Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog
Billboard: Taylor Swift's first-week sales for '1989' could hit 1.2 million

The latest sales projections have Taylor Swift in hot pursuit of ... herself.

Her "1989" album is now tracking toward a first-week sales total of 1.2 million copies, according to Billboard. Her previous album, “Red,” sold 1.21 million units in its first week of release two years ago.

Billboard, describing the album's sales as "surging," has been adjusting projections steadily upward, since initial reports back from retailers estimated a first-week figure of 750,000 copies, then 800,000, then 900,000, 1 million, and now 1.2 million.

And we’re still days away from the end of the reporting period for "1989's" release week, which closes at midnight Sunday.

Nielsen SoundScan typically releases sales figures for the previous reporting period on the following Wednesday morning, although sometimes in high-profile cases such as this, the retails sales reports are culled early and surface Tuesday evening.

Swift’s official sales count would not include any copies of "1989" that are being sold for...

Read more
Red Aunts to celebrate new greatest hits double LP at El Cid

The Red Aunts were nothing to mess with. Four musicians who first converged in 1990s Long Beach, the band released a series of searing garage-punk records, first on Sympathy for the Record Industry label and then on the L.A. punk label Epitaph.

While up the coast the riot grrrl movement was rewriting rules via treatises, in Southern California a host of women were doing a similar thing minus the footnotes. The Red Aunts split after its 1998 album “Ghetto Blaster,” a stellar record produced by the Gories' Mick Collins.

Alas, unlike labelmates the Offspring and Pennywise, the Red Aunts failed to dent the mainstream during Epitaph’s amazing 1990s run. But that stands to reason; their brand of wonderfully reckless rock wasn't designed as arena punk. 

Two decades later, the Red Aunts -- Terri Wahl (guitar/vocals), Kerry Davis (guitar/vocals), Debi Martini (bass/vocals) and Lesley Ishino (drums) -- will celebrate the release of a well-earned greatest hits package. Issued by the essential Los...

Read more
Danny Elfman's Halloween weekend shows echo an L.A. tradition

This weekend’s concerts with film composer Danny Elfman and conductor John Mauceri are more than just a rare opportunity to hear Elfman and his always evocative film music performed live.

They recall what was one of the great annual traditions of the Southern California pop music scene: Elfman and his quirky rock band Oingo Boingo’s yearly Halloween concerts.

Yes, kids, before he was the acclaimed creator of music for “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Edward Scissorhands,”  “Beetlejuice” and just about every other Tim Burton project (not to mention his theme songs for “Weird Science” and “The Simpsons”), he was a bona fide rock star, lending his wild-eyed presence to the versatile alt-rock big band that started out as the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.

Elfman first dipped his toe in the water of film music by arranging music for his brother Richard Elfman’s campy 1980 sci-fi thriller “Forbidden Zone.”

As he told The Times as far back as 1986: "To me rock 'n' roll is and always...

Read more
What to see at Hard Day of the Dead this weekend

It's almost like a horror movie: Just when you though the summer concert festival season was finally over, a bony hand reaches from the grave and grabs you for one last sequel.

Hard Day of the Dead wraps up the year's fest glut at the Pomona Fairplex (and ends this strange year of festivals finding new venues while L.A. State Historic Park gets repairs). The top of the bill -- Knife Party, Pretty Lights, Bassnectar -- is pretty standard fare for Hard veterans, but there is a lot worth noting on the undercard this year.

While we're personally thrilled that someone finally cross-booked Zedd and Zed's Dead on a Halloween weekend bill, here are some of the more notable sets of the weekend.


Deadmau5 vs. Eric Prydz

Though each of these acts is an established, headliner-level DJ alone, at DotD they’re teaming up for something … smaller? This collaborative set will find them trading tunes off the main stage, in a set geared more to the purist techno crowd than the teenage mob outside....

Read more
Listen: Foo Fighters head to Nashville for rootsy 'Congregation'

Have Foo Fighters gone country?

Well, not quite. But the hard-rock band sounds like it was inspired by at least the idea of roots music in "Congregation," a new song posted online late Thursday.

Keyed to Friday night's scheduled episode of HBO's "Sonic Highways" in which Dave Grohl and his bandmates visit Music City, "Congregation" sets lyrics about Southern Ground and a bluebird singing in the round against jangly guitars and a crisp power-pop beat.

Southern Ground is the name of Zac Brown's Nashville recording studio, where Foo Fighters laid down "Congregation" with help from that bearded country-jam star. And the Bluebird Cafe, as any "Nashville" viewer knows, is the popular songwriters' haunt that Grohl recently popped into for a surprise acoustic gig.

The frontman will return to town Friday night for a full-band concert, one announced just days ago, at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium.

"Congregation" is the latest track to surface from the Foo Fighters' upcoming studio album, which...

Read more
Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams lose first round in 'Blurred Lines' case

Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have lost the first round in their battle with Marvin Gaye’s family in an ongoing debate over whether their 2013 megahit “Blurred Lines” infringed on Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up.”

U.S. District Court Judge John Kronstadt denied Thicke and William’s motion for a court ruling stating that "Blurred Lines" had not borrowed substantially from Gaye’s song, instead writing that Gaye’s family members "have made a sufficient showing that elements of 'Blurred Lines' may be substantially similar to protected, original elements of 'Got to Give It Up.'"

That means the Gaye family’s lawsuit can proceed.

“There are no similarities between plaintiffs' composition and those the claimants allege they own, other than commonplace musical elements," representatives for Thicke and Williams stated in a suit filed in September. “Plaintiffs created a hit and did it without copying anyone else's composition.”

That lawsuit prompted a countersuit from Gaye’s family,...

Read more