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People’s Choice Awards Winners: Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift

people's choice awardsThe people have spoken. And they love Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry.

After Timberlake scored awards for Favorite Album, Favorite Male Artist, and Favorite R&B Artist, he thanked Ellen DeGeneres “for all the personal inspiration and the cookies. [She] bakes a hell of a cookie.” Oh, and his parents, of course, ”for continuing to instill in me that no dream is too big.”

Katy Perry snagged awards for her track “Roar” under Favorite Song and Favorite Music Video, while Taylor Swift took home Favorite Country Artist.

Check out the full list of winners below, which includes Britney Spears, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Demi Lovato. Continue reading ‘People’s Choice Awards Winners: Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift’

PSY’s K-Pop Invasion: The Continued Decline of Western Pop Courtesy of the East

As if A-Pop wasn’t bad enough already. Just when one might have thought that American pop, with all its auto-tuned voices and fake plastic beats, couldn’t possibly make the eyes and ears bleed more, it’s about to get worse. Nicki Minaj is set to bombard us with more of her overexposure via a series of reality specials on E!, her new gig as a 12th-season American Idol judge, and, of course, more music, while Britney Spears, of all vocally challenged singers, is already sitting in judgment of wannabe A-Pop idols on The X Factor.

And last but not least scary, Ke$ha’s back, and going by the early success of “Die Young,” the first single from her upcoming sophomore album Warrior (out November 30), she’s here to stay—at least for the time being. Continue reading ‘PSY’s K-Pop Invasion: The Continued Decline of Western Pop Courtesy of the East’

Sound and Vision: Pop’s Greatest Gender Benders – Songs That Sound Better Sung By the Opposite Sex

One of the best releases of 2012 to date is Boys Don’t Cry, an album of covers recorded by Anglo-Pakistani singer-songwriter Rumer (nee Sarah Joyce). As a vocalist, Rumer is soothing and smooth, strictly middle-of-the-road enough to earn her an invitation from U.S. President Barack Obama to perform at the White House in May, the month her album came out — but that’s not to say she doesn’t have a slightly subversive streak.

After all, who chooses to release a collection of remakes for their second full-length studio album. (Rumer’s 2010 debut, Seasons of My Soul, earned her widespread acclaim, two Brit Award nominations, and a platinum certification in the U.K.)

Then there is the theme of Boys Don’t Cry (whose title was not inspired by The Cure song, which is not among the album tracks): Everything on it was written and performed by male artists in the ’70s. Somehow Rumer makes quintessentially guy songs like Ronnie Lane‘s “Just for a Moment” (about an instant of clarity in a drunken haze) and Neil Young‘s “A Man Needs a Maid” (title: self-explanatory) sound strong enough for a man but made for a woman.

Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: Pop’s Greatest Gender Benders – Songs That Sound Better Sung By the Opposite Sex’

Sound and Vision: An ‘American Idol’ Wish List– Who Should Replace Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler?

You couldn’t pay me to be an American Idol bigwig right now. The show is about to face its greatest challenge since the 2008 battle of the Davids (Cook and Archuleta).

The producers and the Fox network already have to worry about sagging ratings (the average viewership in season 11 dropped 23 percent to below 20 million for the first time in nine years, and the show fell from No. 1 for the season—to No. 2—for the first time since 2005), not to mention less commercially viable Idols and external competition from The Voice, The X Factor, and pretty much any reality show that promises to make a nobody a star.

Now, the producers have to deal with pleasing Mariah Carey, who has signed on as a judge next season, replacing either Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler, both of whom left after two years in order to focus full-time on their music careers (and in the case of Lopez, her “acting” career, too).

I once interviewed Carey for an Us Weekly cover story, and I found her to be warm, intelligent and surprisingly funny, but she’s a diva through and through. (She actually walked into the living room of her New York City hotel suite cradling her miniature dog!) Idol will reportedly pay her a very diva-like sum of between $12 and $17 million a season (a hefty and not altogether worthwhile expense, considering that Carey is well past her pop heyday), and I don’t even want to think about her list of perks and demands.

Meanwhile, there are murmurings that Randy Jackson, the last remaining original judge, currently in contract negotiations, might be moving from the judge’s table into more of a mentoring role, in an attempt to revamp the show for season 12, launching in January of 2013. Sadly, that restructuring doesn’t extend to Ryan Seacrest, the inexplicably still-highly employable host, who has signed up for another two years at a pay rate of $15 million per season. Is it too late to invite ex-judge Ellen DeGeneres back for the job they should have offered her in the first place?

Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: An ‘American Idol’ Wish List– Who Should Replace Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler?’

Sound and Vision: One Direction and The Wanted — the Return of the Boy Band?

The British are coming—again!

It’s been more than a hot minute since multi-platinum boy bands like *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys roamed the earth and ruled the charts. Now, after a decade-long dormancy, cute, heavily-styled guys who sing in harmony and don’t play instruments are suddenly back in fashion.

Once again, the UK is leading the charge onward and upward. While Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC were born in the USA, they enjoyed their earliest success in the UK. This time, though, the new wave of blushing boy bands represents an authentic UK-born-and-bred British invasion.

The members of The Wanted, whose “Glad You Came” single has climbed into the Top 3 of Billboard’s Hot 100 (the quintet’s self-titled US debut album arrives April 24), and One Direction, whose first album, Up All Night, just outpaced Adele to enter Billboard’s Top 200 album chart at No. 1 (176,000 vs. 148,000 copies sold), all hail from Britain and Ireland.

In just a few months, both groups already have enjoyed more US success than Ireland’s Westlife, or Take That, perhaps the UK’s biggest boy band ever, who aside from one Top 10 single (1995’s “Back for Good”), never made it big in the States. (With the exception of Spice Girls and Bananarama, UK female vocal groups—including All Saints in the ‘90s and, more recently, Sugababes and Girls Aloud—haven’t fared much better in the US over the years.)

Continue reading ‘Sound and Vision: One Direction and The Wanted — the Return of the Boy Band?’

Sound And Vision: Fake Pop Stars — The Rise and Continued Rise of Rebecca Black

Paris Hilton.

Kim Kardashian.

Heidi Montag.

Julianne Hough.

In a world where making a record is as easy as starring on reality TV, and even easier when you have your own show, Rebecca Black was bound to happen.

Don’t worry. Black, the fourteen-year-old from Anaheim, California, who made us wonder if she was making fun of shallow pop stars or being one herself in her viral YouTube video “Friday,” hasn’t gotten her own reality show. Yet. But isn’t it only just a matter of time?

What she does have is a level of fame—or infamy, depending on how you want to look at it—without having any discernible singing talent. Before it was yanked from YouTube in June over a dispute between Black and her former record label, Ark Music Factory, her “Friday” video had logged some 161 million views. Black became an Internet favorite, with article after online article devoted to her and her music—well, her song. Some people loved her; some people hated her; everyone was talking about her. Everybody’s still talking. Katy Perry even invited Black to costar in her “T.G.I.F. (Last Friday Night)” video.

Yes, Rebecca Black is a huge hit. Ironically, though, she has yet to have one. For all of the hoopla surrounding it, “Friday” was never a commercial success as a single. It peaked at No. 58 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and didn’t fare much better anywhere it was released.

Australia, one of the few places where “Friday” made it to the Top 40, is about to launch its own fourteen-year-old star, Jack Vidgen, recent winner of Australia’s Got Talent. Sadly, it’s gonna take a miracle—or maybe a Black cameo in his video—to give Vidgen’s career any momentum in the US, which Justin Bieber aside, has been resistant to young male solo pop (i.e., white) stars since Justin Timberlake went Hollywood.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Fake Pop Stars — The Rise and Continued Rise of Rebecca Black’

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Ellen starts music label, signs Greyson Chance

Greyson Chance on Ellen

OK, remember last week when we made up that big lie about wunderkind Greyson Chance being signed to Interscope? Kidding! Yeah, looks like that was just one of those Internet rumors. Sahhrrry. Chance was actually signed by Ellen DeGeneres — he’ll be the first artist on her brand new label, Eleven Eleven Records. We’re not sure if Eleven Eleven is actually an imprint of Interscope or an indie, and until we’re sure, we’re not saying a word.

Ludacris builds playground for Atlanta school kids

Ludacris

That Luda, bless his heart. When he’s not going door-to-door reminding people to fill out their Census forms, he’s providing for the children. This past weekend the rapper joined volunteers to help construct a playground for Venetian Hills Elementary School in Atlanta. The charity event was a collaboration between KaBoom — a national nonprofit that provides play areas to underserved areas —The Ludacris Foundation, United Healthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well” campaign and EIF’s iParticipate program. Look, we knew how low he could go, we just never knew he was such do-gooder to boot . Hats off to you, Mr. Bridges.

The Bad

Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato break up

Sniff. Sad. Moving on …

Lady Gaga tested for Lupus

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga revealed to the London Times this week that she underwent testing for Lupus after collapsing from exhaustion and cancelling shows in March. But when it comes to the results of those tests, she’s keeping her lips sealed. “I don’t want anyone to be worried,” she explains. The singer lost an aunt to the disease, which is genetic and causes the body’s immune system to attack itself. Lucky for all of us little monsters, Lady Gaga is superhuman and immortal. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

The Ugly

Liza Minnelli sings “Single Ladies” for SATC2

Liza Minnelli

Looks like Liza Minnelli will be croaking out Beyoncé’s hit in the new Sex and the City movie. According to SATC2 promos, the 64-year-old performer tackles the number during a wedding scene. And, since Minnelli has a brand new replacement knee, maybe she’ll even attempt to do the choreography, too. That would be infinitely better than watching the chicken dance.

Key of Awesome spoof Owl City in “Electronic Wuss”

Ugly for Owl City, but hilarious for the rest of us.  Musical parody group, Key of Awesome,  delivered a sonic smackdown to the maudlin vomit that is “Fireflies” with their spoof, “Electronic Wuss.” Enjoy.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

T.I. is officially back

T.I. was released from prison back in December after serving 7 months for felony drug charges, but in the months since has kept a relatively low profile … until now. This week the Atlanta rapper unveiled his video for “I’m Back,” the lead single off the forthcoming King Unchanged LP. The video shows T.I. rapping in front of the American flag, cruising through his hometown in a black Ferrari, hitting the studio to lay down some vocals—oh yeah, and setting a warehouse on fire. Still, it’s pretty stripped down footage for the king. Did lawyer’s fees cut into the production budget or is T.I. just getting back to his roots? You be the judge.

The Bad

Bret Michaels hospitalized for brain hemorrhage

Bret Michaels

Bret Michaels, former Poison front man, Celebrity Apprentice competitor and stripper connoisseur, was rushed to the hospital last week after experiencing an “excruciating” headache. Doctors discovered a brain hemorrhage and in the ensuing days have sought to stem the bleeding and locate the source of the hemorrhage. As of Wednesday, Michaels was conscious and talking. Let’s hope he continues on the road to recovery and is back on the Rock of Love bus in no time.

The Ugly

M.I.A. releases NSFW video for “Born Free”

Put it this way, M.I.A.’s video for “Born Free” makes the ultra-violence of A Clockwork Orange look like an episode of Hannah Montana. Directed by Romain Gavras, the video is heavy on the carnage, politically charged and incredibly NSFW. If you’re sensitive to violence, you may want to hang out here. Otherwise, check out the video below, preferably not within sight of your boss.

Miscellany

Fine Tunings: Addicted to Idol

Now that the top 12 American Idol finalists have been whittled down and the competition is heating up (more mentors, less back story), the television ratings juggernaut is once again dominating conversations by office water-coolers, on Facebook and via Twitter. Even my pals who freak over anything Fox manage to sneak a peek at Idol. So pervasive is its influence.

When Idol first aired it was more or less considered a music industry joke because of its mass appeal to the lowest common denominator. It was once believed only tween girls and grandmas voted and nobody took any part of it very seriously. But when Kelly Clarkson’s career took off, Idol was instantly legitimized. Nobody seemed to notice the format is as hokey and old-fashioned as a high school talent show. Glee and the High School Musical films have changed that perception as well.

Continue reading ‘Fine Tunings: Addicted to Idol’

Tweet your fans well

You might be wondering what Jimmy Fallon is up to on a Friday night or what P Diddy thinks about when he wakes up in the morning, but you may not know that you can find the answer with just one click of the mouse.  The next big social networking tool online is Twitter, and many people, including celebrities, are taking notice. If you’re not familiar with twitter, read more about how it works.

A lot of celebrities and musicians are using this utility to reach fans and demographics in a way that they have not been able to in the past. Check in with a few big names that are using twitter: Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, and Jimmy Fallon, and watch this video of Sean “P Diddy” Combs discussing Twitter on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Needless to say, everyone is using Twitter. We even use it to help keep OurStage users and followers updated. Take a look at our Twitter page and the list of people we follow. Many of them are OurStage artists, so join Twitter and follow them yourself!

 


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