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Jewel Announces ‘Let It Snow’ Holiday Album

That headline is no lie, folks. Just because it’s August does not mean it’s too early to discuss the holiday season.

According to a new story on Billboard this morning, folk-pop icon Jewel has announced plans to release a new holiday album entitled Let It Snow. The release, which is the singer’s second holiday themed album to date (Joy was released in 1999), will feature 12 renditions of seasonal favorites such as “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Silver Bells” and “White Christmas,” the latter featuring Vince Gill on guitar. Two original compositions will appear as well.

“I really had an amazing time doing this one,” Jewel tells Billboard. “The great thing about Christmas music is I can cover a lot of territory, from country to jazz style vocals to classical music, arias. That’s what drew me to the last one… And it’s fun writing Christmas music; you get to write in a more classic style and not have to think about current radio or current trends.”

Let It Snow is scheduled for a December release, but no specific date has been set just yet. We’ll update you with more details regarding the album’s release as new information begins to surface.

“The Voice”: Let The Games Begin

After several weeks of blind audition shows, battle rounds on The Voice finally began on Monday night…and they didn’t disappoint. For those of you unfamiliar with the structure of this show, each team has twelve members after blind auditions. The coaches then create six one-on-one battles, for which they also choose the song and celebrity mentor to help train the contestants. The contestants sing the song as a duet, with the coach choosing the winner immediately afterwards.

It’s always interesting to see how the judges match up their battle pairings. More often than not, they’ll choose two artists with very similar styles in order to make their final set of six as strong and diverse as possible. Other times, though, it kind of seems like they just picked names out of a hat. On Monday night, we saw a little of both… Continue reading ‘“The Voice”: Let The Games Begin’

Vocal Points: A Single Voice Rings Out

Adrina Thorpe, singer-songwriter from California, has been involved with music for a long time. Originally a classically trained musician, she fell in love with songwriting at the tender age of six. Since then, she has turned this love into a craft that she approaches masterfully. But it is not her songs which make her so special; it is her incredible voice that conveys emotion with such intensity and passion that makes her stand apart.

Her vocal ability is off the charts. She has such a powerful voice, but she sings in a way which is never forceful or overbearing. Her voice is flawless—not only can she carry a tune, she can work with her voice to create many different effects. At times her voice is soft and gentle, other times it pierces through you, giving you shivers. Thorpe has an amazing way of picking and choosing the right moments to let her full vocal power out. Obviously, this ability comes from familiarity with her voice and, of course, from practice. Because of her vocal control, Adrina’s second album Halflight & Shadows, which was released in 2009, is incredibly interesting to listen to. From a song like, “Everything Changes” which is more upbeat to ”Midnight” which is hauntingly beautiful, you never know what pleasant surprises you’ll find when you listen to the album.

Continue reading ‘Vocal Points: A Single Voice Rings Out’

Hot Artist: Bianca Merkley

New York singer-songwriter Bianca Merkley‘s sultry sweet voice is self- described as “tasty as a cupcake”. Bianca lays sandy vocals over simple arrangements with stirring melodies that come together to rival the likes of Jewel and Tori Amos. Starting at only eight years old, Bianca began performing anywhere she could, from company Christmas parties to the 2002 Olympics. At sixteen, when most teenagers would kill to be gifted with a car, Bianca choose a guitar and never looked back. Armed with the same guitar, Bianca’s refreshing sound and conviction move listeners to “forget their problems”, in turn inspiring Bianca’s debut album.

Promise, released in 2007, bakes in everything delicious—from pop to folk and even jazz. Top it off with a dash of Latin influence and you’ve got yourself a tasty treat indeed. You can download Bianca’s track “The Canvas” below, and be sure to check out her interview on MTVMusic.com.

Noms and Snubs: 2011 Grammy Awards

This year was a curious one in GRAMMY world, with some heavy hitters being shut out and some less popular acts finally getting a chance to shine. The ‘Record of the Year’ category is dominated by urban pop, with just one band—CMT Artist of the Year Lady Antebellum (nominated in six categories)—bringing up the rear with their country album Need You Now. Eminem leads the pack with ten nominations for his smash success Recovery, landing on the list for ‘Best Rap Album,’ and “Love The Way You Lie”, featuring Rihanna, scoring nominations for ‘Record of The Year,’ ‘Song of The Year,’ ‘Best Rap Song’ and ‘Best Rap Collaboration.’

Other hip hop standouts include Cee-Lo’s three nominations for “[Forget] You” for ‘Record of The Year’ and ‘Song of The Year’ and ‘Best Urban Performance’.  Jay-Z made the list for ‘Best Rap Album’ with Blueprint 3 and again with newlyweds Alicia Keys (with “Empire State of Mind” up for ‘Best Rap Song’ and “Best Rap Collaboration”) and Swizz Beatz (with “Onto The Next One” contending for ‘Best Rap by Duo’ and ‘Best Rap Song’). Keys’ album, Elements of Freedom was shockingly snubbed from all categories, despite its heavy radio play.  Swizz Beats is also nominated for “Fancy,” his collaboration with Drake, whose debut album,  Thank Me Later earned him a nomination for ‘Best Rap Album,’ while his single “Over”scored him a bid for ‘Best Solo Rap Performance.’

On the pop front, Katy Perry is the front-runner with four nominations for her album, Teenage DreamKe$ha’s debut,  Animal, failed to garner any attention for the saucy newcomer and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” popped up on the shortlist for ‘Best Female Pop Vocal’ but was slighted in the categories of  ‘Song and Record of The Year.’  “Dance In The Dark” earned Gaga a ‘Best Dance Recording’ nom and “Telephone,” her duet with Beyoncé, earned her a nomination for ‘Best Pop Collaboration.’

B.o.B fared well with his debut album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, earning him five nominations including ‘Record of The Year’ and ‘Best Rap Album’ while his single, “Nothin On You” featuring Bruno Mars is making a run for ‘Best Rap Song’,  ‘Best Rap Collaboration’ and ‘ Record of The Year’. B.o.B’s duet with Paramore front-woman, Hayley Williams is also up for ‘Best Pop Collaboration.’ Meanwhile, Mars came in with seven nominations for his work with B.o.B., his single, “Just The Way You Are” and his work as producer with The Smeezingtons who are up for the ‘Producer of The Year’ title.

‘The ‘Best New Artist’ category seems the most diverse with contender Justin Beiber going head to head with Florence and the Machine, Drake, Mumford & Sons, and Esperanza Spalding (who was curiously excluded for any noms in the Jazz category) for the honor. Usher’s, Raymond V Raymond will go against Chris Brown’s, Grafitti for ‘Best Contemporary R&B Album.’

This is the year of new beginnings. In addition to  Chris Brown’s nomination, fellow tabloid darlings Lee Ann Rimes and Fantasia, whose troubling private lives made very public headlines, end their year on a happier note with nods for the former in ‘Best Female Country Vocal Performance’ and the latter in ‘Best Female R&B Vocal Performance’ and ‘Best R&B Song’ for “Bittersweet.”

There’s a good chance we’ll see last year’s ‘Best New Artist’ winner Zac Brown Band on stage again this year, this time sans stick puppet—2009 addition Clay Cook was unable to accept the award with the band for their win last year because he did not have a credit on their first album. They’re nominated for ‘Best Country Performance,’ ‘Best Country Song’ and ‘Best Country Album.’ Other country favorites Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, Gretchen Wilson, Miranda Lambert, Jewel also received nominations.

No huge surprises found among artists in the rock categories, with multiple nominations for veterans Jeff Beck (‘Best Rock Album,’ ‘Best Rock Performance’ with Joss Stone and ‘Best Rock Instrumental’) and Neil Young (‘Best Rock Song,’ ‘Best Rock Album’ and Best Solo Rock Performance’) while Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, John Mayer earning one nom each.  Hard rock and metal showcased no new artist nominations either: Ozzy Osborne, Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, Iron Maiden, Korn, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Slayer.

For the complete list of nominees across all 100 categories, visit Grammy.com

By Cortney Wills with additional reporting by Paula Gould

Cortney Wills is a pop culture journalist born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has lived in LA, Chicago and NYC and enjoys all things entertainment.

Pop Goes Political

Following her record-breaking rack up of eight MTV VMA’s for her single “Bad Romance” and collaboration with Beyoncé on “Telephone,” Lady Gaga gave fans a taste of what’s to come when she belted out lyrics to her future single, “Born This Way” at the podium: “I’m beautiful in my way, because God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.” The reigning Queen of Pop was escorted by three discharged US soldiers to her big night, a move made to raise awareness for the repeal of the controversial Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy employed by the US armed forces. There’s no mistaking the pointed message of the song, but was it also a call to action to her fellow superstars?

The “It Gets Better” campaign, sponsored by the Trevor Project, has celebs rallying around the LGBT community, urging troubled teens to seek help and hope, not suicide.

Tyler Clementi

It comes at the heels of a national string of gay suicides, most recently Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers student who leapt to his death after his roommate used a webcam to film him having homosexual sex. Clementi’s suicide was the fourth time in four weeks that gay youth suicide made headlines, prompting big reactions from some serious stars.

Ellen DeGeneres, Cyndi Lauper, Wendy Williams, Aubrey O’Day, Ke$ha, Ashley Tisdale, Leanne Rimes, Jason Derulo, Joe Jonas, Jewel and Eve are just a few of the stars who have lent their time and their stories in personal video messages directed at teens struggling with their sexuality and its harsh repercussions. Also reportedly in the works is a special episode of hit show, Glee that will broach the subject of bullying and tolerance.

Cyndi Lauper's personal message. http://www.wegiveadamn.org/videos/

Rumors are swirling that Pink, this year’s recipient of the Ally For Equality Award at the Human Rights Campaign’s 14th annual National Dinner in Washington, DC, will actually marry a gay couple in her next video, “Raise Your Glass.

With today being National Coming Out Day, it seems that finally, the art reflects the time and artists and fans are uniting to be heard.

By Cortney Wills

Cortney Wills is a pop culture journalist born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has lived in LA, Chicago and NYC and enjoys all things entertainment.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Ke$ha, Ciara, Jewel, Jake Shears and more tell bullied kids, “It Gets Better”

This week, several artists took to their webcams to record heartfelt messages for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project—aimed at bringing hope to bullied gay and lesbian teenagers. Ke$ha, Ciara, Jason Derülo, AJ McLean, Joel Madden and Jake Shears are just a few of the musicians who’ve posted their own messages. You can check them out here.

Hollerado go 8-bit for “Americanarama” video

Watch your back, OK Go. Canadian rockers Hollerado have come out with their own ambitious video choreography, and it’s pretty bitchin’. Watch them create a larger-than-life 8-bit video game with a big box, some placards and a couple well-timed sound effects.

The Bad

Weezer offered $10 million to break up

How mean-spirited and pointless can people get? Head over to www.thepoint.com and see firsthand. That’s where Weezer-hater James Burns established his fundraising campaign to come up with $10 million to offer to the band in exchange for them hanging up their guitars for good. Beard writes:

Every year, Rivers Cuomo swears that he’s changed, and that their new album is the best thing that he’s done since “Pinkerton,” and what happens? Another pile of crap like “Beverly Hills” or “I’m Your Daddy.” This is an abusive relationship, and it needs to stop now.

Tired of Weezer, too? Throw some virtual money over to Beard. He’s already got nearly $300! Who’s your daddy now, Cuomo?

Saudi Arabia Photoshops Mariah Carey

What to do when you’re an ultra conservative country promoting a concert for a scantily clad pop singer? You Photoshop the poster, duh. In this case, Saudi Arabia officials covered Mariah Carey’s whorish shoulders with extra cat. Problem solved.

The Ugly

Lil’ Wayne gets solitary confinement

Lil wayne

Most inmates get solitary confinement when they try to shank somebody. Lil’ Wayne got his for having headphones and an MP3 player charger. We’re no criminals, but seems like that would make a really ineffective shiv.

Miscellany

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Jewel performs undercover karaoke

So, just for kicks and because Funny Or Die told her to, Jewel dressed up as a sheepish business woman with glasses and a fake nose and hit up the Gas Light karaoke bar for some good old fashioned pranking. After being coaxed to the stage by her fake co-workers, Jewel belted out a bunch of her own material. Spoiler alert: She sounds just like herself. Check out the video below.

Carlos Santana proposes to girlfriend onstage

It’s not often that a rock legend pops the question to his drummer in the middle of a concert. This Monday at a concert in Chicago, Carlos Santana boldly went where few have gone before, and proposed to his girlfriend and band member, Cindy Blackman, after her drum solo on “Corazon Espinado.” Must have been some solo.

The Bad

Lady Gaga sullies John Lennon’s piano

Lady and the Piano

Oh no she di’int! Sean Lennon posted pics of Lady Gaga in her usual studs and fishnets uniform playing his father’s iconic Steinway piano. “With gaga at mom’s house, she’s belting on the white piano,” Lennon tweeted. Well, Beatles fans weren’t having that, and unleashed a torrent of protestations, e.g. “WHY WOULD YOU LET LADY GAGA PLAY ON JOHN’S PIANO?” Lennon responded with, “What should we do, lock it away in a dusty room? So judgmental…Come on, lighten up.” Yeah guys, lighten up. Remember, purple tear drops she cries … you don’t want that getting on a white piano.

The Ugly

Edward Cullen gives Courtney Love the what-for

Robert Pattinson

After rumors circulated that Twilight star Robert Pattinson might be cast as Kurt Cobain in a biopic, Courtney Love, of course, had to vent her spleen in a public way. And when you start talking smack about a vampire, the fangs come out. R-Patz lashed back in an interview with the Daily Mirror, calling Love “a dick,” which makes him sound less like Cobain and more like his Love-hating Nirvana bandmates David Grohl and Chris Novoselic. Isn’t Pattinson amazing?

Miscellany

FROM THE CMJ RELAY ARCHIVES: OURSTAGE PICKS VOL. 7

cmjdotcom_webWelcome to our seventh installment featuring CMJ’s OurStage Staff Picks from the CMJ Relay Blog. CMJ is well known for their industry leading New Music Report magazine, which contains music reviews, artist news and interviews with the best artists being played on college radio.

Marnée

“Down In The Valley”
Solo Performance Channel
Singer/songwriter Marnee sings very mature lyrics belying her 11 years of age with sweet whispering, yet full and rich vocals.
RIYL: Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Joan Baez
WEB: http://www.myspace.com/marneeaugust

Don DiLego

“Falling Into Space”
Indie Rock Channel
Playful alternative rock that unapologetically obeys straightforward chord progressions and pop mantras.
RIYL: Spoon, Beach Boys, Wilco
WEB: http://www.myspace.com/dondilego

Check in the Dark

“Complicated Lullaby”
Acoustic Channel
This acoustic jam’s older influences accompany clanging bells, drums and high-stringed guitar picking.
RIYL: James Taylor, John Mayer, Jack Johnson
WEB: http://www.myspace.com/checkinthedarkmusic

 


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