Lurking among the movie and television stars receiving Golden Globes nominations Thursday morning are a handful of musical acts, including Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Justin Timberlake (who, depending on the day, qualifies as a movie star as well).
They're all up for the Golden Globe for best original song, a category that after years of cluelessness began to show signs of awareness in 2012 with nominations for Adele's lushly dramatic "Skyfall" and Swift's creepy goth-folk ditty from "The Hunger Games." (Adele won the prize, leading to a thoroughly delightful acceptance speech.)
Now, Pop & Hiss isn't in love with Coldplay's dreary "Catching Fire" tune, "Atlas." And as well-intentioned as U2 seems in "Ordinary Love" -- its song from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" -- we've heard far more exciting rock songs about freedom (including several by U2).
Oh, and speaking of ordinary, "Let It Go," from the animated Disney feature "Frozen," feels...
If you're planning to play one of R. Kelly's recent albums to liven up your holiday parties (and really, who isn't?), make sure you check the album art first.
That's because his forthcoming Christmas album (due out in time for next year's holiday) would be a much more seasonally appropriate choice than his lascivious new one, "Black Panties."
Don't mistake the Christmas record as being exactly wholesome, however, he told Rap-Up Interview. "It’s gonna be a lot of lovemaking. ... I come with that bearing gifts.”
The mind reels at the sex-metaphor possibilities that the holiday season will open up for Kelly. Though we hope he'll broaden his topicality to include all sorts of cultural celebrations — from Hanukkah (eight nights of passion, etc.) to Diwali and beyond.
Get a taste of his Christmas-minded work with "Christmas I'll Be Steppin" off the "Best Man Holiday" soundtrack.
Those looking for a shot of spirit for a holiday less than two weeks away would be advised to take a few minutes. It'll serve you well to see this version of a classic that a collection of musicians -- including Iron & Wine, Calexico, Glen Hansard and Kathleen Edwards -- so beautifully performed on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on Wednesday.
"Fairytale of New York," a story of bitter love and hate circa 1987 by the Irish band the Pogues, is set in a jail, and features broken promises, singing drunks, words thrown like stones such as "You maggot," the NYPD Choir singing "Galway Bay" and various snapshot memories of a debauched, yet somehow undying, love.
It originally starred singer Shane MacGowan and vocalist Kirsty MacColl as tortured lovers -- a junkie and a drunk, if their insults are to be believed -- suffering through the season and recounting their love affair.
As resurrected on Fallon, the huge band captured the song's glory, especially in the way the arrangement -- starring...
As much as he’s a fan of, and professionally connected to, the music of the Beatles, there are times when “Breakfast With the Beatles” radio show host Chris Carter wonders how long that music can continue to enthrall listeners.
Then he stops wondering when he gets a call like one he took on last weekend’s show marking the 33rd anniversary of John Lennon’s death.
“Some kid called in and asked, ‘Could you play "Out the Blue" from "Mind Games," ’ ” Carter said in reference to the track from Lennon’s 1974 solo album. “I said, ‘How old are you?' ” and he said, " ‘I’m 12, and I’ve been listening to that song for about two years.' ”
Carter was floored, since the request wasn’t for one of the cornerstone titles from Lennon’s solo career, much less a Beatles classic.
“That proves to me that this show is where it’s at for a reason,”...
It's a grim reality, but there's one thing you don't expect from Charlie Haden on stage in 2013, and that's a lot of conversation.
Stricken by post-polio syndrome since late 2010 (Haden was first diagnosed with a bulbar form of the disease around his throat and facial muscles at 15), his voice was said to be just about gone heading into a Tuesday night performance at REDCAT. The 76-year-old bassist-composer was there to conduct CalArts musicians through his work with his own socially conscious, large ensemble, the Liberation Music Orchestra.
And yet, Haden couldn't help but be heard. Describing his vocal cords as paralyzed as a result of polio, he stepped from his conductor's chair to a nearby microphone between nearly every piece, a perilous journey to watch (if there was ever a time for a pinned-on microphone, this was it).
With his voice so wispy and fragile you could feel the sold-out venue reaching to cradle it, Haden shared an intimate story about...
There comes a point at every Kanye West concert where he addresses the crowd and riffs on whatever is on his mind -- which is usually a lot.
Whether he’s venting about his position in the fashion world, media perceptions, defending why he’s labeled himself a genius or fawning over fiancée Kim Kardashian, his onstage monologues are instant fodder for blogs, mostly dismissing what West said as another rant (and he’s had plenty).
During Tuesday night’s show at Phoenix’s US Airways Center, a tiny part of his onstage address was dedicated to his Grammy nominations, or lack thereof, in his opinion.
" 'Yeezus' is the top one or two album on every single [critic's] list. But only gets two nominations from the Grammys,” said West, while wearing one of the many masks he sports during the ambitious production. “What are they trying to say?”
West has long had a gripe with the Recording Academy. Despite being the fifth...
The reigning ambassador of L.A. funk, Damon Riddick, arrived with a simple message at Exchange Los Angeles during the oft-chaotic record release party for "7 Days of Funk," his collaboration with rapper Snoop Dogg. Delivered on the wings of groove, bass and rhythm, Riddick, better known as Dam-Funk, spit out the command among a barrage of invectives: "Drink a Dr Pepper! Eat a Wienerschnitzel!"
OK, it wasn't that simple a communique. But within the spontaneously delivered call to action lay a larger message, one that permeated Tuesday's celebration of the R&B subgenre: Let loose. Hit the pavement. Sip a carbonated drink. Eat a hot dog. Funk hard.
Through four hours of music hosted by DJ and Stones Throw Records label chief Peanut Butter Wolf and Wallpaper singer (and daughter of Sly Stone) Novena Carmel, the downtown dance club witnessed luminaries including Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins, influential Angeleno producer-rapper Egyptian Lover, '70s funk singer Steve Arrington of Slave,...
YouTube has released its ranking of the most popular videos of 2013, and for the second year in a row, the most-viewed video belongs to South Korean pop star Psy, with “Gentleman.”
The pelvis-thrusting, ponytail-shaking, practical joke-playing workout tallied 598 million views during the year to top all comers—except his own breakthrough “Gangnam Style,” which has now accumulated triple that number with 1.8 billion views, the highest viewership ever on YouTube.
Comfortably behind Psy, not surprisingly, is Miley Cyrus’ skin-baring “Wrecking Ball,” which has generated 393 million views. She also snagged third place with “Wrecking Ball’s” visual predecessor, “We Can’t Stop,” at 304 million views.
Katy Perry’s “Roar” landed in fourth place with 251 million views, followed by Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason” at 236 million views.
Guitarist Jim Hall, an understated yet profoundly influential presence on jazz guitar, died in his sleep Tuesday morning at his New York City home. He was 83.
Hall, whose career began in the '50s as part of the West Coast jazz scene with Jimmy Giuffre and Chico Hamilton, recorded with wealth of jazz royalty over his career, including Ben Webster, Ella Fitzgerald, Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins, who worked with Hall on his landmark 1962 album "The Bridge" as well as his celebrated 2011 live release, "Road Shows Vol 2."
The guitarist led his own trio since the '60s, and continued to maintain a busy recording and touring schedule. He appeared at this year's Newport Jazz Festival (joined by fellow guitarist Julian Lage) and was reportedly planning a duo tour of Japan with his frequent collaborator Ron Carter for January 2014.
Among his memorable recent recordings include 2008's "Hemispheres,"a lush collaboration with Bill Frisell, and the 2010 album...
The closer we get to Feb. 9 and the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first live performance on American television on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the more commemorations that are announced.
In New York, where the group first touched down at John F. Kennedy Airport on Feb. 7 ahead of the Sullivan show performance, four days of musical tributes have been slated from Feb. 6 through Feb. 9 for the NYC Beatles 50 celebration.
Participants have yet to be announced, but events begin Feb. 6 with “Twist & Shout: New York Celebrates the Beatles,” and the following day what is being described as an “all-star concert” is slated for the venerated Apollo Theater in Harlem.
On Feb. 8 and 9, dozens of bands will perform throughout the day at various sites around the city. The 50th anniversary theme is carried out by the use of 50 bands from 50 countries that have been invited to attend, with most tickets priced at $50. Proceeds are being...
Unlike many beat-scene producers, Flying Lotus takes his time between albums. That doesn't mean he's not making a ton of music in the interim, however.
Today, the L.A. electro-jazz savant posted a free zip file with several dozen outtakes, remixes and unfinished ideas that find one of the city's most imaginative musical minds working out his loose ends.
The tracks on "ideas+drafts+loops" aren't meant as any kind of coherent mixtape, but are more of a data dump of interesting ideas. It still boasts some major star power, however, with appearances from Earl Sweatshirt, Baths, Shabazz Palaces and more.
The centerpiece? A remix of Kanye West's "Black Skinhead" given some lovely instrumental treatments from L.A. bass lord Thundercat.
Sonically, the package is all over the place, from the tongue-in-cheek dinner jazz of "An Xbox Killed My Dog" to the synth-velvety "Flotus" to the laptop hard core of "Chasing Apples."...
What can a king do with his power? He can flex it, run from it, consolidate it, abuse it.
Jay Z, the king of hip-hop, cycled through each of those options Monday night at Staples Center, where he brought his Magna Carter World Tour to a full house of loyal subjects.
It’s the swaggering road show behind “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” the studio album Jay Z released in July, initially through a smartphone app that guaranteed him sales of 1 million records before physical copies were even in stores. And the tour reached Los Angeles just days after the 44-year-old rapper (born Shawn Carter) was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, more than anyone else this year.
“World can’t hold me, too much ambition,” he insisted over a crunching rock groove from his four-piece band (which included producer Timbaland). “Always knew it’d be like this when I was in the kitchen.”
A dependable source of charisma, Jay Z didn’t...
A long-ago shelved album that Johnny Cash recorded in the early 1980s while still at Columbia Records will be released on March 25 after being rediscovered by his son, John Carter Cash.
The only child of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash came across the tapes while organizing their archives in Hendersonville, Tenn. The album includes a dozen songs, including duets with Cash and his wife and with longtime friend Waylon Jennings. The record is titled “Out Among the Stars.”
"When my parents passed away, it became necessary to go through this material," John Carter Cash said in a statement. "We found these recordings that were produced by Billy Sherrill in the early 1980s … they were beautiful."
The early '80s were a difficult period for Cash. He’d lost much of the momentum he’d built a decade earlier hosting his ABC-TV show, and country music had moved into the “Urban Cowboy” phase of pop-leaning crossover material.
That's where R. Kelly made a surprise appearance with the French band Phoenix, delighting (and maybe befuddling) an indie-minded crowd only minimally aligned with the audience that's helped drive Kelly to R&B superstardom.
Since then the singer has been on a kind of outreach mission with performances at the Pitchfork and Bonnaroo festivals and hit duets with Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.
Carefully planned, the activity has undoubtedly boosted Kelly's profile among pop listeners, a savvy strategy in the run-up to Tuesday's release of his new album, "Black Panties." But last week the attention took on a sour note with a bit on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" in which the English actor Benedict Cumberbatch read lyrics from Kelly's song "Genius."
The gag, which quickly went viral, was presenting itself as a goof on Cumberbatch's patrician demeanor. In reality, though, it felt more insidious: a respected white star...
Trollish Web-culture jokes abound here (there's a song named after the indicted hacker Weev and the popular fight-video site Worldstar Hip-Hop), but it's all done in service of documenting the rootless, distracted millennial male mind. "3005" is a lush, electro-bendy production where he tries to muster up a commitment to fidelity; "Crawl" takes moves from Odd Future's gnarled, noisy goth-rap while "No Exit" nails the aimless night-driving of a guy who wants to be out late but suspects...
It’s official: Garth Brooks’ self-imposed hiatus from touring is over, and the country superstar will return to the road for a world tour in 2014, his first since he announced his plan to quit touring in 2001.
Brooks, 51, made the announcement Monday, Dec. 9, to “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts while discussing his new eight-disc box set “Blame It All on My Roots,” which grew out of his four-year solo residency at the Wynn Encore Theatre in Las Vegas.
He gave no specifics of when the tour would start or how extensive it will be. But he’ll likely provide a preview of what’s to come when he returns to the Wynn in January for two shows with his full band. He also said he’ll be joined on the tour by his wife, singer Trisha Yearwood.
"Wynn has allowed me to keep that room as a laboratory type of thing, so I’m going to bring the band out there and let the band experience this room,&...
Having a conversation about genre distinctions with an experimental band can feel like an experiment of its own.
Thankfully, Ryder Bach and Alina Cutrono of the L.A.-based Body Parts leave the daunting task of classification to their listeners when they open up about their pop-shaded debut, "Fire Dream," which came out a few weeks ago.
"I think it’s cool that two people can listen to the album, and they both walk away from it with one person thinking it's a dance album and another thinking it's experimental," Bach says. "The way I feel about genre is: All rules out the window."
However one chooses to categorize Body Parts, it works: The band's November residency at the Satellite saw a dance floor packed with revelers. The band's strong musicality, showcased in carefully selected harmonies and synth arrangements, flirts with an '80s groove on "Fire Dream," which was consummated on the Satellite floor.
The showmanship of their...
On the first anniversary of the death of Mexican banda singer Jenni Rivera, the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles reports strong attendance for its exhibit on the singer’s life and career that opened in May.
“Jenni Rivera, La Gran Senora” has become one of the most popular attractions in the museum’s five-year history, a museum spokeswoman said Monday, and the exhibit is being highlighted in Telemundo’s coverage of the anniversary of her death on Dec. 9, 2012, in a plane crash in Mexico.
It includes costumes she wore on stage, including the signature tan and lace dress she wore at the Teatro de Mexico, rare photographs of her on and off stage, video footage from live and televised performances, her own Bible and credit cards, awards she received and other items.
Museum officials note that she became the first banda artist to sell out back-to-back concerts at the7,000-capacity Nokia Theatre L.A. Live when she played the theater in...
You can't talk about modern jazz without talking about Charlie Haden.
The bassist who forged a woodsy backbone for groundbreaking recordings with Ornette Coleman and later went on to found the jazz program at CalArts, Haden has been in poor health since the onset of post-polio syndrome in 2010 -- a disease that first struck him at 15 years old.
As a result, Haden hasn’t performed in public since 2011, but Tuesday night he conducts an ensemble of CalArts musicians through pieces from his invigorating Liberation Music Orchestra, a fiery venture into the politically charged side of the avant garde jazz the bassist formed in 1969. To whet your appetite, here’s a selection of recordings to remind us what we’ve been missing in Haden’s absence from the bandstand.
“Lonely Woman,” with Ornette Coleman(1959): What was so controversial years ago simply sounds like unmistakable yearning beauty today, and it all begins...
The artists arrived in perfectly timed succession, each a harmonic tine inside the music box: Atlas Genius, Bastille, Portugal. The Man, Capital Cities, Fitz & the Tantrums, the Neighbourhood, Lorde, Phoenix and Arcade Fire.
The five-plus-hours show at the Shrine Auditorium was the second night of the KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas, a charity event/showcase/ring-kiss that moved from act to act with only a few pauses for breath. Many of those pauses came during the Grammy nominated young singer Lorde's minimal pop dirges.
A night of explosive peaks and inconsequential valleys, the annual musical variety show serves a few noble purposes: All event proceeds go to the charities Para Los Ninos and the Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center, and fans of big-ticket rock can catch many of the music's marquee names in one action-packed night.
To brag that you saw Lorde, Phoenix and Arcade Fire in one night is certainly something to mention around the...
“Piano Man” Billy Joel called it “a little overwhelming” to be among this year’s class of Kennedy Center Honors recipients, along with Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, opera singer Martina Arroyo and actress Shirley MacLaine.
Although he’s collected six Grammy Awards during his 40-year recording career, the 64-year-old singer and songwriter told the Associated Press on Sunday, “This is different. It’s our nation’s capital. This is coming more from my country than just people who come to see me.”
The Kennedy Center recognition came at the end of the same week Joel became the first entertainer to set up a performing residency at Madison Square Garden in New York City, where he’ll play monthly as long as the ticket demand continues.
He received a toast from Garth Brooks, who has long acknowledged Joel as a key influence on his music. "Music has a wonderful gift," Brooks said. "For those that do it right, they can put you in...
This year’s Grammy nominations may be as muddled as usual, but the Recording Academy sent at least one straightforward message with the picks it announced Friday night: Rock music didn’t matter in 2013.
No rock albums made the shortlist for the Grammys’ flagship album of the year prize, nor is a rock act among the nominees for best new artist; the rock performance category, meanwhile, is padded with a cut from a live disc documenting Led Zeppelin’s one-off reunion gig.
Compare that to 2012, when Jack White, the Black Keys and Mumford & Sons crowded the album category.
Yet if the academy has decided that rock is dead, its verdict didn’t hold much sway Saturday at the Shrine Auditorium, where L.A.’s KROQ-FM (106.7) presented the first night of its annual Almost Acoustic Christmas extravaganza.
Here a very rowdy capacity crowd had gathered to watch nine bands – including Kings of Leon, Vampire...
The ambitious new set "The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932, Volume 1" comes packaged in a sturdy wooden suitcase dubbed "The Cabinet of Wonder," an apt title considering the awe-inducing sounds and history it resurrects.
A label whose ragtag story stars two white Wisconsin business partners more concerned with record player sales than music, an A&R man whose race and history as a Chicago bootlegger (and ex-pro football player) allowed him access to the clubs where unrecorded talent gigged and a roster of artists with equally fascinating biographies, the Paramount and affiliated labels' output during its 15-year life comprises more than 1,600 songs. They were released through a subsidiary of a Port Washington, Wis.-born furniture company during the rise of the phonograph era.
Ultimately, and seemingly against all odds, Paramount tapped into a huge market hungry for so-called race records, selling thousands if not millions of shellacs by some of the most important African...
Of all the narratives that can be spun out of the list of Grammy nominations, announced late Friday, came one head-scratching truth: The Recording Academy still doesn't quite know what to do with alternative R&B.
When the academy announced it had added an urban contemporary album award back to the R&B field ahead of last year’s nominations — an award for urban/alternative performance was discontinued after 2011 — the change bookended a game-changing year for the genre.
By definition the urban contemporary category is “intended for artists whose music may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance and electronic music” and can incorporate “production elements found in urban pop, urban Euro-pop, urban rock and urban alternative.”
In other words, this is the place where experimental takes on the genre should flourish.
Last year, a crop of fresh faces such as Frank Ocean, Miguel and the Weeknd shifted...
The line between respectable pop music and its gauche, teenage-courting offspring had a physical address on Friday night: Chick Hearn Court in downtown L.A. That’s the street that divides Staples Center and the L.A. Live complex, where the KIIS-FM Jingle Ball and the Grammy nominations concert offered two very different, but occasionally overlapping, schools of Top-40 success.
At Nokia Theatre, the Grammys lent their imprimatur to rising stars offering messages of austerity. The teenage New Zealand electro-pop singer Lorde had a smash with the bling-mocking “Royals,” and hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis offered a jollier riff on a similar theme with “Thrift Shop.”
But at Staples Center, Jingle Ball celebrated the tarter, girlier yet often still great stuff that the Grammys rarely acknowledge -- the ‘90s-frizzy dance pop of Fifth Harmony, Ariana Grande’s featherweight R&B, and yes, Miley Cyrus licking a Christmas tree. If the Grammy noms were...
The Grammy Awards may be "music's biggest night," to quote the Recording Academy's dogged branding effort, but they no longer represent its center.
You got a firm sense of how haphazard the awards can seem, particularly as the record industry continues to fragment, during the cobbled-together concert that surrounded the announcement of this year's Grammy nominations Friday night at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.
Hosted by LL Cool J, "The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!" aimed to drive public attention to an often-baffling list of nominations that include an album of the year nomination for Sara Bareilles' tepid piano pop, Led Zeppelin's nomination for best rock performance and Ed Sheeran's spot in the best new artist category — despite the fact his tune "The A Team" was nominated previously for song of the year.
But the hourlong concert, broadcast on CBS, made its own claim on incoherence.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the hit-making...
The now-annual Grammy nomination CBS special is the award-show that isn't. No trophies are handed out, but it plays as a 60-minute teaser for what the Grammys will have to come Jan. 26 when the actual awards take place at the Staples Center. Still, it's not without some award-show-like moments. Here are a few standouts.
Where's Drake? Neil Portnow seemed puzzled by Drake's eleventh-hour dropout from the lineup and admitted he didn't know what happened. "Artists and their careers, things change.... They had some changes with plans and schedules. It was one of those things that was last-minute. But everybody is big boys and girls and everything was amicable."
Past and present: The Grammy Awards, nominally speaking, are a time for drawing connections between pop's past and present. That was evident Friday when country star Keith Urban and soulful local crooner Miguel gave a rendition of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," a heart-stinging number that deals with loss. The mood stayed dour...
With so much music being streamed, swapped and downloaded from so many outlets these days, it's valid to ask whether we can arrive at any sort of Grammy consensus.
The nominations for the 56th annual ceremony, announced late Friday, give us the answer: No. Successfully predicting musical consensus is, more than ever, a fool's game.
Few, for example, would have bet on singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles' "The Blessed Unrest," landing an Album of the Year nomination. Sales have just been so-so, and it dropped out of Billboard's Top 200 album chart recently, only to sneak back in the latest ranking.
Deserved or not — the latter, from this perspective — the album took a slot away from one seeming shoo-in, Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience." The Recording Academy also passed over Kanye West's acclaimed "Yeezus" and Kacey Musgraves' far more lyrical and way less treacly "Same Trailer, Different Park."
Bareilles' December surprise...
In a bit of an upset, Chick Corea will not be going home with another award this year.
A winner of 20 Grammys, including two last year, Corea, with his latest album “The Vigil,” was shut out Friday night in this year's list of nominees, which again offered a welcome blend of relative newcomers and familiar faces.
The jazz vocal category is led by 24-year-old phenom Cécile McLorin Salvant, whose ebullient "WomanChild" was nominated along with Gregory Porter's "Liquid Spirit," which was the big-voiced singer's Blue Note Records debut. The pair compete against Tierney Sutton, Lorraine Feather and Andy Bey, who at 73 released the spry "The World According to Andy Bey."
A Grammy winner in 2012, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington earned a nod for "Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue," a homage to the 1963 album by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Also nominated for instrumental album were young pianist Gerald Clayton along with records by Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett...
Pop music’s freshman class made a big splash on the sales charts in 2013, and now several can boast a raft of Grammy nominations, including Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, 17-year-old singer-songwriter Lorde and country songwriter-turned-singer Kacey Musgraves.
Together the four acts collected 22 nominations as announced Friday night in Los Angeles, although rap superstar Jay Z led the field. The veteran artist earned nine nods, although most were collected in the rap categories rather than in the higher-profile general fields.
The New Zealand-born Lorde, whose real name is Ella Yelich-O’Connor, is recognized in record and song of the year categories in her first round of Grammy attention, and her album “Pure Heroine” also was nominated for pop vocal album. Vying with Lorde’s “Royals” in the record category are Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams’ “Get Lucky,” Imagine Dragons’ “...
Nominations for the 56th Grammy Awards are being unveiled tonight at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles begining at 7 p.m. PST, and Pop & Hiss will be with you throughout the evening to live blog the proceedings.
Stay tuned to this post, and we'll try to keep the typos and the indignation to a minimum.
A number of major artists, many of whom are no doubt in line for some top nominations, are set to perform, including Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Lorde. Drake, as noted earlier, was a late scratch.
Pop & Hiss has a number of burning Grammy-related questions that will be answered shortly.
Among them: Can Swift's "Red" give the young artist her second album of the year nomination? Will voters again go young and reward newcomers such as Lorde and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis in the album of the year field? Will there be any love whatsoever for "Yeezus" (probably not much)? Will Grammy voters embrace electronic artists such...
The Grammys nomination concert special airs Friday on CBS, and The Times will share live updates from our pop music reporters, as well as commentary from fans, musicians and critics, here. Follow along with us as we learn which artists will be up for Grammys in 2014.
In January, Billy Joel will debut as Madison Square Garden’s first entertainment franchise. A few months into his open-ended residency, he will anchor another high-profile gig: a night at the Hollywood Bowl.
Despite a career that spans four decades and includes a dizzying array of accomplishments -- Joel is the sixth bestselling artist of all time in the U.S. -- the Piano Man has yet to play the iconic venue.
Joel will make his debut performance at the Bowl on May 17, a week after he rings in his 65th birthday with one of his monthly MSG gigs.
Earlier this week Joel and the Garden announced that, starting in January, the singer would begin playing one show a month for as long as there is a demand.
Since 1978, Joel has played a record-breaking 47 shows at the Garden, 12 of those during a sold-out residency in 2006. Joel's first four concerts — Jan. 27, Feb. 3, March 21 and April 18 — quickly sold out. A fifth show, set for the singer&...
“The X Factor’s” Season 3 ratings may be gasping for air (and its previous winners nowhere to be seen or heard), but a few finalists from the struggling franchise are continuing to make post-show noise.
Emblem3, the young pop, ska and hip-hop fusion trio from Huntington Beach who placed fourth on the show's second season last year, announced they are prepping their first headlining tour on Friday.
Their #BandLife Tour will kick off Feb. 10 in Dallas. The 24-date trek will wrap on March 15 when the boys return to L.A. and play Club Nokia.
A favorite of the judges and pegged as an early front-runner, the group was mentored by show creator and judge Simon Cowell.
After getting cut from the show, the trio quickly scored a deal with Columbia Records and Cowell's Syco Music. Their debut, “Nothing to Lose,” debuted at No. 7 when it was released in July and had the highest first-week sales of any other act from the U.S. version of the series.
Will Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lorde and Robin Thicke make it into song- and record-of-the-year categories?
Did Kendrick Lamar’s breakout year land him a seat in the new artist and album-of-the-year races?
How will Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake’s massive comeback albums be rewarded?
Will Taylor Swift's "Red" face off against Kanye West's "Yeezus"?
Did Miley Cyrus twerk her way into the hearts of Grammy voters?
Those questions, and plenty more, will be answered when the Grammy nods are unveiled Friday during its annual nomination concert special.
The one-hour CBS special, “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live -- Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night,” will announce nominees in several categories and feature performances from Swift, Thicke, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lorde, Katy Perry, Keith Urban and others.
For those planning to tune in on TV -- and didn't bother to set your DVR -- the show will air live for the East...
When the Grammy nominations special goes live on Friday night, there’s one likely nominee who will be missing in action: Drake.
The rapper's latest chart-topper “Nothing Was the Same” could be in the running for multiple categories, but he won't be around to celebrate or perform during the one-hour CBS special because of a last-minute scheduling conflict.
"Unfortunately, due to scheduling complications, Drake will no longer be performing ... [he] is currently in the middle of his nationwide 'Would You Like A Tour?' and sincerely apologizes to his fans that he can't be there," a rep for the rapper said.
CBS announced Drake as among the first slate of performers back in October. His next tour stop is Kansas City on Saturday.
Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lorde, T.I. and Miguel were among the last acts added to the lineup that also includes Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Perry will be beamed in from Canada and Swift’s...
South African musician Johnny Clegg, who saluted Nelson Mandela in his 1987 song “Asimbonanga” while Mandela was still serving prison time for fighting the nation’s apartheid system, released the following statement about Mandela’s passing on Thursday:
“My family and I send our condolences to all the Mandela family members on the passing of Tata. We also share with all South Africans and the global community our sense of loss and sadness at his passing.
“Nelson Mandela will always define a deep part of what and who are as individuals and as a nation. It is difficult to separate the great journey to secure a democratic and non-racial South Africa from his personal qualities and character. For all South Africans he was the face and form of that voyage, particularly in the crucial decade of 1990–2000.
“In the defining and tempestuous years of 1990 through to April 27th1994 his...
On “Graceland,” his 1986 Grammy Award-winning album, Paul Simon sang a secular lullaby that could’ve been addressed to the oppressed black multitudes of apartheid South Africa and their moral leader, Nelson Mandela.
“These are the days of lasers in the jungle,” Simon intoned on the album’s lead-off track, “The Boy in the Bubble.” “These are the days of miracle and wonder / And don’t cry baby, don’t cry.”
Although the ambiguous lyrics seem to refer to a broader human condition, they also evoke the aspirations that were roiling South Africa in the mid-1980s and that Mandela embodied, both within his country and to the outside world.
FULL COVERAGE: Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
At that time, Mandela still was languishing in a Cape Town jail cell. But the passions he excited and the hopes that he raised had been reverberating across popular music for years, and would continue after he finally walked out of prison a free man...
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Whether Grammy voters will recognize it or not, it's been a curious and transitional year for popular music. A few of its brightest new stars, 17-year-old New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde, country singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves and the DJ-producer team Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, whose ascent from YouTube fame to Staples Center headliners was remarkably quick, were virtually unknown at the time of last year's ceremony.
In their own ways, all wrote of thriving — not through wealth and fame but through creativity and honesty. When the nominees for the 56th Grammy Awards are announced at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles on Friday evening, expect the three acts to take steps toward the kind of mainstream stardom that will afford them luxuries they don't claim to need — or, as Lorde sings in "Royals," "That kind of luxe just ain't for us."
Kanye West's croissants be damned.
That the trio first...
As Quincy Jones said in an emotional statement released on Thursday, “Today, as it did while he inhabited our planet, Nelson Mandela’s spirit truly soars with the angels.”
Jones was just one of many in the music world who paid tribute to Mandela, who died on Thursday at 95. In a sweeping essay for Time, U2's Bono hailed the former South African president’s influence, writing: “As an activist I have pretty much been doing what Nelson Mandela tells me since I was a teenager.”
Most musicians flocked to social media to offer tributes. Some posted pictures of the time they met Mandela, while others posted one of his countless influential quotes. In another statement, Roger Waters wrote: "Like most of us, I was never lucky enough to meet the great man, but today I feel I lost a true friend, because like Gandhi and Dr. King, Nelson Mandela was a true friend to all of us."
Beyonce took to her Instagramto post a...
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Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress leader and longtime political prisoner who became president of South Africa after the dismantling of the apartheid system that had jailed him for more than 27 years, has died at 95 years old.
Mandela was a lightning rod for the artistic community at home and around the world.
One of the many musical homages to Mandela while he was imprisoned came from South African musician Johnny Clegg, who formed the first integrated rock band in that country in the 1970s and courted jail time himself for collaborating with black musicians in his adopted homeland.
His elegiac song “Asimbonanga (Mandela),” from his 1987 “Third World Child” album with his band Savuka, mixed English verses with choruses sung in Zulu. It noted that Mandela was nowhere to be seen at that time and also name-checked political prisoners Steven Biko (the...
Nelson Mandela was, quite famously, a fan of European classical music. His two favorite composers were George Frideric Handel and Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky, but he grew up exposed to the country’s rich tradition of vocal groups forging a unique form of sacred rhythm music.
That changed while the former South African president and longtime democratic activist was imprisoned by the pro-apartheid government from 1962 to 1990. He wasn’t allowed access to music.
Artists, however, used Mandela's jailing to fuel global protest songs, and during his years in captivity, Mandela’s messages were delivered on the wings of rhythm and melody.
The response to Mandela’s cause, in fact, helped bridge cultural divides that continue to hold. One of the best known songs, Artists United Against Apartheid’s “I Ain’t Gonna Play Sun City,” for the first time brought together on record superstars of...
Viewers will find a lot to debate in Lana Del Rey’s new “Tropico” video in terms of interpreting the heavy symbolism that ripples through the 27-minute short film directed by Anthony Mandler. But the ambition in this extended morality play about love, lust and loss of innocence is hard to deny, as it invokes multiple religious and pop culture figures in exploring the extremes of human experience.
It opens with figures representing Jesus, Elvis Presley, John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe in a wide-open landscape that soon sets the stage for Del Rey and her albino love interest, played by Shaun Ross, to act out the bible’s Garden of Eden story.
The Adam-and-Eve scene flashes forward to a modern-day setting in which she’s an exotic dancer at a strip club where, naturally, scantily-clad twerking ensues; he’s a gang member who works as a clerk at a convenience store, where he agonizes over his beloved's line of work.
The narrative then shifts to a bachelor...
Imagine that a hip-hop song inspired by a successful marriage-equality ballot initiative became one of pop’s biggest hits. Now picture the rapper behind it bringing an underground king like Big K.R.I.T. and a Golden Era legend like Talib Kweli as his fiery opening acts.
And if that rapper headlining the date did all this with an independent, self-released debut studio album? Why, this MC must be a revolutionary.
So how strange that Macklemore -- an apple-cheeked rapper who advocates for gay marriage, self-awareness of privilege and personal financial responsibility -- is one of pop’s most mocked villains.
Rap heads hate him for his goobery optimism, and the sense that he’s the rapper of choice for the “I don’t like rap, but ...” crowd. Gay-rights activists criticize him for being a straight white guy who got a huge hit on the back of someone else’s struggle – especially because there’s...
Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Lorde, T.I. and Miguel have been added to the slate of performers for the Grammy Awards nominations concert special Friday.
Perry will be beamed in from Canada and Swift’s performance will be shown from Australia, where she recently launched the latest leg of her Red Tour, CBS announced on Thursday.
Keeping with the Grammy’s longstanding tradition of pairing acts for collaborations, Miguel will pair his alt-R&B cool with Keith Urban's country lilt. Also added to the lineup are members of Earth, Wind & Fire, who along with T.I. will join Robin Thicke for a number that will hopefully make America forgive him for that little debacle at the MTV Video Music Awards.
The one-hour CBS special “The Grammy Nominations Concert Live -- Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night” will announce the nominations in several categories. Drake and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are also slated to perform.
The nomination show will...
Here’s a holiday truism you can depend on: Put Mariah Carey anywhere near a Christmas tree, and she will bring it.
That’s what the singer did Wednesday night on NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” special, which opened with Carey, a yuletide vision in a sparkly white mermaid dress, ripping into “Joy to the World” with an intensity in her eyes that seemed to be telling Ariana Grande to step off. (Watch the performance below until Carey’s people have it yanked it from YouTube.)
“Joy to the World” was one of two songs she did on the hour-long broadcast, for which “hundreds of thousands” of New Yorkers had lined the streets of midtown Manhattan, according to a rather dubious claim by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. Carey also blessed the assembled with a melisma-rich rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
And yet she didn’t succeed in scaring off young Grande, who only opened herself to...
Alicia Keys is unlocking her archives through a new interactive website.
The site, AK Vault, is fully curated by Keys from the “big steel fortress at my studio that holds my secret treasure-trove where everything unreleased resides.” From there Keys promises to share a wealth of material including live performances, videos, diary entries and music.
AK Vault allows fans to explore the material by album or by clicking on animated icons for photos, music, videos, etc.
Some material is still locked — there isn’t access to 2009’s “The Element of Freedom" or her most recent album, “Girl on Fire,” as of yet — but the singer has stocked the site with a few goodies.
There’s a grainy video of a 16-year-old Keys performing “Butterflyz” (it’s featured on her Grammy winning debut, “Songs in A Minor”) for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and a clip of her signing at a talent show when...
Bonnie McKee writes party-ready pop songs streaked with sadness, and one source of that sadness might be that she hasn't been the person singing them.
The L.A.-based songwriter is partially responsible for some of the biggest hit singles of the last few years: Britney Spears' "Hold It Against Me," Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" and a string of No. 1s by her friend Katy Perry, including "California Gurls," "Teenage Dream" and "Roar," the last of which hasn't left the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 since August.
Each is an ingeniously designed package of melody and groove that reveals its emotional payload only over time, as when you realize in "Teenage Dream" that Perry's insistence on "no regrets" with a new lover means she's already had a few to put behind her.
"I always try to have some heart in every song I do," said McKee, 29. "The dual-meaning thing, it's important."
Yet for all their creative and commercial success, these songs also represent a kind of professional frustration for McKee,...
R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet” is back, again. The singer’s campy hip-hopera will return to IFC next year with additional installments, the cable network said Tuesday.
Although a premiere date or number of episodes hasn't been announced, the network is already celebrating with a marathon of the previous 33 chapters of the series set for Saturday (episodes are also available for streaming).
The hip-hopera originally began as a five-video series to accompany the melodramatic segment of songs on his 2005 disc, “TP.3 Reloaded.” A bizarre and complex storyline featuring sexual exploits, little people, gossipy drama and Kelly playing multiple characters, "Trapped in the Closet" became a cult hit after it was released.
Fan demand made the singer continue to add chapters and roll out the accompanying videos on DVD. Subsequent installments started airing on IFC and streamed on the network’s website in 2007.
Among the many delightful bits of information that Giorgio Moroder passed along to The Times' August Brown in October was that the 73-year-old disco pioneer had remixed a tune by L.A.'s Haim.
In terms of hipster-aligned pop in 2013, this was more or less like learning that Nabokov had punched up a bit of Hemingway.
A little over a month later, the result of that too-cool union is here, and if it isn't quite the second coming of "I Feel Love," Moroder's remix convincingly transforms the Haim sisters' bubbly pop-rock tune into a slamming club jam.
There is an unrelenting beat. There are icy event-horizon synths. And there is a choir of robot voices reminding you that Moroder also appeared on this year's Daft Punk album. What a guy.
Listen to the "Forever" remix below.nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;...
For years, the Playboy Jazz Festival has been the genre's marquee event in Los Angeles, but it faced big questions about how to evolve with modern audiences. Now the festival is partnering with another major city musical mainstay -- the L.A. Philharmonic Assn.
Beginning with the 2014 festival at the Hollywood Bowl, the Phil will be presenting and booking the lineups of classic and contemporary jazz (alongside the festival's booker, Darlene Chan, and longtime promoter, FestivalWest).
An L.A. Phil spokesperson said the new arrangement would "maintain continuity from previous festivals, featuring both emerging artists and established superstars of the genre."
Comic George Lopez will return as host after inheriting the duties last year from longtime host Bill Cosby.
The Phil has long included ambitious jazz programs in its annual summer offerings at the bowl, and the jazz fest has shared the venue for 35 years with an annual blend of straight ahead jazz and...
Apologies to those who thought One Direction was just another flash-in-the-pan boy band. The British group is proving unstoppable.
One Direction's third album, “Midnight Memories,” debuted at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart this week after selling 546,000 copies, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
“Midnight Memories” is the group's third No. 1 album, making it the first to debut at No. 1 with its first three albums. 1D's debut, "Up All Night," and the follow-up "Take Me Home" were both released last year.
Also, as Billboard noted in its chart analysis, One Direction is the first group since the Monkees to have its first three albums reach No. 1, a fitting piece of pop trivia given both acts were born on television to the delight of teenagers.
1D mania will reach fever pitch next year when the boys anchor a stadium tour, which includes a stop at the Rose Bowl in September.
On Wednesday Live Nation announced it had added an...
Madison Square Garden is home to the Knicks, Rangers, New York Liberty and now Billy Joel as the singer will be established as the first entertainment franchise for the venue.
Joel and the Garden announced Tuesday that, starting in January, the singer will begin playing one show a month for as long as there is a demand.
The open-ended run of shows is an unprecedented move for a major venue not inside a Las Vegas hotel. But the Garden tapping the Piano Man for such a venture isn’t surprising. Since 1978, Joel has played a record-breaking 47 shows at the venue, 12 of those during a sold-out residency in 2006.
“Performing at Madison Square Garden is a thrilling experience. I’ve played different venues all over the world, but there’s no place like coming home to the Garden,” Joel said in a statement. “Since my first show in 1978, I’ve always looked forward to the energy of the crowd. I’m honored to be joining the...
According to the Paris prosecutor's office, Dylan has been placed under formal investigation by the Paris Main Court for "public injury" and "incitement to hatred," CNN reports. The singer was served notice of the investigation last month.
That investigation follows a legal complaint lodged by a Croatian group over Dylan's comments, during a long criticism of race relations in the U.S.,in which he said:
"It's a distraction. People at each other's throats just because they are of a different color. It's the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back -- or any neighborhood back. Or any anything back. Blacks know that some whites didn't want to give up slavery -- that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can't pretend they don't know that. If you got a slave master or Klan in...
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Prince is headed to New Orleans to headline the 2014 Essence Music Festival, the annual three-day festival held over Independence Day weekend, Essence announced Tuesday.
Next year's installment will mark the 20-year anniversary of the festival, which is billed as one of the largest gatherings of black artists in the country.
Prince previously performed at Essence in 2004 to mark the festival’s 10th year. The 2014 festival is set for July 3-6 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
What began as a one-off celebration for the 25th anniversary of the black women’s lifestyle magazine in 1995 has turned into the preeminent destination for R&B and hip-hop fans, and it attracts hundreds of thousands of music fans to New Orleans each year.
The 2013 lineup featured Beyoncé, Maxwell, Jill Scott, Brandy and Janelle Monáe.
Essence faced competition from BET this year. The network launched a worthy contender by...
Junior Murvin had one of the greatest reggae singles ever. "Police & Thieves" is a genre staple and one of reggae's most perpetually covered tracks.
The singer died Monday in Jamaica, and his song will be the centerpiece of his legacy. Murvin's age has been listed as 64 and 67 in varying reports.
The singer had recently been hospitalized for diabetes and blood pressure-related illnesses, but a cause of death was not immediately known.
Murvin was discovered by legendary producer Lee "Scratch" Perry after performing in lounges in Portland parish, east of the capital of Kingston. Perry produced "Police & Thieves" for a 1977 release on Island Records.
Its mix of sweetly soulful vocals, Perry's idiosyncratic percussion and tales of police violence made it an international hit, rocketing up charts in England and influencing countless acts in reggae scenes and across genres.
The song was Murvin's only major hit, but it remains one of reggae's most-referenced...
Lady Gaga is ready to hear applause in arenas across North America this spring. The always provocative pop star is readying a tour in support of her latest album, “Artpop.”
Billed as “artRave: The ARTPOP Ball” Gaga’s upcoming show is set to open on May 4 in Ft. Lauderdale. The 25-date trek will wrap on July 21 with a stop at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Gaga’s lofty ambitions for flashy spectacle are the core of her live showings with her tours continuing to up the ante.
Her last outing, 2012’s massive Born This Way Ball, was a master class in spectacle with a sprawling, three-story medieval castle and extravagant set pieces such as a mechanical horse, the infamous Grammy egg and a motorcycle that doubled as a costume.
But the show’s grueling choreography led to a hip injury that required surgery for Gaga and the cancellation of more than a dozen dates earlier this year. The new tour will include...
Though it takes place at the start of awards season -- and is presented by the same Nashville trade group that puts on the Country Music Assn. Awards -- "CMA Country Christmas" doesn’t revolve around the distribution of trophies.
It’s an annual holiday TV special in which country stars perform Christmas songs and describe their down-home family traditions; the singers with young children are evidently encouraged to trot them before the cameras, more grist for the merry mill.
Still, it was hard not to watch this year’s show, taped last month at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena and broadcast Monday on ABC, without giving out some imaginary awards.
Most Dead-Eyed Performance of a Yuletide Staple, for instance, was a fierce two-way fight between Rascal Flatts, who drained everything jolly from “Jingle Bell Rock,” and Lucy Hale, who despite her regular acting gig on “Pretty Little Liars” brought zero believability to “Christmas (Baby Please...
Like Wile E. Coyote realizing too late that he's walked off a cliff and is standing on thin air, "Britney Jean," the new studio album from Britney Spears, is marked with so many sleights of hand, dubious lyrics and bombastic but boringly simple melodies that the too-rare levitation of its better moments seems an animation trick.
Item one: "It Should Be Easy," a song that practically wallows in its own failure. Featuring a cameo by the album's executive producer, will.i.am, the track casts doubt on his utility, as evidenced by these lazy lines: "Love, it should be easy / It shouldn't be complicated / It should be easy." Deep insight, indeed, augmented with the rocky syllabic mess in the chorus' kicker: "I don't know how or where else to say it." Here's an idea: Rather than surrender and admit you don't know how to say it, follow the advice in "Work Bitch" and "work hard, like it's your profession."
Such potholes dot "Britney Jean," which the 32-year-old Spears has described as her most...
On the cover of R. Kelly’s upcoming album, “Black Panties,” the R&B king clutches a cello bow and caresses a topless woman as if she’s an instrument. The deluxe cover features him atop a bed of women clad in only black underwear.
However he’s depicted, his point is obvious: The sex jams are back.
After a set of well-received — and critically acclaimed — efforts were steeped in the simmering melodies of classic soul, “Black Panties” marks the singer’s return to the raunchy, sweat-soaked loverman role that that made R. Kelly famous and infamous.
Out Dec. 10, “Black Panties” is anchored by the (many) ways Kelly goes about pleasing his lover. On Monday, a week ahead of its release, Kelly offered a full stream of the album.
Gone is the chivalrous ladies' man that anchored 2010's stellar “Love Letter” and its follow-up, 2012's “Write Me Back.” Instead...
The new Coen Brothers film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which opens Friday, takes moviegoers to the folk music scene of the early 1960s. Although the title character is something of a composite of various musicians of the era, it’s no secret that the Coens’ primary real-world inspiration was singer, guitarist and songwriter Dave Van Ronk.
Something of a Pied Piper of folk music, Van Ronk attracted acolytes from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez on down the ladder, introducing them to obscure traditional songs he’d learned and cluing them in to guitar techniques he’d picked up along the way. (He taught Dylan how to play his version of “House of the Rising Sun.”)
Pop & Hiss is streaming a previously unreleased live performance Van Ronk gave in 1974 that is excerpted in the new box set “Live at Caffe Lena: Music from America’s Legendary Coffee House 1967-2013” on the Tompkins Square label.
That set includes...
On Saturday, photographer-writer and music-journalism fixture Andrew Youssef died after a long, heartbreakingly documented struggle with colon cancer. He was 38.
Since 2006, he had written and shot for his own blog, Amateur Chemist, and publications including Stereogum and the OC Weekly several times a week. One could hardly go to a photo pit at a marquee concert in Southern California without running into him. He was one of the area's most tireless and enthusiastic music fans, and even after his diagnosis, he continued shooting and covering bands until October (his final concert shoot was for Depeche Mode in Los Angeles).
He chronicled his life in an OC Weekly blog, Last Shot, where music reviews wove into his larger existential thoughts on his condition in his waning days. On Sept. 26, he wrote that he would be halting intensive treatment and begin preparing for the end of his life -- but he didn't stop writing or shooting.
Many of his favorite...
Howe Gelb, "The Coincidentalist" (New West)
Over 30 years and nearly as many albums, Arizona songwriter Howe Gelb has walked a singular path, one that has drawn a cultish following devoted to his guitar- and piano-based wanderings. He got his start as part of L.A.'s country punk scene with Giant Sand in the early '80s but hit the desert and has since released a string — nay, a rope — of underappreciated curios. "I'm a Vortexan at heart," he explains in "Vortexas," and he's right: Twang-accented but structurally cubist, the songs on his new album often travel wormholes few songwriters dare.
To admire Gelb is to fully expect, for example, that a song like "Triangulate" will begin with a basic structure — only to spin into an utterly baffling chorus and tunnel elsewhere. Featuring guest appearances by guitarist M. Ward (She & Him), Bonnie "Prince" Billy, KT Tunstall and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, "The Coincidentalist" may be an angular first listen, but spending...
Last month, Justin Bieber recruited R. Kelly to help him sex up his sound with "PYD," a steamy slow jam in which the teen-pop superstar provides a thorough accounting of the appliances and furniture pieces on which he plans to, er, romance a lady friend. (Kelly, meanwhile, reports that he's "been doing forensics on your body in this club.")
No such guest is billed on the latest installment in Bieber's so-called Music Mondays series of online singles.
But with its stripped-down keyboard arrangement, tender falsetto vocals and words about redemption, "Change Me" sounds like it could be a collaboration with another R&B great: Brian McKnight.
"If you're ready then I'm waiting now to accept a little responsibility," Bieber sings, referring perhaps to his recent string of tabloid troubles. "I'll go out of my way to live by the words that you say." Later in the song he insists, "I don't wanna be the same," before wondering if "you could be the light that opens...
During my recent interview with author Mark Lewisohn about his monumental new biography of the Beatles, “Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years,” he very briefly let slip a comment that might qualify as favoritism, something that doesn’t figure into the book itself, an even-handed, deeply researched account not only of the group itself but also of the world they entered and eventually changed with their music.
At 944 pages, it’s an imposing book, all the more so when you realize it’s the first of three volumes, the other two expected to land successively six or seven years down the line from the first installment.
Considering the book constitutes interwoven individual biographies of each member of the Fab Four, Lewisohn cited a comment Ringo Starr has been making during interviews in conjunction with the release of “Photograph,” the new collection of photos he took before, during and after his tenure in the band.
RZA is the latest artist to pay tribute to Paul Walker.
After news broke Saturday that the star of the “Fast & Furious” franchise had died in a single-car accident, the de facto Wu-Tang Clan frontman crafted a track in tribute to the actor, which he posted on his SoundCloud page Sunday.
The rough demo, “Destiny Bends,” is a moving ballad with a simple arrangement and a raw vocal from up-and-coming singer Will Wells. RZA noted that he composed the track with his two sons.
In a note attached to the song (posted in full below), RZA wrote that he met Walker on the set of their upcoming film, “Brick Mansions,” where “we talked, laughed, and exchanged ideas of life and fatherhood.”
“I only knew him personally for less than a year, but we knew each other through our work and art. We saw in each other a kindred spirit of men coming from unlikely circumstances, and rising to be the light and beacon of our...
Beyonce has topped Bing’s list of the most-searched celebrities in the U.S. during 2013, a feat she accomplished remarkably without the aid of a single sledgehammer or other heavy construction equipment.
In fact, Miley Cyrus finished only at No. 9 on the search-engine's Top 10, a list heavy with pop music figures and dominated by women. After Beyonce came Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Madonna.
Justin Bieber landed at No. 6, one of only two males to make the Top 10 — the other being President Obama, who finished at No. 10. In between were Nicki Minaj, Amanda Bynes and Cyrus.
Bieber did finish first among British searches, according to Bing, which also tallied the most searched songs of the year.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” topped that list, followed by Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Rihanna’s “Stay,” Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” and Jason Derulo’s “The Other Side&...
Kermit the Frog was sad and Lady Gaga was bringing him down.
The moment, relatively late into ABC's "Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular," was one devoid of spectacle. It was intimate and unexpected, and answered a question that seemed unlikely for a Muppets and Lady Gaga special to even address: What would happen if Lady Gaga and Kermit the Frog had a heart-to-heart conversation about life in showbiz?
"I wouldn't want anyone to be lonely on the holidays," Kermit said, seemingly at a loss for words at Gaga's admission that she misses her family this time of year.
It was actually a little awkward. There were long pauses, Kermit regularly looked down at the floor and the Muppet appeared genuinely shy in the presence of a pop star. When Kermit confessed to getting "blue" himself, Gaga reminded him that "frogs aren't blue."
It was goofy and sweetand led to a Gaga-Kermit duet of her "Gypsy." It was also one of the few moments where this...
As a leading authority on the Beatles, researcher and author Mark Lewisohn is well aware that there have been far too many books written about the Fab Four. "In general terms and in biographical terms, I think the Beatles have been underserved by books," he said.
Yet Lewisohn, 55, just contributed one more to the fray: the 944-page monster "Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, Vol. 1" (Crown Archetype, $40). So what's left to say after the hundreds of books, documentaries and fictionalized biographical dramas about the Beatles? A lot, according to Lewisohn, especially when it's told accurately and with authority.
"Tune In" isn't simply another book about the Beatles — it's being received as the definitive account of the group's storied history. In Lewisohn's words, "a biographical history — not a rock biography."
The London native spent the last 10 years researching and writing the first volume, which begins in 1845 with Liverpool during the...
The Fleshtones. Uncle Tupelo. Charles Bradley. If those names mean anything to you, chances are you already know how you're spending this post-Thanksgiving day of shopping.
Indie retailers throughout the country, and many in the L.A. area, are once again celebrating Record Store Day this holiday season.
Designed to spur interest in mom-and-pop music shops, Record Store Day is now a twice-annual event in which artists and labels unleash a bounty of collectible offerings. Participating stores in the area include Hollywood's Amoeba Music, Echo Park's Origami Vinyl, Highland Park's Mount Analog and Long Beach's Fingerprints, among others.
While much of what is released on Record Store Day is aimed at collectors, there are numerous selections this Black Friday that will warm the hearts of even the more casual music (or comedy) lover.
Here are five such highlights being released Friday:
Nirvana, "In Utero 2013 Mix." Initially recorded with engineer/mixer Steve...
This year's crop of holiday music releases demonstrates anew that the only rule of success in this specialized genre is that there are no rules. Who'd have predicted that the standouts in a year of big name entries would include R&B superstar Mary J. Blige, the erstwhile king of British pub rock (Nick Lowe) and an Indian classical music virtuoso (James Whetzel)?
Here is Calendar's annual assessment of the highs and lows of seasonal music collections for 2013. The ratings run from one star (poor) to four stars (essential).
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: "It Feels Like Christmas Time"
Brian Setzer has made a cottage industry of marrying holiday music with big-band roots rock, a feat that hasn't gone unnoticed by L.A.'s long-running...