by (@unclegrambo)

Behind The Music Sneak Preview: Ricky Martin’s Fight For Equality

With specials focused on the lives and careers of music industry powerhouses like Adam Lambert, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, it’s been quite an outstanding season of Behind The Music thus far. That hot streak continues this weekend with the premiere of Behind The Music: Ricky Martin (which, sadly, is the last episode of this season).

In this special sneak preview from the show that debuts this Sunday, August 14, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, international superstar Ricky Martin finally seems to be at peace. After having to deal with gossipmongers trying to reveal secrets about his sexuality ever since he rose to fame as a member of Menudo, he’s now living his life openly and honestly. He’s been in a steady relationship with Puerto Rican financier Carlos Gonzalez, which has helped give him the strength to lead the fight for equality on both the sexual and cultural fronts. “Who wants to feel like a second class citizen?”, he explains. “That’s why I say about equality, ‘I don’t want more rights than you. I want the same. That’s all.’”

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Mel C The Latest Brit To Chide Rihanna’s Sexualization

Funny?we just told you about a provocateur of a previous generation taking issue with one from the current generation, and here we are again, telling you about a provocateuse of a previous generation taking issue with…you get the idea. Mel C, formerly of the Spice Girls, told The Daily Mirror yesterday that “Women in music, very successful women, are extremely sexual and they have young fans. It is inappropriate.” She singles out Rihanna (whom she considers “a f–king brilliant artist, with great songs [and] a great record”), probably because of controversy in the UK about “S&M,” and particularly its video.

Even on this topic Mel C can’t seem to make up her mind. She’s not clear on what makes the current controversy any different than those that surrounded the Spice Girls a decade and change ago, saying only that “although culture?s always changing, it?s changed too much.” She also says both that “Rihanna has responsibility” and that “Rihanna?s free to do as she pleases.”

We do understand and share Mel C’s concern regarding “over-sexualisation of young children” (she cites her daughter Scarlet as the motivating factor of this criticism) but we don’t believe that the buck necessarily stops with the pop stars themselves. Rihanna, in particular, seems very thoughtful about these issues, as she demonstrated in her Glamour interview. Even still, no parent can protect against everything in a hegemonic patriarchy.

Rihanna Is ‘Inappropriately Sexual’ According to Former Spice Girl Mel C [AOL Music]

[Image: Getty Images]


Steve Albini To Odd Future: Sit Down And Be Quiet When You’re On The Shuttle Bus

On Monday night, Tyler, the Creator of Odd Future took a break from live-tweeting his attempts “to take a photo of [his] fart” to lash out at cook and poker enthusiast Steve Albini. The rapper was defending himself against Albini’s claims that, on a shuttle bus leaving the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona in May, Odd Future used the word “n—a” frequently, cursed the bus driver, and bragged about how much they’d been paid at the festival.

Albini is also a noted musician and record producer (which is why Tyler felt the “need” to respond) whose recording studio Electrical Audio has a vibrant web forum (its members have even gathered for festivals). Albini’s beef with Odd Future, which in sum has more to do with them being punk kids (or as he put it, “little self-satisfied a—–e scrubs”) than anything else, was actually a series of posts in a thread on the Electrical Audio subforum “Crap/Not Crap,” in which its members give up-or-down votes on a given topic and then give reasons why.

A number of the gear-minded rock fans in the forum’s community dismiss rap outright, which is why Albini makes pains not to characterize the collective as stupid or untalented, and given Albini’s recording and production history it’s unsurprising that he defends their right to make “ugly art” even as he decries their behavior.

That said, here are Albini’s charges:
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by (@Lacezilla)

Gary Clark Jr.’s Rousing NYC Concert Performance Puts Him On The Brink Of Stardom

On Tuesday night, the wildly talented musician and singer Gary Clark Jr. stood in with The Roots on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, jamming on his guitar and singing “Bright Lights” from his newly released four-song EP of the same name. Earlier that night, a showcase for the Austin, Texas native was held in swanky Soho House in New York City, and a who’s who of music execs, critics and press were in attendance. Naturally, when we heard that Clark was performing at Rockwood Music Hall last night, we had to go check out his show; while he came to play a short acoustic set for VH1 staffers last month, you could tell he was holding back the some of the nastier funk that comes along with being backed by a rhythm section.

Sure enough (and much to our delight), last night’s 75-minute set was impressive to a staggering degree. At age 27, Gary has already been compared to some of classic rock’s greats, invoking the guitar chops of Clapton and Hendrix and, with a broad vocal range, he’ll purr an Eddie Kendricks falsetto one minute and growl a B. B. King guttural tone the next. The music he unveiled crossed blues and soul with elements of jazz, funk and hip hop, but was also laced with smacking drums and rousing guitar solos that had Clark in a very clear, introverted, eyes-closed zone.

With lyrics like “I don’t owe you a thing, I ain’t buying you no diamond ring” and “If you love me like you say, why you trippin’ like you do?,” it’s clear that Clark holds the blues near and dear to his being. However, his multi-dimensional sonic flavor was embraced by the models, frat boys, music snobs, and hipsters present, which allowed him to flaunt an effortless malleabilty that could be paired well with any of your favorite artists, regardless of genre or time period. ?uestlove was in the house as well, hanging with Zoe Kravitz (who is apparently a longtime friend of Clark’s). And now, on the heels of a glowing Rolling Stone review of his Bright Lights EP, we’re certain that Clark’s star is on the rise, and the young talent has many years and many full-length albums ahead of him.


Military Rendition Proves There’s Room For One More “Rolling In The Deep” Cover

The long reign of Adele‘s “Rolling in the Deep”?on the radio and on the charts?may soon be coming to an end, but even though it seems like everyone has tried their hand at a cover of the song, this performance by a group of American military personnel serving in the Middle East is well-executed enough that the song seemed almost fresh again. The video was uploaded by AreYouSuprised [sic], an anonymous serviceman who has been anonymously video-blogging his struggle with coming out in the military as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell winds down. Judging from his friend’s non-reaction, the uploader might get more flak (pardon the pun) for capturing some of his peers on film not wearing their requisite reflective safety belts.

Military Band’s “Rolling in the Deep” Cover Sure Beats Those Annoying Techno Remixes [EW Popwatch]
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Tuned In: Ximena Sariñana Brings Something “Different” To Leno

A disclaimer: yes, Ximena Sariñana is our latest You Oughta Know artist (and Jay Leno even said as much before her Tonight Show performance yesterday). That said, we swear it’s not favoritism when we say she had the best musical performance of the night. Sariñana, now scaled way up from her You Oughta Know Live backing band (that is to say, her brother Sebastian), remains the focal point without losing any of the elements of the song. Kudos, for example, to whomever put the drums behind plexiglass so the drummer could really pound out the rhythm without bleeding into everyone else’s microphones.

That commitment to power and clarity is key to why Sariñana has our ears. In all honesty, we’ve developed a bit of an allergy to quirk of late, and while she sometimes toes that line, she the requisite rock sensibility to keep that from overwhelming her sound. Does she use a variety of sonic elements? Sure. But is it precious? Hardly.

Sariñana’s closest competition for best performance of the night was not Ellie Goulding (whose performance of “Lights”—a good song—was capable but uninspired) nor Incubus (who sounded much better on Jimmy Kimmel Live! than they did recently on Letterman, but whose new single isn’t doing much for us), but Questlove and “Captain” Kirk Douglas of The Roots, performing part of Song Of The Summer contender “Party Rock Anthem” as Black Simon and Garfunkel for a brief “Suggestion Box” sketch on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:
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Michelle Branch Makes “Loud Music” With Her Band, Her Beau

Back in June, Michelle Branch was in the building to perform her single “Loud Music” on Big Morning Buzz Live, and it was certainly a good performance. Even still, the song’s called “Loud Music” and Branch played it acoustically (she herself quipped afterward, “It’s not right”). With that in mind, we’re glad to premiere the video for the plugged-in single.

The clip tells two simultaneous stories: the literal one, in which Branch and her band goof off on tour, listening to?and performing?loud music, and the figurative one, told out of chronological order, in which Michelle Branch meets-cute in a record store and she and the dude (who, it should be noted, has some wicked sideburns) “make loud music” together. Branch is too cool and composed for anything so gauche as a Katy Perry stage wink, so you just have to put it together yourself.

“Loud Music” is premiering on air during this week’s VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown Saturday at 9 a.m. ET/PT (after which point it will be eligible for next week’s countdown). Does the clip pass muster? Your vote will help decide.
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by (@Lacezilla)

Gym Class Heroes Return To Warm Our “Stereo Hearts”

Get More: Gym Class Heroes, Top 20 Countdown, Stereo Hearts, Music Videos

Currently creeping its way up the iTunes and pop radio charts, Gym Class Heroes’ debut single off of The Papercut Chronicles II now has a video! After a three-year hiatus, Travie, Disashi, Eric and Matt are back at it with “Stereo Hearts,” attempting to tug at our heartstrings via the alternative hip-hop sound that first met our ears on “Cupid’s Chokehold” in 2006, a video which included a then-unknown Katy Perry. In this Top 20 Video Countdownpremiere video, the band’s shadows come alive and help bring to life their sonic palate, ever-present while the clip incorporates imagery that spans breakdancing and The BeatlesAbbey Road references.

Front man Travie McCoy’s verses on “Stereo Hearts” sort of remind us of a 2011 take on 50 Cent’s “21 Questions,” gauging a lover’s loyalty, but doing so while feeding the stereo/love analogy that’s sweetly woven into the song. And even though we’re talking about boomboxes here, Maroon 5′s Adam Levine is transmitted through television screens in the window of a pawn shop in the vid, singing the chorus that will most assuredly get stuck in your head. With the sun shining brightly and leaves on the ground, this visual is seasonally appropriate and perfect for the transition from summer to autumn, the latter of which is precisely when their fifth studio LP drops.

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Last Lap: Wednesday’s Odds And Ends In Music News

Jennifer Lopez Will Return To American Idol
So said Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, in so many words, this morning on Ryan Seacrest‘s morning show: “I believe we?re still waiting for the official announcements but I am delighted to say that all three judges, along with the brilliant host of American Idol, [are] back for the next season.” [EW Inside TV]

Taylor Swift Premieres Fifth Speak Now Video
“Sparks Fly” is a pretty straightforward tour-advertisement video, but it’s a good advertisement, and anyway, what do you want? She’s already released four high-concept clips in the last year! Sidenote: we’re curious what Sara Marcus would say about Swift’s penchant for writing on her body. Is that in dialogue with riot grrrl? [Vimeo]
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Lollapalooza 2011: The Performers In Profile (And Other Onstage Poses) [PHOTOS]

We may not have been able to attend Lollapalooza 2011 ourselves, but the photographers we sent in our stead got some great shots. Yesterday, we shared their fashion roundup of attendees, but of course we wanted lenses be pointed at the stage at least some of the time, and this gallery definitely delivers. Click through for shots of performances all weekend, including shots from must-see sets like Eminem‘s, as well as some great snaps of You Oughta Know alums like Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Lissie, and more!

View Photo Gallery

And our trusty VH1 News team was also on hand, scoring some awesome interviews with the likes of Tinie Tempah, My Morning Jacket, Foster The People, Christina Perri and Ok Go. We’ve got some exclusive video to share with you below.

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