Last night, X Factor contestant Chris Rene sang a song he had written himself, “Where Do We Go From Here.” Chris gave an endearing performance, sitting mid-stage on a stool and strumming an acoustic guitar. Super sweet and beachy (a little bit Jack Johnson, maybe? Remember that guy?), the performance was received by the judges with an outpouring of praise, even from Simon Cowell who called the performance “a stroke of genius.” The audience agreed in a cacophony of applause, and Stevie Wonder even made a personal call to tell Chris “You are inspiring me right now. We’re thinking Chris might have taken the lead in the competition — who better to win a musical talent contest than one who is not only musically talented, but multi-talented?
Foster The People just released a video for their new single “Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls)”, and it’s just as fun filled and irreverent as we’d expect from one of our favorite You Oughta Know bands and the most talked about electro-pop act of the year. The video, which will make its television premiere oh our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown show this weekend, features actress Gabourey Sidibe as an unwitting student on a driving lesson, and Mark Foster dressing himself down via a dorky dad suit and suspicious 70s pornstache.
At first, it appears that Mark is Gabourey’s driving instructor but lo! Of course he’s not! This is a Foster The People video we’re talking about, and there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Gabrielle reveals Mark’s stache as an impostor and uncovers a bag filled with bank notes, just in time for a high energy police chase to ensue. And what would a Foster The People video be without explosions of colorful paint? “Nothing!”, you say, which is lucky because the video sees the getaway car careening though a construction site, simultaneously coloring life! We don’t want to give too much away before you watch the clip, but we will say this — there’s a climactic ending and a healthy dose of Stockholm Syndrome.
Of the moment band Hot Chelle Rae dropped their second album, Whatever, last week, and spoke candidly to VH1 about serious things like the album title, writing music, singing karaoke and… playing the kazoo! If you like your pop stars relatable and irreverent, then Hot Chelle Rae are the guys for you, especially if you like an extra helping of super cute thrown into the mix. With sparkling smiles and an infectious energy, the guys told us that when it comes to making music, they’re just doing what they love. “We definitely want people to be humming it but it’s not like every time we sit down to write a song we’re like let’s make the catchiest thing known to mankind, we kind of just really write what we love,” offers HCR front man, Ryan Follese. Ryan also acknowledges that the band, even though their work is largely a labor of love, work incredibly hard and that it’s “ironic” that given their efforts, they decided to call the album Whatever on a whim.
But HCR know that all work and no play will make them dull boys — which is probably why they’re so charming! Of their leisure time, Ryan chuckles, “There is a good chance that you will find me at around 11.30 at night singing Bon Jovi at the top of my lungs,” to which Nash Overstreet replies, “Nashville is full of karaoke bars, and it’s full of us running crazy!” Becoming jovial, Ryan reveals that the only instrument he played on the entire album was the kazoo, “On “Downtown Girl” I am ripping that kazoo up.” We love that the boys have a kazoo on their album, if only because we love saying kazoo so much! Kazoo, kazoo, kazoo!
Check out their performance of their new hit single, “I Like It Like That,” from a recent episode of Big Morning Buzz Live below…
Lana Del Rey, the most-hyped artist of 2011, takes off her “Blue Jeans” in a new spread for V Magazine. After taking her top off in the “Born To Die” video, she dons a swimsuit for some melancholic black and white photography for this photoshoot, while male fans everywhere give her a standing ovation.
We’re not going to deny that Lana looks hot, coyly looking away from the camera, her full lips pouting in that painfully seductive fashion that seems to come to naturally to her, and her exaggerated eyelashes fanning her high cheek bones. It’s a huge eye candy tick for Lana, whose aesthetic persona relies heavily on this kind of subtle, unassuming, yet also quite powerful sex appeal. But something is a little bit off to us since we saw her perform live in New York this week — and that’s that maybe none of this is as natural or organic as the Lana Del Rey machine would have us believe it is. Indeed, we (along with many other critics, fans and inquisitive spectators) witnessed the girl being extremely uncomfortable in her own skin, and it’s left us wondering if this intrinsic, commanding sexuality isn’t just completely manufactured, like the rest of her image seems to be. Is Lana Del Rey a natural, or is it all just an incredibly self-consciously pieced together persona that is imposed upon her in order to fulfill a crowd-pleasing visual companion to her music? And with all the talk about the Lana Del Rey persona, are simply/in danger of forgetting the music all together?
The Ballad Of Lana Del Rey [V Magazine]
[Photos: V Magazine]
If you wet your pants when you see cute things, then you probably shouldn’t watch this video. On the other hand, a little bit of wee in your pants never hurt anyone (it’s character building!), so definitely watch it. Possibly rap’s next big thing, this anonymous 2-year-old flows with his dad on YouTube, and he’s got some serious steez! Complete with adorable onsie and heart-melting smile, the little guy is about innocuous as super cute kids come — until he starts rapping, that is! Forget that it’s mostly gibberish, the kid has the beat down pat, and his tiny hand motions and head nod emulate those of rap stars to perfection. He seems to be completely aware as well, at one point deliberately pausing to wait for the beat on which he starts to flow. The way in which he’s got his hand on Dad’s shoulder reminds us of the pop-rap duo Jay-Z and Kanye West performing together, so we’re envisioning some pretty big things for this little dude — he’s a natural!
And speaking of Kayne West… The power house is known for picking up “The Next Big Thing,” so can we expect a sample of this 2-year-old rapper on Kayne’s next hit? We’ve even got some stage names worked out for him: Q.T or Kute KidZ! Squee!
VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul is set to air on VH1 on Monday, December 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, and as you already know we’re counting down the days until Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Florence + The Machine, Kelly Clarkson, Jessie J and other lovely ladies take to the stage for us. We’re now tearing off Day 3 of the DIVAS advent calendar, after bringing you Jill Scott covering “Natural Woman” on Monday and Beyoncé singing her classic “Dangerously In Love” yesterday.
One quarter of the way through the DIVAS countdown and now we’ve got a classic performance of Barbra Streisand‘s “The Way We Were” by the Empress of Soul herself, Gladys Knight. Bringing a new level of soul to the classic sentimental track, Gladys all but blows the stage away with this stirring vocal performance from VH1 DIVAS 2004. With a soaring vocal on the big notes and an infectious smile (you’ll smile too!) when she sings the lyrics “Would we? Could we?”, Gladys does the iconic number the justice it deserves.
VH1 DIVAS Celebrates Soul will premiere exclusively on VH1 on Monday, December 19, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
Katy Perry is set to host Saturday Night Live this weekend, which will be her first turn at hosting the iconic sketch comedy show, with Robyn performing as the musical guest. With Katy vying for “The One That Got Away” to reach the #1 spot on the Billboard charts, we wonder if the gig at SNL won’t help to boost her profile as position on the charts, especially considering how adorable the pop star is in the show’s promotional video with Kenan Thompson. Endearingly personable, Perry is sans pink wig and elaborate costuming, and instead is elegant wearing her new cropped blonde bob and a printed shift dress. She’s funny, too — just try not to smile when she does an impersonation of husband Russell Brand‘s acting advice to her which culminates with “be a bit cheeky!”
Live From New York, It’s Saturday Night! [Live From New York, It's Saturday Night!]
Lady Gaga — in the enigmatic way that Mother Monster has of making half an announcement then making fans wait for the second half — has revealed that yes, she has a name for her next album, but that no, she won’t be sharing it yet. The album, which will be Gaga’s third full length studio album, is in the works, hot on the heels of her sophomore album Born This Way which was just released this year. Gaga says of the album, “I’ve started writing it and I have the name for it, and all the concepts are beginning to flourish and take place. I’m excited to put it out, but it’s not done yet. So I’ll put it out when it’s done.” The rumor mill is also turning with speculation that the new release will feature a collaboration with Elton John. So while Gaga let’s suspense build, we’ve had a few thoughts of our own about what the eccentric pop star could call the new album:
- The United States Of Gaga – A nod to the fact that Gaga has more Twitter followers than President Obama.
- Reality/Unreality or Couture/Not Couture – We’re sort of hoping the new release will be somewhat revealing of the Gaga/Stefani Germanotta dichotomy, an exercise in Sasha Fiercing, if you will.
- [No title -- Just an image of Lady Gaga's perfectly manicured, jewel encrusted hand giving the middle finger] – A little bit ambiguous, a little bit TAFKAP, a little bit White Album; giving a secret handshake to her Little Monsters, a nameless album could be Gaga’s way of sticking it to the man in the name of diversity and freakishness.
Got any suggestions for what Lady Gaga should name her new album? Leave them in the comments!
[Photo: Getty Images]
Whenever studies about the behavioral patterns of Millenials get published, words like “positivity” and “individuality” and “idealistic” make frequent appearances; if you believe what the academics and marketing folks tell you, this is a generation that believes that the world can be saved solely by the power of a tweet. However, anyone who has actually spent any significant amount of time with people who fall into this age-range know that they aren’t this shallow nor as eternally optimistic as the so-called experts suggest, and are just as apt to fall under spells of disillusionment and succumb to periods of disenfranchisement as the rest of us (whether you’re Gen X, Gen Y or a Baby Boomer). Well, after seeing Skylar Grey perform at a small industry showcase in Manhattan last night, it’s pretty apparent that she is an artist that is well-positioned to resonate with this “darker” side of Millenial culture.
Skylar Grey rose quickly in the Interscope farm system over the last eighteen months and change on the strength of her ability to write massively catchy hooks; she’s responsible for the sing-along choruses of Eminem and Rihanna‘s “Love The Way You Lie,” Diddy-Dirty Money‘s “Coming Home” and Dr. Dre‘s comeback single, “I Need A Doctor.” She’s now attempting to launch a solo career of her own, with an album of original material likely to materialize sometime in 2012.
Grey emerged on stage last night at the tiny club Dominion dressed in full, gothy Lisbeth Salander chic (aka The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) — jet black hair, tight leather jacket, Doc Marten-esque boots and a pair of plaid pants worn well below her waist with a wallet chain attached; Katy Perry, she most certainly is not. Like her stage name* evokes, Grey stands in stark contrast to today’s bubblegummier pop stars (think Demi Lovato, think Selena Gomez), delivering lyrics like “I’m addicted to your torture”, “I’m proud to be your f***in’ weirdo” and even something that sounded a lot like “Come here necrophelia” with a whispery, attitude-laden intensity.
The great thing about hangovers is that almost everyone knows what they feel like — and now Taio Cruz‘s song “Hangover” adds music to the condition. Although, we’re not going to lie, the banging club-driven beat is probably the last thing we want to hear when we’re actually hungover, and would probably be a much better companion to the night before the day after. Performing the track live on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, Cruz gave an upbeat performance of “Hangover,” inspired by the Euro-techno beats that have seemed to prevail this year in pop music. A speaker thumping anthem, if it were summer, we’re thinking “Hangover” would be the sort of beach-bar staple we’d be fist pumping along to while sipping cocktails — despite the inherent warning in the song’s lyrics!