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The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ Becomes World’s Largest Vinyl Record

The Eagles vinylWhat would the world’s largest vinyl record would look like? Maybe a little like your old copy of The Eagles’ Hotel California? But, uh, bigger? And what better place for this vinyl than a city in California? As it turns out, that’s actually a thing—and it’s happening on the rooftop of Inglewood, California’s the Forum. The vinyl weighs in at a whopping 50,000 pounds, and measures 407 feet in diameter. It even spins at a leisurely 17 miles per hour. Extremely limited edition. So what’s the cause for such a gigantic Eagles tribute? The record was installed to coincide with the re-opening of the Forum, and the six shows that will be staged by the ’70s rock giants to mark the occasion beginning on January 15. You can check out a video documenting the construction below.

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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.

Vocal Points: Austin Renfroe Proves Practice Makes Perfect

While OurStage artist Austin Renfroe hasn’t been singing his whole life, he’s been making up for lost time since deciding to pursue a musical career. With the help of a voice coach, hours and hours of practice and a whole lot of natural talent, Austin is proving to the world that he is a force to be reckoned with. He really seems to understand when elaborate vocal embellishments should be added to his well-crafted songs, and when straight, simple singing is most effective.

Austin shared with us some of the ways that he’s learned (and is still learning) to utilize every aspect of his voice through training, and we want to share his story with you!

OS: At what age did you begin singing? How did you become interested?

AR: I started singing when I was seventeen. I heard an album by an artist named Matt Wertz and I remember thinking “That’s what I want to do”.

OS: How was your voice matured since you began singing?

AR: My voice has come a very, very long way. The things that jump out at me the most are my range. I went from 2 1/3 octaves to 4 1/3. My voice also has gained character. I didn’t know how to utilize the many different tools that my voice was capable of until the last year and a half. The deep and rich tones are definitely another way to hear the maturation of my voice. It all kind of expands out of the growth in my range.

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Sound And Vision: Top 40 Show Tunes — Seven Music Icons Whose Songs Should Rock Broadway

Though I’ll probably never be a huge fan of the Broadway musical, occasionally, they rock. Such has been the case for Great White Way song-and-dance productions based on the music of the Who, Bee Gees, ABBA, Queen, Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, Green Day and Elton John (twice). But poor Paul Simon. He flopped hard—and embarrassingly—with The Capeman in 1998. The moral of this particular west side story? When launching expensive stage musicals, it pays creative and/or commercial dividends for rock and pop stars to fall back on their classics—or in the case of John’s Aida, a classic opera—for inspiration.

And then there’s U2. The normal rules of art and commerce have never applied to Ireland’s greatest musical export. Although Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, with original music and lyrics by U2 frontman Bono and guitarist The Edge, has been dogged by bad buzz, negative reviews (for the staging, if not the music) and behind-the-scenes snafus, it’s been a box-office success since debuting in previews last November, more than six months in advance of its official June 14 opening.

Whether their Spidey show tunes will spin their web for months or years remains to be seen, but it’s hard not to wish that Bono and The Edge had adapted their band’s enduring catalog for a musical instead. If they had to take Manhattan, why not do it using songs we know and love from The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, two of its best and most successful albums, as inspiration rather than a superhero human-arachnid mutation (who’ll be returning to the big screen shortly in the form of The Social Network‘s Andrew Garfield)?

Maybe someday. In the meantime, here are some other iconic artists who ought to be waiting in the wings with their own spotlight musical. (Sorry, no Beatles—I’ve heard enough bad covers of the Fab Four’s catalog, including those from the 1978 film Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, to last several lifetimes!)

David Bowie: Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been waiting so long for new music from Bowie. Or that my favorite Bowie song inspired the name of this very column. But more likely, it’s all about Space Oddity, a  rock & roll classic which tells a story that conceivably could be stretched out into a two-hour musical format and rounded out with many other Bowie hits. His ’70s output was more or less created to be performed onstage, and his theatrical music and visual lyrics could so easily translate to the rock-opera format. Meanwhile, Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and The Thin White Duke—parts Bowie played to perfection on record and in concert—are star-making roles if ever there were four of them.

Burt Bacharach and Hal David: “Walk on By.” “Message to Michael.” “Wishin’ and Hopin’.” “I Say a Little Prayer.” “(They Long to Be) Close to You.” Put these Bacharach/David compositions together—adding “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and many more—and what have you got? A Broadway miracle that’ll have more fans singing along than any musical since Mamma Mia!.

Loretta Lynn: It’s a mystery why no one has thought to revive Coal Miner’s Daughter on Broadway. The 1980 film has got the music, the story and the Oscar pedigree. But why stop with Loretta Lynn when you can add the music of Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline and stage Honky Tonk Angels, all about lives and loves in a ten-cent town?

Johnny Cash: No need to revisit Walk the Line just yet. The hero of Ring of Fire (which I always thought would have been a better title for the film since it was co-written by June Carter Cash about her and Johnny, while Cash’s first wife inspired him to write “I Walk the Line”) could be a man in black by another name. Lyrically, the best of Johnny Cash already hits on all the stages of an extraordinary life, from outcast (“A Boy Named Sue,” which was actually written by Shel Silverstein and not Cash) to outlaw (“Folsom Prison Blues”) to would-be saint (“Walk the Line”) to corpse (“Don’t Take Your Guns to Town”).

The Eagles: Picture this: Hotel California, featuring the Eagles signature title song plus “Desperado,” “Lying Eyes,” “Take It to the Limit,” “New Kid in Town” and all of those other ’70s country-rock classics. If there’s gonna be a heartache tonight (or any other night), I can’t think of a better musical cure.

Fleetwood Mac: Because the band deserves so much better than Glee‘s very special “Rumours” episode, which, criminally, left out “You Make Lovin’ Fun” and “Gold Dust Woman.”

Eminem: Speaking of outlaws, it’s probably just a matter of time before the ’80s musical outlaw movement known as rap invades Broadway just as it did Middle America in the ’90s. I can’t think of a rapping storyteller whose songs are more deserving of the full-on stage treatment than the guy who brought us “Stan,” “’97 Bonnie & Clyde” and “Love the Way You Lie.” If 8 Mile could win an Oscar, its Tony Award possibilities as a Broadway musical are probably close to endless.

Whose music would you like to experience on Broadway?

Sound And Vision: Reunited Bands Try To Make Lightning Strike Twice

For the love of money.
According to Sting, when I interviewed him in 1996, there’s no other reason to bring a band back from the dead. Yet one must assume that Sting—who’s had a gold and platinum solo career for more than three times the seven years he was a member of The Police—had more than money on the brain when he reunited the band in 2007, after more than two decades of inactivity, for a thirtieth anniversary world tour.
Think about it: If Diana Ross can try to regroup with Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong (though she ended up with two ’70s Supremes with whom she’d never actually performed and possibly never even met until minutes before the ill-fated 2000 “reunion” was announced), why can’t all other former bandmates get along—or at least get back together. Are you listening, ABBA? Though a musical reunion of Sweden’s fab four, or the UK one from the ’80s (that would be The Smiths), remains as unlikely as a resurgent Rubik’s cube or Carter Country, in recent years, we’ve seen a number of bands—from the Pixies to Yaz to the “classic” original line-up of Duran Duran—come together again.
Some did it for the love of money, some because of fading solo careers and some because as we get older those nostalgic impulses become harder to ignore. One imagines the latter must have been a big part of the reason why rich solo superstar Robbie Williams mended fences last year with Take That—who’d already reformed in 2005, nine years after breaking up—and participated in Progress, their first album together in fifteen years. This month, the original Take That will hit the road with Pet Shop Boys.
On May 10, The Cars, who haven’t released a new studio album since Ronald Reagan was in office, will drive their act into this millennium with Move Like This and a ten-date reunion tour that begins in Seattle on the day of the album’s release. They won’t be the only ’80s throwbacks on the road in the coming months. Bobby Brown recently said that the off-and-on-and-off-and-on-again New Edition has a new album and tour in the works. Perhaps they should join New Kids on the Block (who’ll be performing live this summer with Backstreet Boys) and soon-to-be summer tour mates Tiffany and Debbie Gibson for a Monsters of ’80s Pop package.
Then there’s Soundgarden, the band who along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam created grunge’s holy triumvirate in the early ’90s. They split in 1997, and although Chris Cornell had success as a member of Audioslave, his solo career never quite caught on. Can grunge thrive in 2011? We’ll find out when the Seattle band, set to tour in July, releases its work in progress later this year, but the odds might be stacked against them.
With a few exceptions—the Eagles, Steely Dan and Take That, whose Progress has enjoyed massive UK sales—reunited bands generally have had more success with comeback tours than with new music. Roxy Music, the Pixies and Psychedelic Furs have been back together for years, but neither band has released new albums. And Blondie, whose Panic of Girls is due on July 4, had middling US success with 1999′s No Exit and 2003′s The Curse of Blondie (though the former did produce the No. 1 UK single “Maria”).
In 2008, New Kids on the Block, whose reunion tour year featured Lady Gaga as an opening act, got off to a good start with The Block (first-week sales: 100,000), but the album failed to go gold in the US. The Cars’ new single, “Sad Song,” hasn’t gone higher than No. 37 on Billboard’s Rock Songs chart since its March 1 release, which doesn’t bode too well for the buzz-free Move Like This. Meanwhile, Duran Duran’s nostalgia value makes the group a huge touring attraction, but the new albums featuring the original line up (minus guitarist Andy Taylor) have sold only modestly.
But with album sales continuing to free fall anyway, it might not even matter. Releasing new music keeps the bands from being strictly oldies acts, and if the love of money is their bottom line, most of them are getting exactly what they’re after on the road.
[Ed. Note: Rockers and pop stars aren't the only ones taking a trip down memory lane. Check out more comebacks and reunions in hip hop.]

Gamine With Guitar

Samantha Kirshtein

Leave it to Samantha Kirshtein to make you feel like a real lazybones. She plays volleyball and tennis. Likes to garden and cook. Fishes and surfs. Gets good grades. Plays the guitar and sings like a dream. And, on top of that, she’s only 13. The South Carolinian was raised on a wholesome diet of classics like Bob Dylan, The Eagles and Hank Williams. But, when you listen to her music, it’s evident that the girl is a Taylor Swift fan at heart. Kirshtein’s voice has a lovely, natural huskiness complemented by her even and pure singing style. It’s simple, but instantly likeable. Her material is made up mostly of bright and sunny folk songs, like “Love Birds”—a punchy, much younger cousin to John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane.” “All of the Above” is a similarly upbeat, pop-country ditty with a radio-ready melodic hook. But this teenage ingénue is also capable of tackling serious subject matter while avoiding schmaltz. “I Do Too,” is a delicate, grassy homage to Kirshtein’s grandfather, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s rare to find this kind of poise in an artist so young. Expect big things from Kirshtein in the years to come. We do.

 


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