Posts By Mark Graham

by (@unclegrambo)

Gala So Hard: Jay-Z Live At Carnegie Hall

“We gon’ step on all those lines that separate us tonight; you’re about to witness music at a very high level.”

Jay-Z made this characteristically bravado-laden declaration three songs into his set at New York City’s Carnegie Hall last night, the second of two charity shows benefiting the United Way and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation that he performed this week. Much has been said about cultural ramifications of a night like this, a triumphant chapter in a rags to riches story so improbable that Horatio Alger himself would never have envisioned penning it. It was clear from the outset of the show that Jay-Z had every intention of delivering on that ambitious bill of goods —when was the last time anyone attempted to put on a hip hop show featuring a 20-plus piece symphony orchestra for an audience filled with (primarily rich white) people in suits?—but by the end of the show, I couldn’t help but feel like he wasn’t quite able to achieve both of those audacious goals equally.

First, the scene. Carnegie Hall is one of our country’s most legendary musical venues, and also one of our most exclusive. Not just anyone is allowed to perform here, nor is just anyone necessarily allowed to attend a gig there. As a means of showing respect to the 121-year-old venue and all that it symbolizes, attendees of this two-night stand were encouraged to dress formally for the occasion; like a good general, Hov made sure to follow his own directive. Taking the stage a few minutes after 10 p.m. in white tuxedo jacket, black tux pants, a dapper black bow-tie and stylish shades, J-Hova looked like the long lost sixth member of the Rat Pack as he performed “Public Service Announcement” off his 2003 LP, The Black Album. The audience ate it up, leaping to their feet and waving their well-manicured hands in the air like they just didn’t care, perhaps no one more so than his wife Beyoncé. The new mom snuck into her box seat (stage right, closest to the stage) just as the house lights dimmed and proceeded to emphatically dance in a standing position for most of the show’s nearly two-hour runtime.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Exclusive: Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith, Jason Newsted, And Lars Ulrich Confirmed For Appearances In That Metal Show: Season 10

As exciting as the last season of VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Eddie Trunk, Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson are back for the tenth season of the show that’s revered by metalheads and musicians alike, and although the show won’t be back until Saturday, March 31, we just got our hands on a sneak preview of the first batch of confirmed guests and it’s a DOOZY.

Leading the way will be a first time That Metal Show appearance by Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, which we are totally geeking out in anticipation of. “I’ve known the Maiden guys for a long time and been a fan since day one,” host Eddie Trunk told us. “They are easily one of the most requested bands to have a member of on TMS. Because they are such a global band it’s been hard to track them down, but thrilled we were able to catch up with Adrian. It will be cool because we don’t hear from him often, he’s a great guy, has a huge history with the band, and has a new side project to discuss.”

We asked Eddie if there’s any chance that he’d dress up as Iron Maiden’s infamous mascot, Eddie The Head, for the show. His reply? “I do have a mask, so you never know…”

Also on the docket this season will be appearances from Jason Newsted (another TMS newbie!), Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich, Motorhead‘s Lemmy Kilmister and the one and only Alice Cooper. “We’re super psyched about this lineup, as is Eddie Trunk. “I’m so excited about the evolution of the show, having rock and metal artists, and first time and returning guests,” he told us. “I love all the variety and am thrilled for a huge 2012!”

[Photos: Getty Images]

by (@unclegrambo)

Kristen Wiig Sorta Mocks, Sorta Defends Lana Del Rey On Saturday Night Live

Mere moments after Lana Del Rey completed her now infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, we saw dozens of tweets in our feed comparing her performance to something that a weird Kristen Wiig character would do. Well, the rabid imagination of the Twitter community came to life on last night’s episode of SNL, when Wiig showed up unannounced during Weekend Update as Lana Del Rey.

Wiig’s impression, which was a very slight variation of her classic character in the series of Two A-Holes sketches, straddled the line between mocking and defending the 25-year-old singer. Wiig’s Del Rey described herself as “stiff, distant and weird,” but also addressed the “authenticity” argument by sarcastically (and sagely) noting that “No serious musician would ever change their name, except maybe for Sting, Cher, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, everyone else in hip hop, and of course Bob Dylan.” The segment was fairly meh, mainly because head writer Seth Meyers avoided the opportunity to poke fun at NBC News anchor Brian Williams. As you’ll recall, Williams went out of his way to criticize SNL and bash Del Rey in a controversial email to Gawker, and Weekend Update’s refusal to jab back at Williams demonstrated for the umpteenth time that this era of the show places a greater emphasis on playing nice in the corporate sandbox than it does on biting the hand that feeds.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Adam Lambert Is NOT Going To Be The New Lead Singer Of Queen; Lambert Tweets That The Quotes Were “Taken Out Of Context”

Just like we suspected, the news that Adam Lambert would be taking over as lead singer for Queen is simply not true. Lambert took to Twitter just a few minutes ago to clear up the erroneous reports, which started with London’s Daily Star tabloid, but didn’t truly catch fire until Rolling Stone reported the news. “Oooh them clever reporters takin my quotes outta context,” Lambert tweeted, “I haven’t confirmed any guest appearances. I was talking about the EMA’S. :)” In a separate tweet, he continued, “That being said, I’m truly flattered by your jump to such glorious conclusions mr journalist!! :)”

Sorry to break the news to you, Glamberts! We’re sure you won’t take it too hard, though, as we can all comfort ourselves by enjoying the brand new video for “Better Than I Know Myself” for the umpteenth time. Additionally, Adam’s denial of these reports just go to demonstrate exactly how much faith he has in his new record and how committed he is to his upcoming tour. He told our VH1 News correspondent Kate Spencer as much in a recent video interview:

“Well, I think the thing to keep in mind too is that like, you know, I’m a songwriter and I have an album out, or coming out, and that is important to me. That is my first priority, is sharing my music and my message with my fans. But Queen is really cool! And I love the music and I love the honor of being asked and I think it sounds like a lot of fun, so I’m going to try and find a way to kind of make both things happen.”

by (@unclegrambo)

The VH1 Tuner Podcast, Episode 3: Kid Rock Talks The Care Tour, Nickelback Haters And His Refusal To Be On iTunes

Kid Rock has mellowed considerably since the days when his hard-partying ways and high-profile relationships with the likes of Pam Anderson and Jaime King made him a regular fixture in the tabloid media. In the latest edition of our VH1 Tuner Podcast, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer got some time with the Son of Detroit and discussed a variety of topics that you might not necessarily expect someone with a such a reputation for being a hellraiser: The practical complexities of discovering exactly which charity organizations are on the level, his love for the all- female country group Pistol Annies, his dislike of the guy who started the anti-Nickelback campaign, his rationale for keeping his music off iTunes and much, much more!

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Subscribe to the VH1 Tuner Podcast on iTunes

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by (@unclegrambo)

Graffiti6 Win Themselves A Slew Of New Fans During Recent New York City Jaunt

You might not know the name Graffiti6 yet, but there’s a very good chance that you would recognize some of their tunes. Even though their debut album, Colours (listen to it on Spotify), has only been out a week, nine of the 12 songs on the album have already been licensed, appearing on television shows like VH1’s Basketball Wives, MTV’s Teen Wolf, NBC’s Parenthood and the FIFA 2012 video game. They were here in New York City this week promoting their new record, and in addition to a performance on the set of Big Morning Buzz Live (which you can see above), they opened for Augustana at a sold-out show at Manhattan’s Gramercy Theater on Wednesday night.

From our stage right vantage point, we overheard a couple of twentysomething girls talking about the group before the show. “I like Augustana, but I don’t know Graffiti6 at all,” one said to the other, but by the third song of Graffiti6’s set, they were bantering back and forth about how they couldn’t wait to see the group again. Lead singer Jamie Scott has leading man looks and a tenor voice that reminded us more than a little of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, but the two band’s dynamics could not be more different. Whereas Maroon 5 specializes in disco-driven pop, Graffiti6 fuses hip hop inspired backbeats with widescreen sonic textures courtesy of producer/guitarist Tommy D. Songs like “Annie You Save Me” and “Stare Into The Sun” come off a bit more propulsive in a live setting than their more layered studio versions, which really served to engage the audience, most of whom didn’t seem to be familiar with this new act when the show began. Consequently, by the time Graffiti6 got to their set-closing new single, “Free” (the music video for which we told you about earlier this week), there’s no denying that the band had won themselves a couple of hundred new fans.
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by (@unclegrambo)

R.I.P. Soul Train Host Don Cornelius (1936-2012)

Sad news to pass along this morning. Don Cornelius, the creator and host of Soul Train, was found dead in his California home earlier today. TMZ is reporting that the 75-year-old died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, after struggling with health issues and a messy divorce over the course of the last few years.

His longtime friend, Quincy Jones, just released the following statement to USA Today: “I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague, and business partner Don Cornelius. Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business. Before MTV there was Soul Train, that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched. My heart goes out to Don’s family and loved ones.”

Back in 2010, VH1 put a spotlight on Cornelius and the revolutionary program that he created with the VH1 Rock Doc, Soul Train: The Hippest Trip In America. To remember exactly how awesome Soul Train was, take a look at this incredible footage of the Soul Train audience doing a line-dance to “Respect Yourself” by the legendary Staple Singers.

View Photo Gallery

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by (@unclegrambo)

Guns N’ Roses Bringing Their Arena Rock Prowess To 6 Club Gigs In February

Despite his oft-professed dislike of the media, Axl Rose clearly recognizes the value of good publicity. After seeing Van Halen score tons of positive headlines after playing the 280-person capacity Cafe Wha? earlier this month, Guns N’ Roses has announced that they will be playing a total of six shows at club-sized venues during the month of February.

While it’s fair to say that the current incarnation of G’N’R can no longer fill stadiums they way they did in their early Nineties heyday, tickets for these six dates —three in NYC, one in Chicago, one in Silver Springs and one in Atlantic City— are sure to be some of the hottest tickets of what’s shaping up to be an outstanding year for live music. According to Rolling Stone, the last time that Guns N’ Roses played at Webster Hall was in 1988 (!), so old school headbangers and curious millenials alike will no doubt be ponying up big bucks to see the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductees in such an intimate environment. And who knows, maybe Axl will bring out some of his former band members for a tune-up before the RRHOF induction ceremony in April? We sincerely doubt that will happen, but if there’s one thing that we have learned about Axl after all these years, it’s to expect the unexpected!

Complete list of dates after the jump:
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by (@unclegrambo)

Get Your Nineties Nostalgia On With Our Spotify Soundtrack For The TRL Decade

VH1’s latest entry in the award-winning Rock Docs franchise, The TRL Decade, premieres tonight at 9:30 pm. The hour-long special takes a look back at the colorful history of the long-running MTV video request program and the effect that it had on the music industry, and features insightful interviews from former VJs like Carson Daly and Dave Holmes, as well as some of that era’s most popular musical acts.

In order to get you in the mood for tonight’s premiere, we built this special
Spotify playlist for The TRL Decade
, which features many of the songs that you’ll hear in this documentary feature. Get your ’90s nostalgia on with boy band faves like “Larger Than Life” by the Backstreet Boys, rap-rock smashes like Korn‘s “Freak On A Leash”, hip hop hits like P. Diddy‘s “Bad Boy For Life”, sugar coated girl pop classics like Mandy Moore‘s “Candy”, and many more.

The TRL Decade [Spotify]

[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

by (@unclegrambo)

“Different” Singer Ximena Sarinana Crosses Over At The Mercury Lounge

“Keep in mind I’m not here, I’m from a different world.”

That line is from the chorus of “Different”, the lead single from Ximena Sariñana‘s recent self-titled album, and it speaks volumes about where she is as an artist at the moment. Her debut LP, Mediocre, was released in her native Mexico in 2008 and performed well both commercially and critically, earning her two Latin Grammy nominations, but when it came time to record her second record, she was faced with a dilemna. “Either stay in my country, where everyone knows who I am, or start from scratch and convince people that I’m worth it,” Ximena was quoted as saying. Well, she chose the latter, and her efforts are just starting to pay off. She was named our You Oughta Know artist last August, she played a gig for a couple of hundred die-hard fans at New York City’s Mercury Lounge last night, and she was able to land a highly-coveted spot at this year’s Coachella Festival, too.

Ximena’s set last night was a mix of songs from her first two albums; she sung three songs in Spanish, and the remaining seven were in English. The 25-year-old stood confidently center stage, singing and playing her Nord keyboard (accompanied by a guitarist, a bassist, a drummer and a percussionist), and slowly sipped from a single glass of whiskey throughout the course of the show. “I’m totally drinking whiskey instead of water,” she bantered. “It’s like the worst thing for a singer, but it’s either my voice is better, or my general mood and perkiness.”

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