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Watch Webisode 2 of The OurStage Panel Now

Last week The OurStage Panel premiered, featuring some of the most buzzed about artists on OurStage. While only one could be chosen by our panel of industry experts (congrats, Britni Elise!) The OurStage Panel is far from over. This week’s webisode puts the music of four new hopefuls to the test.


  • Austin Renfroe: This Atlanta native brings both soulful song-crafting and the energy of a concert artist to the page and stage with pop songs reminiscent of Gavin Degraw.
  • Sarah Cripps: The Canadian songstress has been playing since the age of nine, and has shared the stage with famous countrymen like The Barenaked Ladies, Johnny Reid, Doc Walker and Jason McCoy. Cripps delivers polished folk-county marked by steel guitar and the singer’s silken vocals.
  • August Rising: A combination of Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls, and Maroon 5, the 4 piece band is consistent with their refreshing hooks and their music is honest and simple yet emotionally fed.
  • Acalasia: This DIY rock band’s latest EP is an eclectic blend of sounds, ranging from guitar-driven rock to more traditional pop songs.

Watch webisode 2 now to see who the panelists crown worthy of moving on to The OurStage Panel finale, and be sure to follow @OurStagePanel on Twitter and weigh in on your favorite using the #ourstagepanel hashtag.

Find out how you can be included in the next group of artists considered for The OurStage Panel.

Sound And Vision: Beyoncé’s “Plagiarism” Controversies — Has She Been Caught Stealing, Or Is She Paying Homage (Again)?

Beyoncé is having a rough 2011. I don’t know how she felt about turning thirty on September 4, but if she’s as career-obsessed as I suspect she is, it was probably the least of her concerns. Yes, 2011 has not been without a few triumphs: She rocked the Glastonbury Festival in June, and she set a Twitter record for “most tweets per second recorded for a single event” (8,868) when she announced at the August 28 MTV Video Music Awards that she is expecting her first child with husband Jay-Z.

But by October, even that bright spot was mired in controversy when Beyoncé’s baby bump seemed to collapse as she sat down for a couch chat during an Australian TV appearance. A faked pregnancy? Stranger things have happened—like an underperforming Beyoncé album. Despite debuting at No. 1 with 310,000 copies sold its first week in June, Beyoncé’s fourth solo album, 4, has sold below expectations while failing to launch a major hit single.

But collapsing baby bumps and album sales might be small-time woes compared to the accusations of theft and copyright infringement that continue to dog the singer.

In the past, she’s been accused of contributing minimally to the creation of some of the songs for which she receives songwriting credit, and in 2005, she was sued (albeit unsuccessfully) for copyright infringement for her 2003 No. 1 hit “Baby Boy.” Then in 2006, Destiny’s Child‘s “Cater 2 U,” for which Beyoncé and her group mates were listed as co-writers, was at the center of another copyright infringement suit, which was settled out of court.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Beyoncé’s “Plagiarism” Controversies — Has She Been Caught Stealing, Or Is She Paying Homage (Again)?’

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’

Machine Gun Kelly, (Flash) Mobster

Social media is incredibly powerful. In Egypt, Facebook was used to help topple a totalitarian regime. Flickr has been an effective tool for UK police in tracking down and apprehending looters during the recent riots. And here in America, Twitter’s primary function has been used to bring the ruckus. Electronic producer Kaskade accidentally incited a small riot in downtown Los Angeles with a single tweet. And we all saw what happened when rapper The Game grappled directly with the LAPD over the Internets.

Rapper Machine Gun Kelly must’ve been taking notes from Kaskade when he pulled off a mini-riot of his own, this one a flash mob of the Ohio-based rapper’s fans. Kelly wanted to do something a little special to mark his return to his beloved Cleveland. Over the course of a day’s worth of tweets, Kelly instructed his fans not to do anything until they heard “Cleveland” and to prepare for the event by wearing their best “#powerRAGER” outfits. You can see the flash mob in it’s entirety below.

So another flash mob in the books, guys. For his trouble, Kelly gets cuffed, slapped with a $230 fine and a ton of free publicity. It also allowed a young man who looks like this to come off as somewhat threatening.

Continue reading ‘Machine Gun Kelly, (Flash) Mobster’

Music Stars Who Need A Lesson In Technology

OK, so I think we can all agree that getting a closer look into the lives of our favorite celebrities is pretty awesome. Whether or not we choose to admit it, most of us have that one famous person (or maybe more) who keeps us fascinated with every tiny detail of their life. The wonderful world of Twitter has made it incredibly easy to stay up-to-date—no  paparazzi or gossip magazine required. Celebrities simply share what they want to share, and we eat it up. Sometimes they’ll even respond to their followers and answer their questions! It’s all good fun, except when it’s not. It looks like some celebrities, especially musicians, just aren’t ready for the responsibilities of being famous and having all of this technology right at their fingertips.

Most recently, rapper The Game sent the tweet heard ’round the world, causing so much chaos it almost got him in trouble with the law. His Twitter posted a phone number, telling his close to 600,000 followers that they should call it for an internship opportunity. Well, turns out the phone number was for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and they were not happy; rightfully so, considering their phone lines were jammed for a couple of hours. The Game claims that someone hacked his account, but then went off on a rant about the police, saying “Yall can track down a tweet but cant solve murders !”  The department planned to file a complaint but later decided against it after The Game gave a public apology.

M.I.A. is another celeb who recently took to Twitter, but ended up offending her own fans. In the wake of the London riots, she tweeted that she was “going down to the riots to hand out tea and mars bars”. Fans who follow her on the site replied with upset comments, not happy that she was supporting the violence.

Continue reading ‘Music Stars Who Need A Lesson In Technology’

Sound And Vision: Fake Pop Stars — The Rise and Continued Rise of Rebecca Black

Paris Hilton.

Kim Kardashian.

Heidi Montag.

Julianne Hough.

In a world where making a record is as easy as starring on reality TV, and even easier when you have your own show, Rebecca Black was bound to happen.

Don’t worry. Black, the fourteen-year-old from Anaheim, California, who made us wonder if she was making fun of shallow pop stars or being one herself in her viral YouTube video “Friday,” hasn’t gotten her own reality show. Yet. But isn’t it only just a matter of time?

What she does have is a level of fame—or infamy, depending on how you want to look at it—without having any discernible singing talent. Before it was yanked from YouTube in June over a dispute between Black and her former record label, Ark Music Factory, her “Friday” video had logged some 161 million views. Black became an Internet favorite, with article after online article devoted to her and her music—well, her song. Some people loved her; some people hated her; everyone was talking about her. Everybody’s still talking. Katy Perry even invited Black to costar in her “T.G.I.F. (Last Friday Night)” video.

Yes, Rebecca Black is a huge hit. Ironically, though, she has yet to have one. For all of the hoopla surrounding it, “Friday” was never a commercial success as a single. It peaked at No. 58 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and didn’t fare much better anywhere it was released.

Australia, one of the few places where “Friday” made it to the Top 40, is about to launch its own fourteen-year-old star, Jack Vidgen, recent winner of Australia’s Got Talent. Sadly, it’s gonna take a miracle—or maybe a Black cameo in his video—to give Vidgen’s career any momentum in the US, which Justin Bieber aside, has been resistant to young male solo pop (i.e., white) stars since Justin Timberlake went Hollywood.

Continue reading ‘Sound And Vision: Fake Pop Stars — The Rise and Continued Rise of Rebecca Black’

Kings Of Leon Royally Screw Over Their Fans

The show started off well, fans laughing with the lead singer of Kings Of Leon, who were playing to a large crowd in Dallas, TX as a part of the US leg of their international tour. A half hour into their set, front man Caleb Followill entertained the crowd with a few songs, but mostly babbled on about how hot out it was and how awesome everything in his life was. Fans found it hilarious at first, but things took a turn for the worse and it has been downhill for the Tennessee band ever since.

Caleb announced his plans to the entire audience, saying. “I’m gonna vomit, I’m gonna drink a beer and I’m gonna come back out and I’ll play three more songs”. He never came back out. The band had to apologize and end cancel the rest of the show. Bassist Jared Followill explained through Twitter, admitting, “I know you guys aren’t stupid. I can’t lie” and “there are internal sicknesses & problems that have needed to be addressed”. Only a couple of days after this show, the band announced that they were canceling the remaining US dates of their tour. Despite Jared’s remarks, the band’s official statement cited vocal issues and exhaustion as the reasons for the tour debacle. It’s not uncommon for artists to cancel shows due to issues with their voices, but this seems like a deeper problem.

How much do Kings Of Leon owe their fans? Not only did they just cancel tour dates for about the next two months, but they’re not even rescheduling them. Everyone gets their money back but to someone who’s looking forward to seeing a band perform live, this hardly seems like enough. And to top it all off, it seems like the band is making excuses to cover for their front man. Yes, his personal issues are just that…personal. But when the issues affect his ability to do his job and anger a loyal fan base, he and the band should at least offer an honest explanation.

If they don’t, their run as a popular rock band, selling out shows, could be over soon. Sure, at first, music fans love drama and controversy. But the troubled rock star thing gets old pretty fast. The band is encouraging Caleb to get help for his problems, which is not only a good idea for their frontman’s own health, but also for the sake of their careers. This would help avoid more embarrassing ordeals like the Dallas concert. Not only did they anger their fans, but Followill’s antics cost the band millions of dollars for canceling shows, and possibly their reputation as live performers.

Check out footage from the Dallas show that started all the drama!

Two Cents For 50 Cent

A very noble goal for "him self"

In a surprising change of pace from his regular stream of silly and pointless tweets, rapper 50 Cent shared his intent to feed one billion (yes, billion) people in Africa within a period of five years. Immediate reactions ranged from the positive and encouraging to the aggressive and negative. Apparently, the greatest complaint he’s received so far is his decision to lend a helping hand to people in another continent, while there is so much need in his home country. And, in a rather uncharacteristic show of levelheadedness, he responded: “people here have a fair shot.”

Celebrities using their stardom to help people in need isn’t something new, and Africa is no stranger to this. Bono, Michael JacksonOprah, George Clooney, Bruce Springsteen… these are but a scarce few of the celebs who have used the spotlight to do good in afflicted regions of the continent. But there have been increasing accusations of these acts being nothing but a publicity stunt to improve their public image and get on the media’s good graces. Considering his current relationship with the public eye and the positive media coverage he’s received in recent times, it’s hard to imagine 50 Cent would stoop as low as that merely for extra followers on his Twitter account.

As ridiculous and farfetched as this goal may be, we can’t help but feel that Fitty’s intentions are genuine and hope that he will, in fact, do his best to make it happen. Besides, the harm made by a promise gone sour would be more than enough to split his fanbase. As most things in life, only time will tell what is to come of this.

If you want to send him your support, simply send out a tweet with the “#SK” hashtag and your best wishes.

Surprise! Gaga Offends Another Group Of People

It really shouldn’t come as a shock to anybody that Lady Gaga has managed to piss people off once again. The “Mother Monster” superstar has made it clear that attempts at being outrageous and controversial are her thing. She was addressed last year by PETA for showing up to the MTV Video Music Awards in a meat dress. More recently, Gaga has been criticized by the Catholic Church for her “Judas” music video. Her loyal fans believe her to be one of a kind, but many don’t see any originality. Regardless, there’s no denying the buzz created everywhere she goes. So what did she do this time?

Well, Lady Gaga was recently in Australia and during a performance in Sydney she came on stage dressed up as a mermaid…in a wheelchair. This is apparently her new alter ego, Yuyi. It doesn’t seem worth it to question the meaning or reason behind the new character; Gaga’s history of crazy costumes should be enough. But a few disability organizations feel differently. After the show, the Roman Reed Foundation for spinal chord injury research tweeted, “Dear @ladygaga how about using your celebrity status 2 try 2 get us out of wheelchairs. Instead of cruising one. Cool?!” Other organizations mirrored these sentiments, hoping Gaga would use her fame to help their cause instead of just for entertainment. Following her concert, Gaga was the target of offended fans that took to throwing eggs at the pop star and her entourage. She has not taken to Twitter at this point with any kind of response to her fans or the disability foundations.

Aren't mermaids supposed to be colorful?

Should Lady Gaga be subjected to this constant criticism? She’s definitely asking for some kind of reaction. Whether or not the response is actually legitimate, it seems obvious that most of her choices are bound to draw criticism from somewhere, and that she’s willing to deal with the consequences. But then there’s the issue of how far is too far. It’s doubtful that Gaga used a wheelchair on stage to purposely offend anyone, but that doesn’t mean that the prop didn’t do just that. It’s possible, though, that Gaga meant to use the wheelchair as a way to empower those who are permanently confined to them. After all, her message has always been to be yourself and to embrace your uniqueness. What do you think?


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