After the Beyontroversial performance of the National Anthem at President Obama’s inauguration, there has been an incredible amount of focus on whether or not performers are singing the “Star Spangled Banner” without the aid of a backing track, the likes of which have not seen since the days of Milli Vanilli. Beyoncé came under extreme fire for lip-synching the Francis Scott Key’s patriotic ode to our revolutionary brethren, and after watching Alicia Keys perform the anthem tonight just before the start of Super Bowl XLVII, she clearly wanted to avoid any such controversy.
Although only the Superdome’s sound operator knows for sure whether or not there was any audio tomfoolery going on before kickoff tonight, to our ears, Keys’ version of the “Star Spangled Banner” seemed like it was sung AND played live (on the piano, no less). Why do we feel like this performance was “real”? For one, it was one of the slowest renditions of the song that we’ve ever heard. Secondly, much like Mrs. Carter’s defiant version at her press conference on Thursday, Keys deliberately paused in certain, semi-unorthodox spots of the song to verbally riff in such a way that seemed almost pre-calculated to ward off lip-synching accusations. Her voice, which some have been saying has been a bit pitchy of late, sounded as good as we’ve heard it in some time. But that’s just our take. What do YOU think?
Watch Alicia Keys sing the “Star Spangled Banner” below!
After being front and center of an international, Beyontroversiallip-synching scandal last week, Beyoncé decided this afternoon was the right time to address the haters who accused her of mouthing along to the lyrics of our National Anthem. However, being the King that she is, she didn’t wait for some silly reporter from Access Hollywood to ask her a question about it. Instead, she opened up her nationally televised press conference this afternoon by straight up BELTING the lyrics to the “Star Spangled Banner” in front of a hot mic and a room full of reporters.
To demonstrate that she wasn’t singing along to a pre-recorded track (which she would later admit that she did last week), she made Francis Scott Key and the entire populous of the United States of America proud by bellowing out some of her patented, powerhouse vocal runs and spontaneously emphasizing certain phrases (“THE BOMBS!”). She then went on to wrap up her performance in the most shadeworthy fashion imaginable, simply by declaring, “ANY QUESTIONS?”
We would’ve been happy if, at that point, Bey pulled the ole *DROPS MIC* routine and simply sashayed out of the room, middle finger in the air, not answering a single question LIKE A BAWSE. However, being the well-choreographed and proper Methodist girl that she is, she DID field a few Qs from the intrepid reporters on hand (including one, we’re not kidding, ABOUT HER TOOTHBRUSH?!?!).
There’s a whole subgenre* of music wherein sensitive, acoustic guitar-strumming artists try to flip the script by taking the edge off hardcore hip-hop songs (think Dynamite Hack‘s “Boyz In The Hood”, Ben Folds‘ “Bitches Ain’t S***”) by adding an element of ironic humor to their interpretations. Well, no one has ever accused Courtney Love of being anything remotely approaching sensitive, which is why we have zero issues with the acoustic cover of Jay-Z‘s “99 Problems” that she performed at a Sundance Film Festival afterparty over the weekend.
Hova’s original, Rick Rubin-produced version of “99 Problems” is alternately defiant and hilarious, but Courtney Love ups the emotional stakes significantly by stripping any trace of humor from the song. She infuses lines like “But ain’t nothing sweet ’bout how I hold my gun” with a layer of emotional instability that turns the song from a riotous party anthem into something significantly more haunting and, along the way, reminds us how much the music world misses the enigmatic star.
*A genre which, frankly, we grew tired of as soon as it sprouted up.
Now that 2012 is firmly in the rearviewmirror, it’s time to look forward with hope and optimism as to what the year 2013 holds in store for music fans like us. Considering that we’re not even three weeks into January and we’ve already been blessed with two delightful surprises —A new Destiny’s Child song! A new Timberlake jam!— we feel confident that this is going to be another banner year filled with an abundance of both monster pop smashes and crossover gems.
With that in mind, the VH1 Tuner team has put together this list of 13 of our most anticipated albums for 2013, which includes a healthy mix of familiar faces (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga) and artists on the come-up (Big Sean, Diane Birch), brought to you in the order of when we expect them to release their new material.
Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob (Expected Release Date: January 29): Sisters Tegan and Sara Quin have long been staples at alternative radio, but the synth-driven Heartthrob appears like it might be the LP that finally breaks them into the mainstream consciousness. “We really look at this as an opportunity to stretch into a world that we’ve been just outside of for a long time,” Sara recently told our VH1 News crew, and one listen to the album’s lead single, “Closer,” seems to be indicative of the fact that they’ve reached their goal.—Mark Graham
Today marks the release of The Civil Wars: Unplugged On VH1, a 7-song album that was recorded last spring when the band performed a knockout VH1 Unplugged set (while, we might add, Joy was pregnant). For the low low price of just five American dollars and 99 American cents, you can get your hands on a copy of the video AND audio of this truly memorable entry in the famed Unplugged canon. In addition to originals like “Barton Hollow” and “I’ve Got This Friend,” the set includes remarkable covers of Portishead‘s “Sour Times” and Michael Jackson‘s “Billie Jean” (the latter of which did not air in the original special!). Read more…
The surprise star of the NFL playoffs this weekend was not, as many analysts predicted, one of the many talented rookie quarterbacks (Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson) who led their teams into battle. Rather, it was classic rock veteran Eddie Money, who both delighted and confounded #couchgating aficionados when he repeatedly popped up on television screens nationwide as the star of a brand new GEICO commercial.
It’s been a minute since we last heard from Money, the Brooklyn-born rocker who is no stranger to comebacks. He first made his name in the late 70s with his eponymous debut album, which contained the hit singles “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets To Paradise.” The latter only reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, but has been in rotation on classic rock radio since the format was invented in the Eighties. Money disappeared for most of the early 1980s, but made a solid comeback in 1986 with Can’t Hold Back, which contained the biggest hit of Money’s career, “Take Me Home Tonight,” his duet with Ronnie Spector. He hasn’t had a Top 40 hit since the dawn of the 90s, but Money continues to be a constant fixture on the concert circuit each and every summer. Read more…
As Times Square gets ready for the influx of hundreds of thousands of revelers here to celebrate the arrival of 2013 Anno Domini, the Korean sensation PSY is plotting to retire his massive YouTube hit, “Gangnam Style.” “Being in Times Square on New Year’s Eve is already special — it’s the biggest stage in the universe — plus it’s my birthday, so, with all that, it may be the ending of ‘Gangnam Style,’” PSY told our friends over at MTV News. “I mean, what better way to do it?”
We couldn’t agree more! As much as we loved “Gangnam Style” when we first saw it appear on YouTube, we have no reservations whatsoever about retiring the song in 2013 because, let’s face it, the song is #PLAYEDOUT. In that spirit, here’s our list of other songs from 2012 that we hope to hear tonight and will always recall fondly, but honestly hope to never hear again once the sun rises tomorrow morning.
12 SONGS FROM 2012 THAT WE HOPE WE NEVER HEAR IN 2013
12. The Lumineers, “Ho Hey” – After thousands of listens, “Ho! Hey!” is starting to turn into “No! Way!”
11. Neon Trees, “Everybody Talks” – It started with a whisper, but when we hear this song on the radio now, it makes us wanna shout “CHANGE THE CHANNEL!”
10. One Direction, “Little Things” – We can’t remember a more passive-aggressive song ever getting this much airplay. #cringeworthy Read more…
“Can I have a bad bitch without no flaws / come to meet me without no drawers?” Kanye West rapped those lines about Kim Kardashian in his song “Theraflu” earlier this year, and it appears that BOTH of those wishes came true (particularly the part about “no drawers”). According to multiple reports on Twitter tonight, Mr. West referred to Kimmy K in a concert at the new Revel Casino in Atlantic City earlier tonight not as his “bad bitch,” but rather, as his “baby mama.” RING THE ALARM!
Last week, we successfully bought you the VH1 staff’s favorite songs of 2011 without any bloodshed, and we’re happy to report that no one’s brain exploded while trying to narrow down the amazing albums of 2012 into a concise list. Again, what VH1 staffers enjoyed in 2012 was a rich and vibrant tapestry of genres, created both by newcomers and veterans.
As far as consensus is concerned, there were 23 LPs that appeared on multiple ballots, but only 6 that appeared on four or more lists: Miguel‘s Kaleidoscope Dream (7 ballots), Emeli Sandé‘s Our Version Of Events and Frank Ocean‘s channel ORANGE (6 ballots apiece), Kendrick Lamar‘s good kid, m.A.A.d. city (5 ballots), Taylor Swift‘s RED and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ The Heist (each with 4 ballots).
After one listless and uninspired season on Fox’s struggling X Factor, US Weekly is reporting that Britney Spears“will get fired” from her role as a judge on the program. According to their report, there seem to be two main issues at play here. The first is her $15 million salary, which a source tells them is an awful lot “for her to say ‘amazing’ and offer half-claps.” Her mental state is also being reported as an issue, but not in the way that you might think.
X Factor creator/evil genius Simon Cowell is reportedly second-guessing his decision to cast the seemingly heavily medicated Spears on his show. “He wanted crazy Britney, but he got boring Britney,” a source tells US Weekly, which strikes us as one of those things that is okay to think but definitely not okay to say out loud. While there’s no denying that Spears lacks the ability to riff on an impromptu basis, this is not exactly what we in the business call “breaking news.” Ever since her head-shaving incident, she has been kept on a short leash by her team of caretakers, rendering her as a personality-challenged shell of her former rambunctious self (who, in her “defense,” does make hilariously inappropriate crazy faces on the reg). Cowell should’ve recognized this deficiency from the start, and not placed a foolish bet that the stress of being on live television twice a week would revert Miss Spears back to her dangerous and emotionally challenged self. That seems incredibly callous, even for someone generally held in low regard like Cowell. Read more…