A Q&A with “Politicizing Beyoncé” Professor Kevin Allred
The L Magazine spoke to Kevin Allred, the doctoral student responsible for that academic course in Beyoncé. He reveals that unfortunately, you can’t get extra credit for memorizing the “Single Ladies” dance. Dang — we’ve just wasted the past week then! [The L Magazine]
Jack White is going solo — after 2011 saw the official dissolution of The White Stripes, his divorce from Karen Elson and The Dead Weather‘s Alison Mosshart focusing on The Kills‘ 10 year anniversary album and tour, it only makes sense that the impresario should cut out on his own. Today sees the launch of White’s solo project online, with “Love Interruption,” the first single off White’s solo album, streaming now on White’s official site and sales beginning exclusively in digital retailers at 9 PM PT. The single will be available on vinyl from February 7th, while the album, Blunderbuss, has its release date set for April 24th.
“Love Interrupted,” has whispers of Jack White’s signature sound, both vocally and in the rock-led guitar riffs, but there’s something more personal at play here — an infusion of emotion and blues that hasn’t quite characterized White’s collaborative work the way it does in his first solo track. Simple and sparse yet powerful and moving, “Love Interruption” is our new favorite song, with its world weariness, nostalgically straight forward lyricism and weathered romanticism.
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!
Lana Del Rey‘s song “Video Games” got us thinking — what if some of our favorite songs were made into actual video games? We thought about some tracks we love, and quickly found that many of them lend themselves perfectly to the video game format. We’ve even taken the trouble to add an objective and plot to each of our selections, so we think that someone should take some of these hit songs and pixelate them so we can add them to our consoles. You have to admit, they do sound more appealing than that rumored Angry Birds / Kanye West collaboration…
Lana Del Rey – “Video Games”
In which you attempt to save Paz De La Huerta from herself.
Rihanna, Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Run This Town”
In which you are the mayor of a town, and must run it as such.
Drake – “Crew Love”
In which you attempt to build and sustain a “crew” with challenges including in-fighting, mutiny and rival crews.
Speaking exclusively to VH1, Adam Lambert candidly discusses the inspiration behind, “Outlaws Of Love”, from his forthcoming album, Trespassing. He says the song comes “from a very real place, and I think one of the things that’s been really exciting about doing this as a career, as a job, being who I am is that I’m able to give people strength and encouragement that feel like outsiders.”
In the video interview (above), Lambert sits with the lauded cover art of the new album, and discusses the challenges that face the LGBT community, and how “Outlaws Of Love” addresses these issues; “One of the things I haven’t gotten to really do is sing about how it sucks some times, and how it’s hard and how it hurts and the pain and the struggle that the LGBT community goes through on so many different levels, and that’s what the song is about… It’s not the sadness about being gay, its about the sadness about the adversity that we face.”
Put your best vogue-ing pants on because this week there’s cause to celebrate — it’s officially Madonna Week (by ‘officially’ we mean that this is what we’ve decided to dub the week)! Madonna Week centres around the official release of the first track, “Give Me All Your Luvin’” from Madonna’s forthcoming album, MDNA, and the additional fanfare that comes with The Queen Of Pop’s launch back into music and performing. If you’re feeling like a virgin to Madonna Week, we’ve put together a list of all the things you need to do to get involved and not miss a second of the festivities as Madonna Week rolls out:
Monday January 30th
- Madonna appears on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
Tuesday January 31st
- The soundtrack for W.E., a movie directed by Madonna, is released by digital retailers. The soundtrack features MDNA‘s Golden Globe winning track “Masterpiece”.
Wednesday February 1st
-Have a break from Madonna.
Thursday February 2nd
- The video for “Give Me All Your Luvin’” debuts exclusively on American Idol airing 8-9 PM ET/PT on FOX. The video is football and cheerleader themed ahead of the Super Bowl.
Friday February 3rd
- Madonna’s first single from MDNA, “Give Me All Your Luvin’” is officially released.
- The video for “Give Me All Your Luvin’” premieres online at Madonna’s YouTube channel at 9 AM EST/6 AM PST.
- You can pre-order an exclusive Deluxe Edition of MDNA for the bargain price of $9.99, from which the single “Give Me All Your Luvin’” will be available immediately. The 18 track Deluxe Edition includes one exclusive remix and will be available until Monday February 6th.
- W.E. opens in theatres.
But don’t worry, there’s still more to come post-Madonna week…
- On February 14th the Compact Disc version of the W.E. soundtrack is released exclusively by Amazon.com.
- On March 26th MDNA is officially released.
Kelly Clarkson Gives “Mr. Know It All” A Sweet Country Remix
We’re really digging Kelly Clarkson‘s country-style recording of “Mr. Know It All”. It’s like someone took one of our most favorite things and bedazzled it or added a kicky beret — we love the original, but we love the upgrade too! [Pop Dust]
Cher Is Not Dead
Poor Cher was the subject of an internet death hoax, but it turns out that she’s thankfully alive and well. While we haven’t yet seen a cheesily wonderful Jon Bon Jovi display of life, we think there’s still time for Cher to post a photo with a sign saying something like, “Do you believe in life after Twitter hoax?” [NME]
Part of what we love about Adam Lambert is that he’s always so willing to share — himself, that is. Now he’s taking fans backstage on the set of the video for his new single “Better Than I Know Myself,” giving a deliciously enticing sneak peek at the cinematic set. Speaking candidly, Lambert reveals, “I definitely wanted to take a more hands on role in the video concept and the whole process,” and we’re excited to see the visual as it translates from Adam’s imagination onto the screen. He goes on to say “I think what [director Ray Kay and I] came up with was a nice twist on the song “Better Than I Know Myself”. I think when viewers see the video they’ll look at the lyrics a little bit differently than may have first considered them.”
A twist! Should we start calling our Glambert A.L. Shyamalan instead? What could this twist be? Will boyfriend Sauli Koskinen perhaps make an appearance? Will Adam actually be a ghost? Or a vampire? Are we getting a bit carried away? The full video for “Better Than I Know Myself” will be released on Monday, so we’ll find out then. In the meantime, this is definitely a unique instance where the weekend simply cannot go fast enough!
It doesn’t take a genius to see that there’s something about Beyoncé‘s history, persona and business model that is different from your average pop star. She’s not always a chart topper, nor is she always the most talked about (although when she is it’s with zeal from both fans and detractors) but Beyoncé is an undoubtedly powerful force, and indeed widely considered more socially and culturally influential than some of her more pervasive contemporaries. It’s little surprise to us then, that doctoral student Kevin Allred has begun teaching a course called “Politicizing Beyoncé” at Rutgers, as a means of dissecting and analyzing the Beyoncé story and positioning her as a culturally important figure both in terms of gender and race studies.
“She certainly pushes boundaries. While other artists are simply releasing music, she’s creating a grand narrative around her life, her career, and her persona,” says Allred. He also notes that, “It’s important to shift students away from simply being consumers of media toward thinking more critically about what they’re engaging on a regular basis.” Raising critical awareness of the media through education seems ever more pertinent, as celebrity culture (especially given the advent of Internet celebrity), is increasingly saturating our everyday lives. Allred’s course covers issues like control, sexuality, empowerment, race and femininity in terms of Beyoncé’s behemoth persona. We’re not sure about you, but we’re ducking out to buy some school supplies on our lunch break — we want back in the classroom!
Adopting a split personality for the sake of sensationalizing an image is nothing new in the pop industry. Recent notable alter egos include Beyoncé‘s Sasha Fierce, Lady Gaga‘s Joe Calderone and Nicki Minaj‘s Roman Zolanski. While these characters have allowed these pop stars to explore other aspects of their persona independent of their regular self (also possibly giving them carte blanche to make mistakes, all the while acting as a great gimmick to draw fans into a narrative), they are usually an afterthought to the performer, and are put on and taken off the same way one wears a hat.
However, in the case of Lana Del Rey, her alter ego is more widely known that her “real” self. (We’re not going to get into existential arguments of what’s “real” or not, but suffice to say that “real” in this context is who she was born as/lived her life as until she became Lana Del Rey.) As thousands of bloggers have noted, she was born Lizzy Grant, and even recorded an album under that name, an album that was released in January of 2010 but then quickly pulled from the shelves, adding to her mystique. Lana is currently in Europe promoting her new album Born To Die, and during an interview with the BBC, she noted that she’s planning to reissue her Lana Del Rey A.K.A. Lizzy Grant album, and we’re officially intrigued.
With the Lana Del Rey hype monster so engorged, is the overnight sensation now using her new found fame to promote the art she made and believed in prior to her transformation into tortured chanteuse? Will she reissue the album as Lana Del Rey, or will Lizzy Grant act as Lana Del Rey’s otherly doppelganger? Is the next chapter of the Lana Del Rey story going to be a nostalgic expose into the heart of Lizzy Grant, or just another great marketing stunt? And moreover, will audiences, critical blogging fingers at the ready, ever be able to reconcile the two conflicting sides of the Lana Del Rey coin?