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  • 'Christmas in Rockefeller Center': Holiday entertainment only a network exec could love

    'Christmas in Rockefeller Center': Holiday entertainment only a network exec could love

    Santa Claus giveth, and Santa Claus taketh away. After watching ABC’s surprisingly festive “CMA Country Christmas” on Monday night, I wondered if this might be the year when each of the big television networks finally figures out how to do a holiday special that doesn’t feel labored or corny or...

  • The 'nueva trova' music of Cuba's Carlos Varela feels as timely as ever

    The 'nueva trova' music of Cuba's Carlos Varela feels as timely as ever

    Coming from a Spanish-speaking musician, the song “Muros y Puertas (Walls and Doors),” could easily have been interpreted as a response to one of the key campaign promises of President-elect Donald Trump, especially as Cuban singer-songwriter Carlos Varela passionately sang it on the patio of an...

  • Why the Weeknd and Bruno Mars are obsessed with the '80s

    Why the Weeknd and Bruno Mars are obsessed with the '80s

    Bruno Mars and the Weeknd keep turning up in the same spot. There they were a week and a half ago at the American Music Awards, each performing the opening title track from his new album. Before that, the two appeared at the MTV Europe Music Awards, where they did the same songs they did at the...

  • Video premiere: Electronic producer Lawrence Grey's recipe on 'Rust'? Tape, starch and sunshine

    Video premiere: Electronic producer Lawrence Grey's recipe on 'Rust'? Tape, starch and sunshine

    When working on his new album, “Rust,” Los Angeles electronic music producer Lawrence Grey tapped some unlikely materials: A used TEAC reel-to-reel recorder and old tape salvaged from an electronics repair store. Compared with the processed nature of most such music, “tape sounds different,” said...

  • What to listen to now: Tinashe, DNCE and more

    What to listen to now: Tinashe, DNCE and more

    A weekly roundup of must-hear music from The Times staffers. This week’s picks include the latest from young R&B singer Tinashe, as well as dance artist-to-watch Avalon Emerson and the most recent bid by a Jonas brother to enter adulthood.  Tinashe, “Nightride” (RCA) Los Angeles R&B singer Tinashe’s...

  • Dolly Parton shares more 'Colors' in holiday sequel

    Dolly Parton shares more 'Colors' in holiday sequel

    Such is Dolly Parton’s love for Christmas that she has painted the elevator in her house to look like a chimney and comes “down” it every year to bestow presents upon her nieces and nephews dressed as “Granny Claus.” And, in the ’80s, she once flew across the country on Christmas Day dressed in...

  • O holy night? 'CMA Country Christmas' finally gets it right

    O holy night? 'CMA Country Christmas' finally gets it right

    Did you hear what I heard? On Monday night, ABC broadcast this year’s edition of “CMA Country Christmas,” its annual holiday special featuring Nashville’s best, brightest and most eager to promote a new Christmas album. Historically, this thing has been a reliable horror show: two hours of forced...

  • Surprised Aretha Franklin took her time with the national anthem? You shouldn't be

    Surprised Aretha Franklin took her time with the national anthem? You shouldn't be

    Looking back, it’s clear that Aretha Franklin was settling in for the long haul. As soon as the Queen of Soul finished singing the national anthem at a Thanksgiving Day football game in her native Detroit, social media lighted up with folks expressing surprise about the length of her performance....

  • Long after 'The Life Aquatic,' Seu Jorge still has David Bowie on his mind

    Long after 'The Life Aquatic,' Seu Jorge still has David Bowie on his mind

    Red knit ski caps adorned many a head in the crowd gathered Saturday night at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, where Brazilian singer and actor Seu Jorge performed a stirring concert tribute to the late David Bowie. The accessory, which Jorge himself wore, along with a pale blue shirt and pants, was a...

  • Garth Brooks' aim is off on the too-safe 'Gunslinger'

    Garth Brooks' aim is off on the too-safe 'Gunslinger'

    Surely, the machine wasn’t supposed to win. When Garth Brooks returned to record-making in 2014, the country superstar made it clear his decade away hadn’t dulled his famous nonconformist streak. “Man Against Machine,” he called his big comeback album, and the record showcased a unique talent —...

  • With topical 'Darkness and Light,' John Legend wants to 'contribute to the conversation'

    With topical 'Darkness and Light,' John Legend wants to 'contribute to the conversation'

    John Legend knows there are two ways people think about him. To many, he’s the smooth-talking pop star famous for his big voice and polished love songs, the dapper family man who peppers Instagram with photos of his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, and their 7-month-old daughter. “And then there’s the...

  • James Corden is officially cooler than LL Cool J

    James Corden is officially cooler than LL Cool J

    CBS and the Recording Academy delivered a Grammy Awards shakeup Wednesday morning, announcing that James Corden will host the 2017 ceremony. The move leaves LL Cool J, who hosted the last five Grammy Awards, out in the cold. How is this possible? Has Corden really become cooler than a man who literally...

  • Kanye West cancels remainder of his Saint Pablo tour after a rough week on the road

    Kanye West cancels remainder of his Saint Pablo tour after a rough week on the road

    After a tumultuous few days in which Kanye West walked off the stage three songs into his Saturday night concert in Sacramento and canceled Sunday's at the Forum three hours before showtime, the rapper has canceled the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour, according to a representative. West, known...

  • How the American Music Awards balanced politics and promotion

    How the American Music Awards balanced politics and promotion

    The artist’s responsibility met the demands of celebrity at Sunday’s American Music Awards, where half the assembled talent was eager to comment on a new political reality and the other half was eager to promote new product before beating a path to their chauffeured SUVs. The latter feeling was...

  • Green Day gets political at the AMAs: 'No Trump, no KKK, no fascist U.S.A.'

    Green Day gets political at the AMAs: 'No Trump, no KKK, no fascist U.S.A.'

    Green Day is at its best when a widely divisive president ascends to power. That was true in 2004 for “American Idiot,” and it’s maybe even more true in 2016 for “Revolution Radio.” At Sunday’s American Music Awards, where Green Day played the double-time barnstormer “Bang Bang,” the band had the...

  • American Music Awards try to bring pop levity in a stressful time

    American Music Awards try to bring pop levity in a stressful time

    In 2016, even a group as resolutely upbeat as Fifth Harmony felt a need to perform atop a flaming pile of apocalyptic wreckage at the American Music Awards on Sunday. The group’s members trampled over a rubble-strewn, fire-spitting stage as they performed “That’s My Girl” — an apropos setup for...

  • Kanye West cancels Forum show at last minute

    Kanye West cancels Forum show at last minute

    Just days after pledging allegiance to President-elect Donald Trump — and hours after cutting short a concert in Sacramento — Kanye West has called off his L.A. date tonight at The Forum.  The Sunday concert was canceled about three hours before showtime. No statement from West’s label or the tour’s...

  • Sharon Jones was an old soul in a changing world

    Sharon Jones was an old soul in a changing world

    Sharon Jones symbolized endurance. The endurance of an old-fashioned style as music changed around it. The endurance of ambition despite the record industry’s neglect. And the endurance of a body that withstood disease until Friday, when Jones died of pancreatic cancer at age 60. Described by a...

  • Kanye West ends Sacramento show after three songs and a tirade against Jay Z and Beyoncé

    Kanye West ends Sacramento show after three songs and a tirade against Jay Z and Beyoncé

    Kanye West is being Kanye West… again. He ended his Saturday night show with a mic drop after performing only three songs and going on a rant about Beyoncé and Jay Z.  As expected, fans are demanding refunds. According to reports and video posted on social media, West showed up an hour and 30 minutes...

  • On 'The Weight of These Wings,' Miranda Lambert tells her side of a very public story

    On 'The Weight of These Wings,' Miranda Lambert tells her side of a very public story

    Miranda Lambert keeps making plans for a getaway on “The Weight of These Wings,” the country star’s first album since her very public divorce last year from another Nashville heavyweight, Blake Shelton. “I wanna go somewhere where nobody knows,” she sings in “Highway Vagabond.” Later, in “Vice,”...

  • 'I feel good for speaking up': YG on his 2016 protest anthem that goes after Donald Trump

    'I feel good for speaking up': YG on his 2016 protest anthem that goes after Donald Trump

    On the Wednesday evening after the election, the streets of downtown L.A. shook with anger. Thousands of young protesters took to the Historic Core to show their opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. And on nearly every corner, one song set the tone. For weeks leading up to the Nov. 8 election,...

  • 'Hallelujah' singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died in his sleep, his manager says

    'Hallelujah' singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died in his sleep, his manager says

    Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died in his sleep in his home after he’d fallen during the night, his manager said. In a statement posted to cohencentric.com, Cohen’s manager and RK Management President Robert Kory addressed the singer’s death: “Leonard Cohen died during his sleep following a fall...

  • On '57th & 9th,' Sting urgently shares what's on his mind

    On '57th & 9th,' Sting urgently shares what's on his mind

    In 2013, Sting sat for an hour or so interview in a small dressing room at what was then Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” The veteran English musician was in town talking up “The Last Ship,” an album of songs from a musical he’d composed that was headed to Broadway, and in the course of the conversation...

  • Prince's estate sues Tidal over the streaming rights to his music

    Prince's estate sues Tidal over the streaming rights to his music

    When Tidal landed exclusive streaming rights to Prince’s music in 2015, it was seen as a coup for the fledgling service. Prince, a notorious music business skeptic, seemed to believe in Tidal’s artist-centric mission and streamed his Baltimore “Rally 4 Peace” on the platform. But now Prince’s catalog might...

  • BET sends Obama off in style with star-studded concert

    BET sends Obama off in style with star-studded concert

    With President Obama’s admirers now looking on his departure with an extra jolt of nostalgia, BET did its best to send him off in style. On Tuesday night, the network aired a tribute concert from the White House lawn. “BET Presents: Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration” honored the nation’s first...

  • Haim returns to the Fonda Theatre — this time with paparazzi in tow

    Haim returns to the Fonda Theatre — this time with paparazzi in tow

    When Haim played the Fonda Theatre in October 2013, I don’t recall seeing paparazzi stationed outside. But they were there Tuesday night for Haim’s return to the venue, a clear sign of how much things have changed for this Los Angeles-based sister trio since its debut album came out three years...

  • Love story of Tejano star Selena optioned for TV series

    Love story of Tejano star Selena optioned for TV series

    The love story of Tejano music star Selena Quintanilla and husband Chris Pérez could soon be coming to a TV near you. Endemol Shine North America and Major TV have optioned the television rights to Pérez’s biography, "To Selena, With Love."  Selena was a rising star in Latin music before she was...

  • Bob Dylan is not coming to Stockholm to pick up his Nobel Prize, academy says

    Bob Dylan is not coming to Stockholm to pick up his Nobel Prize, academy says

    Bob Dylan won't be coming to Stockholm to pick up his 2016 Nobel Prize for literature at the Dec. 10 prize ceremony, the Swedish Academy said Wednesday. The academy said Dylan informed it that "he wishes he could receive the prize personally, but other commitments make it unfortunately impossible."...

  • 'When Hillary Clinton did it, I knew it was going off': Rae Sremmurd on embracing the Mannequin Challenge

    'When Hillary Clinton did it, I knew it was going off': Rae Sremmurd on embracing the Mannequin Challenge

    In the 2½ years since Rae Sremmurd broke out with the rowdy hit single “No Flex Zone,” this Southern hip-hop duo has established itself as a reliable source of renewable energy. Its two studio albums — 2015’s “SremmLife” and August’s “SremmLife 2” — are full of boisterous thrills, with brothers...

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