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8 Do’s and Don’ts Of Making Your First Video

So you’ve spent hours in the studio tracking your epic debut concept double album. Now what? If you’re thinking of making your first music video as the next step in your career, don’t get all flustered yet. You don’t have to be OK Go to make an awesome budget-friendly video but you do need some good ideas, a healthy amount of pre-planning, and some serious dedication. With that in mind, here are a few things to strive for and to avoid when shooting your first silver screen masterpiece.

Do: Stage a live performance

The live performance video is a classic for a reason. It’s simple, easy to set up, and doesn’t require your awkward bassist to pretend that he knows how to act. Perfect. Just remember to have adequate lighting – even workman’s halogen lights will do – and a tripod so that you can capture at least one full steady take of the band in addition to your cameraman’s love of zoom-in close-ups. Just remember to synchronize your playing with what’s actually happening in the song. You don’t want to look like this:

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Kid Vicious

Vicious Corleone

Before he became Vicious Corleone, Terance Williams was just a kid with a thing for Atlanta rap, who happened to have a dad with a thing for Queen, The Eagles and Journey. You can hear the convergence of those two schools in the rapper’s self-described “Southern rebel music.” Vicious mixes ‘90s hip hop with up-tempo, bass-heavy hooks and rock riffs—an intentional departure from both the dance hits and trap music that rule the Atlanta rap scene. On “Shots Fired (Reload)” snippets of sirens and 8-bit audio come in lashes, whipping up the audience. “M.P.B.” (that’s “Music, Party, Bullshit”) combines scraps of different beats, over which Vicious delivers his manifesto: “We don’t want to be doctors or lawyers / We ain’t Huxtables.” But don’t think that the rapper doesn’t have ambition. In “100 Miles and Running” he sets his sights high, saying, “I’d settle for Kelly Rowland / Ms. Knowles is taken.” Atta boy.

SoundTrax: Shower Stall Rock Star

This week, we’ve compiled a list of our eight favorite sing-a-long tunes to let the rock star living inside all of you shine. In typical SoundTrax fashion, I’ve done my best to avoid falling into a specific time frame or genre. These are all songs pulled from my personal library that I can’t help but belt out whenever they come on shuffle. While I would probably avoid some of these songs like the plague in my everyday listening, I’ll be honest: There is only so many times you can listen to Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” without feeling the urge to join in on the chorus.

Pivotal scenes from Almost Famous and Risky Business highlight the healing power of a sing-a-long (and how much fun it can be to rock out in your skivvies). The “Tiny Dancer” sing-a-long from Almost Famous is a personal favorite that I feel perfectly illustrates the spontaneity and sheer joy that can come from singing a well-known tune with your buddies.

For those of you who don’t feel comfortable belting out your favorite songs at your local karaoke night, the shower is often the only venue where you can truly express the vocal prowess you have. If you can’t sing, we ask that you don’t let the acoustics of your bathroom fool you: please keep the singing contained to the shower. There’s no need to terrorize the innocent patrons who didn’t realize it was karaoke night at the bar, or your kids sitting in the back seat of the minivan,

So grab your hairbrush, but please refrain from stripping down to a button-up and tighty-whities, and rock out to this playlist of rad sing-a-longs.

SoundTrax: Shower Stall Rock Star from OurStage on 8tracks.

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Jeremy Helligar’s 10 Best Things About This Year in Pop

The year seems to be ending as it began: with Susan Boyle practically interchangeable snoozaks ruling Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. Who would have guessed? Well, I did, but enough dwelling on the bad. Let’s focus on the good stuff that happened in the last 12 months, and dream a dream that next year’s gift is a Boyle-free holiday season. And now (in roughly chronological order), the best of the rest…

1) Journey’s trek to the tops of the pops. Glee still makes my ears bleed, but by helping Journey score its first-ever UK hit—the band’s ’80s classic “Don’t Stop Believin’” piggybacked on the smash Glee cover all the way to No. 6 in early 2010—those kids finally earned a round of applause. (We’ll spare you the Glee link. Instead here’s Sam Tsui covering Glee covering Journey)

2) Alicia Keys’ sleepless nights. Sunshine from rain. Pleasure from pain. “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” was the finest of Keys’ string of great 2010 singles. I’m still up all night myself, tossing and turning, trying to figure out how it never climbed higher than No. 27 on the Hot 100.

3) Pink goes up in the air. When I met Pink in 1999, before the release of her debut album, I was impressed, but I never suspected that a newcomer named after the hue of her hair would be a hitmaker a decade later? Topping off her continued chart success in 2010, the now-blonde, now-mom-to-be took the GRAMMYs over the top (in the very best way) with her highwire-acrobat act while performing “Glitter in the Air.”

4) Leon Russell lives! Susan Boyle isn’t the only one who began and ended 2010 on top. Russell kicked off the year wowing us at the GRAMMYs alongside the Zac Brown Band and finished it wowing us again, on the GRAMMY-nominated The Union alongside Elton John. Old Hank Wilson is back—but then he never really went away.

5) Sade returns, with guns blazing. Out of sight, out of mind, yes, but in the case of Sade, absence made the heart grow fonder indeed. Soldier of Love, the band’s first album in nearly a decade, made one of the splashiest debuts of 2010, and— in a rare, welcome twist—was worth the wait. May the long-MIA-from-the-charts Shania Twain follow suit in 2011.

6) Carrie Underwood hooks Ted Mosby. Britney Spears’s How I Met Your Mother guest spot got more hype in 2008, but Underwood, in her acting debut, was just as good in March’s “Hooked” episode, nailing her stunt casting as a pharmaceutical-selling hottie stringing Ted along. Not even that adorable teacup pig could upstage her. More, please.

7) Robbie Williams hearts Gary Barlow in the “Shame” video. Boy meets boy, boy falls for boy, boy and boy live happily ever after in the newly reunited Take That members’ send up of Brokeback Mountain. If only real life were so simple.

8) Vanity projects that rock. Timbaland’s “If We Ever Meet Again” (featuring Katy Perry, from Shock Value II) and Mark Ronson’s “Bang Bang Bang” (with Q-Tip and MNDR’s Amanda Warner, from Record Collection) were pop rarities in 2010: distinctive producer-as-artist singles that matched the behind-the-scenes best of the guys who created them. David Guetta, king of the sound-alike musical tricks, this is how you do it.

9) The British are coming… again! With Coldplay and Amy Winehouse in a holding pattern, La Roux and Florence + the Machine picked up the UK slack. La Roux became the first UK act in forever to reach the US Top 10 with “Bulletproof,” and Florence + the Machine finally became more than hipster darlings as their debut disc, Lungs, burst into the Top 20, while their “Dog Days Are Over” single became a big enough hit to get the Glee treatment.

10) Girls girls girls! Love or loathe them, it was refreshing to see single ladies like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, Gaga and others continue to transform music from a man’s man’s man’s man’s world into an estrogen-fueled empire. What are you waiting for, Shania? Come on, join the party!

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.

Letters From the Juliettes

Julie Mains is Seattle’s Renaissance woman. Raised in Philadelphia, she’s a musical theater veteran. She opened and operated The Mainstage (her very own music and comedy club). She has co-hosted a morning drive-time radio show called The Menage. And she also sings regularly with The Tropics, a local cover band. She’s one of the world’s greatest networkers and a fireball of energy.

Julie (bottom left) and the Juliettes

Julie’s latest passion is fronting an all-female rock band called The Juliettes. The relatively new four-piece has gotten much attention lately for recording a musical theme for the Rat City Roller Girls, Seattle’s hugely popular roller derby league. I asked this hilarious and busy mom to shed some light on her latest venture.

CD: How did The Juliettes get together?

JM: Two years ago, when my club was still open, I was approached to host a benefit show with some heavy hitter musicians. They turned out to be Jamie Moses and Spike Edney from Queen and Jeff Scott Soto from Journey, as well as Alan White from Yes. I got to sing back-up the whole night and also duet with Jeff, which was so wonderful. It was an amazing night. Last year, Spike held another benefit with Elliot Easton (The Cars), Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters), most of Yes, Nona Hendrix (LaBelle), Shawn Smith (Brad) and Eric Bazilian from my most beloved hometown band, The Hooters. I sang back-up once again.

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Tour De Force: Lady Lamb The Beekeeper

Aly Spaltro, the force behind Lady Lamb The Beekeeper, is a perfect example of the adage “great things come in small packages”. Although she stands a mere 5’2″ in stature, her huge voice and poetic lyrics make her seem at least six feet tall. After seeing her live at TT the Bear’s Place in Cambridge, MA (check out pictures of the show taken by Kathrynoh below) it’s hard to say what exactly her strengths are. I was equally blown away by her vocals and her lyrics, as well as the fact she could completely rock on the electric guitar. She stood up by herself with an assortment of instruments—acoustic and electric guitar, banjo and harmonica—and absolutely killed it. Although she didn’t have a backing band, I never felt the performance was lacking, probably because she plays not only with her instrument but with her entire being. She makes you feel each song, even if  you don’t want to.  I’m pretty sure she is Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan’s love child.
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