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April Smith And The Great Picture Show: Artist Of The Week

This week, we stumble through the OurStage catalog and find a couple of audio gems by April Smith and the Great Picture Show. We did a little Q&A with April back in 2010 when she was on the road with Langhorne Slim. Now, having rediscovered her catchy and unique songs, we’re gonna go ahead and call her our Artist of the Week.

Check out her track “Terrible Things,” from her LP Songs for a Sinking Ship. It’s a driving cabaret number, with some punk passion, delivered with Smith’s strong and authentic voice. And we’re not alone in being compelled by the song – Dancing With The Stars staged an incredible and somehow appropriate choreographed number featuring the song earlier this year.

 

 

One of the great things about discovering music on OurStage is that artists often post demo versions of their songs, as a way to easily deliver it to their fan base and occasionally just to gauge reaction. On April’s page, it’s quite a trip to hear the demo of her “Colors” up against the finished version (from the same LP as “Terrible Things,” both complete with kazoo solos. The stripped-down version is a testament to the power and charm of her voice.

We look forward to hearing what might come next from April and her band.

 

Ne-Yo Performs “Let Me Love You” On ‘Dancing With The Stars’

Pop star Ne-Yo took his megahit, “Let Me Love You” to the stage of Dancing With The Stars last night and now, thanks to the power of Youtube, even those of us who hate reality TV can enjoy his brilliant performance. You can view the clip below:

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Kelly Rowland Returns!

Rebecca Black: Rumors And Revelations

We’ve tried not to get too involved in the whole Rebecca Black fracas that’s been brewing on the Internet for the past few weeks. It’s been hard considering that for a minute there Black was seemingly plastered onto every single Web site on the web and her song “Friday” was being streamed simultaneously by every human being with a broadband connection on the planet.

However, now that things have died down a bit we can take a step back and start really looking at the career of Rebecca Black. Though she’s post-ubiquity, don’t think for a second that we’re done hearing from Black. In fact, she’s been planting the seeds to turn her fifteen minutes into a legitimate career. Given how fast things have been moving for her it can be hard for anyone to track her trajectory. And because she is an Internet phenomenon, it’s tough to parse through the heresay and the rumors to determine what’s really happening and what isn’t.

Just know that OurStage Magazine is here for you.

To help cut through the B.S., we’ve decided to share a few of the facts about the young Rebecca Black and her nascent career. We’re also going to throw in some rumors* of our own is as well. Who says we can’t have a little fun fun fun of our own?

Revelation: Rebecca Black is suing Ark Music Factory

You’d think for basically making her career, Black would be a bit more grateful towards the guys at Ark Music. But what’s this? Black and her mother Georgina Marquez Kelly are suing Ark over copyright infringement? Shocker. At least if Rebecca Black was getting all of the money from the single, a pretty good sum of money by the way, she said she’d donate it all to Japan relief. Good for her!

Rumor: Rebecca Black has signed with Universal

Rebecca Black did sign with… someone. She’s now working with a big time management team and Ark CEO Patrice Wilson aka Fat Usher aka that rapper in the “Friday” video (!) did state that she was no longer with Ark, cryptically stating that she was now signed with somebody else. But who? Why not Universal, already the home of fellow rising pop star Jessie J, fellow role model to young women Taylor Swift and Black’s beloved Justin Bieber (seriously, she has a Bieber shrine). She’d fit right in.

Revelation: Rebecca Black is working on her full length debut album

Not one to rest on her laurels Black is already working on her full length debut at Flying Pig Productions. She’s also got her next single slated to come out in the near future titled “LOL”. The chorus of the song? “BFF you make me LOL“. Inspiring.

Rumor: Rebecca Black’s new album will feature guest spots from Eminem and Snoop Dogg

Rebecca Black’s connection to rap is already known and she recently received a blessing from Snoop Dogg himself. So it shouldn’t be surprising that in an effort to boost her artistic credibility she will be teaming up the Doggfather and shock rapper Eminem on the LP. When asked about the move, Black was quoted as saying she was “tired of all the fake ass bitches hating on her.” Who knew she was so hood?

Revelation: “Friday” might not be the best song in the world but people love to cover it

Say what you will, but there’s no denying that for a disposable fluff-pop single, “Friday” has got some legs. It’s no revelation that Rebecca Black is obsessed with the Biebs (she is a teen girl) so it must’ve been extra special when she heard his rendition of her big hit. And by rendition we mean a few bars inbetween songs at a show in Nottingham. Is a collaboration between the two stars imminent?! No, no probably not.

He’s not the only one to get in on the act. Late night funnymen Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert also got into the act on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The song got an appropriately epic treatment with The Roots providing the instrumental muscle and the immortal Taylor Hicks of American Idol fame, who we didn’t know could play the harmonica!

Rumor: Move over Gwyneth, Rebecca Black is about to be the next big Glee guest star

You heard us right folks, Rebecca Black has been slated to appear on the hit musical TV show! In an attempt to lend her musical chops some credibility she’s going to be featured in an upcoming episode as the evil stepsister of Rachel Berry, the female lead of the singing cast played by Lea Michele.

The resemblance is uncanny.

The storyline for the episodes states that, “Rachel’s younger sister, jealous of the success and attention that her sibling’s received tries to join the Glee Club herself and when she can’t join the club she teams up with cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester to take the glee club down once and for all!” Rebecca Black was excited for the opportunity to showcase her acting chops, seeing the episode as way to demonstrate to fans that, “[I'm] a double threat.” No word on when she’ll make her Dancing With The Stars debut.

* Please note that it’s entirely possible that we made all of these rumors up.

Sound And Vision: Should They Stay Or Should They Go? The Overexposure of Pop’s Biggest Stars

Last year, Avril Lavigne posted an online message to her fans explaining the lengthy break between her last album, 2007′s The Best Damn Thing, and her upcoming Goodbye Lullabye (due March 8 on RCA Records): “The thing with me, is that i write my own music and therefore, it takes me longer to put out records cause i have to live my life to get inspiration.” If only more of today’s pop stars were so dedicated to life offstage.
In the early ’90s, Prince and Warner Bros. Records famously tussled when the label refused to release new music by him every hour on the hour. Warner Bros. had a point: How can we miss you if you refuse to go away? For more than a decade, Prince had released more or less one album a year, making them increasingly less special events and eventually suffering drastically diminished returns.
Too bad more labels today aren’t standing the same ground as Warner Bros did. In the ’60s, it wasn’t uncommon for artists like the Beatles to release several albums a year, but that was before the Internet, the tabloid media and a billion TV channels joined radio and retail in keeping stars in our faces 24/7. If today’s myriad publicity forums aren’t constant enough reminders of your favorite artists (catch them on the big screen, YouTube, Twitter, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, their own reality shows, presenting at the Golden Globes!), there’s always a constant stream of new music.
Kanye West just released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on November 22, and already he’s got a new single with Jay-Z, “H.A.M.,” from their upcoming collaboration album, Watch the Throne, in circulation. That’s in case you’re already over Fantasy, and his daily tweets leave you wanting yet more Kanye! Usher let only five months pass between his Raymond v. Raymond album and his Versus EP. Both spawned hit singles, but Versus, which sold only 46,000 copies in its debut week, probably would have benefited commercially from a six-month delay.
The Black Eyed Peas didn’t give their five Top 10 singles from 2009′s The E.N.D. a chance to fade out of our consciousness before bombarding us with a new album, The Beginning, last November. The first single, “The Time (Dirty Bit),” is a Top 10 hit but hardly on par with The E.N.D.‘s introductory singles, “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling,” which spent a total of 26 consecutive weeks at No. 1. Nor has the album, which moved a non-whopping 119,000 copies its first week out (nearly 200,000 less than The E.N.D.), been a huge seller.
Susan Boyle fared better commercially with her two albums, I Dreamed a Dream and The Gift, released during the holiday seasons of 2009 and 2010, respectively, but after her initial wave of fame, she’s become less of a media hog. Now that she’s already on to working on album No. 3, though, the big question is how much of her soporific easy-listening pop do fans need before they doze off on her completely?

At the other end of the noise spectrum, Ke$ha began 2010 with her debut album, Animal, and ended it with an EP, Cannibal. Her sound-alike singles all have been hits, but her buzz has yet to reflect the success of the singles—Put her on a red carpet with Gaga, Justin Bieber and Adam Lambert, and who is most likely to be overlooked?— suggesting that either fans are connecting more with the songs than the artist singing (croaking?) them, or that a little Ke$ha goes a long way. Rihanna, pop’s most prolific woman who has released an album a year (including 2008′s expanded repackaging of Good Girl Gone Bad) since her 2005 debut, hasn’t had any trouble establishing a diehard fan base, but despite her incredible run of hit singles, she’s yet to land a No. 1 album or one that has sold more than double-platinum in the US. Perhaps if she’d let her absence make the hearts of fans grow a little fonder…

A greatest-hits compilation aside, at least Britney Spears had the good sense to give us more than two years between 2008′s Circus and her March album. Surely the color-by-numbers first single, “Hold It Against Me,” wouldn’t be such an immediate smash had she been a 2010 regular on Billboard’s Hot 100. “Telephone” duet partners Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, both formerly overexposed and both with new albums due in 2011, also should benefit greatly from giving their fans a breather.
Hopefully, Bruno Mars, Drake and Nicki Minaj, all of whom spent most of 2010 on the Hot 100, either on their own hits or moonlighting on someone else’s, are paying attention. Katy Perry, who’s been on the radio and in the media non-stop since last summer, could use a break too—and after three No. 1 singles from her latest album, so can I. Wake me when her teenage dream is finally over.

Has American Idol Lost Its Platinum Touch?

Maybe the “Glamberts” are as good as it gets? If so, American Idol‘s days of blasting supernovas into the pop stratosphere certainly ended with a big bang. Adam Lambert, the object of the “Glamberts’” obsession, may not be Idol’s best-selling star—internationally, that would be first-season champ Kelly Clarkson, who has sold nearly 25 million albums worldwide, with Carrie Underwood taking the lead in the US with sales of some 12 million—but he might well be its biggest. His “Glamberts” dance at the altar of their pop idol with a passion unmatched even by Lady Gaga‘s disciples, who at least make do with Rihanna and Katy Perry when she’s not around.

Interestingly, since Lambert’s second-place finish in 2009′s most-shocking Idol-finale twist to date, it’s been nowhere but way down for other Idol contestants on the charts. Although Kris Allen, the guy who shoved Lambert into the eighth season’s runner-up spot, scored a trio of Top 20 singles—one of which, “Live Like We’re Dying,” went platinum—his self-titled post-Idol album sold just a fraction of what Lambert’s For Your Entertainment did in the US (765,000 vs. 322,000), and was the first by an Idol winner not to go gold.

This past season’s Top 2 might do even worse: Last month, Lee DeWyze’s Live It Up earned the distinction of having the lowest first-week sales (39,000) of any Idol winner’s debut to date, and plummeted down the Billboard 200 album chart faster than you can say, “Taylor Hicks.” (Remember him?) Runner-up Crystal Bowersox’s debut, Farmer’s Daughter, came out on December 14 and isn’t expected to do much better.

Though the Fox network’s Idol still has an edge in the Nielsen ratings (we’ll see when its 10th season premieres on January 19, how it fares with Simon Cowell gone to launch the US version of The X Factor in September of 2011, also on Fox), but emerging competition is endangering its supremacy in the pop marketplace. As TV-produced pop stars go, the Glee cast has eclipsed just about everyone, with a string of hit albums and EPs and more than 100 singles charted on Billboard’s Hot 100. Meanwhile, Lambert aside, the two top-selling stars to emerge from TV talent search’s in the past two years—Susan Boyle and Jackie Evancho—came not from Idol but from Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent, respectively.

And more competition is on the way. In addition to Cowell’s US X Factor, NBC will debut the Mark Burnett (Survivor)-produced The Voice of America, based on Holland’s top TV star search, in the spring of 2011. But the success of Boyle and Evancho, neither of whom won their respective contests, suggests that it might not be whether you win or lose, or even which show you appear on, but the strength of your publicity hook. Boyle was the underdog forty-something spinster from the Scottish boondocks, Evancho the 10-year-old opera-singing prodigy.

As for Idol’s upcoming hopefuls, if any act associated with the show is likely to benefit from the exposure next season, my money’s on new judge Jennifer Lopez. She hasn’t had a pop hit in years, but 19 Management should take over her recording career pronto, release the long-delayed Love? and watch it outsell Allen, Bowersox and DeWyze. She might never again have a “Glambert”-type following to call her own, win an Oscar like third-season also-ran Jennifer Hudson, or even secure her very own episode of Glee, but she very well could provide Idol with new bragging rights as an even greater resurrector of fading celebrities than Dancing with the Stars.

By Jeremy Helligar

Jeremy Helligar is a former staff writer for People, Teen People, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly, who now writes about celebrities and pop culture from his couch in Buenos Aires.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

OK Go get dogged in new video

If you’ve ever watched an OK Go video, you know choreography is key. Exhibits A, B, and C right here. This latest installment is no different, but adds man’s best friend to the mix with heart-warming results. If one of these furry little rapscallions doesn’t get a gig on “Dancing With The Stars” then there is no justice in this world. Oh, and 10 points if you can spot the goat.

And then, these guys jumped on the bandwagon …

Ever heard of a band called OK Go? Quirky, ambitious videos? Winsome electro-pop? Subject of blurb Number 1 in this column? Here’s video that lampoons their whimsical, electro-pop methodology … using a giant pie!

The Bad

Aretha Franklin’s son beaten at Detroit gas station

Eddie Franklin, 52, son of soul singer Aretha Franklin, ended up in the hospital on Monday night after three men jumped him and beat him severely in a Detroit gas station parking lot. Franklin underwent emergency oral surgery and was released on Wednesday. Charges have not yet been filed.

The-Dream and L.A. Reid fired from Def Jam

L.A. Reid and The-Dream

Word on the street is that producer L.A. Reid (responsible for cultivating the careers of Mariah Carey, Pink, Usher, Ciara and countless other stars) and R&B singer/producer The-Dream were just fired from Def Jam Records due to “disappointing sales figures and exuberant spending.” If true, this would be The-Dream’s second break-up of 2010. If he gets strapped for cash, maybe he can sell the pointless hyphen in his name.

The Ugly

50 Cent threatens his dog with a knife

50 Cent and Oprah

In an attempt to be funny, 50 cent posted pics to his Twitter page of him threatening his yorkie, Oprah Winfrey, with a knife. Totally lame, and kind of disturbing. Seriously, someone call animal rescue on this tool. In happier news, here’s a video of kittens massaging each other.

Miscellany

SAMBA THROUGH THE NIGHT

lubamasonWith the finale of this year’s season of Dancing with the Stars over, many of you will be looking for a summer dance fix. Look no further than the OurStage Latin Channel for a perfect mix of danceable tunes ranging from modern to traditional with a range of beats to satisfy both the fastest mambo and slowest, most sensual rumba routines. But before you get carried away on the dance floor, check out one of last month’s Top 10 winners, Luba Mason.

From Hollywood to Broadway, Luba has built up an impressive resume and her latest album, Krazy Love, highlights this artist’s true star potential. Her singing and acting career began with classical training in voice, piano and dance, which quickly led to performances in the Tony Award-winning The Will Roger’s Follies. Her Broadway debut was quickly followed by noted performances alongside such respected names as Matthew Broderick and Brooke Shields.

Krazy Love showcases the musical influences of Luba’s husband and Latin superstarRuben Blades with a fusion of smooth Brazilian melodies, flirtatious Latin vibes and a crisp pop undertone. It also features a band comprised of celebrated musicians that complement the album’s sound perfectly including well-known Brazilian musician Renato Neto (a pianist for the legendary musician, Prince) on piano & keyboards  and bassist Jimmy Haslip from the Yellowjackets.

Samba through night with Luba’s winning track along with some other top Latin artists from OurStage:

 


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