Pop & Hiss
The L.A. Times music blog
Crssd, new underground dance music festival, debuts in San Diego

The roster of dance music festivals in SoCal got a little deeper with this week's announcement of a new two-day event presented by Goldenvoice and Fngrs Crssd, a dance music promotion firm that splits its focus on L.A. and San Diego club shows.

Crssd is the name of the new festival that debuts in March in San Diego. The inaugural lineup hews closer to underground sounds than many of its Southland predecessors — the synth-funk duo Chromeo and the prog-disco outfit Empire of the Sun top the bill, but acts like Pete Tong, DJ Harvey, Seth Troxler, Maceo Plex, Tensnake and Jamie Jones make this a promising new entry into an admittedly very crowded field.

The firm Fngrs Crssd has become the weirder, noisy little brother of its San Diego and Goldenvoice-affiliated peers in LED, and has had a successful run producing shows at the Hollywood nightclub Sound. 

While established veterans like Hard and Insomniac have already carved deep niches in this field, the less-commercial angle could give...

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Madonna hit with second major leak as 14 songs surface

Madonna can’t catch a break.

Just days after the pop diva released a suite of songs in response to a massive leak of tracks from her forthcoming album, “Rebel Heart,” she has been hit again.

A new leak, containing 14 tracks in total, surfaced online late Tuesday. As it now stands, nearly 30 unauthorized songs are floating on the Internet -- many of which are more polished than rough demos. 

Among the track titles are “Beautiful Scars,” “Tragic Girl,” “Freedom,” "Iconic," “Nothing Lasts Forever” and “Veni Vidi Vici,” and the set opens with “Back That Up (Do It),” a collaboration with Pharrell Williams.

“Real rebels think for themselves! Real rebels respect art! Real rebels are rebels in their #rebelheart,” Madonna wrote on her Instagram after the songs hit the Internet.

Premature leaks have long been problematic for artists, but a leak of this magnitude and from an artist of Madonna’s caliber is incomprehensible.

In an interview with Billboard after last week’s substantial leak, the...

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Watch: One Direction performs 'Santa Claus Is Coming to Town'

'N Sync made one. Justin Bieber too. Hanson even released one the same year as its major-label debut (and it's pretty great).

Yet in a move that seriously bucks tween-idol tradition, One Direction -- the British boy band not generally known for resisting the lure of easy money -- has so far resisted putting out a holiday album.

That doesn't mean these lads have no Christmas spirit. Just watch their festive appearance Monday night on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."

That's where One Direction became the latest act to join Fallon and his house band, the Roots, for a recurring bit in which a well-known song is performed using kid-sized classroom instruments.

The song this go-around? "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," sang here with full-throated gusto by all involved -- especially Niall Horan (who, come to think of it, looks like he could be in Hanson).

Something else to look out for: Zayn Malik, getting nasty on the triangle at about the 30-second mark.

Twitter: @mikaelwood

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Joe Cocker, rock and blues star, dies at 70

Joe Cocker, a musician best known for hits such as "With a Little Help From My Friends," "Have a Little Faith," and "You Are So Beautiful," has died.

Cocker died at his home in Colorado on Monday after a battle with lung cancer, his agent's office and a spokesman for Sony Music Entertainment confirmed. He was 70.

In a statement, Sony Music Chairman and CEO Edgar Berger called Cocker a "legendary artist of rock and blues history" and "one of the most humble men I've ever met."

"His iconic voice will forever be etched in our memories," Berger, who signed Cocker to the label, said in a statement. "Joe will live on in the hearts of millions of fans around the world."

His agent, Barrie Marshall, called him "without a doubt, the greatest rock/soul voice ever to come out of Britain."

The Sheffield, England-born rocker got his start playing local pubs in northern England as while working at a gas company, singing as Vance Arnold and the Avengers.

In 1968, Cocker's breakout album, "With a...

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Madonna issues six new songs, album pre-sale after leak

Thought Madonna was just going to let a massive leak slide without taking action? Wrong.   

After more than a dozen tracks supposedly from her forthcoming album suddenly popped up online earlier this week, the pop diva fired back with her own surprise and rolled out album details along with new music – and lots of it.

Late Friday a pre-order link for the new album popped up on iTunes. Titled “Rebel Heart” (not “Iconic,” as reported with the leak), the 19-track album is set to arrive March 10.

Even more, Madonna is offering a ton of new music with the album’s announcement. Six songs are available for individual purchase, and come as instant grats for those who pre-order. The tracks are also up on streaming services like Spotify.  

Among the songs the singer released are “Living For Love,” “Devil Pray,” “Ghosttown,” “Unapologetic Bitch,” “Illuminati” and “Bitch I'm Madonna,” which features Nicki Minaj. Additional music from the album will be released on Feb. 9.

In a statement, Madonna...

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How BET's '106 & Park' shaped a teen's life

As a black teenager with an affinity for pop music but raised on R&B and hip-hop, I considered BET’s “106 & Park” essential viewing. 

Before “106 & Park” -- which ended a remarkable 14-year run on Friday -- arrived in 2000, MTV’s wildly popular “Total Request Live” was the go-to after-school fix.

The MTV show was a can’t miss for a kid who fully subscribed to everything percolating out of the great teen-pop explosion toward the end of the millennium. Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, 98 Degrees, Jessica Simpson -- "TRL" fed my insatiable love of pop hooks and sleek videos. 

But something was always missing. When “106 & Park” arrived, I knew what had been absent.

By then, BET had already been in the business of spinning videos. The station even had a sassy virtual reality character who served up videos with a constant dose of shade on “Cita’s World” (BET still doesn’t get credit for the ground it broke there). Before that, “Video Soul” served as my...

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