Well. It’s happened. The thing we thought might never happen: Adele‘s 21 has been knocked off the top of the Billboard chart. Sure, there’s every likelihood she’ll reclaim the throne but for now, it’s The Boss who is king. 21 has been number one for 23 weeks, but, somewhat aptly, has been smashed off the top by a Wrecking Ball. Bruce Springsteen‘s new album, after a shaky start and only 196,000 copies sold in the first week, has managed to oust Adele from what seemed like a never ending reign. If Adele wants to get back on top next week, her sales will have to outstrip new releases including The Shins’ Port of Morrow, One Direction’s Up All Night, and The Hunger Games soundtrack (which might be a hard one to beat given the prolonged hype surrounding the movie).
It’s no “Lotus Flower” — that is to say, Thom Yorke isn’t writhing around and pulling crazy shapes — but it’s an intimate and compelling video nonetheless. The clip for “Staircase” from Radiohead‘s The King Of Limbs sees the band performing in an enclosed setting, surrounded by a myriad array of instruments and technical equipment. And yes, Thom Yorke is moving in the way only Thom Yorke can move. “Staircase” is as close to a Radiohead renaissance as one could hope for, with Yorke’s chilling, heart palpitating vocals against a dynamic backdrop of broken beats, synthesisers and soaring orchestral compositions, and the video staying true to a music-centric credence, the visual taking nothing from the sound. Lighting appears to be the key here, with bright lights breaking through the dusty air to backlight the band and create an otherworldly presence that amplifies as Yorke’s falsetto croons towards the end.
We all remember Lana Del Rey’s controversial Saturday Night Live performance, right? Or has selective memory caused you to block it out? Either way, Lana Del Rey seems to be stepping up to the plate again, with reports that she’ll be performing this week on American Idol, although it’s not clear what that performance will entail. According to rumours, it may be a live performance, or it may be a pre-taping for a later show. Lana’s appearance on Idol was drawn to public attention when her name was listed on tickets along with Demi Lovato and Daughtry. We’d love to see Lana get up on stage and deliver an amazing vocal performance — it’s about time she won America back after the vitriol with which she was met following SNL.
We landed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport yesterday afternoon around 2 p.m. Central time or so, but the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 35 as we entered downtown Austin reminded us more than a little of rush hour in Los Angeles. It’s no surprise that the infrastructure of this college town is stretched to its limits during the annual South By Southwest Festival, as upwards of 50,000 people temporarily relocate to Austin from wherever they normally call home during this ten night extravaganza. After having their run of the town for the last few days, technology companies began ceding ground to the music industry yesterday as the Music portion of SXSW began in earnest.
When we finally got settled yesterday afternoon and picked up our badge from the cavernous Austin Convention Center, we made our way over to the Warner Sound Showcase at La Zona Rosa, located at the far east end of 4th Street. The showcase wasn’t set to start until 7:30, but when we strolled up at 7:00 or so, there were already hundreds of people lined up in the street hoping to see the likes of Neon Hitch, Theophilus London and Santigold.
After a dubstep-heavy DJ set from Alex English (Note: NOT the same Alex English that was the highest-scoring player in the NBA during the 1980s), Neon Hitch took the stage promptly at 8:30 p.m. Flanked by two shirtless dudes with tribal paint on their faces and drums around their waist, Neon Hitch opened her three-song set with “Bad Dog”, an electro stomper in which she declares “You know I’m yours so rip my clothes off.” Well, truth be told, she wasn’t exactly wearing a ton of clothes to begin with, but nonetheless, she succeeded to whip the crowd into an early frenzy with her provocative attire and compelling stage presence. She proceeded to belt out the hook to “Ass Back Home”, her hit with Gym Class Heroes, before closing her too-brief set with her current single, “Love U Betta.” She curiously refrained from dropping the f-bomb that appears in her unedited version of this song in front of the live audience, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind.
On Monday we reported Billboard’s top music earners of 2011, and there were more than a few surprises. One in particular was Adele coming in at number 10 — which The Guardian has also pinpointed as a notable occurrence, given that 80s-90s star Sade came in at number 6, making her England’s biggest music export to the US. And all this despite Adele’s staggering US chart success and multiple Grammy wins. The Guardian says, “What’s really surprising is that the No 1 British act in America isn’t Elton John or Paul McCartney or any of those obvious British behemoths abroad (although Irish band U2 did come in higher and Coldplay haven’t released anything recently). Nor is it a young stealth interloper such as Mumford & Sons. It is, in fact, Sade, who many of you will have forgotten decades ago.”
Sade made a comeback in 2010, including new album, greatest hits album and a tour, and for one reason or another — The Guardian cites Sade’s culturally ambiguous looks and the “sophistication” her music embodies — the soulful singer found a huge following in the US, which incidentally also dwarfed her comeback in the UK. The Guardian points to Billboard’s ominous opinion of Sade’s comeback, “It’s been 10 years since Sade released an album, but be forewarned – the giant has awoken.” Indeed, last year Sade made $16.4 million from combined album and ticket sales, while Adele’s sales, especially in the tour sector, were hampered by her throat surgery and late-year commitment cancellations.
The Guardian opines on Sade’s success, and throws her up as the antithesis of Adele; “The music industry still talks in hallowed tones about “cracking America”, something Adele has done with huge impact, but when Sade did it, she wasn’t so obviously British. She didn’t court the chatshow circuit with a gobby accent in the way that Adele does, so her speaking voice went largely unheard.” The publication quotes journalist Paul Simper who agrees, “Her Englishness was never a selling point. CBS just wanted to sign her and build her up to be somebody like Whitney, get her a professional studio band, but she resolutely stuck to her guns and stayed with the band from London she’d always had. And she still has – she’s always done it on her terms. Being successful in America didn’t involve any compromise or sounding any more American; her sound was always the same throughout.” Ineed, Sade has been a surprising alternative to Adele — and an unexpected candidate to usurp her throne as America’s favorite Brit.
Irish band The Chieftains are celebrating their 50th anniversary as a band with the album Voice Of Ages. The iconic band stopped by The Late Show With David Letterman to play “School Days Over” with The Low Anthem. The song is folksy and pleasant, with a rural, almost medieval vibe. The perfect way to celebrate their anniversary, the performance was filled with soul and reverence, and if you close your eyes, will take you back to a rolling, misty, fantastical landscape filled with magic.
On April 22nd New York’s Roseland Ballroom will host The T.J. Martell Foundation’s 13th Annual Family Day in honor of Train. As well as performing an intimate acoustic set, multiple Grammy Award winning band Train will be acknowledged for their charity work. And there’s even more cause for a Train celebration, as their new album, California 37, will be released on April 17th, mere days before the iconic event. Train front man Pat Monahan said of the occasion, “Train is honored to be part of T.J. Martell’s Family Day. The T.J. Martell Foundation has been doing incredible work in the medical community and we are inspired by their dedication. We hope to make this the best Family Day ever.” Joining Train on the day will be a Cobra Starship, who will put on a special DJ set, and Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande who will also play live. And along with Train, Crush Management (who represent both Train and Cobra Starship) will also be honored. The event will raise money for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research and tickets can be purchased via TJMartellFoundation.org or by calling Foundation at (646) 841-1394. We suggest you try to get involved — it’s a great opportunity to contribute to a good cause while seeing your favorite musicians perform!
Billy Corgan Compares Modern Musicians To “Strippers” Billy Corgan got all “grumpy old man” in an interview at SXSW and said things like, “I was part of a generation that changed the world — and it was taken over by poseurs.” Everyone has an opinion, right? [Spin]
The Black Keys have a lot of opinions — from feeling sorry for Lana Del Rey to accusing Nickelback of killing rock and roll, the duo don’t mind courting controversy with their comments. And it hasn’t seemed to hurt them in any way, as their El Camino tour boasts two sell out shows at Madison Square garden this week. In their most recent bout of foot-in-mouth, drummer Patrick Carney said, “Perfect music is boring music — that’s the kind of stuff they play in an elevator. I think people are losing an ear for [raw music]. I think everybody has it but you’ve got to exercise it… When you turn on the radio it’s all kind of perfectly sequenced, perfectly written, perfectly performed by machines. It’s hard not to listen to The Who and really understand these are wild men going crazy or Led Zeppelin — these are human beings that play that, it’s all hard to kind of put that in perspective. We just try to make music what we love to make and have fun.” While everyone is entitled to their opinion, we think the Keys are forgetting that their “raw” sound has literally taken the world by storm in the past year. Moreover, it seems the Keys have a fairly blinkered vision of what “real music” is, and we’d love to teach the boys to appreciate some seriously upbeat dance-pop with us because we think there’s room enough for all styles and genres! Can anyone say, Lady Gaga?
We heard that Jay-Z‘s performance at SXSW last night was riveting, sweaty, and iconic. With Hov reportedly letting the crowd take over for him from time to time, tickets to the show were highly sought after and hard to come by, and largely given out to American Express holding contest winners. So imagine our luck when the whole thing got put up online at American Express’ youtube site (here), after being streamed live last night. No really. We know what we’re doing tonight — inviting all our friends over, putting the concert on the big screen and moshing around the room throwing out some very, very loud singing and rapping. If you need to get into the mood, watch the fan filmed video above of Jay performing “99 Problems” — a classic and crowd favorite. Jay also played the newest edition to his repertoire, “Glory”, an ode to the tiny baby Blue Ivy Carter. After the jump you can see the full set list if you need even more inspiration to watch, but get in quick; the stream is only available online for a week!