Posts By Mark Graham

by (@unclegrambo)

Behind The Music: T-Pain’s Adolescent Struggles Get Resolved Thanks To A Strong Father And A Discarded Keyboard

The first few episodes of the latest season of Behind The Music have been hip hop focused, and this week is no exception. After profiling Pitbull and Game, this Thursday night we’ll profile Florida autotune whiz T-Pain. In this special sneak preview, you’ll get a taste of what life was like for T-Pain (real name: Faheem Najm) growing up in Tallahassee, Florida. You’ll see how a shy kid who experienced what he himself described as a “terrible” childhood broke out of his rut, thanks to his strong father (who enrolled him in a program called “Homeboys To Men”) and a keyboard that was salvaged from the side of the road.

Be sure to tune in to Behind The Music on Thursday, March 22nd at 9/8c on VH1.
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by (@unclegrambo)

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Gavin DeGraw Talks Some Jive Behind The Scenes At Dancing With The Stars

Anybody who knows Gavin DeGraw knows he’s a real wild child, which is why his choice to dance the jive with his partner Karina Smirnoff to “Wild One” last night on Dancing With The Stars was an inspired choice. His outfit was an homage to Marlon Brando‘s from the 1953 film The Wild One, but his moves were way more footloose and fancy-free than Brando was ever able to pull off. The judges seem to concur as well, particularly Len Goodman, who told him “I liked your attitude, I liked the energy you came out with, and for me, this is an improvement on last week.” Gavin and Karina’s score of 21 tied the couple for 8th place out of the 12 remaining competitors, which would seemingly put them out of the woods. But, in order to make sure, be sure to vote for Gavin!

Above, we’ve got the second exclusive report that Gavin Degraw has filed from backstage at Dancing With The Stars. He doesn’t seem nearly as concerned with being eliminated as he does at having to go back home to New York City and cleaning his apartment, which is definitely something that we can identify with. Best of luck to Gavin and Karina, here’s hoping they advance to Week 3!

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by (@unclegrambo)

Concert Review: Teeth & Tongue Beguiles A Small But Fervent Crowd In New York City

Have you ever seen a concert that’s been put on by a single person? No, by that we don’t mean a “solo artist,” someone who’s got a bassist, a drummer, and a roadie or two to get their guitars tuned for them in between songs while they preen behind the mic. We mean someone who, quite literally, stands up on stage all by their lonesome, setting up their instruments and pedals, then performing with nary another individual on stage, then tearing it all down at the end of a set. It’s an incredibly vulnerable position to be in, both as a performer and as an audience member, and a stark and intimate way to take in a performance.

We mention all this because we caught Teeth & Tongue‘s set at Piano’s in New York’s Lower East Side last night, one in which she performed all the duties mentioned above, PLUS playing the keyboard, drum machine and the guitar. Teeth & Tongue is the musical project of 31-year-old Jess Cornelius, who hails from Melbourne, Australia and is currently wrapping up her current North American tour. We caught a few minutes of her set at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival a few weeks back, which was intriguing enough to get us to brave the crisp chill in the air last night to see her showcase her talents.

Teeth & Tongue has a beguiling, sultry sound, one that to this listener lies somewhere between Cat Power and Bat For Lashes. She’s got a real knack for setting the scene in her songwriting, and has a novelist’s gift for conveying the kind of minute details in her lyrics that really put the listener in her head space. Take her confessional breakup song “Unfamiliar Skirts”, for example, a song that’s ostensibly about a couple that’s on one of those ill-fated “breaks.” It contains emotionally raw lyrics like “They all have long eyelashes that drink compliments like dew” and “You can seek forgiveness in their muscles and their thighs,” phrases that read like poetry and take on a heartbreaking quality when paired with her expressive voice and feedback-laden guitar accents. Check out what we mean in this video for the song, her first single off Tambourine (now available on Spotify), her second full-length album.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Tuned In: Train Does A “Drive By” On Letterman

It seems like only yesterday that we were sitting alongside our friends from Train down in Austin, asking them whether or not “Hey Soul Sister” is really about BJs. My, how time flies! Last night, they performed just a few blocks up the street from our Times Square headquarters at the Ed Sullivan Theater, home to The Late Show With David Letterman. The band performed their new single, “Drive By”, off their forthcoming California 37 LP. It’s arguably the danciest number in Train’s repertoire, and the guys brought the requisite energy to the stage that you’ve come to expect from them. However, we didn’t see any 2-ply Hefty bags with them up there on stage, so we’re guessing that particular lyric from “Drive By” is largely metaphorical in nature.

Elsewhere in late night…
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by (@unclegrambo)

Last Lap: “Zou Bisou Bisou” Is Now Available On Vinyl, Perfect For Your Stereophonic Hi-Fi System

Zou Bisou Bisou Mad Men By Jessica Pare

MAD MEN STAR JESSICA PARÉ DROPS HER FIRST SINGLE
Denizens of the Internet have been frantically searching for “Zou Bisou Bisou” and “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” all day long, and AMC —ever the smart media entity— has decided to strike quickly on the popularity of the saucy, French language striptease anthem. You can now buy an mp3 in the iTunes store or even buy it on vinyl. Sexy lingerie probably not included. [InSound]

DR. DREW WARNS ABOUT REPEATED EXPOSURE TO MDNA
It’s no surprise that Madonna is pulling out all the stops to promote her new LP, MDNA. It is a bit of a surprise, though, to see Dr. Drew starring in a viral video warning about the druggy side effects of listening to the record. Trust us, you don’t wanna cross Deadmau5, bro! [YouTube]

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by (@unclegrambo)

Bob Weir And The National Team Up Together For Historic “Bridge Session” Benefit Concert

If you were playing Family Feud and the category was “Iconic Bridges of the USA,” the top two answers on the board would almost certainly be San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge. This thinking almost certainly went into play for this weekend’s aptly named Bridge Session benefit concert, which saw San Francisco’s own Bob Weir (of Grateful Dead fame, natch) team up with a cadre of Brooklyn indie rockers from bands like The National, The Walkmen, and Takka Takka for a series of collaborative songs from these bands’ catalogs.

If you think about it, though, the Bridge Session is not just a literal reference to a structure that rises over the water. If you stretch the Bridge reference into more metaphorical territory, one could infer that music itself is a bridge that connects generations — in this case, the Baby Boomers and Generation X.

Regardless of what the gents intended to convey with the name Bridge Session, the results were magical. This supergroup played two sets, which included covers of Bob Dylan’s “Most of the Time”, and Cass McCombs‘ “Love Thine Enemy.” In between sets, a discussion panel took place where they covered everything from politics, energy production, women’s rights, and everything in between. After taking questions from Twitter and Facebook, the lights were dimmed and they performed a 2 song encore acoustically, including the version of “Uncle John’s Band” we have for you above!

Full set list below:
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by (@unclegrambo)

Madonna’s MDNA: The Reviews Are In!

Madonna‘s 12th studio album, MDNA, just came out today and it’s already the #1 selling album in the iTunes Store. The critical consensus on the record, however, is decidedly mixed. We’re excited to give it a few spins after work tonight and decide for ourselves, but in the interim, here’s a taste of what some of our favorite music publications and critics have to say about Madge’s new jawn. (We already know what Deadmau5 thinks!)

THE GOOD
MDNA is a collection of thoroughly pumping pop tunes, some of which are slices of sheer brilliance. Not only does Madonna take us to the club with MDNA, she exhausts us, drains us, and confides in us.”—Keith Caulfield’s review for Billboard

“Madonna’s in a rapturous state of mind in 2012, and in more ways than one: A bulk of her latest album, an incredible, varied collection of pounding club cuts, bloody revenge odes and swinging, psychedelic ’60?s-tinged anthems, seems to be tripping out on acid–or, more accurately, ecstasy … MDNA is an incredible, explosively defiant record, but also [one that contains] unexpectedly raw, introspective balladry, all of which showcasing far more vulnerability than one might have concluded from the album’s two lead singles.”—Bradley Stern’s review for MuuMuse

“In fact, much of MDNA has more the flip zip of a disc by Katy Perry or Ke$ha than something by a woman who may be older than both their mothers … So many good tracks crowd the disc, in fact, that even the four extras on the deluxe version rate as must-owns.”—Jim Farber’s 5-star review for the New York Daily News

THE MIXED
“Madge spends nearly half the album insisting that this is the Best Party Ever … So it’s surprising that Madonna is at her best on the love songs. The W.E. ballad ”Masterpiece” (which won her a Golden Globe in January) begins with Spanish guitar and a finger-snap rhythm — a refreshing break from the relentless bass throbbing.”—Melissa Maerz’s B- review for Entertainment Weekly

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by (@unclegrambo)

Train, The Shins, Fun. And Other Acts Come Out In Support Of Spotify (VIDEO)

While there seems to be near-universal consensus about the benefits of Spotify from a consumer-perspective, the same cannot be said for the artists whose work actually appears on streaming services. There are varied reports as to how much money musical acts actually make from services like Spotify, MOG and Rdio —one widely circulated report last summer claimed that Lady Gaga only made $167 after her song “Poker Face” was spun one million times on Spotify— and some acts like The Black Keys have been very vocal about the reasons they have NOT chosen to make their music available there (“For a band that makes a living selling music, it’s not at a point where it’s feasible for us.”)

This hot button issue was on the top of everyone’s mind at this year’s SXSW Festival, where the worlds of technology and music collided for a few days earlier this month. Spotify executive Sean Parker explained during a VH1 Rock Docs panel audience that “There’s definitely some sort of dissent brewing between record labels, publishing companies and artists [about the compensation they get from streaming services] … Spotify is returning a HUGE amount of money [to the record labels]. If we continue growing at our current rate in terms of subscriptions and downloads, we’ll overtake iTunes in terms of contributions to the recorded music business in under two years.”

But what do the musicians themselves think? We sat down with a number of artists at varying stages of their careers —veteran acts like Train, The Shins, and Keane, as well as relative newcomers like Alabama Shakes, Best Coast, Fun. and Gary Clark Jr.— to get their perspectives on this controversial subject. Find out what they have to say in this exclusive VH1 Tuner video!

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by (@unclegrambo)

Justin Bieber Wants To Be Your “Boyfriend”

Fireside fondue, Buzz Lightyear cosplay, and mad disposable income: These are three things that you would be privy to if you agreed to let the barely legal Justin Bieber be your boyfriend. How do we know this? He tells us all of these things in song in his brand new single “Boyfriend”, which dropped at midnight last night. It’s a decidedly more adult Bieber that we’re hearing this time around; gone is the pip-squeaky, soaring upper register voice that bazillions of tweens went B-A-N-A-N-A-S for when My World hit the scene a few years back — he now raps (yes, raps!) in a voice that is leagues huskier than his fans are used to, but don’t get it twisted, it’s not like he’s morphed into Joe Cocker territory. (It should be noted that Biebs does go full falsetto in portions of the song’s chorus.)

So, will this song be a hit? Um, DUH. The song was produced by Mike Posner —which accounts for the song’s Timberlakeian charms— and sounds a bit like The Ying Yang Twins “Wait (The Whisper Song)” if it were imbued with the acoustic guitar flourishes of JT’s “Like I Love You.” Even more promising is the fact that the lyrical subject matter is something that will, as they say in politics, play to his base. We asked eons ago if Mike Posner was going to be the new Justin Timberlake, but it now appears that Biebs is gunning for that crown. We’re pretty sure that Posner isn’t sweating it, though, as he’ll be cashing some The-Dream sized paychecks for co-writing this one with The Biebs, which makes it a win/win for everyone.

Boyfriend Available Now [JustinBieberMusic.com]

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by (@unclegrambo)

Tuned In: Mad Men Pays Homage To The French New Wave With “Zou Bisou Bisou”

Last night’s fifth season premiere of Mad Men laid a lot of groundwork of what’s to come this year: Among other things, it appears this season will focus on the escalating power struggle between Pete Campbell and Roger Sterling, the desire of Lane Pryce to break free of his uptight British upbringing, Peggy Olsen‘s diminishing faith in her boss/mentor Don Draper, Sally Draper‘s continued ascent into womanhood (her new voice FTW!), and the effect that motherhood will have on Joan Holloway. Oh yeah, and there’s also the matter of Don Draper’s seemingly spontaneous marriage to his sultry, sex kitten secretary-cum-wife, Megan Draper (née Calvert, played by the actress Jessice Paré).

The most memorable scene of last night’s highly anticipated episode occurred during Don Draper’s surprise 40th birthday party, which was organized by his coquettish new wife (who, we must add, enjoys doing housekeeping in her unmentionables!). The swinging Sixties are starting to blossom in full, and as a means of demonstrating the sexual hold she has over her new spouse in a room full of his business associates, Megan performed a startling, part-karoake, part-striptease version of Gillian Hills‘ 1961 French pop song, “Zou Bisou Bisou.” There seems to be some debate as to the song’s origins, but we’re going to include Sophia Loren‘s English-language version of “Zoo Be Zoo Be Zoo” below (which appears on a duets album she recorded with Peter Sellers!), mainly because our French is a little rusty.

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