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Exclusive Q and A: Lauren Alaina Talks “Wildflower,” Fans and Steve Tyler

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsLauren Alaina may not have won the two Teen Choice Awards for which she was just nominated — Choice Female Country Artist and Choice TV Female Reality Star for American Idol — but she’s got plenty of other successes to celebrate.

Not only is she looking ahead to joining Sugarland‘s “In Your Hands” tour in support of her debut album Wildflower, but her new single “Eighteen Inches” has been released to radio with great success. The song, written by Carrie Underwood, Kelley Lovelace, and Ashley Gorley, which references the space between a person’s head and heart, is something which resonates strongly with Alaina.

Recently the 17-year-old American Idol season 10 runner-up and Georgia native took time out of her schedule to talk about her music, her idols, and just what she learned from recording with American Idol judge and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler.

OS: Let’s talk about your album and how you chose such great songs like “Eighteen Inches.”

LA: In the process of making the album I was listening to quite a few songs. I had to narrow them down to what what was going to go on the album. When I heard ["18 Inches"] that reminded me so much of my mom. She has literally gone through the exact same thing as the song. Eighteen inches is the distance between the head and the heart. It delivered such a beautiful message. I remember being very proud of being the person who sings it.

OS: I know you admire Carrie Underwood very much. Was that another reason you liked it so much?

LA: I didn’t know she wrote it [when I first heard it]. I think [my team] didn’t tell me on purpose.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Lauren Alaina Talks “Wildflower,” Fans and Steve Tyler’

Exclusive Q and A: Hunter Hayes Talks Carrie Underwood, Joe Walsh and the Young Woman who Inspired ‘Wanted’

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsHunter Hayes has hit gold with “Wanted,” the second single from from his self-titled debut album. Between that song and the first single from the album, Storm Warning, Hayes has also watched digital sales move beyond the one million mark.

Although Hayes is only 20, he is a virtuoso performer, writer, and producer who played every instrument and writes or co-writes every song on his album. The 2012 Academy of Country Music (ACM) New Artist of the Year nominee is on a musical fast track touring with household names including Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, and Hank Williams Jr. As he continues his own tour and looks ahead to joining Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” tour this fall, it’s clear his star is continuing to rise. Recently he took time out from his jam-packed schedule to talk about his music, performing and one special inspiration for his latest hit single.

OS: Congratulations on your recent success! You’ve certainly had a lot of great news lately. It has to feel surreal in a way.

HH: Just about five years ago or so when I was a freshman in high school, I was dreaming of this day. I was dreaming of traveling in a tour bus and playing theatres and [large venues]. Now I’m dreaming about traveling with several tour buses and playing arenas. This really is all a dream come true.

OS: So you co-wrote the song “Wanted.” What is the song about?

HH: I co-wrote it with Troy Verges. I had this idea about what I wanted to tell this (female) friend of mine who I just want to spend time with every time I’m home. So we were talking about that and he was helping me with what I’d say. So that’s really how the song came together.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: Hunter Hayes Talks Carrie Underwood, Joe Walsh and the Young Woman who Inspired ‘Wanted’’

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Bonnaroo rocks again

Bonnaroo was this past weekend, and there were many moments that were to be expected: Radiohead was stunning, Eminem was fierce, Danzig tried to punch out a photographer. Then there were the surprises—The Root’s tribute to MCA, Alice Cooper performing “Born This Way” and, best of all, the return of D’Angelo. The R&B singer, who’s been out of the spotlight for 12 years, was introduced by ?uestlove during The Roots’ set, and took the audience through classics by Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, and Parliament. Watch him perform “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” below.

Glen Campbell, Josh Homme star in “A Better Place”

Glen Campbell’s video for “A Better Place” is nothing if not poignant. In it, the country singer, who is battling Alzheimer’s, flips through photos of his life, reminiscing about the good times as Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age hovers nearby. “A Better Place” is intended to be Campbell’s last video, and is the single off his final album Ghost On The Canvas. Just listen to the line “Some days I’m so confused Lord, my past gets in my way,” and try not to get teary-eyed. We failed.

The Bad

Lady Gaga strikes back

After being hit with a pole wielded by a backup dancer during her concert in Auckland and suffering a mild concussion and black eye, you’d think things get better for Lady Gaga. But NOOOOO, along comes Madonna with a couple of kicks to the singer while she’s down. Gaga responded to Madonna’s jabs during her Auckland concert—and she did it while PLAYING A KEYBOARD MOTORCYCLE, people! Check it out below. Oh, and Gaga, we think the black eye looks boss.

Coney Island high school bans patriotic song, not Bieber

George Washington is rolling over in his grave at this one. Greta Hawkins, principal of PS90 in Coney Island, banned kindergarteners from singing “Proud To Be An American” at their commencement ceremony, deeming the lyrics “too grown up.” But she let the class perform Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” naturally. You know, cause the lyrics “Are we an item / Girl quit playin’” are totally age-appropriate for a five year old.

The Ugly

Lauryn Hill in trouble for tax evasion

Did you want to know the whole story behind Lauryn Hill’s refusal to pay taxes for two years? Neither did we. But the singer felt compelled to write a meandering explanation on why she didn’t pay taxes on her $1.8 million income. If you feel like reading a bunch of bull, knock yourself out.

Kanye West chastises Dubliners

When Dubliners throw coins, Kanye West throws shade. The rapper stopped his show after discovering someone had thrown a coin up on stage, and then blamed the coin for messing up his flow, saying “Don’t throw no hard sh** onstage.” Yeah guys, only the soft variety, please.

Miscellany

Sound and Vision: Why Judging a TV Star Search Is More Valuable Than Winning One

The votes were counted and Phillip Phillips was crowned the 11th American Idol on May 23. So what’s next?

If this is going to be just another case of recent history repeating, a first blush of modest success (his Idol winner’s single “Home” entered Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 10, with 278,000 downloads), maybe even a platinum post-Idol album (like his predecessor, Scotty McCreery), then… nothing much. Unlike American Idol‘s early seasons, which made durable stars out of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, taking the grand prize no longer comes with guaranteed gold or platinum (if only for one album).

Even Adam Lambert, Idol‘s eighth runner-up and the show’s lone international star launch in the past several seasons, is in the throes of a sophomore slump. Although Trespassing, his second studio album, released on May 15, entered Billboard’s Top 200 album chart at No. 1, it did so with only 77,000 copies sold its first week. That’s 120,000 less than his 2009 debut, For Your Entertainment, and the lowest one-week total for a No. 1 album since last August, when Adele’s 21 sold 76,000 copies in its 12th non-consecutive week at No. 1. Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: Why Judging a TV Star Search Is More Valuable Than Winning One’

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Adele Miss Piggy
Girls Aloud Steel Panther
  • Now, we’re kind of scared to see what Adele can do post-surgery.
  • Sure, we’re in a recession, but you politicians go argue about Miss Piggy. Totally fine.
  • What have you done, Motley Crue? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
  • If you don’t like it, why don’t you go dubstep, Nicola? Seems to have worked for Korn.
  • And this year’s entire American Country Awards goes to Carrie Underwood’s mama.
  • Finally, Ice Cube will get revenge on Coors Lite for stealing his thunder.
  • Just when your day couldn’t get any weirder, Flaming Lips + Yoko Ono happens.

Sound And Vision: Why I’m Seriously Considering Boycotting Music Award Shows

On November 9, Nashville celebrated itself (again!) with the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards. For the fourth consecutive year, the event was hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, but the masters of ceremonies weren’t the only thing that gave me that old deja vu feeling. Hadn’t these accolades already been handed out just a few months ago?

Wait, those were the Country Music Television (CMT) Music Awards in June. And before that, there were the Academy of Country Music Awards. And, just in case that’s not enough Music City honors for you, there are the 2nd annual American Country Awards coming up on December 5.

Pop and R&B are just as self-congratulatory, offering the MTV Video Music Awards, the MTV Europe Music Awards, the Billboard Awards, the American Music Awards, the Teen Choice Awards, the BET Awards, the BET Hip Hop Awards, the NAACP Image Awards and the Soul Train Music Awards.

Then, of course, there are the GRAMMYs, which following so many other back-slapping fests, have been losing their lustre for years now—though that’s hardly the only reason. Winning one used to be the musical equivalent of snagging an Oscar, but now its just more clutter for the awards shelf.

In a few weeks (November 30, to be exact), the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will announce the nominees for the 2012 GRAMMY Awards (to be held on February 12). Doesn’t it already feel like we’ve been there and done that over and over and over already this year? Am I the only one who doesn’t doubt that we’re in for another repeat of The Adele Show, with a very special appearance by Lady Gaga. Good as it is, like Christmas, I only need to sit through it once a year.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Why I’m Seriously Considering Boycotting Music Award Shows’

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.

Continue reading ‘Tony Bennett Joins Forces With… Everyone’

Your Country’s Right Here: Lauren Alaina Blossoms with ‘Wildflower’

Lauren Alaina has turned her hometown of Rossville, GA., about 10 minutes south of Chattanooga, TN., into a tourist attraction.

Yes, the sixteen-year-old runner up on American Idol, who won praise from none other than judge Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, still lives in her hometown with her parents J.J. and Kristy Suddeth and attends high school there. Just don’t expect to see her working at CiCi, the pizza parlor where she held a part-time job before she became a professional recording artist. With her debut album Wildflower blasting up the charts to No. 2 so far, Alaina isn’t in need of the job.

“I just looked at a house with my parents,” said Alaina. “We are having to move because the house I live in now we moved into when I was like four years old. We didn’t have a lot of stuff and we’ve collected a lot of stuff. This house [we’re considering] is big. It’s got three stories and it has a pool. That would be fun!”

The smart money bets that Alaina is just beginning a life full of fun now that her singing talent has been discovered. Although she’s one of the youngest contestants ever toappear on American Idol, critics note Alaina sings with a maturity reminiscent of one-time Idol contestants Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson before her.

Although such success would turn some people’s heads, Alaina seemed very grounded, chatting about how nervous she was thinking of her upcoming road test for her driver’s license. But, she said, even if she passed she wouldn’t be driving the new Ford Mustang that she won for placing second on American Idol.

“I’ll be driving my mom’s 2011 Kia Sorrento,” said Alaina of her vehicle of choice, at least for now, because she doesn’t want to damage the powerful Mustang. “We’re actually going to switch cars for a while.”

Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Lauren Alaina Blossoms with ‘Wildflower’’

Vocal Points: America’s Got Talented Singers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about the show American Idol. Since the show’s start in 2002, it’s unbelievable success has created a series of stars—Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Kris Allen and most recently Scotty McCreery. But Idol‘s popularity is now on a whole new level, as evidenced by a crop of similar shows. The X-Factor, The Voice and The Sing-Off are just a few shows which focus on vocalists and their journey to become stars. But which of these programs, if any, actually completely focus on the singer and the importance of a voice above all else?

American Idol, despite its longevity and success, has never been focused on just the voice. While these artists obviously are judged on their singing, the competition is more of a popularity contest, rather than an in-depth examination in vocal technique. And while ex Idol judge Simon Cowell‘s The X-Factor has a different approach, the show is really about contestants with the whole package deal. Premiering earlier this fall, this show boasts a $5 million prize to the one person who can wow the judges with their X factor—the ”thing” that  makes someone a star.

Continue reading ‘Vocal Points: America’s Got Talented Singers’

 


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