Just hours after Rihanna performed her single “Diamonds” on Saturday Night Live in front of a backdrop seemingly pulled right off Tumblr dashboards, Azealia Banks dropped a music video for “Atlantis” that featured similar Lisa-Frank-Meets-Seapunk aesthetics. Was it purely coincidence or did Rihanna’s SNL performance and Azealia Banks’ new video for “Atlantis” both pull from the same Internet aesthetic? And do either of them have to answer to the crew of Internet artists that have been calling foul?
Like much of the past few weeks, last night’s MVT European Music Awards were in large part a celebration of our VH1 Storyteller Taylor Swift. Taylor spent much of the night flexing her Surprise Face muscles for each of the three awards she won — for Best Female, Best Live Act and Best Look — and gabbing about how excited she is to have clocked her first EMA win. Of the other winners, a broken hearted Justin Bieber took three of his own (Best Male, Best Pop and Beste World Stage), Carly Rae Jepsen took Best Song, One Direction took Best New and Biggest Fans, and PSY of course won for Best Video; Rihanna meanwhile went 0 for 6 nominations, leaving empty handed.
And perhaps we’ve caught the Red fever, but we really enjoyed the old time-y circus act that was Taylor’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” performance (which the evening’s host, Heidi Klum, made way for by floating away with a balloon in hand). She donned a big black top hat and a red sequined jacket, and was joined on stage by clowns on tiny bikes, a harem of ballerina clowns and some fire breathers (pyrotechnics were big with all the performers last night). It was maybe not her strongest vocal showing, but after all the time she spent twirling round the circus ring of a stage, who could blame her for being a little short of breath by the end? Red has only just come out, and award show season is just around the corner, and there’s sure to be more winning night’s like this in the near future of Taylor
There’s no way that Alicia Keys has the problem of a guy not knowing her name. That is, if she wanted him to know her name, which she obviously wouldn’t as a married woman. But we’re talking the single Alicia Keys days. We don’t want to spoil tonight’s VH1 Storytellers: Alicia Keys by giving all the intriguing tidbits on how some of her greatest songs were created, but the sneak peek of “You Don’t Know My Name” is too good not to share. Alicia tells the story of working in the studio with relatively unknown artists Kanye West and John Legend. Yes, think back to the time Kanye was unknown. In the studio John and Kanye sang on one mic together, like the ol’ school artists–before the days one could send in their verse to be pieced together with fancy equipment. Read more…
Rihanna was on Saturday Night Live over the weekend to perform her blindingly bright new single “Diamonds” and then new and truly beautiful Unapologetic track called “Stay.” On the album she’ll be joined by space-y singer/songwriter Mikky Ekko, but she stood alone on the SNL sound stage, with only a spare piano line and the occasional cymbal flourish to back her new-found voice.
“Stay” is a rare Rihanna ballad, and a patient and particularly emotive one at that. With the past few records, Rihanna’s found her grove with the sort of literally dazzling dance track that “Diamonds” is, tracks that make good on her unique but not not exactly impactful voice. But when “Diamonds” came out, we noticed that she was experimenting with her vocals and sounding at times almost like Sia or Lana Del Rey. She took that one step further with “Stay,” a song that finally has her really singing. And so she might still be singing about Chris Brown (“Not really sure how to feel about it / Something in the way you move / Makes me feel like I can’t live without you / And it takes me all the way / I want you to stay.”), but at least she’s doing it in a different way. We just even more excited about Apologetic‘s release next week.
Did you watch Taylor Swift‘s VH1 Storytellers? If you missed it, check out the entire show here. If you caught it, you might have been disappointed that Taylor only rocked one frock for the entire session. She did, however, channel those missing colors into her guitar(s) — which changed almost as often as the song — from silver glitter to cerulean blue.
This didn’t make the final cut of VH1 Storytellers: Taylor Swift (which you can watch in full below or here), but we think it’s too good not to share. Somewhere between the show-opening “You Belong With Me” and the grand finale, a spirited rendition of “Love Song,” Taylor Swift took a break from all the Storytelling to play the melancholic “Eyes Open,” one of the two songs she recorded for The Hunger Games soundtrack. She played it seated on the couch at center stage, with her trusty and longtime guitarist Grant Mickelson by her side. This song may be about District 12 Tribute Katniss Everdeen’s first trip to the shiny Capitol, but we suspect that Taylor — who was raised on a Christmas Tree farm, but now a regular amongst pop’s top brass — might relate to it’s message of caution: “Keep your eyes open / Everybody’s waiting for you to break down / Everybody’s watching to see the fallout / Even when you’re sleeping, sleeping / Keep your eyes, eyes open.”
Taylor Swift couldn’t have done it without you. “You know, it’s interesting because you never know where a song is going to go when you write it,” she explained during her VH1 Storytellers session, which premiered tonight and is now available online for your viewing pleasure. “You never know what’s going to happen to it when it goes out into the world, and what you guys are going to do to it. And, you know, how big you guys could possibly make it.” If the sales of her most recent album, Red, are any indication, then big — very, very big. And so, as a thank you to her fans and to ensure that the evening would be “spirited,” Taylor took her VH1 Storytellers: Taylor Swift to the winning Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. And spirited an evening it was, she eager the stories behind some of our favorite songs and the audience excited to chip in questions and singalong.
If you missed tonight’s premiere, it’s not to late to join in. VH1 Storytellers: Taylor Swift is now available online! Watch the full episode above, or click through for a rundown of the evening.
Rihanna has 62 million Facebook fans–a smudge more than the number of Americans who voted in the recent election, according to Andy Cohen. That’s also more than any other artist, even Eminem who once held the top spot. With the release of Unapologetic creeping around the corner, Rihanna is on a schedule of non-stop promos. Yesterday she talked with Bravo’s Andy Cohen for a 25 minute live FB chat; and Riri’s Navy was in the audience live and ratchet. Read more…
Rihanna has her ways when it comes to putting together a music video, and this latest visual for “Diamonds” seems the sum of all parts prior. There are tattoos and smoke, fire and water, sweaters and wild animals running free, and as lovely as it may all be, we were pretty sure we’ve seen this all before. And so we took a look back through her catalogue, and well, we were right. Can you guess which of these screen shots come from “Diamonds” and which are from another video?
It’s Friday, it’s Friday, but the YouTube’s latest tween sensation du jour can’t wait to get down on…Thanksgiving? Nicole Westbrook’s video “It’s Thanksgiving,” as penned by ARK Music Factory’s own Patrice Wilson, the hitmaker behind Rebecca Black‘s “Friday,” is a sweet celebration of turkey and mashed potatoes and friendship, and it is currently burning up the ‘Net.