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Pop Stars on Film

What do Cher, Diana Ross, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Mark Wahlberg, Peggy Lee, Queen Latifah and Will Smith have in common? All pop stars-turned-actors, they each mined gold and platinum or scored chart hits in music before landing Oscar nominations. This fall, Christina Aguilera, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake will launch campaigns to join their company.

Unlikely, you say? You’re probably right, but early word is that Justin Timberlake just might be needing a tux come Oscar night next February 27th, thanks to his performance as Napster co-founder Sean Parker in the Facebook drama The Social Network, which opens today. A friend of mine who has seen the film says no way, but Popeater writer Jett Wells, who presumably saw the same movie, thinks it’s a distinct possibility, if not quite a probability: “Timberlake, who appears to have finally shaken the awkward pop star-making-movie-cameos phase of his career, seems poised to become a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.”

And his 2003 Justified/Stripped Tour co-headliner? Considering what has become of Christina Aguilera’s music career—her current album, Bionic, is a certified flop that likely won’t even go gold—Burlesque, her film debut (November 24th), would have Showgirls written all over it were it not for her above-the-title costar. Say what you will about her strangely immovable face, but she will forever be known as “Oscar winner Cher.” As for Aguilera, she wisely chose a role —wannabe American idol — in which she doesn’t have to completely give up her day job. In the trailer, Cher and 2010 Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci do most of the talking (words by director Steve Antin along with Juno writer Diablo Cody and Erin Brockovich scribe Susannah Grant, an Oscar winner and nominee, respectively), while Christina Aguilera does what she does best: She sings.

I’m still not 100 per cent sure what Timberlake’s Nipplegate partner at the 2004 Super Bowl, Janet Jackson, is doing in Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls (opening November 5th), or why her eyes are that unnatural shade of light brown on the film’s poster. She plays Jo, one of seven women on the verge of a nervous breakdown, in the film adaptation of the 1975 Tony Award-winning play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. She’s lucky to be top billed in an ensemble that’s embarrassingly rich with talent: Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine and Thandie Newton, who, interestingly, was cast after Mariah Carey had to bail for medical reasons. If Jackson doesn’t bring it and more, she’ll rue the day that Beyoncé didn’t get the job.

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.

Enter Guitar Center’s “Your Next Record with Keith Urban” Competition

Want to win a chance to record a single featuring Keith Urban, work on an EP alongside a top producer and score $20,000 in new gear from Guitar Center, Gibson, D’Addario, Evans, Planet Waves and more?  Sure you do!  And we all know you want to receive a major feature of your song on iTunes. Thanks to Guitar Center and Keith Urban, who are collaborating with OurStage,  country, pop and rock artists will get their chance in the “Your Next Record with Keith Urban“ Competition.  Artists can submit their best track to the “Your Next Record with Keith Urban” Competition through November 30, 2010.

Calling all fans: Do your part to help determine the next superstar artist. Now through December 15th, you can judge for your favorite artist.  Each week one fan will be selected at random and receive a $50 gift card to Guitar Center. Check out more info along with the official rules for the “Your Next Record with Keith Urban” Competition and pick up Keith Urban’s new record Get Closer November 16th.”

Punk On The Rocks: Glen Matlock & The Philistines “Born Running”

While Sid Vicious may have been the most famous bass player for the Sex Pistols, Glen Matlock was undoubtedly the most talented. Glen is credited by his bandmates as having written most of the music for the bands songs, and is listed as a co-writer on ten out of the twelve songs on Nevermind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, including three of the Pistols biggest hits, “Anarchy In The U.K.,” “God Save The Queen” and “Pretty Vacant.” After leaving the Pistols in early 1977, Matlock continued his musical career, forming new wave band The Rich Kids and playing bass for Iggy Pop, The Damned and, most recently, The Faces.

Rebel, Rebel: Glen Matlock

Matlock’s rock/pop sensibilities are on full display on Born Running, his third record with his band The Philistines. If your looking for a rehashing of “Anarchy In The U.K.,” you’ll be best served sticking to the Pistols back catalog. If, however, you’re into straight ahead rock with catchy melodies and a great guitar sound, give Born Running a spin.

First, it should be noted that Matlock plays nearly every instrument that appears on the album. Born Running’s credits list him as “…Lead vocals, guitars, bass, bass, keyboards, percussion and B.V’s [background vocals].”

All of Born Running‘s twelve tracks are pure rock, but the influences vary. Standout “Something Tells Me” has an almost gospel feel, with layers of strong, harmonizing background vocals while the intro to “Rock Chick” sounds like it could have been lifted off of a vintage Scorpions track. Always a sucker for a sing-a-long, I couldn’t help but dig the bah-bah-bahs and oh-ohs of “Way To Go.”

On the lyrics front, Born Running may leave a little something to be desired (Do we really need another song that rhymes “insane” with “brain”?), but hey, it’s only rock and roll, and I like it.

Born Running is out now on Montreal’s Stomp Records. You can buy Born Running on iTunes here.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees announced

Champagne’s a flowin’ at the homes of Bon Jovi, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, LL Cool J and Dr. John, who among others, were all nominated into the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week. The induction ceremony will take place on March 14th in Cleveland, Ohio. We would like an Alice Cooper/Neil Diamond duet please … to whoever is taking requests.

Joe Jonas is ridin’ solo

Following in his little bro’s footsteps, or maybe heeding the advice of Jason Derülo, Joe Jonas announced plans to record a solo all by himself. Something with “a sexier, Justin Timberlake vibe,” says the Middle One. Sexier than “Camp Rock”? Can it be done? We’ll all find out in 2011…

The Bad

Mariah Carey falls in Singapore

If you’re gonna fall, fall with class. Like Mariah Carey, who took a tumble in Singapore but smiled the whole way down. Then things got a little more diva-ish when Carey yelled for her assistant to come help her take her shoes off while the band kept playing “Make It Happen.” Check it out below.

Katy Perry avenges her “Sesame Street” snub

On SNL this past weekend, Katy Perry avenged her Sesame Street-banned bust by donning a low-cut Elmo t-shirt and bouncing around on a sofa. Those muppets must be seeing red!

The Ugly

MC Hammer starts beef with Jay Z

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Back story: On Kanye West’s song “So Appalled,” Jay-Z delivers a line about “blowing through $30,000 like Hammer.” Well, Mr. MC Hammer was none too pleased about that, and responded on Twitter by linking to a video of himself beating up a punching bag. “You want my attention [Jigga] you got it.” Punch, punch, punch. It’s all kind of embarrassing and feeble, but we’ll play along. Please Hammer, don’t hurt him!

Miscellany

Soul Searching: Jeremy James

There are a few important qualities that we search for when “Soul Searching” for artists. Significant industry accomplishments, a unique style and ridiculous vocals to name a few. Jeremy James has all these and then some! James has shared the same stage with an extensive and impressive list of artists including India Arie, Erykah Badu and John Legend. As for Jeremy’s voice, it’s often described as a mix found somewhere between Stevie Wonder and Seal. Although these are two enormous shoes to fill, we can definitely see where they’re coming from!

Jeremy’s music is creative, and it’s apparent that he’s not just a singer— he’s a songwriter and talented overall musician. In his song, “U Should Know” take a listen to the old school/new school mix in both the vocals and backing track. We’ve included four of Jeremy’s tracks below to stream. Which one do you like the best? Any comments for or about the artist are always appreciated. Let us know what you think!

Tune Up: M-Audio Axiom Review

A couple weeks ago, I talked about using software synthesis to beef up your recordings or live sound. However, if you want to perform those synths you’ve built, the easiest way to do so is with a keyboard. How do you connect a keyboard to your computer? Well, most of you probably know that a MIDI controller is a pretty obvious concept. They all do the same thing, right? So you wouldn’t need to worry too much about which one you buy, right? Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. This week, I’m reviewing what have become my favorite MIDI controllers on the market: M-Audio’s line of USB-connected/powered keyboard controllers, branded Axiom.

The Axiom comes in a few different sizes: 25-, 49- and 61-key varieties. They also offer a “pro” line which has comparable features plus a few added perks. For this review, I’ll focus on the Axiom 49 for its affordability, features and flexibility. The Axiom 49 keyboard has enough octaves to give you the ability to play realistic piano lines, but it’s also portable enough to easily carry from show to show or from studio to studio.

Now that we have the right size, let’s look at some important specs for this M-Audio Axiom 49:

  • 49 semi-weighted keys with assignable aftertouch
  • 8 knobs, 9 sliders, all assignable
  • 8 assignable pads
  • 15 assignable trigger buttons
  • snapshot capabilities

While the keyboard has a lot of different specs, I’ve listed things that I look for in a solid MIDI controller. First, you need some solid keys that are velocity sensitive for a realistic feel during performance. Next, you want assignable knobs and buttons, so you can trigger on-screen knobs quickly without fussing with a mouse (e.g., you can set it up so that a specific knob on your keyboard controls a specific knob or function on the software view). You also want to be able to take quick snapshots on the keyboard so you can quickly switch between sounds (much like presets on a hardware synth). Finally, where the Axiom stands out most is its inclusion of trigger pads right on the device. This is unique among most MIDI keyboards out there as it gives you the ability to use drums pads when controlling drum samples, eliminating the need to purchase a separate USB drum pad controller or drum machine.

The keyboard is connected and powered via USB bus, so it’s simple and plug-and-play. There are also MIDI ins/outs as well as a power adapter input for added flexibility. Overall, I have had some of the most realistic sounds, feels and takes with this specific controller. While it is a little heavier than I would like my controllers, it makes up for it in features and size. I strongly recommend this for any live, studio or hobby musician.

B.o.B.’s Big Year

Born Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., B.o.B. is the latest young rapper taking the pop world by storm.  You could say the rock-loving rapper is on a roll of sorts and showing no signs of slowing down. His singles turned to summer anthems overnight and earned him five VMA nominations, as well as nods for BET and Teen Choice Awards. B.o.B. performed to packed crowds from the main stage at Coachella and Lollapalooza, and caught the attention of more than just hip hop fans.

Photo by Wuz Good Courtesy of Atlantic Records

He just watched his third consecutive single, “Magic,” soar to the top ten charts and score him an Adidas commercial featuring the song.  B.o.B. received his first BMI Urban Music Award in September, where President and CEO, Del Bryant, called him “the future of music.” The Southern sensation opened the show to an industry-packed crowd with his hits, “Nothin’ On You” and “Airplanes,” accompanied by nothing but his guitar.  A couple days later, he took the stage alongside Paramore front-woman, Hayley Williams for a show-stopping performance of “Airplanes” at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.  His debut album, B.o.B. presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray was released earlier this year by TI’s Atlantic imprint, Grand Hustle Records and features cameos by an eclectic bunch including Eminem, Janelle Monae, Lupe Fiasco, and Weezer front-man, Rivers Cuomo.  The album shot to Number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 in its first week, making B.o.B the thirteenth male solo artist to achieve such success with a debut release.  His unique, clever delivery coupled with his unusual affection for instruments and artistry makes him a welcomed rarity to the sometimes stagnant style of pop-rap.  This fall, B.o.B. will hit the road with Paramore when he joins them for their UK tour before gearing up for his own cross-country caravan, The Shootin’ For The Stars Tour.

By Cortney Wills

Cortney Wills is a pop culture journalist born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has lived in LA, Chicago and NYC and enjoys all things entertainment.

Behind the Mic: Mailing List Management

When managed correctly, mailing lists can be the ultimate key to fan engagement. A mailing list is a directory of fan names and their contact information (e-mail address, phone number and city/state are all good to have). The easiest way to collect this information is to bring a “guestbook” with you to every show. You can leave the guestbook at your merch table, or bring it around to the crowd after your set. You should also have a sign up form on your Web site and MySpace page.

Lady Gaga's mailing list updates fans on her latest contest & music video.

To make signing up more appealing to your new fans, you should offer an incentive. For example, announce on stage that anyone who signs up for the mailing list will get a free CD, t-shirt or song download.

Let’s say you’ve got the contact information for twenty new fans. What now?

Create a spreadsheet (we recommend a Google Doc so all band members can easily update the list) and include columns for your fans’ names and all other info you asked for. Make sure you update the list after each show.

Thanks to this text alert, fans found out that the band's set time had changed.

Next, you might want to join a mailing list site, such as BandLetter.com, to help you brand and distribute your mailings in a professional manner. They will also offer well-designed e-mail templates, remind you when to send news out and help manage your contact list.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what constitutes “news”. Use your mail to announce upcoming shows, album releases, new songs, reviews and new merch. You can also use it to promote new videos, blog posts and, of course, your competitions on OurStage!

In addition to email, you can also use texting to reach your fans. Sites such as Mozes.com offer easy-to-use mobile alert creation and are used by artists like Rascal Flatts and Justin Bieber.

Of course, mobile alerts can’t be as in-depth as email newsletters, but the advantage here is guaranteed instant delivery to the palm of your fans’ hands. These updates are perfect for announcing a “flash sale,” last minute set time change or sending a reminder for a day-of album release or show.

Update fans at least once a month and encourage them to follow your social networking sites for day-to-day announcements and show invitations. Keeping your fans in the loop can make a huge difference in your album sales and show turnouts, so always stay in touch!

Luck Be A Lady

Whether talent comes from gods in heaven sprinkling it on the chosen few, or from a lucky combination of genetic material, it’s seldom a fair shake. So don’t hold it against sisters Kamille and Kelly Rudisill that they happen to be very good at several things, among them soccer, dance and song. Classically trained with degrees in music, the duo writes, produces and performs their own material under the moniker Karmina. It’s impressive on paper, but more so when you listen to the music. Karmina’s seamless, lustrous harmonies are redolent of Wilson Philips, but updated for a younger, hipper audience. “The Kiss” is fulsome pop, polished to a high-pro glow, but that doesn’t mean the emotion doesn’t come through. Plaintive and restless, the melody tugs at your heart while tickling your id. “Slow Down” is a driving song—layered with soft, lilting harmonies but equally insistent. Karmina is just starting out and the future for any young artist is uncertain. Good news is, they’ve got talent in spades. All they need is a little luck.

Karmina

GuacaMusic: Tangos

Some people say it takes two to tango, but Mikael Berkowitsch masters tango music all by himself. Berkowitsch has been in the Top 10 OurStage charts in 2009 and 2010. His incredible composition “Tango Runing“, serves as a fine example of the exquisite tangos that exist on our site.

If you are familiar with tangos, you know that these are both the most fascinating and the most complicated of all compositions. In a sense, tangos are bitter, sweet, melancholic and joyful, all at the same time. Just think about Berkowitsch’s ”Tango Runing”, didn’t it make you feel gloomy, then cheerful, then happy, then sad?

This is exactly why tango is magic. No other music can make you dig into your emotions so deeply, or move you to tears of sadness and joy.

Although the golden age of tango is considered to be the period between 1935 and 1952, the later decades have seen outstanding pieces, particularly in the recent trends that are often described as electro tango or tango fusion, where the pieces are full of electronic, jazz and experimental influences. Just consider Gotan Project or Bajofondo Tango Club.

If you are ready to take a culinary trip to the world of OurStage tango, you’ve come to the right place. Besides Berkowisch’s spectacular piece, we have some other great tangos to offer:

  • For a traditional taste of Argentinian Tango, try “Tango Azul” by Jordi Torrens, an artist living in Barcelona who wonders why he hasn’t moved to Buenos Aires yet. His music definitely transports us to Caminito in the La Boca neighborhood. Simply delicious.
  • Looking to grab a bite of tango with jazzy influence? We recommend the delicious music of Tangoentres, a trio made up by guitarist Julian Garcia, Marcelo Coceres on the drums, and Santiago Alvarez on the double bass.
  • If what you are craving is something out of the ordinary, savor “Experimentango by Angelini Music, the project of Argentinean artist Mauro Angelini. Mauro’s style combines tango with influences from house music, chill out, lounge, rock, western, Argentinean folklore, reggae and others.
  • Finally, if what you really want to do is seat back, relax and enjoy a good Bife de Lomo, play “Turn Around Tango” by K.R. Percy & The Corporation. Tasty!

Enjoy this playlist. !Provecho!

 


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