to get a ticket or make their way to Vegas, iHeartRadio streamed the entire two-night event on their Web site. Here at Live Wired, we were part of that majority, and since we’ve been talking so much about streaming festivals online, we’re here to tell you what it was like. The evening kicked off with a half-hour “pre-show” hosted by two personalities from NYC’s popular radio station z100, followed by the first performance of the night. The Black Eyed Peas, who apparently are not on their hiatus yet, took the stage first and were pretty underwhelming. Not that they’re exactly known for their live shows (See: this year’s Super Bowl performance), but the audience didn’t seem too entertained either.

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Soundcheck: Who Was Victorious At The VMA’s?

The MTV Video Music Awards always serve up big surprises and this year was no different.  From Beyoncé’s big news to Lady Gaga’s dragged-up, stand-in, this year’s show didn’t skimp on the stumpers.

Lady Gaga kicked off the show with a monologue from her male alter ego, ‘Jo Calderone’. “She left me! She said it always starts out good and then the guys—meaning me, I’m one of the guys—we get crazy. I did. I got crazy. But she’s f—ing crazy too, right?” The narrative was hard to follow at first, and I’m guessing die-hard Gaga fans figured it out before the rest of us.  Still, she delivered an intense performance of “You And I” with a guest appearance by legendary guitarist, Brian May of Queen. What you didn’t see on television was the tumble Gaga took off her piano towards the end of her performance.  Ever the pro, she moved on before the crowd even noticed her slip up.  Her video for “Born This Way” earned her two awards; Best Female Video and the newly created Best Video with a Message category.

Jay-Z and Kanye West took the stage for an unexpected performance of their Watch The Throne hit, “Otis”.  While it was instantly exciting to see the two onstage together, the performance was not as magical as expected.  The best part of their set was when security bum-rushed a stage-crasher who tried to interrupt the  lackluster performance.

Nicki Minaj was nominated in three categories and  nabbed the Moon man for Best Hip Hop Video for “Super Bass”. She presented the first award of the night to tour mate, Britney Spears for “Til The World Ends” for  Best Pop Video. In her speech, a healthy, happy-looking Spears thanked God, her kids, and ex-agent boyfriend, Jason Traiwick.  Gaga presented Spears with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award telling the crowd, “I used to hang posters of her on my wall and touch myself when I was laying in bed,” before introducing an awesome montage of Britney’s videos, complete with a legion of dancers donning her most iconic outfits and legendary dance moves.

After accepting her award, Britney introduced Beyoncé, who sang “Love On Top” in a suspiciously body-conscious outfit of black pants and an oversized blazer.  While those of us on the black carpet had already seen the secret bulge at arrivals, she teased the crowd during her intro saying, “I want you to stand up on your feet, I want you to feel the love that’s growing inside of me.” At the end of her set she opened her blazer to reveal a shockingly developed baby bump.  The smile on her face as she rubbed her belly was the highlight of the night, as husband Jay-Z and Kanye West celebrated from the front row. Her video for “Girls (Run The World)” won in the Best Choreography category, but lost to Katy Perry for Video Of The Year.

Perry (who had a whopping ten nominations this year) also took home the Best Collaboration title for “E.T.” with Kanye West. Her husband and past VMA host, Russell Brand, kicked off a touching tribute to Amy Winehouse who died last month at twenty-seven.  He highlighted her amazing voice, which he called “a timeless sound like a roar from the guts of humanity,” telling the crowd, “When a talent like Amy Winehouse comes along, it affects everybody.” He was joined by Tony Bennett, who likened her to prolific jazz singers, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald before debuting a duet he recently recorded with Amy. Bruno Mars delivered a loving performance of her cover of “Valerie” ending it with a final farewell, singing, “Say Amy, oh Amy/ I love you darling, I love you darling/ Say Amy, whoa Amy, we’ll miss you baby.”

Other stand-out performances came from Chris Brown, who didn’t win a trophy, but wowed the crowd with his stellar dance moves and Adele, who belted out “ Someone Like You” so effortlessly, it’s no wonder she’s every artist’s favorite artist. Odd Future’s Tyler ‘The Creator’ won the coveted Best New Artist award, beating out newbies Kreayshawn, Big Sean and Wiz Khalifa with his hit,  “Yonkers” prompting a profanity-ridden acceptance speech from the Wolfpack front-man.

Lil Wayne closed the show with a bang-literally, when he smashed the guitar he was using at the end of his set.  He started off with an auto-tune assisted rendition of “How To Love” and followed up with a rocked-out version of “John”, set to Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man.”  Weezy dropped the digital version of his highly anticipated Carter IV album following the show, with the physical album in stores yesterday.

 

Why Amy Winehouse Doesn’t Belong In The 27 Club

By: Joshua Neuman

There is a feeling that is equally as powerful as shock, but which perhaps is more addling.

When someone close to you passes away suddenly, you are struck by a vicious one-two punch: The fact that someone you loved is gone and the fact that you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I got that feeling when I was by my brother’s hospital bed at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital on September 12, 2001 in New York, watching the morose testimonials of those who had lost loved ones the day before just a few miles south of us.

“If only I could have just told her how much I loved her.”

“I would give a limb in exchange for three more seconds with him.”

“I never had a chance to tell her how I felt about her.”

Those were some of the refrains we heard over and over that day. I remember looking at my brother as he watched the 4-inch black and white television hanging from a crane-like apparatus that he could adjust from his bed. I remember feeling grateful that I had the chance to say everything that I needed to say to him.

Despite the tremendous outpouring of sadness since she passed away last week, Amy Winehouse’s death wasn’t a shock to anyone.  Late night talk show hosts have been making light of her dance with death for years. A website, WhenWillAmyWinehouseDie.com, received over 96,000 entries since it launched at the end of 2007; even Amy’s mother talked openly about the likelihood that her daughter would die young. Upon learning of her death last week and deprived of the ability to process it through “shock,” a strange feeling ensued—I’m not sure I know how to describe it. It’s not like it’s less painful than the feeling of learning that someone close to you died with little warning. No, gradual decline grants no more reprieve from pain than slowly inching yourself into an icy pool of water grants you from feeling cold.

If anything, the fact that we knew that this was coming, that there was no opportunity for shock, made it more painful. We couldn’t fantasize about things we would have wanted to say to Amy Winehouse—we had every chance we needed to say anything we wanted.  We couldn’t fixate on the results of the toxicology report as we did with Heath Ledger—who the hell cared which specific substance had done her in? We didn’t get angry at her father, who was traveling to New York City at the time of her death to perform at the Blue Note—after all, he probably did all that he could to save her.

The snail-like pace of Amy Winehouse’s descent deprived us of the capacity to feel shock upon her death and perhaps shows us how much we use “shock” to insulate us from our experience of death.  In her farewell, she has less in common with the 27 Club than she does with Biggie and Tupac, whose lives and work seemed to forecast early death—however unable to soften its sting.

For Amy Winehouse, Love — and Life — Was a Losing Game

When I first heard the news about Amy Winehouse‘s passing (on Twitter, naturally), the comment that stood out most was one by Winehouse herself in an interview that the singer had done a few years ago with my former Entertainment Weekly colleague Chris Willman. In it, Winehouse jokingly made a prediction that, in hindsight, isn’t very funny at all.

Portrait by Lauren Wells

In 10 years, she said, “I’ll be dead in a ditch, on fire.” Sadly, for her many fans who had rode shotgun as she drove down the path of self-destruction, the “dead” part of her premonition was no joking matter. It was a distinct possibility, if not a certain probability, and one that came to pass on July 23, when Winehouse, who had infamously battled drug and alcohol addiction and had been in and out of rehab in recent years, was found dead in her London home.

The first thing I thought, after spending a moment to grieve for her family and loved ones, was that the world would be cheated out of so much great music. With Back to Black, her 2006 breakthrough album, Winehouse did so much more than show great promise. Hers already was a talent in full bloom. Back to Black was destined to go down as one of the all-time masterpieces. I was living in Buenos Aires at the time of its release, and I knew people who didn’t speak a word of English who could recite every line from every song.

It’s better to burn out than fade away. Live fast, die young. Leave a beautiful corpse. We’ve also all heard the one about how dying (especially before one’s time) is the best career move. I don’t know how beautiful Winehouse’s corpse will be, but she is guaranteed a spot in the pantheon of musical greats who left the party too soon.

Chillingly, she’ll be right beside the musical icons that she seemed to want to emulate most: Janis Joplin, a blue-eyed soulful precursor to whom she was often compared; Jimi Hendrix; Jim Morrison; and Kurt Cobain, all of whom died when they were the same age as Winehouse. If ever there were an unlucky number, it would have to be 27.

Unlike the legends who preceded Winehouse to an early grave and left behind so much incredible, indelible music, Winehouse bequeathed us with relatively few musical gifts. There are her two albums, 2003′s Frank and Back to Black, as well as a handful of one-off guest appearances on other people’s songs (Mark Ronson, Quincy Jones, and Tony Bennett, whose Duets II album in September will feature Winehouse). Sadly, her final impression will be a June concert in Belgrade, Serbia in which the apparently bombed singer stumbled and slurred her way through a few songs before being booed off the stage.

She had reportedly been working on new music for years, and at one point, was said to be on the verge of working with Roots drummer ?uestlove and producer/performer Raphael Saadiq on a project that had been delayed because of Winehouse’s trouble securing a U.S. travel visa due to her 2007 drug arrest for marijuana possession in Norway. So from here to eternity, all we’ll have to remember Winehouse by will be masterpieces of melancholy like “Love Is a Losing Game” and “Tears Dry on Their Own.” We’ll sing along, we’ll cry, we’ll look for clues to what was going on inside her troubled mind, to figure out why she was such a lost soul.

For you I was a flame

Love is a losing game

Five story fire as you came

Love is a losing game

From this day forth, Winehouse’s world-weary look of love will make Adele’s 21 sound like feel-good music. Speaking of Adele, Winehouse should have been where the “Rolling in the Deep” singer is now, reaping continued financial and critical benefits after a first rush of success. Now who’s going to fill her f**k me pumps (to quote the title of one of her early songs)?

Surprisingly, for all of her Grammys, accolades and albums sold, Winehouse only had one single resembling a hit in the U.S., “Rehab,” which went to No. 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100. I’ll never again be able to listen to the song in quite the same way, as a statement of bad-ass defiance. Now it will just sound like the words of a sad, desperate woman in denial and on the brink of collapse. If only she’d taken their advice.

 


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