It’s been over five years since the Red Hot Chili Peppers released Stadium Arcadium, their last (double) album of original material. In the intervening years, the band has undergone some very turbulent times, times which saw guitarist John Frusciante –who many consider to be the band’s “secret sauce”– leave the group and bassist Flea seriously consider doing the same. However, the bond between Anthony Kiedis, Flea and drummer Chad Smith ended up prevailing and the guys, along with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, will be releasing their new LP, I’m With You, this August.
Yesterday afternoon, the band released the album’s cover, designed by bad boy British artist Damien Hirst. It’s an oddly conceptual choice and supremely “arty” choice by the Chili Peppers, whose previous album covers have generally either been fairly literal in their interpretations of the album’s themes (see: Californication, Stadium Arcadium) or designed to reinforce the public perception of the band as embracers of hedonism (see: Mother’s Milk, Blood Sugar Sex Magik). It’s also supremely sterile for a band that’s known for having a funky, slinky, sexy sound that’s anything but sterile.
When pressed for comment on it, Kiedis told Classic Rock magazine that, “It’s an image. Its art. Iconic. We didn?t give it it?s meaning but it?s clearly open to interpretation.” So then, what’s YOUR interpretation of it? Is it a bold statement about Big Pharma? Did the Chili Peppers want to memorialize an old lady who recently swallowed a fly (that perhaps died)? If you have any theories, we’d love to hear ‘em.
In other chart insights, the summer of Pitbull continues to roll along nicely. “Give Me Everything,” which features Ne-Yo, Afrojack and Nayer, just hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which factors both sales and radio airplay in its formula. The song seems unescapable at the moment; Pitbull and Ne-Yo performed it both on the Today Show and The Voice last week alone, continuing to give it some much needed momentum as we begin to approach the dog days. But as huge as this song is in its current incarnation, we can’t help but wonder how big it would’ve gotten if Shakira had sang the hook (as she was originally supposed to)?
One other interesting factoid for you S.O.T.S. watchers out there. If you check out the Top 100 songs on Metrolyrics, a site that is solely dedicated to helping readers find out what some of their favorite vocalists are actually singing, their current number one is “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj (which seems to be making a nice run of its own right now). If we were to take a guess as to why this song is popping over the rest, we would have to say that the speed at which Nicki raps probably confuses a lot of her listeners, so getting a helping hand with the lyrics really comes in handy when, like Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez, someone asks you to start spontaneously rapping!
If Ark Music Factory CEO Patrice Wilson has anything to say about, she will be! The man who turned Rebecca Black into an overnight sensation back in March has a new prot?g? named Lexi St. George, who was introduced to American audiences yesterday during a Good Morning America segment called “Instant Pop Star” (a name that, at least to us, doesn’t seem to place any sort of value in oldster values like “artistic integrity” or “career longevity”). The 14-year-old debuted her (unnecessarily parenthetical-laden) first single, “Dancing To The Rhythm (With Me),” on the show and, if you’ll allow us to damn it with faint praise, it sounds like just about everything else on Top 40 radio these days. Which is to say, it’s sung by someone with an appealing yet thin affect –think Katy Perry, think J. Lo– and, of course, its bridges and choruses are punctuated by sweeping, lite trance rhythms. It’s catchy, yet disposable, which sort of makes it a perfect pop song to play for your cadre of bleeding edge, irony-appreciating friends at a barbeque this weekend.
Lexi St. George reminds us a lot of Hermione Granger, if Ron Weasley‘s best babe decided to forego a career pursuing Defence Against Dark Arts and instead went the pop star route. She’s got clean-cut Everygirl good looks, and her dance floor skills would blend in perfectly at a junior high mixer. Most importantly, though, she looks like she’s having “fun fun fun fun” with her group of (hilariously) multicultural friends¹ in her video. Speaking of Rebecca Black, it’s too early to say whether or not Lexi St. George will experience the same rocket ride into the spotlight that Black enjoyed, but no matter what happens to her, you can bet that she’ll be the star of her school’s Homecoming dance come this Fall.
Contrary to reports earlier today that speculated that Watch The Throne, Kanye West and Jay-Z‘s highly anticipated new collaborative album, would be released on July 4, VH1 can exclusively confirm that the record will NOT be dropping on our nation’s birthday. We spoke to sources close to Jay-Z‘s management team earlier today who have direct knowledge of the album’s release plans, and they confirmed that the rumored July 4th release date is “not happening.” Sorry to ruin your holiday, folks!
The annual Gathering of the Juggalos is set to go down from August 11-14 in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois, as we learned earlier this month when a 27-minute long informercial (!!!) was posted to YouTube by the Insane Clown Posse. It stands in stark contrast to some of the more mainstream music festivals (like, say, Coachella or Bonnaroo) in both its refusal to embrace corporate advertising dollars and the way it caters almost exclusively to the fringe culture of Juggalos, a mini-society of cultural outliers who share a common love of horrorcore music, face paint, and recreational drugs.
The Juggalos are a tight-knit group who don’t always warm to people they view as inauthentic; at last year’s festival, both Tila Tequila and Method Man were attacked by Juggalos during their performances by inebriated fans. That’s not to say that everyone who performs at the Gathering of the Juggalos gets pelted with urine, though: For example, Tom Green and Gallagher were both treated like royalty!
All of which is a lengthy lead-up to the following news. Adam Graham of the Detroit News reports that Charlie Sheen has signed a contract to appear at this year’s Gathering of the Juggalos. That’s right, the #WINNING warlock (who hasn’t really been #WINNING too much of late) will be the “guest host” for one of the nights of the festival. When asked if Sheen would be embraced by the community of Juggalos, Violent J replied, “To the best of my knowledge, when somebody’s being picked on, when somebody’s being (messed) with, when somebody’s got mainstream America pointing their finger at them, that’s when they do best in the Juggalo world. When they’re an underdog, so to speak, that’s when they shine.”
Javier Colon got a fresh shot at music superstardom when he was announced as the winner of NBC’s The Voice last night. But before he caught his (second) big break, he recorded two albums with Capitol Records, 2003′s Javier and 2006′s Left Of Center. While he was working the promotional circuit in support of his eponymous self-titled album back in ’03, he stopped by our VH1 offices for a lively Unplugged show. We decided to unearth two of the clips from this session, his cover of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” (above) and his very first single as a major label recording artist, “Crazy” (which is below). As you’ll see, even then, his trademark cap was in place.
A hearty congratulations are due tonight to Javier Colon, the winner of the first season of NBC’s The Voice. The 34 year-old, who was dropped from his label Capitol Records after releasing two albums under their watch, triumphed over his competitors Dia Frampton, Vicci Martinez, and Beverly McClellan.
We first felt like the Javier wave was about to crest last week after his stirring rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You,” a performance which also saw him shed his (then trademark) cap for the first time. At the time, we opined that he might have pulled this maneuver a week too soon, but you know what they say about hindsight.
Last night, though, Javier proved himself to be one of this competition’s frontrunners with an engaging performance of his original song, “Stitch By Stitch” (which we have for you below). And tonight, he proved he had nerves of steel when he stood toe-to-toe with Stevie Nicks during a duet of the Fleetwood Mac classic, “Landslide,” never losing confidence despite Stevie’s not-so-subtle direction on how he should inflect his vocals. Judge/coach Adam Levine described it, perhaps with a smidge of hyperbole, as “one of the most beautiful duets I’ve ever heard in my life,” but there is no denying that Javier Colon is having one of the best nights of his life. He’s got a second chance at music superstardom, but only time –and perhaps the ticket sales for this summer’s The Voice multi-city tour– will tell if he’ll end up making Capitol Records regret their decision to let him go.
On the penultimate episode of NBC’s The Voice last night, two music business also-rans and two “singing lesbians that America loves” (to paraphrase a recent Los Angeles Times piece) wowed viewing audiences with their passionate final performances. However, as we have come to expect from The Voice, there was one very big twist: Over the course of the last ten weeks and change, Javier Colon, Dia Frampton, Vicci Martinez and Beverly McClellan have built themselves a passionate fan base with their personal renditions of already familiar songs originally performed by other artists. Last night, though, the contestants showed off something new. Namely, their own original songs!
Obviously, this last-minute twist gives a HUGE advantage to the two performers who already have experience writing and recording their own material, Javier Colon and Dia Frampton. They both took advantage of the opportunity given to them to not only showcase their voice, but also their artistry, and America seemingly approves. As of this morning, Dia’s slow-burning, piano-driven ballad “Inventing Shadows” and Javier’s slow-burning, guitar-driven ballad “Stitch By Stitch” are sitting atop the iTunes singles chart.
LADY GAGA DRESSES UP LIKE A PANDA ON JAPANESE TELEVISION
Of course she did! The only controversy here seems to be whether or not she should be called Gagapanda or PandaGaga. [Buzzfeed via Natasha VC]
EVERY BEYONCÉ SINGLE EVER, COUNTED DOWN
In honor of today’s release of Beyoncé’s 4, our good friends over at Popdust put together this comprehensive countdown of every single that Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child. We won’t spoil their #1 pick for you, but we will tell you that neither of the singles that have been released from this album thus far (“Best Thing I Never Had,” “Run The World (Girls)”) cracked their Top Ten. [Popdust]
Last month, we brought Jordan Knight into our offices and invited you to Ask Him Anything. By all accounts, that experiment went extremely well, and most of you did not abuse the privilege. (Those of you that did, though –and you know who you are!– have been forgiven.)
Well, great news! We’re doing Ask Me Anything again now, but this time the subject will be the multi-talented musician/model/actor/raconteur Lenny Kravitz, whose new album, Black And White America, comes out on August 30. And, in case you didn’t play this game the first time around, we really mean it when we say you can Ask Lenny Kravitz Anything! Wondering if he kept the dreadlocks he shaved off (and if he can send them to you)? You should ask! Curious as to whether he’s a boxers, briefs or commando kind of guy? You should ask! Have you always been interested in learning how he divvys up his 401(k)? Now’s the time to ask, partner.
So, how do you ask? Well, there?s a few ways. You can leave a comment below, or you can tweet @vh1 with the hashtag #askmeanything. We?ll compile as many questions as we receive BY THIS THURSDAY MORNING (6/30/11) and do our best to get Lenny to answer them all. Remember, you can Ask Lenny Kravitz Anything, so make your questions as crazy or funny as you possible. The only limit is your imagination!