Storied british rock band The Rolling Stones announced a new band doc, Crossfire Hurricane, earlier today. The tour doc, commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Stones as a performing unit, marks another authorized entry into the already deep documentary videography that The Stones have amassed over the years. Classic rock nerds will also note that the film pulls its title from a lyric in “Jumpin Jack Flash.”
Crossfire Hurricane appears to be pretty broad in focus, covering the trajectory of the group from their earliest touring days in 1962 to the band as we know them as today.
Today is kind of a slow news day. And so, today, you get… rock stars in drag: the superlatives.
Most natural: Bowie
Most disturbing: Queen
Most frequent: Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones
Best homage: Blur (as Blondie)
Most dudes: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Best pout: Ozzy Osbourne
Most confusing to high school jocks in 1994: Kurt Cobain
Most committed: New York Dolls
Best looking: Bono
While having musical talent is certainly not a prerequisite for being President of the United States, it definitely makes you way cooler, in our book. The White House has been absent of musical talent since Clinton was rocking out sax solos on the Arsenio Hall Show. But fret no more, music lovers: turns out our Commander In Chief has a set of pipes! Last week, President Obama surprised a Harlem audience by singing the hook to the famous Al Green tune “Let’s Stay Together” at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater. Yesterday, he showcased some more of his talent by joining B.B. King, Mick Jagger and Buddy Guy for a few lines of his hometown anthem, “Sweet Home Chicago.”
Obama had hosted a night of performances dedicated to the blues, featuring musicians Jeff Beck, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Gary Clark Jr., Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, and Booker T. Jones. President Obama was encouraged to sing by Buddy Guy, who told the President, “You started something, you got to keep it up,” referring to his Al Green impersonation. Obama joined the all-star cast, singing “come on, baby don’t you wanna go,” then having B.B. King chime in with “same old place.” Obama took the mic back and finished out the song with “sweet home, Chicago” before flashing the camera his signature smile and exiting the East Room to cheerful applause.
You can check out the full coverage of the event here.
“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.
Every singing voice is unique. After all, that’s what makes vocalists special, and what makes music so interesting. But besides tonal quality, range and timbre, there is another factor that sometimes contributes to a singer’s sound—his or her accent. For some singers, accent doesn’t play a huge role in their music, but for others, it is a defining factor.
The Beatles‘ Liverpudlian accent is, in my opinion, a defining factor in their music. It is very apparent in many of their songs, and is one of many factors that makes the band great. For example, the way that customer is pronounced in “Penny Lane” stands out, as well as countless other examples throughout their catalog of music. Still, it’s hard to know where exactly certain artists come from.
There are so many examples of British singers who sound as if they could easily be from the US. Elton John, Amy Winehouse and even Adele have been known to shed their British accents in song. And then there’s a band like Phoenix, who you’d never suspect comes from France. And this makes sense if you think about it. A regional accent is made up of differences in features like intonation, speech rhythm, vowel length and vowel quality, all of which naturally disappear in song. Intonation is replaced by the melody which the vocalist sings, typical speech rhythm changes based on timing and rhythm of the song, and vowel length and quality are oftentimes elongated and enunciated when sung. Continue reading ‘Vocal Points: Singers and their Accents’
Every great screen biography of a music superstar needs three key ingredients to really sing: 1) An icon with the greatest story never told. 2) A talented lead actor or actress gunning for an Oscar nomination—singing talent and striking resemblance optional (Angela Bassett didn’t sing a word in What’s Love Got to Do with It, and she looks nothing like the film’s subject, yet she was Tina Turner). 3) Kick-ass songs.
Fantasia Barrino as gospel great Mahalia Jackson is coming soon. The Elton John Story (aka Rocketman) is reportedly finally in the works (I’d cast Justin Timberlake over mentioned favorite James McAvoy and pray that he can nail a British accent), as is Aretha Franklin’s (with or without Halle Berry, the Queen of Soul’s No. 1 choice), Anne Hathaway as Judy Garland and Sacha Baron Cohen as Freddie Mercury.
Robert Pattinson was announced as a possible Kurt Cobain at one point last year, but it’s hard to imagine that we’d get the true story as long as Courtney Love is around to kill it or put her spin on it. Ryan Gosling has the chops to pull off Cobain, but he’s already in everything and he’s several years older than Cobain was when he committed suicide. Note to aspiring biopic producers: One doesn’t have to cast a “star” as the star. Some biopics (Amadeus, starring Tom Hulce as Mozart; La vie en rose, with Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf) do just fine without huge names.
Now that she’s gone too soon, too, it’s probably only a matter of time before we get Amy Winehouse‘s “untold” story. Note to aspiring biopic producers: Tabloid-era stars are best left alone unless, as with Eminem’s 8 Mile, the focus is on life before they were famous. Otherwise, we’ve already seen the action play out in the pages of Us Weekly and People magazine.
But what about those biopics in various stages of development and non-development? Here are six that I’m dying to see.
1) David Bowie: The star. The spectacle. The songs… Iman. I can’t think of a rock icon whose story is more deserving of the screen treatment. It would be a shoo-in for the Best Costume Design Oscar, and with a star like Jonathan Rhys Meyers (who already played a Bowie-esque figure to perfection in the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine), an actor worthy of the material.