How much controversy can one empty gesture cause? If today’s Internet furor is anything to go by, a lot. In a blink-and-you’ll miss it moment (we didn’t even blink and we missed it the first time around!) during last night’s Super Bowl half time performance, rapper M.I.A. gave cameras the middle finger live on stage, as she suggestively sang “I don’t give a shhhh…” during Madonna‘s “Give Me All Your Luvin'”. In an vain attempt to erase the ‘obscene’ gesture, the broadcast blurred seconds later — but it was too late! We already saw it! That dreaded, awful… Middle finger! GASP!
Of the ‘incident’, Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL said, “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans,” while NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said, “The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.” We feel like we really missed something here — on the spectrum of one to controversial in the Madonna-sphere, a flipped bird seems pretty weak.
We were really expecting the show to yield some real controversy — Madonna stealing a kiss with Nicki perchance (not that we think there’s anything wrong with that, but we imagine it really would have caused a stir!), or something along the lines of a boundary-pushing, 80s Madonna. Instead what we got was a half-baked push of the button, and not even by Madonna herself. It’s unclear whether or not the action was staged; if it was orchestrated by Madonna, we think it’s a cop out on her part to have the non-white, UK artist make the move. However, if it was an impromptu movement on M.I.A’s part, it seems like a fairly desperate attempt to reclaim the title of “edgy” pop star after the truffle fries incident.
Either way, the flipped bird was school-yard level offensive at best — and it seems like detractors were expecting to have something to gripe about before they even saw the show, so are grasping at straws to find something perturbing about the performance. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and in this case, the complaint-mongers are milking that bird for all it’s worth.
Madonna redefined the word ‘spectacular’ with her Super Bowl half time show over the weekend. In what we’re sure cost the debt of several small third world countries, Madonna’s show was a no-holds-barred exercise in precision choreography and aesthetic decadence. Ushered in on the shoulders of an army of Roman Empire soldiers on a giant, regal float complete with gold throne, Madonna vogued to open the set, and what better song to vogue to than “Vogue”? After the perfectly synchronized, slow pace of Madonna’s voguing, the veteran broke seamlessly into “Music,” showing off some serious athletic agility and surely making America forget that she’s a woman in her 50s.
“Music” got a cool mash-up from guests LMFAO, who mixed the classic Madonna track with their hit “Party Rock Anthem.” The LMFAO boys shared a fun synchronized shuffle and some awkward slap-stick visual narrative with Madonna for the remix, ripping off her gladiator style skirt to reveal a simple black dress just in time for her new single “Give Me All Your Luvin.'” Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. joined Madge on stage for a gold pom pom filled dance extravaganza which wasn’t entirely without controversy (and what would a Madonna show be without controversy?), courtesy of M.I.A. and an inconspicuous enough little bird (more on that later).
Sometimes it feels like OK Go have cornered themselves by creating so many magical, innovative videos — because now we just expect that the band will give us something quirky, thoughtful and original. Lucky for OK Go, they don’t seem to have a problem delivering, ever, and their video for “Needing/Getting” is no exception. Given the hype around the Drive soundtrack last year, it seems that OK Go found inspiration in the movie, literally driving in order to create music.
The video sees the band in brightly colored safety suits inside a car that’s kitted out with all manner of mystery gadgets. Once the car takes off, the meaning of the gadgetry becomes apparent, and it’s go go gadget music! The car speeds through a country landscape, various antennae beating against barrels to create a drum beat, extending to strum guitars hanging from a fence and to tickle against glass in a cacophony of glorious sounds. The set itself seems huge, with the car speeding down corridors with instruments and found items positioned in such a way as to create music. We’ve got to hand it to OK Go — they never cease to surprise and awe with the technicality and imagination of their videos.
Mere moments after Lana Del Rey completed her now infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, we saw dozens of tweets in our feed comparing her performance to something that a weird Kristen Wiig character would do. Well, the rabid imagination of the Twitter community came to life on last night’s episode of SNL, when Wiig showed up unannounced during Weekend Update as Lana Del Rey.
Wiig’s impression, which was a very slight variation of her classic character in the series of Two A-Holes sketches, straddled the line between mocking and defending the 25-year-old singer. Wiig’s Del Rey described herself as “stiff, distant and weird,” but also addressed the “authenticity” argument by sarcastically (and sagely) noting that “No serious musician would ever change their name, except maybe for Sting, Cher, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, everyone else in hip hop, and of course Bob Dylan.” The segment was fairly meh, mainly because head writer Seth Meyers avoided the opportunity to poke fun at NBC News anchor Brian Williams. As you’ll recall, Williams went out of his way to criticize SNL and bash Del Rey in a controversial email to Gawker, and Weekend Update’s refusal to jab back at Williams demonstrated for the umpteenth time that this era of the show places a greater emphasis on playing nice in the corporate sandbox than it does on biting the hand that feeds.
Just like we suspected, the news that Adam Lambert would be taking over as lead singer for Queen is simply not true. Lambert took to Twitter just a few minutes ago to clear up the erroneous reports, which started with London’s Daily Star tabloid, but didn’t truly catch fire until Rolling Stone reported the news. “Oooh them clever reporters takin my quotes outta context,” Lambert tweeted, “I haven’t confirmed any guest appearances. I was talking about the EMA’S. :)” In a separate tweet, he continued, “That being said, I’m truly flattered by your jump to such glorious conclusions mr journalist!! :)”
Sorry to break the news to you, Glamberts! We’re sure you won’t take it too hard, though, as we can all comfort ourselves by enjoying the brand new video for “Better Than I Know Myself” for the umpteenth time. Additionally, Adam’s denial of these reports just go to demonstrate exactly how much faith he has in his new record and how committed he is to his upcoming tour. He told our VH1 News correspondent Kate Spencer as much in a recent video interview:
“Well, I think the thing to keep in mind too is that like, you know, I’m a songwriter and I have an album out, or coming out, and that is important to me. That is my first priority, is sharing my music and my message with my fans. But Queen is really cool! And I love the music and I love the honor of being asked and I think it sounds like a lot of fun, so I’m going to try and find a way to kind of make both things happen.”
Drake Is Being Sued Over “Marvin’s Room”
Drake is being sued for royalties by Ericka Lee, his ex-girlfriend and ex-collaborator, who is responsible for the “Are you drunk right now?” part on his song “Marvin’s Room.” Poor Drake, no luck with the ladies! [NME]
Chicago Starts A Soul Train Dance Line To Pay Tribute To Don Cornelius
This is pretty touching, so maybe don’t watch if you tear up easily. In Wicker Park, Chicago, residents hit the streets en masse to pay their respects to the late legend, Don Cornelius, the only way they knew how — with a Soul Train inspired dance line. [Pop Dust]
Remember when we told you to hang up your Madonna hat and put on your Glam-pants today? Well, we hope you’ve got them on, because today is definitely Glamday, and we can’t think of a better way to wrap up the week. Rumors have started circulating that Adam Lambert will be Queen‘s new front man after he told the U.K.’s Daily Star he’ll be joining the band on stage at Europe’s touring Sonisphere festival, and that “The intention is to pay tribute to Freddie and the band by singing some f***ing great songs. It’s to keep the music alive for the fans and give it an energy that Freddie would’ve been proud of.” Speculation that Adam could be the next Freddie Mercury began when he joined the rock legends on stage in an earth shattering performance for MTV’s EMAs late last year.
With everyone desperate for answers, we were lucky enough to get one, straight from the horse’s mouth. We sat down with Adam a few days ago and asked him point blank if he would ever front Queen, to which he coyly replied “There is more things happening with Queen, but that’s all I can say.” When pushed, he elaborated, “Well, I think the thing to keep in mind too is that like, you know, I’m a songwriter and I have an album out, or coming out, and that is important to me. That is my first priority, is sharing my music and my message with my fans. But Queen is really cool! And I love the music and I love the honor of being asked and I think it sounds like a lot of fun, so I’m going to try and find a way to kind of make both things happen. Yeah.” TRY. AND. FIND. A. WAY. Well we know something about that: where there’s a will there’s a way! And we certainly hope that Adam has the will to find the way.
Madonna’s halftime performance at this year’s Super Bowl may very well make this list, but it hasn’t happened yet, so until it does, here are my five favorite Super Bowl Music Moments:
5. “The Super Bowl Shuffle” (Super Bowl XX, 1985-86)
A pump-up rap anthem made by the Chicago Bears leading up to Super Bowl XX. Looking back, it’s hard not to wince at football players trying to dance, but back then the song (and accompanying music video) was awesome, charting at #41 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
4. Michael Jackson Doing Absolutely Nothing (Super Bowl XXVII, 1993)
Dangerous-Era Michael Jackson did perform a handful of songs, but what I remember most is his frozen-in-time pose at the beginning of the halftime show. If you’re Michel Jackson you can use some of your allotted set time doing absolutely nothing.
You might not know the name Graffiti6 yet, but there’s a very good chance that you would recognize some of their tunes. Even though their debut album, Colours (listen to it on Spotify), has only been out a week, nine of the 12 songs on the album have already been licensed, appearing on television shows like VH1’s Basketball Wives, MTV’s Teen Wolf, NBC’s Parenthood and the FIFA 2012 video game. They were here in New York City this week promoting their new record, and in addition to a performance on the set of Big Morning Buzz Live (which you can see above), they opened for Augustana at a sold-out show at Manhattan’s Gramercy Theater on Wednesday night.
From our stage right vantage point, we overheard a couple of twentysomething girls talking about the group before the show. “I like Augustana, but I don’t know Graffiti6 at all,” one said to the other, but by the third song of Graffiti6’s set, they were bantering back and forth about how they couldn’t wait to see the group again. Lead singer Jamie Scott has leading man looks and a tenor voice that reminded us more than a little of Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, but the two band’s dynamics could not be more different. Whereas Maroon 5 specializes in disco-driven pop, Graffiti6 fuses hip hop inspired backbeats with widescreen sonic textures courtesy of producer/guitarist Tommy D. Songs like “Annie You Save Me” and “Stare Into The Sun” come off a bit more propulsive in a live setting than their more layered studio versions, which really served to engage the audience, most of whom didn’t seem to be familiar with this new act when the show began. Consequently, by the time Graffiti6 got to their set-closing new single, “Free” (the music video for which we told you about earlier this week), there’s no denying that the band had won themselves a couple of hundred new fans. Read more…
Talk about the proverbial bird flip. Bon Iver font man Justin Vernon is giving a big one — two actually, one with each hand — to the Grammys. Yet again. Despite Bon Iver being nominated for four Grammys, throwing a medium sized hissy fit, Justin Vernon has refused to play at the illustrious awards show. He told Billboard that “We wanted to play our music, but were told that we couldn’t play. We had to do a collaboration with someone else, and we just felt like it was such a large stage — we’re getting nominated for this record that we made. Me and Brian [Joseph] and a bunch of our f***ing friends and we were given accolades for it, and all of a sudden we were being asked to play music that had nothing to do with that. We kind of said ‘f*** you’ a little bit, and they sort of acted like they wanted us to play, but I don’t think they wanted us to play.”
Oy oy oy! Talk about biting the hand that feeds! Vernon went on to say that they were asked to play with “Awesome people. People that I would love to play a song with. But you know what? F***in’ rock n’ roll should not be decided by people that have that job. Rock n’ roll should be the f***ing people with guitars around their backs. And their friends. And their managers.”
This isn’t the first time Vernon has lashed out at the Grammys — before Bon Iver was nominated Vernon said of the Grammys, “it’s just not important and people spend too much time thinking about it.” Sigh, we were looking forward to Bon Iver at the Grammys, but for now it looks like we’ll just have to settle for their SNL performance this weekend.