Alone on stage with nothing but a guitar, a flop of hair and his angelic vocals, Ryan Adams gave what felt like quite a candid performance of “Lucky Now” on The Late Show With David Letterman last night. Indeed, watching the show, even from the comforts of our own living rooms, we felt like Adams was performing exclusively for us, so captivating and intimate was his gentle voice and guitar strumming. Adams’ performance was sweet and refined, while at the same time being somewhat soul revealing, as the singer let himself be vulnerable under the spotlight.
Seemingly every time anyone discusses Lana Del Rey, questions about her quote-unquote “authenticity” are evoked. This sentiment was, above all else, dominating the pre- and post-show conversation at tonight’s sold-out show at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom (including the two dudes we overheard huddled up, sniffing something in a comically loud fashion, in a men’s bathroom stall after the concert had wrapped).
If you’re not already familiar with the artist known as Lana Del Rey, you soon will be. This 25-year-old siren exploded into the public consciousness this summer when she self-released her debut single, “Video Games,” to YouTube (garnering some 9 million views along the way). Cooler-than-thou hipster blogs initially praised her work, but quickly turned their backs on the self-described “gangster Nancy Sinatra” when it was discovered that she initially released an album under her real name, Lizzy Grant, before fully formulating the Lana Del Rey character. It’s not as if Grant/Del Rey’s calculated transition was unprecedented; everyone from Robert Zimmerman (better known as Bob Dylan) to Stefani Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga) has done something similar in the name of “art.” However, in this age of information overload, the rabid, scoop-hungry blogosphere has recognized that they can rack up more page views by deriding this young singer’s work than they can by taking a wait and see approach.
After months worth of fervent Internet discourse and a hype-generating European tour, Lana Del Rey finally took the stage in her self-appointed hometown of New York City earlier this evening in what she clearly felt was a put-up or shut-up performance. “It’s good to be home,” she told the Bowery Ballroom audience as she strode on stage to the bold entrance music of Bernard Herrmann‘s iconic score from Psycho. After a couple uncomfortable moments of “f***in technical difficulties” (her words), she quickly launched into “Without You,” a song which contains lyrics that arguably define her ethos: “I think I found God in the flashbulbs of your pretty cameras.”
Are You Afraid Of Lana Del Rey?
The Awl tries to dissect the Lana Del Rey beast, “the Manichean death match between veracity and popular consumption, the Del Rey Affair [that] has brought head-scratching and hand-wringing to new highs,” makes some interesting observations, but generally just gives you more to think about. [The Awl]
VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul will air on VH1 on Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and we couldn’t be more excited about this year’s lineup, which includes Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J and more.
As a lead-up to this year’s broadcast premiere in two weeks, we here at VH1 Tuner are excited to announce that we’ll be putting the spotlight on one of our favorite soulful performances from DIVAS events past for each of the next 12 days, a little event that we’re calling the 12 Days of DIVAS. First up, we’ve got a killer cut from the incredibly talented Jill Scott, who is another one of the headliners for this year’s event. Back in 2001 at VH1 Divas Live: The One And Only Aretha Franklin, Scott brought the house down at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall with her soaring version of Aretha’s staple, “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman.” In particular, pay close attention to the full-bodied stank that she lays down approximately 3:25 into this song, right as she’s wrapping up the Goffin/King classic — these are the kinds of unforgettable moments that make the DIVAS franchise one of the most anticipated events in the music industry year in and year out.
VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul will premiere exclusively on VH1 on Monday, December 19, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
Daughtry visited our New York offices to hang out and perform as part of VH1′s Top 20 Live (all the while being captured on film by our photographer Lauren Weissler). The band played an awesome acoustic set, including a raw, powerful cover of The Black Crowes’ “She Talks To Angels”. And they also gave us sparkling renditions of their own songs, in an atmospheric, intimate setting. One of your favorites was their new single, “Crawling Back To You,” which you can watch below.
It’s finally happened; Nicki Minaj, the self-proclaimed “Barbie,” has become a Barbie for real. And Nicki is suitably rapt by the homage, telling Billboard, “It shows that my Barbz are special, and everyone loves them as much as I love them, so I want to thank them, most importantly” (“Barbz” being Nicki’s ever-growing legion of fans).
Nicki might be surprised at Mattel choosing her to model a Barbie upon, but we’re not, and it’s not just the moniker that’s pertinent. With her pink hair, stable of wigs, brightly colored fantasy outfits and exceptional proportions, Nicki was always destined to be a Barbie. The limited edition doll will be auctioned via CharityBuzz.com on December 7 and all proceeds will be donated to Project Angel Food in support of those affected by AIDS.
It’s official! After months of rumors, Madonna has been confirmed to be the guest performer at next year’s Super Bowl halftime show. Obviously our whole morning has been dedicated to speculation — we want to know what Madge will play! Considering the release of her new album is expected next spring, hot on the heels of the February 5 Super Bowl, we’re expecting Madonna to play a few new tracks, but there’s got to be room for a few classics too, right? We’ve put together our dream set list, what’s yours?
“Give Me All Your Love”: We heard a leaked demo of “Give Me All Your Love” in November, and the complete track will feature Nicki Minaj and M.I.A, so not only are we thinking it’s going to be Madge’s next big hit, we’re sort of hoping she’ll bring the girls out for a Super Bowl cameo.
Last night, MTV2 debuted its first annual Sucker Free Awards. Taped in November at Sunday night hot spot LIV Fountainbleau Miami Beach, the 7-category award show’s party atmosphere was hosted by MTV’s Sway Calloway and featured interview packages of and appearances and performances by most of today’s hot hip hop artists.
Chiming in with their well-informed two cents was Sucker Free Countdown host DJ Envy, Hot 97′s Miss Info and Funkmaster Flex, Jersey Shore’s Pauly D., and Power 105/MTV2′s Guy Code commentator Charlemagne The God. On the heels of last week’s debated Grammy nominations, unconventional categories like Club Banger Of The Year (awarded to Jay-Z and Kanye’s “N***** In Paris”) and Who’s Got Next showcased hip hop’s progressive nature, often nodding at mixtape popularity and artist buzz to govern the nominations instead of full album releases. But albums did get their shine, too; the Classic Album Of The Year category managed to merge hip hop’s “we need a board” mentality with popular culture.
The highly anticipated posthumous album Amy Winehouse Lioness: Hidden Treasures was officially released today amidst mixed reviews and high emotion. Amy‘s father, Mitch Winehouse, has expressed how emotional the process of producing the album has been, saying, “The estate, which I’m a part of – my ex-wife and I – we could decide to put it out or not put it out, and when we went to listen to the album it was a very difficult time for us. It was very emotional.” It seemed, on all accounts, that the sheer poignancy of Amy’s death would be enough to carry the album, and to have it connect with her legions of fans and admirers. However, the album, now released, has been met with mixed reviews.
The Seattle Post Intelligencer calls Lioness: Hidden Treasures “sublime,” “nostalgic, wine-soaked heaven.” The Guardian, however, was not so forgiving, acknowledging that the album is revealing of Amy’s struggles, but that it is subpar considering the strength of Frank and Back To Black. Cynically, the Guardian review surmises, “Presumably it was felt that was what was wanted by the audience Lioness: Hidden Treasures is expected to attract: not the kind of diehard fans who normally flock to posthumous collections of out-takes and demos, but mainstream record buyers, Radio 2 listeners, the Christmas market. Which, of course, tells you something else about Amy Winehouse,” positioning the album essentially as a cash grab by Amy’s estate.
Die hard Black Keys fans the world over are wide-eyed in disbelief as the unassuming band is skyrocketing their way to rock superstardom, mainly because we’re just so used to their defiant, organic sound flying ever so slightly under the radar. But the attention is well deserved, as the Black Keys’ dedication to rock’n’roll is completely unwavering, their music consistently inspiring. Since they made meme status with the “Lonely Boy” dancer, it only makes sense that the next logical step is a second appearance on Saturday Night Live. Performing “Lonely Boy” and “Gold On The Ceiling,” the Keys shine, upping the ante for their contemporaries and giving rock authenticity a much needed renaissance. If you like what you saw on SNL, be sure to tune in tonight for MTV Hive’s‘s live stream of the Black Keys in concert from New York City, at 9 p.m ET/6 p.m. PT.