Last month we talked about super song writer Ester Dean, and pontificated that she just might be the next big thing to cross over from behind the scenes to center stage after her amazing new track “Gimme Money” featuring Nicki Minaj was released. The New Yorker has profiled Dean (along with producer team Stargate), and the article only serves to future enforce her prowess as a hit machine. The New Yorker says, “Dean has a genius for infectious hooks. Somehow she is able to absorb the beat and the sound of a track, and to come out with its melodic essence. The words are more like vocalized beats than like lyrics, and they don’t communicate meaning so much as feeling and attitude—they nudge you closer to the ecstasy promised by the beat and the “rise,” or the “lift,” when the track builds to a climax.”
The article describes Dean’s process for hit making, and the whole thing seems so intrinsically organic that we can’t help but feel that Ester is destined for pop greatness. “Dean’s preferred method of working is to delay listening to a producer’s track until she is in the studio, in front of the mike. “I go into the booth and I scream and I sing and I yell, and sometimes it’s words but most time it’s not,” she told me. “And I just see when I get this little chill, here”—she touched her upper arm, just below the shoulder—“and then I’m, like, ‘Yeah, that’s the hook.’ ” If she doesn’t feel that chill after five minutes, she moves on to the next track, and tries again.”
The article goes on to say, “After several minutes of nonsense singing, the song began to coalesce. Almost imperceptibly, the right words rooted themselves in the rhythm while melodies and harmonies emerged in Dean’s voice. Her voice isn’t hip-hop or rock or country or gospel or soul, exactly, but it could be any one of those. “I’ll come alive tonight,” she sang. Dancing now, Dean raised one arm in the air. After a few more minutes, the producers told her she could come back into the control room. “See, I just go in there and scream and they fix it,” she said, emerging from the booth, looking elated, almost glowing.”
Do you like winning stuff? Do you like artists like Richard Marx, Jason Mraz and Graffiti6? Well get into this — VH1 is giving you the chance to win a trip for two to Live In The Vineyard so you can enjoy intimate musical performances, wine and food in Napa Valley. The exclusive prize package includes a meet and greet with a VH1 artist, and you’ll get to hang with the VH1 Top 20 Countdown crew and meet the host, Jim Shearer. And to enter, all you have to do is click here and fill out your details. Simple really!
Enter now for a chance to win two tickets to VH1′s Live In The Vineyard!
Michael K. Williams Will Play Ol’ Dirty Bastard In An Upcoming Biopic
Better known as Omar From The Wire, Michael K. Williams is now set to play the role of Ol’ Dirty Bastard in an upcoming biopic. It’s called Dirty White Boy and will explore the relationship between ODB and his former manager, 22-year-old Jarred Weisfeld. [A.V. Club]
Florence Welch And Dev Hynes Are Going To Make An Album Together, Maybe
Florence Welch has hinted that she might be making an album with Devonte Hynes. She said, “Dev Hynes is going to come on tour with us, all around America and Australia and that’ll be fun because we’ve been friends for years, so maybe something will come of that. We usually end up making some kind of strange album that will only exist on the internet.” We hope this happens in a Blood-Orange-Meets-Early-Florence-Circa-Lungs kind of way. [NME]
Move over Florence — Grace Potter has one upped you, and it looks like there’s a new husky voiced diva with soul penetrating vocals in town. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals have premiered their new track “Never Go Back” exclusively with Rolling Stone, and it’s quite inspiring — more than a hit, it’s a great, honest pop song with undertones of retro soul and rock riffs. The track was co-written by The Black Keys‘ Dan Auerbach, who also co-wrote two other songs and produced one song on Potter’s forthcoming album The Lion the Beast the Beat, due to be released on June 12th.
The track is bluesy but at the same time has a spectacularly stadium ready sound, which could possibly be attributed to the Auerbach influence, given The Keys’ recent progression into the sound of epic. Of working with Auerbach, Potter says, “Dan’s studio is a sex shop for gear pervs… I found a tiny old Casio that reminded me of my first-ever keyboard and started playing. He jumped on and started f**king around with the rhythm track, and we wrote ‘Never Go Back’ within the first hour of being in his place… We weren’t thinking, ‘Let’s write a big hit single.’ It was more like, ‘Let’s geek out with some weird gear and see what happens.’ I’m very glad we did.” And so are we! The track is catchy while at the same time retaining a musical honesty that is rare in grand pop anthems.
Listen to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ “Never Go Back” here.
Exclusive Premiere: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, ‘Never Go Back’ [Rolling Stone]
[Photo: Getty Images]
With the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony looming (April 12th), everyone still only has one question — will inductees Guns N’ Roses perform on the night? So far it looks like they won’t, but it seems there’s a “you never know” addendum to their appearance on the night. Drummer Matt Sorum told Billboard, “We’re all sitting at the same table, so it should be cool. After we get a little bit of food in us, hopefully someone will get up and want to play, but I don’t know. I’m not the guy to ask. I just hope it works out.” So according to Sorum, food makes GNR play? We certainly hope so!
He went on to add that, “There’s no real plans,” but the you-never-know uncertainty is, “in tradition, Guns N’ Roses style.” With all original members of GNR attending the induction ceremony, Sorum said, “I feel great about it… I`m glad I made the cut. I don’t know who that secret society is that votes you into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but I’m glad I have some friends in there, somehow. The original band got in and I got in and (keyboardist) Dizzy Reed and that’s it, seven of us. It’ll be a great night.” Finger crossed the boys get up on stage for what we can only image would make for a historical performance.
Guns N’ Roses Have ‘No Real Plans’ For Rock Hall Performance [Billboard]
[Photo: Getty Images]
It’s a week of diss-repealing; after Katy Perry vehemently denied dissing Beyonce and Shakira, The Black Keys have jumped on the bandwagon to sort-of-but-not-really apologize to Nickelback for dissing them earlier this year. Keys drummer Patrick Carney controversially, and now famously, said of Nickelback, “Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world,” but now he’s a little bit sorry about his harsh words, but not really. Carney has now said he, “Didn’t mean to single [Nickelback] out. It just came out,” but added a disclaimer, “There’s much worse bands than Nickelback, maybe.” Worst. Apology. Ever. Come on Keys — time to cure that foot-in-mouth disease, we think!
The Black Keys Are Sorry But Not Really Sorry for That Nickelback Dis [Vulture]
[Photos: Getty Images]
Nickelback‘s video for “Lullaby” off their new album, Here And Now, is a dramatic look at life and death, despair and hope. From the outset, Nickelback’s contribution to the story is minimal, the band positioned in a separate scene, a warehouse lit under glittering flood lights. On a side note, we have to mention the 90s throwback chair sitting by Chad Kroeger — we haven’t seen a guy sitting backwards on a chair since The Backstreet Boys made it all the rage! Jokes aside, the video is a very moving narrative of a birth and death; a baby lives, a mother dies, leaving the child’s father as the sole guardian. We warn you: something might catch in your throat as you watch the young father dealing with both the loss of his partner and this new life. Considering adopting, screaming in frustration as the baby cries, there’s a desperation in the tribulations of this story, but also, and most importantly, there is finally and definitively hope at the end.
Earlier this week we reported that Katy Perry was interested in doing a collaboration that was “So iconic” with Rihanna. She was quoted as saying, “I want it to be like that Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin song “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”, not like [Shakira and Beyonce Knowles'] “Beautiful Liar””. Immediately, the Internet lit up with stories of the Katy Perry vs. Beyonce beef — but Katy Perry denies the existence of any such conflict. With a biting tone, Katy Tweeted the following in response to the media’s rush to brand her comments as part of some larger animosity:
We think Katy’s anger at the media’s reaction is somewhat justified. She never attacked Bey or Shakira as artists, but rather made a fairly non-emotive, un-embellished comment on their duet, which, in honesty, wasn’t the run away hit it probably should have been. Whatever — it’s clear Katy didn’t mean to stir up as much controversy as she did, and we’re hoping Momma B isn’t too perturbed. We’d hate to have to rule out a Bey-Perry collaboration!
[Photos: Getty Images]