| Mar 26, 2012
| 4:34 AM
On Madonna's new studio album, 'MDNA,' the pop singer hits the dance floor, but seems to have lost the ability or desire to innovate, says Times pop music critic Randall Roberts....
| Dec 5, 2012
| 4:33 PM
In the strait-laced Eisenhower 1950s, Dave Brubeck seemed, on one hand, deeply conventional. He didn't drink, smoke or take drugs. He favored expressions like "baloney!" and "you bet" over ruder alternatives. He had a prodigious work ethic that had been...
| Dec 11, 2012
| 10:22 PM
Ravi Shankar was already revered as a master of the sitar in 1966 when he met George Harrison, the Beatle who became his most famous disciple and gave the Indian musician-composer unexpected pop-culture cachet.
Suddenly the classically trained Shankar...
| Apr 14, 2012
Shortly after being hired about a decade ago to up the ante of musical talent offered at the Orange County Fair's summer concert series in Costa Mesa, veteran talent buyer Ken Phebus rolled out his schedule for the fair's board. But one of the...
| Sep 2, 2012
Hal David, the renowned pop music lyricist whose prolific collaboration with composer Burt Bacharach produced a wealth of enduringly memorable hits in the 1960s and early '70s, including "Walk On By," "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and the Oscar-...
| Oct 3, 2012
| 5:53 PM
An experienced presence in her native New Zealand, Kimbra bent American ears -- and quite a few of them -- earlier this year as the female voice on Gotye's Hot 100-topping "Somebody That I Used to Know." But that acoustic quirk-pop hit only hints at a bit...
| Oct 4, 2012
| 2:24 PM
One of the great left-field surprises of the 1980s pop music scene came with the arrival of Big Daddy, a whimsical band that reimagined hits of the day as they might have sounded had they been recorded in the 1950s.
The conceit was that the group’s...
| May 18, 2012
In 1975, Donna Summer released a pop single unlike any before it.
The singer, then an unknown in the U.S., was living in Germany and working with Italian producer Giorgio Moroder and lyricist Pete Bellotte. Together they came up with a breathy,...
| May 18, 2012
Bluegrass banjo pioneer Earl Scruggs answered a knock at the door of his Nashville home in 1953 to find an eager-looking banjo enthusiast on the porch asking Scruggs to put a set of his special tuner keys on the young man's instrument.
"He was so...
| Sep 6, 2012
| 7:43 PM
A Green Day member sporting a "Free Pussy Riot" T-shirt was about as political as the 2012 MTV VMAs were able to get. The band unveiled yet another new song, "Let Yourself Go," and the song, again, saw the band moving away from the political and social...
| Aug 8, 2012
When Marvin Hamlisch auditioned for the Juilliard School of Music, he played not Chopin or Mozart but the American folk standard "Goodnight, Irene," a choice that could have had lamentable results for any other prospective student.
But Hamlisch quickly...