Posts By Mark Graham

by (@unclegrambo)

“Pumped Up Kicks” Has Officially Captured The Zeitgeist, As Demonstrated By Vinny From Jersey Shore

Last week, ‘influential’ music blogger Carles of Hipster Runoff fame coined a new term to describe songs that “you’d imagine a group of suburban girls driving around suburbia blasting while they pour vodka into their Sonic slushies.” He (somewhat derisively) categorized songs like “Kids” by MGMT, “Sleepyhead” by Passion Pit, “Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn And John and “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster The People as “bubblegum indie,” going as far as to break down their common traits as follows: “Vocal FX on some cool sounding voice. Sweet ‘dancey’ bassline. Synthiness. Whistling.”

NPR’s Ann Powers veered in a slightly different direction in her essay on “Pumped Up Kicks” yesterday, describing it as the “ideal summer song for a crash-and-bounce year.” However, she also made sure to call attention to reference Foster The People’s lead singer and songwriter Mark Foster‘s background as an advertising jingle writer and insistence on working whistling into his Song Of The Summer contender (“Because these days there is always whistling,” she sagely notes).

Though these two writers took different tacts at getting there, each acknowledged that Foster The People’s bouncy anthem has officially crossed over from the “indie” world and into the mainstream. This is further evidenced by the video you see above, in which Vinny Guadagnino of Jersey Shore fame dances to “Pumped Up Kicks” with a coterie of adorable moppets in his living room. (We also noted that it was used to score a scene in the Fright Night remake that hit theaters last week, too.) We knew that when we selected the band as a You Oughta Know artist back in June that they were headed for big things, but we had no idea that they would get this big, this quick. At this point, only one question remains: Will the band be able to build on the success of this smash hit with a second single off this record, or will the band veer off into one-hit wonder status? Regardless of that outcome, there’s no denying that “Pumped Up Kicks” has captured the zeitgeist during the summer of 2011.

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by (@unclegrambo)

Is Joe Jonas Singing About Dumping Taylor Swift In “See No More”?

Joe Jonas would be incredibly happy if his career followed the same trajectory as Justin Timberlake‘s. Both started out as cogs in the Disney machine, then followed that up with successful stints in boy bands. Timberlake, as we know, was able to parlay his early stardom into a wildly successful solo career, and now Joe Jonas is trying to do the same. In an attempt to gain a new audience, he’s played in front of a bunch of egg-throwing hipsters in Williamsburg and buddied up to Jimmy Fallon, but what he really needs to break through is a hit song, preferably one with a juicy tabloid angle, à la Justin’s cool and calculated Britney takedown, “Cry Me A River.”

Jonas’ first single off his forthcoming Fast Life LP, “See No More,” stiffed; it peaked at #92 in the Billboard Hot 100. However, the single was just released in the UK last week, and the British press inquired as to whether it was directed at his ex, Taylor Swift. You may recall that Jonas dumped Swift during a 20-second phone call in 2008, an event which the heartbroken Swift eventually chronicled in the song “Forever & Always” (“Was I out of line? Did I say something way too honest / That made you run and hide like a scared little boy?”).

After listening to “See No More,” we can’t imagine why anyone would think this song about a “cold” girl who “threw it all away” is directed at the Swift (especially considering Jonas already dissed T-Swizzle on the Jonas Brothers track “Much Better”). That didn’t stop London’s press-hungry Metro from asking the question, though, which Joe flatly denied. “No, that?s not about her,” he tersely stated. “When I write songs I don?t say who they are about because I don?t want the audience to relate to what was going on with me when I wrote it. You say one thing and it becomes a big rumor.” Much to the (likely) chagrin of his publicity team charged with generating interest in his solo career, it appears that this case is closed.

Joe Jonas: I Didn’t Write a Song About Dumping Taylor Swift [US Weekly]

by (@unclegrambo)

Last Lap: Lil Wayne Threatens To Kidnap Beyonce, Inception Star Covers Nirvana, And More

LIL WAYNE SPRINGS A LEAK, THREATENS TO KIDNAP BEYONCÉ
Where’s the beef? On Lil Wayne’s just-leaked Tha Carter IV, that’s where! According to Blackbook, Weezy’s new track “It’s Good” features this bar directed towards Jay-Z: “Talkin? ?bout baby money, I got your baby money/Kidnap your b****, Get that ?how much you love your lady?” This is apparently in retaliation to a verse that Jay sung on “H.A.M.” that dissed Young Money. First Game disses Jay, now Wayne? Sh*t’s about to get real, son! [Blackbook]

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT PAYS HOMAGE TO KURT COBAIN
The 20th anniversary of Nevermind is just around the corner, so Nirvana-mania is clearly in bloom (drum roll). At a concert in Seattle last night, the Inception star played a cover of “Lithium,” which he punctuated with this off-the-cuff dedication: “You know it seems like everytime people bring up Nirvana, people wanna talk about how Kurt Cobain killed himself. But I gotta say, it doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter that he’s dead, it doesn’t matter how he died, his songs are f***ing awesome, that’s what matters.” [Everybody Loves Our Town]

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by (@unclegrambo)

Quakin’ – Songs To Help You Cope With Today’s Eastern Seaboard Earthquake

If you were anywhere on the Eastern seaboard in the last hour or so, you no doubt felt the effect of an earthquake that registered 5.9 on the Richter Scale. Here in Times Square at VH1 HQ, we felt the building sway and bounce uncomfortably for a good five or six seconds. Everyone seems to be okay, if a bit freaked out.

In order to help you (and us!) calm down on this hectic afternoon, we just created the following playlist of earthquake-themed songs for all you Spotify users out there:
Quakin’ – Songs To Help You Cope With The 2011 New York City Earthquake

(If you’re not on Spotify, this room on Turntable.fm also just cropped up: Earthquake 2K11.)

Full playlist for you after the jump:

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by (@unclegrambo)

Song Of The Summer Countdown: Adam Levine Reaps The Benefits Of His TV Hosting Gig

At this time last year, hopes for Maroon 5‘s third studio album, Hands All Over, were high. The lead single, “Misery,” had hit #1 on Billboard‘s Adult Pop chart, and since the band had convinced famed superproducer Robert “Mutt” Lange to come out of semi-retirement to produce their album, everyone looked for the band to take the leap from a well-liked, fairly popular M.O.R. band to the next level and a spot among the world’s most commercially successful bands. However, once the album finally hit streets in October 2010, the masses shrugged their shoulders and largely ignored the album. The record was certified gold by the RIAA for shipping over 500,000 copies, but worldwide sales stalled out at just 529,000 total units.

Perceived failures like this have sunk many a band in the past, but thanks to charismatic frontman Adam Levine and ten weeks of national TV exposure courtesy of NBC/Universal’s The Voice (corporate synergy at its finest!), the band has totally reversed their fortunes in less than a year. Their new track, “Moves Like Jagger,” hit #1 on the iTunes chart this week, and Levine’s featured hook on Gym Class Heroes“Stereo Hearts” propelled the song to a Top 20 finish in this week’s Song Of The Summer countdown. No wonder artists like Mariah Carey (The X-Factor), Sara Bareilles (The Sing Off) and more are looking to land prime positions as judges on televised singing competition shows; it’s exactly the kind of exposure to Middle America that the flagging music business is no longer in a position to give these artists using “traditional” music channels. As Maroon 5 has proved, it’s great work if you can get it!

As for the rest of our Song Of The Summer chart —only two more weeks until we crown a champion!— kudos to Katy Perry for her ninth consecutive week in the #1 spot.


[Click here for a larger image]

by (@unclegrambo)

VH1′s Latest App, Celebrity Party, Is Now Available In The iTunes Store

Next time you?re hanging out with your friends or family, play the party game that?s guaranteed to get everyone laughing: Celebrity Party. The game of Celebrity has been a favorite low tech party game for decades, but now VH1 has taken it to the next level with the Celebrity Party iPhone app. Some of your favorite celebrities themselves—like Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, and Justin Timberlake—have already played this game while hitting the red carpet, so now it’s your turn!

Celebrity Party tests your knowledge of pop culture with a team game that combines the best elements of Taboo, charades and Password. It?s simple to learn and sure to get everyone giggling:

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by (@unclegrambo)

MUSIC SEEN: A Peek Inside The Intimate World Of Ximena Sarinana

It’s been a whirlwind month for VH1′s latest You Oughta Know artist Ximena Sari?ana ((phonetic pronounciation: hi-MEN-a sa-rin-YAH-na). She’s been hitting the promotional circuit hard in support in support of her self-titled English language debut; in addition to a well-received performance on the Tonight Show, she’s been delighting audiences all across the country. She was in New York City near the end of last month, when she stopped by our office for an awesome You Oughta Know Live set, and our ace photographer Zev Schmitz was able to trail her for a day while she made the rounds all around town for our recurring photo-based series, MUSIC SEEN. We’ve got the results, as well as a few comments from Ximena herself, for you below!

“These shoes I bought while on tour in Austin. I love finding small off the beaten path clothing stores. These shoes I’ve had for over a year now but are so worn out because I wear them almost every day on tour.”

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by (@unclegrambo)

Demi Lovato’s Emotional “Skyscraper” Brings The Do Something! Awards Crowd To Its Feet [VIDEO]

You just watched Demi Lovato bring the house down with her soaring rendition of “Skyscraper” at the 2011 Do Something! Awards. We don’t have much more to say about it at the moment, mainly because we’re still wiping the tears out of our eyes. We’ll try to regain our composure by the morning, but for now, we’d just like to share this video of the pinnacle of tonight’s show with you so you can watch it over, and over, and over again.

RELATED: Check out our exclusive interview with Demi from late last month, where she opened up to us about about the creative evolution of ?Skyscraper,? shooting her own tear-strewn video with director Mark Pellington, and her dismay with the ubiquity of alcohol references currently in the Billboard Top Ten:
Demi Lovato: ?It?s Unfortunate That Pop Songs Have Become So Much About Partying And Clubs? (Exclusive Interview) [VH1 Blog]

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by (@unclegrambo)

Who Is The Strongest Of Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” Competition?

The down home diva Kelly Clarkson announced a release date (October 25) and a title (Stronger) for her fifth LP yesterday. Clarkson’s fans have been foaming at the mouth for months wondering when this album would officially come out, especially since a few songs (including “Dark Side” and “Let Me Down”) leaked last month and were well-received by her acolytes.

That said, when we first heard that she’d be titling her record Stronger, we couldn’t help but feel like, well, it had been done before. After all, it was only March of this year when country artist Sara Evans released an album bearing the same name. A little bit more research revealed that a handful of other well-known musicians have recorded tracks called “Stronger” in recent years, artists running the gamut from Kanye West to Britney Spears to Mary J. Blige to Faith Hill (the latter two of whom are, like Clarkson, former VH1 Divas). While it is still unclear if Clarkson’s new LP will have a title track of the same name, here’s a look at Kelly’s competition for becoming the strongest of the “Stronger” pack.

Artist: Mary J. Blige, “Stronger” (Listen to the song)
Album: More Than A Game (2009)
Refrain: “I’m stronger, stronger, stronger / I’m stronger, stronger, stronger”
Analysis: This song has very impressive DNA; it was written by Esther Dean, produced by Polow da Don, and sung by one of the best singers in the biz. However, it suffers retroactively because it’s so closely tied to the disappointing career arc of Miami Heat supervillain/choke artist LeBron James. The song first appeared on the soundtrack to the documentary about James’ high school years, More Than A Game, and feels overwhelmingly melodramatic and stripped of its potential anthemic power because of that association.
Rating:

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by (@unclegrambo)

Hip Hop Experts Weigh In On Anne Hathaway’s “Lil Wayne” Flow

There are few things more awkward in this world than when white girls try to rap. Madonna, for one, still hasn’t lived down her embarrassing “I’m drinkin’ a soy latte” faux pas from “American Life,” and she’s the Queen of Pop! (Don’t even get us started on those Alabama sorority girls.) The ever-fearless Anne Hathaway, however, took a bold step on last night’s episode of Conan and spit a few bars of an original, paparazzi-themed diss track she wrote while getting bothered by shutterbugs on the set of The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Since we have spent more than a few nights drunkenly rapping at karaoke bars, and since footage of this no doubt exists on someone’s mobile phones (or security cams!), we figured we would pass on commenting on Hathaway’s lyrical prowess. Instead, we asked a panel of hip hop experts to listen to Catwoman’s flow —which she described as being performed “in the style of Lil Wayne”— and let us know what they thought. Here’s what they said:

  • ?Anne, like most of those theater nerds that we all grew up with in high school, is at least 78% percent ham (the other 22% probably being kombucha and kale?.yeesh, get that gal a burger or something) so animated Fem-inem impressions are probably how she blows off steam. Anne?s paparazzi diss rap can?t hold a candle to Natalie Portman?s classic SNL rap debut and I?m not sure how Weezy?s sappy singing love tune inspired this rant, but extra points for the Jersey shout out and ass-slapping hand gesture!?—Miss Info, Hot 97 and MissInfo.tv (Follow her on Twitter: @MissInfo)
  • ?A. Hathaway (she’s definitely earned a nickname after this) spits more like Nicki Minaj than ‘in the style of Lil Wayne.’ But, with Nicki going pop and Drizzy going dark, Weezy could use a thug in his life. Just don’t call her scuzzy.?—Jayson Rodriguez, Executive Editor at XXL (Follow him on Twitter: @JayHovaWitness)

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