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Recap: Super Bowl 2012’s Halftime Show

The Super Bowl’s iconic halftime show has certainly come a long way from the drill teams and college marching bands of its early years. Since the early ‘90s, the event has turned into a full-on showcase of the biggest names in music, featuring performances by such classics as Michael Jackson, Prince and Paul McCartney, as well as… not-so-classics like *NSYNC and the Black Eyed Peas. This year, halftime was dominated by none other than Madonna herself, featuring performances with Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., Cee Lo Green and LMFAO. So how did it compare to the halftimes of the past?

Super Bowl 2012 vs. Super Bowl 2002 (U2)
As many may remember, halftime 2002 wasn’t just a performance, it was a tribute to the victims and survivors of the 9/11 attacks. While the concept itself could have easily gone wrong in many ways, U2 gave a stunning, energetic performance, making it arguably one of the best halftime shows to date. So how did Madonna’s performance fare against the rock and roll titans? While it may not have exactly been an empowering performance, this year’s show certainly provided us with some fun, guilty-pleasure enjoyment.

Super Bowl 2012 vs. Super Bowl 2007 (Prince)
An undeniable superstar, Prince certainly delivered at Super Bowl 2007 with covers of the Foo Fighters, Bob Dylan and Creedence Clearwater Revival, finishing off with his song “Purple Rain.” Madonna is pop icon of the same caliber, but could she match Prince’s powerful voice and gripping stage presence? Personally, we feel that the slack-lining cupid and Cee Lo Green’s bedazzled choir get-up stole this show.

Super Bowl 2012 vs. Super Bowl 2011 (Black Eyed Peas feat. Slash and Usher)
While U2’s performance for halftime 2002 was arguably one of the best shows to date, it could be said that the Black Eyed Peas’ performance was one of the worst. With their mediocre musicianship and Fergie’s aimless belting to “Where is the Love” and “Sweet Child of Mine,” the group could only leave the crowd hanging. Say what you will about Madonna’s performance; it doesn’t get any worse than this.

When it comes to half time, it seems we’ve learned that classic is the way to go.  The Super Bowl XLVI stuck to a proven formula – whether or not the decision was a good one is up to you to decide. As for us, we’re just grateful that this performance didn’t involve another Madge-Brit-Xtina lip-locking episode, circa the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.

Sound And Vision: 10 Things to Look Forward to in 2012 (Featuring Soundgarden, the Stone Roses and Freddie Mercury — Alive Again!)

A US Presidential election, Summer Olympics mania (London’s calling—again!), Rihanna’s film debut (in Battleship, out May 18) and the possible end of the world. Those are a few of the things I won’t be looking forward to in the coming year. Fortunately, music will offer enough thrills to distract us from all that we’d rather forget. Here’s what’s topping my 2012 anticipation list:

1. Madonna makes fiftysomething fabulous all over again. Although I’m curious to hear what Madonna does with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. on the final cut of “Gimme All Your Luvin’” when the single is released the last week of January, that’s not the main reason I’m excited about her upcoming twelfth studio album (due in late March), her first since turning fifty in 2008.  “Masterpiece,” a new song featured in the Madonna-directed W.E. (which goes into wide release on February 3, two days before her Super Bowl XLVI performance) and her reunion with her Ray of Light producer William Orbit, is an achingly beautiful ballad that recalls the best of ’90s Madonna while gently proving that she can still create pop magic all on her own.

2. Madonna vs. Elton John vs. Mary J. Blige vs. Chris Cornell vs. Glenn Close (!) at the Golden Globes. Too bad the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has disqualified Madonna’s “Masterpiece” from competition at the February 27 Oscars. Why? Because it’s the second song featured during the closing credits, and eligible songs must either be in the body of the film, or the tune that plays when the credits start to roll. Oscar’s loss. The January 15 Golden Globes showdown featuring five monsters of pop, rock and soul and acting will be just as star-studded—and as tough to call—as George Clooney vs. Brad Pitt vs. Leonardo DiCaprio vs. Ryan Gosling in Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: 10 Things to Look Forward to in 2012 (Featuring Soundgarden, the Stone Roses and Freddie Mercury — Alive Again!)’

Sound And Vision: Strange Bedfellows — The Best of Music’s Unlikely Collaborations

“I get high with a little help from my friends,” Ringo Starr sang on the Beatles‘ 1967 classic. These days, so do many of music’s top stars. Two’s company, and so is three and sometimes four. The more the merrier, the higher and higher they get.

On the charts, that is.

In the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 for the week ending December 10, seventeen songs were collaborations between separate recording entities. Four of them featured Drake, and three apiece featured Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, who both appeared on tracks with Drake and with each other. But will.i.am featuring Jennifer Lopez and Mick Jagger—and debuting at No. 36 with “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever),” which the threesome performed on the November 20 American Music Awards—was probably the one that nobody saw coming.

Old-school Rolling Stones fans must be cringing at the idea of Jagger going anywhere near Lopez and will.i.am so soon after Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera went to No. 1 by invoking his hallowed name on “Moves Like Jagger.” But for a sixty-something legend like him, hit records—even if in name only, a la Duck Sauce‘s GRAMMY-nominated “Barbra Streisand—are a near-impossible dream unless they’re in tandem with other, often younger, stars.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Strange Bedfellows — The Best of Music’s Unlikely Collaborations’

Madonna Is At It Once Again

The world’s top selling female recording artist of all time is taking a more current approach with her next album. Despite seeming previously reluctant to jump aboard the hip hop train, Madonna has now decided to team up with both M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj for a track on her upcoming album. While the currently-unnamed album is set to be released in 2012, this particular track, “Give Me All Your Love” was leaked just last month much to the pop icon’s dismay. However, despite Madonna’s unhappiness about the early unveiling of her material, much of the feedback seems to be fairly positive about the song. And that was the version before M.I.A. hopped on board.

Adding two fierce female rappers to an album by the preeminent Queen of Pop seems like it could be a good idea. This collaboration proves once again what a savvy businesswoman Madonna is. Everyone knows she can sell records and sell out shows without collaborating with other artists, and that she’s willing to reinvent herself in order to stay current. Despite the generational differences with Nicki and M.I.A., Madonna is still a force to be reckoned with, and I’m extremely excited to hear the completed track and what other surprises the album has to offer.

What are your thoughts on this collaboration? Can Madonna pull it off? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Exclusive Q&A: A Conversation With Theophilus London About Love, Life and Antarctica

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsWhen you look at the hip-hop scene at it stands now, with artists like OFWGKTA and LMFAO on the rise, you can feel the genre shifting a bit both in terms of music and artistic vision. Taking a more wild and eclectic approach to not only music but fashion sense is becoming a running trend. With that in mind, the up-and-coming rapper Theophilus London is riding the wave with his unique blend of influences, that read off like something from an indie rock band, and his eye-catching sense of style. This has led to widespread success with his debut release Timez Are Weird These Days getting significant buzz and landing high-profile performances like at this past year’s Cannes Film Festival. Taking some time out of his busy tour schedule, this budding rap star sat down to chat with us about topics ranging from his Tumblr to listening to actress Milla Jovovich cover Prince.

OS: In the past, you’ve voiced displeasure about mainstream rap. Do you feel it’s something you still try to stay away from?

TL: In a sense of [it] being played out, maybe. But, there’s a lot of mainstream rap.

OS: How would you describe the difference between your approach and a regular hip hop artist?

TL: I work off of references. I idolize producers and try to sit down and work with producers on brand new sound. We talk about favorite artists first and foremost and develop a brand new sound. I really can’t say I’m different from other rappers because I’m not in the studio with them or in their creative process.

OS: You announced on Tumblr today that you got Michael Jackson to DJ some of your shows. How did you find him?

TL: I found him in New Orleans. He was hanging out a window. I asked him if he wanted to tour and he said yes. Really glad he came out to tour with us.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q&A: A Conversation With Theophilus London About Love, Life and Antarctica’

Sound And Vision: Foster the People’s Chart Challenge — Is There Life After “Pumped Up Kicks”?

Foster the People just might be the pop anomaly of 2011.

The trio of Los Angeles-based twentysomethings led by founder and namesake Mark Foster looks like a boy band (only cuter), plays instruments like rockers and produces music with beats that thump as hard as any backing up those fierce divas currently ruling every dance floor in clubland. And then there’s FTP’s breakthrough single, an insanely catchy song called “Pumped Up Kicks” about cool shoes and a youth with homicidal tendencies.

I mean, really?

Even more surprising than the song’s smash status despite its decidedly un-poppy protagonist—that troubled kid contemplating a shooting spree—is the fact that it’s created barely a ripple of controversy throughout its lengthy chart run. Did the clever lyrics fly over the heads of the country’s guardians of morality and decency in songwriting? Were we all just too lost in the beat to notice the finger on the trigger?

Or perhaps for the first time since the second British invasion of the 1980s brought such alternative pop acts as Duran Duran,
Depeche Mode and indie-pop pioneers the Smiths into and around the mainstream, both the masses and the pop-music establishment (radio and retail) are ready to support music that touches on more complex subject matters than “dance music sex romance”—to quote a track on pop iconoclast supreme Prince’s 1982 album, 1999, one of the records that launched the censorship wars of the early ’80s that would hardly raise an eyebrow today.)

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Foster the People’s Chart Challenge — Is There Life After “Pumped Up Kicks”?’

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’

Sound And Vision: Celebrity Feuds — Pop Is a Battlefield, World War II

“Take back Vanessa Redgrave
Take back Joe Piscopo
Take back Eddie Murphy
Give ‘em all some place to go”

— Tom Petty, “Jammin’ Me” (1987)

“Fuck Tom Petty!”—Eddie Murphy

Oh, those crazy stars! What will they say next? And will they ever learn? What a tangled web they weave when they start to take pot shots at each other.

Celebrity feuds have existed since before the dawn of the pop charts. Eminem owes much of his early notoriety to cutting down to size the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and Moby in videos and on record. Meanwhile, off the record (though always totally for attribution), Katy Perry has never met a fellow chart-topper she wouldn’t slag off.

But lately, stars keep colliding and disturbing the peace in the music galaxy. Liam Gallagher just filed suit against his brother Noel over the latter’s claim that Liam pulled out of a high-profile Oasis gig in 2009 due to a hangover and over comments Noel made blaming Liam for the demise of the band. But then brothers in arms have engaged in verbal—and occasionally, physical— combat since the heyday of the Kinks, which featured the dueling Davies, Ray and Dave. Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, William and Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Kings of Leon‘s Followill brothers have the battle scars to prove it.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Celebrity Feuds — Pop Is a Battlefield, World War II’

Sound And Vision: Pop Goes the Previews — The Best and Worst of Fall Movie-Trailer Music

Whoever invented the movie preview must be some kind of genius. Because of them, half the fun of seeing a movie on the big screen is getting there—to the main attraction, that is. It always takes a few good trailers to put me in the mood. But sometimes, if the words don’t get in the way (damn, bad screenplays!), the music does. Too often terrible songs ruin perfectly good trailers—or make bad ones worse.

That said, movie-trailer music has come a long way. For a brief period in the early ’90s, nearly every other one seemed to feature the soothing new-age sounds of Enya floating by in the background. Nowadays we get a larger assortment of musical backdrops (pop, classical, rock, hip hop, techno and, of course, vintage Motown), some of which can actually turn must-avoid into must-see — at least until the coming attraction is over and sensible thinking once again prevails.

Variety, however, hasn’t done away with predictability, and recently, while screening trailers for some upcoming autumn releases, I noticed a few rules at play.

1. No self-respecting Oscar contender stoops to the tops of the pops. David Fincher may have gotten Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to score The Social Network last year, but he knew better than to use Radiohead’s 1992 hit “Creep” in the trailer. Instead, he used a haunting cover by Belgium’s Scala & Kolacny Brothers. This year, for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (December 21), he punctuates the sneak-peek action not with Led Zeppelin’s classic version of “Immigrant Song” but with a near-equally exhilariting remake by Reznor and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Pop Goes the Previews — The Best and Worst of Fall Movie-Trailer Music’

 


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