Jeff Bhasker has worked with a slew of talented artists, penning and producing songs for Drake’sThank Me Later, Alicia Keys’The Element of Freedom, Jay-z’sBlueprint III, and Kanye’s808s and Heartbreaks and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With legit hits under his belt, it should be no surprise that his discerning ear also has some strong opinions. But sometimes, opinions are like a-holes, are they not??
Yesterday, when the producer who most recently worked on Beyonc?’s4 album (“I Care,” “Party,” and “Rather Die Young”) took to Twitter to?criticize former Destiny’s Child vocalist Kelly Rowland’s current hit “Motivation,” you could almost hear the record player come to a screeching stop. Confused as to why a song “with the weakest beat and melody of all time” could catapult Kelly to #1 on the Urban chart, Bhasker wound up justifying the feat by crediting at the song’s featured verse from rapper Lil Wayne.
Sorry, Emmylou Harris! You’re a very talented performer and your rendition of “New Orleans” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon yesterday was great. But when Justin Timberlake is also a guest, and he and Jimmy Fallon provide a sequel to their raucously entertaining “History of Rap” from September, you’re going to get upstaged.
Transitioning effortlessly from old-school classics like Kurtis Blow‘s “The Breaks” to early-nineties hip-hop head favorites like Black Sheep‘s “The Choice Is Yours,” to more recent hits like Lil Wayne‘s “A Milli,” the duo entertained the heck out of the audience in the crowd and at home. Wisely, the two touched on a number of dance-associated tracks, so Timberlake, in particular, could show off his best Dougie, robot, and even Ed Lover dance. They even rattled off a few bars of “Up In Here,” possibly in honor of DMX‘s recent release from incarceration. This is the rare sequel that matches the original, and it’s a must-watch.
While most 14 year-olds are concerned with everyday things like getting good grades and surviving the wretchedness that is puberty, teen songstress Rebecca Black has spent the better part of this year absorbing heavy artillery fire on the frontlines of the social media war. After her supremely catchy (or, depending on your opinion, totally annoying) song “Friday” launched into the viral stratosphere back in March, an army of haters mobilized to take shots at her from every corner of the Internet; just google “rebecca black friday worst song ever” and 222,000 results pop up. A tsunami of negative feedback this immense would cause many full-grown adults, let alone a 14 year-old girl, to change their name and skip town. When you add in the fact that her relations with the company that she partnered with on “Friday,” Ark Entertainment, soured to the point that they found themselves a Hermione Granger lookalike to replace her, no one would’ve said a word edgewise had Rebecca Black chosen to drop out of the limelight forever and press the “reset” button on her life.
Instead, Rebecca Black released “My Moment,” which is pretty much the Millenial equivalent of the old playground rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones / But words will never hurt me.” In the parlance of our times, the song “is what it is”; however, the video treatment is problematic in the way it depicts a group of adults whose only concern seems to be how to most efficiently monetize the phenomenon that is Rebecca Black.
Rough Cut Of Britney’s “Gimme More” Video Surfaces
The most notable contrast between this leaked cut and the official video (besides this clip’s inclusion of a sequence in which Britney is topless save for a leather jacket she holds against her chest) is the lack of the post-production wizardry that was applied to make Britney look thinner. We wonder whether that’s why the original is full of dutch angles, while delighting that, for the moment, the YouTube comments about Britney largely avoid body judgments. [Billboard]
Nevermind 20th Anniversary coverage dominates Spin‘s August 2011 issue, which hits newsstands in a week. Cover story “What Nevermind Means Now” is supplemented by Newermind, a track-by-track cover version of Nevermind. Cobain favorites Meat Puppets and The Vaselines share billing with new kids on the block like Surfer Blood, whose guitarist told the magazine, “Kurt Cobain was dead before I could tie my shoes,” and Jessica Lee Mayfield, who admits, “I found out about Nirvana through the Foo Fighters. I’m sure I’m not the only one who walked that discovery trail.”
The bands who have been most directly influenced by Nirvana are the most reverent in their takes, although Telekinesis, at least, has an excuse: their contribution was last-minute, “when one someone?no need to name names, so let’s just say it was Wavves?went AWOL.” On the other end of the spectrum, we’re rather fascinated by Foxy Shazam‘s transformation of “Drain You” into a glam epic complete with horn section.
The album is available for free download now in exchange for “liking” Spin on Facebook and giving an email address; non-Facebook users can get the tribute directly from Spin‘s site on July 26 when the issue streets.
Every now and then, somebody needs a little therapy, and ten years ago today, that somebody was Mariah Carey. When the pop diva decided to make a surprise guest appearance on MTV ‘s TRL (Total Request Live), it was already being reported that she was undergoing a tragic mental breakdown, coping with being overworked and recently single, post-breakup with latin singer Luis Miguel. Taking the impromptu entrance as well as anyone could, host Carson Daly couldn’t help but roll with the punches and point out the obvious (“Mariah Carey’s lost her mind!”) as the Glitter-promoting diva erratically moved around the Times Square studio, attempting to hand out popsicles to fans.
The best part? Before removing an over-sized, shamelessly plugging “Loverboy” t-shirt and gifting it to Carson by way of a PG striptease, Mimi pushed the frozen treats into the studio herself and requested that Carson give her a therapy session. No good deed goes unpunished! But don’t worry, underneath her shirt, Mariah revealed a tank top that read “SUPERGIRL” and a pair of teeny-tiny gold shorts that she then requested not get in the shot since they were so, well, short.
Of course, this event forebode the career disaster that was the theatrical release of Glitter (which, it should be noted, opened on 9/11), but as we all know, Mariah was able to turn her life around when The Emancipation of Mimi went multi-platinum a few years later and all was once again well in MC’s world. However, between her random, wild comments, constant running out of breath, and seemingly “medicated” mania, this clip is one to be cherished, even ten years later. And don’t forget, y’all: “If you don’t have ice cream in your life, sometimes you just might go a little bit crazy.” Mimi taught me!
Everyone loves a good comeback story, and Demi Lovato‘s recent return from a stint in rehab (where she dealt with “emotional and physical issues”) seems poised to make her an even bigger star than she was before she sought treatment. Her new song, “Skyscraper,” is fast becoming a Millenial anthem due to its powerful (and, we should note, very timely) theme of remaining resilient in the face of bullying, and earned praise from the likes of Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and fellow Disney product, Selena Gomez.
As is wont to happen these days, dozens of covers of “Skyscraper” are starting to pop up on YouTube, most of which are being sung by teens in their bedrooms into their webcam; one such cover, by YouTube user zeldaxlove64, has already racked up over 1.5 million streams. However, earlier today, a “Skyscraper” cover by none other than a former winner of American Idol hit the popular site. That’s right, Idol Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks sat down in front of her webcam, hit record and subsequently published her spin on Lovato’s empowerment anthem. It’s sort of a sign of the times: Instead of a big recording studio, an army of producers and engineers twiddling the knobs, and an expensive video shoot, it’s just a girl with a big voice and a webcam and a YouTube account. (Yes, we’re aware that a trio of high-priced songwriters penned the track, but still.) It’s hard to argue with the results!
We’re fans of the A.V. Club’s “Undercover” series, in which bands visit their offices and play a cover song off a pre-selected list; the limitation means that sometimes the covers are uninspired, but at least as often they force bands to provide an interesting take on a well-known pop single. Even still, we’ve really only linked these clips as part of Last Lap roundups. Today’s entry, however, begs to be shared on its own. The reunited Get Up Kids powerslide their way through a straightforward yet compelling cover of Blur‘s “Boys & Girls,” long a Britpop fave of ours. Enjoy!
The Mercury Prize announced its twelve-album shortlist of the best British and Irish albums released between July 2010 and July 2011 earlier today, and Adele and PJ Harvey are the leading nominees?at least according to British bookies, who gave 4-to-1 odds for each of the two artists. Both have been nominated for a Mercury Prize before: Adele in 2008 for 19 and PJ Harvey three times, of which she won once, in 2001, for Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Other nominees that have gotten some traction with United States artists include British rapper Tinie Tempah and Jamie Lidell-via-dubstep soulster James Blake, who played at this weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival.
The closed-door judging process for the Mercury Prize, founded to be a “Booker Prize for music,” is best explained in a 2003 Guardian piece. The shortlist ranges from the obscure and localized (localised?), like King Creosote & Jon Hopkins‘s Diamond Mine, to, well, Adele. The nominees also span ages, from neophyte rock bands like Everything Everything to UK mainstays like Elbow. And despite some of the left-field nominees, the prize’s short history has British favorites of ours like Suede and Pulp, so we’re curious who will walk away with the prize in September.
We’ve been anticipating the Spike Jonze-helmed Beastie Boys action-figure music video for “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” since the band announced two weeks ago that they were reteaming with the director. Last night, the under-four-minute television edit premiered on Funny or Die, and early this morning the uncensored full-length video dropped on YouTube. Clocking in at over 11 minutes, and featuring not only the song’s LP version but also a French-house remix by Sebastian (when its musical soundtrack isn’t faded down for the Howie scream and other plot-related sound effects), the video is a suitable next chapter in the Boys’ continuing project of seventies pastiche. (Why haven’t they ever collaborated with Quentin Tarantino?) Read more…