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How Adele and Beyoncé reflect the Grammys' conflicting impulses

Tradition will take on innovation — accompanied by plenty of pop-diva razzle-dazzle — when two of music’s most powerful superstars face off at the 59th annual Grammy Awards. In nominations announced Tuesday, Adele and Beyoncé are competing against each other for three of the major prizes — record,...

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  • Neil Young has a fire in his belly in new 'Peace Trail' album

    Neil Young has a fire in his belly in new 'Peace Trail' album

    Neil Young was toying with the idea of putting his own idiosyncratic spin on one of punk-poet Patti Smith’s signature songs. He’d been talking politics, mainly the widespread expressions of alienation by voters leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. “Only people can take back the power,”...

  • Loudon Wainwright III inaugurates new Sorting Room space with unsparing show

    Loudon Wainwright III inaugurates new Sorting Room space with unsparing show

    It’s more a natural segue than a sharp career shift that veteran singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III has come up with in his one-man show, “Surviving Twin.” The production received its West Coast premiere over the weekend at the warm and intimate new performance space, the Sorting Room, in...

  • 'Falling apart but we deny it': Is J. Cole talking about Kanye West?

    'Falling apart but we deny it': Is J. Cole talking about Kanye West?

    So much for not kicking a man when he’s down. Rapper J. Cole on Thursday night released a new documentary about the making of his upcoming fourth album, and 12 hours later the Internet is convinced that one of the album’s songs is a shot at Kanye West, who spent a portion of last month in the hospital...

  • The Rolling Stones go home to the blues with 'Blue & Lonesome'

    The Rolling Stones go home to the blues with 'Blue & Lonesome'

    When the Rolling Stones fell in love with American blues music as teenagers in England in the late 1950s and early ’60s, the grand old men of the genre they idolized were 20 to 30 years their seniors. Muddy Waters was in his late 40s and Howlin’ Wolf was about 50. Now that the Stones themselves...

  • 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...

  • What do She & Him want for Christmas? 'Real instruments' played by humans

    What do She & Him want for Christmas? 'Real instruments' played by humans

    It’s not that Zooey Deschanel thinks Mariah Carey’s signature holiday standard is a terrible song. In truth, it’s just the sound of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — those lacquered synths and booming drums — that turns off the singer and actress best known as the star of the hit Fox sitcom “New...

  • Holiday music 2016: The Christmas albums you need

    Holiday music 2016: The Christmas albums you need

    Often, the annual holiday tradition that is Christmas music is rooted in nostalgia — a recycling and an update of the familiar. This year, however, the season’s holiday releases are rather broad in scope and genres. From Georgian singer Katie Melua’s offering with Russian and Eastern European elements...

  • 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...

  • Dap-Kings' Gabriel Roth recalls Sharon Jones' last days: 'She didn't want to stop singing'

    Dap-Kings' Gabriel Roth recalls Sharon Jones' last days: 'She didn't want to stop singing'

    Soul singer Sharon Jones, who died Friday at age 60 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, didn’t find commercial success until she was well into her 40s. When she did, it was through her work with her longtime band the Dap-Kings. They backed Jones for nearly two decades, and were by her bedside when...

  • 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...

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